Collagraph Printing

This week I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop all about Collagraph printing. I have done a little bit of basic collagraph printing but was eager to find out more.

Our group's work

The basic technique I incorporate into my school program consists of using heavy card and cutting out shapes in more heavy card and pasting it down into a design or animal shape. It’s been fantastic for the primary classes. In some of the older classes I take we explored Australian animals for our collagraph printing. Some students were able to incorporate fine details in their designs, which gave a really pleasing result. But simple deisgns work just as well.

So, what is Collagraph printing? I hear you ask. It is generally a form of relief printing where the ink remains on the surface of the objects that are glued down and then printed,  but one could push the technique further to become a form of intaglio printing – if the ink was remove from the top surface and allowed to remain in the gaps between the design elements and then printed. One would need a press for this. I prefer the simplicity of the relief printing. It’s much more immediate.

The word collagraph, I have heard said, has it’s origins in the Greek – koll or kolla, meaning glue and graph, meaning the activity of drawing. But then someone also mentioned that it may be derived from the French – collage – coller, meaning to glue. All sounds valid to me. And that is basically what you do – glue pieces of interesting ‘stuff’ onto a firm substrate, coat it with a sealant that will stop the ink absorbing into the plate, and print it using acrylic paint or printing ink.IMG_7144

This is a partial print of some of the bits and pieces we used to create our designs. From the top left we have a doily, then some lace, moving to bottom left there is a piece of hessian, then string and then a piece of corrugated card.


These were my first 2 designs of the day. The first was using corrugated cardboard pasted onto mount board and for the second I cut small lengths of string. The actual size is 13cm x 7cm. They are printed on rice paper. This gives a really delicate result.


We were encouraged at the end of the day to present our prints in an interesting manner. The one above is two prints layered on top of each other, mounted on brown paper and then framed with a black pre cut mount. I ruffled the edges of the paper as when I was cutting it I wanted the fibres to show but it basically just tore. Best to make a good thing of it I thought.



One of my prints was long and narrow – perfect size for this accordion book. I joined several of the prints together to make it look more interesting and then cut some of the shapes from the printing plate and added them to the book too. I wasn’t too pleased with the actual design but I think the whole presentation has some seeds of creative potential. Hopefully it will inspire some of my students.


There was quite a bit of printing done and some of the prints were beautiful – with amazing handling of design and colour. I even came home and made a few more prints from my plates. Looking forward to experimenting a little more.

There are some great resources on the web about collagraph printing. Here are some links:

Hope you find them helpful, love to know if you do some collagraph printing yourself, JP

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