Thursday, 13 August 2015

Photography and collography.......... finding my way in the print room with Birgitta Wilson.

Collographs by Birgitta Wilson

I like to play with scissors and glue.

Photography is not meeting my needs for mess.

So I decided to learn how Birgitta Wilson creates her beautiful collographs as a way to get an opportunity to be messy, and to understand how my print making friends create their work.

Words like 'intaglio' and 'scrim' finally understood. And a chance to play again with the mighty printing press. Technology free, and a very physical process.

I spent two days at The Arches Print Studio in Hastings learning from Birgitta and other very talented artists who also wished to explore new ways to make art.

It is a very different way of thinking.

Find 'materials' .........      anything with texture. not too thick. PVA, tile cement, egg shells, different textured papers

Plan your image in your mind.

Create the image with sticking and glueing.

Then add more stuff to create texture and shading.



So I created a very simple grid and scotred it with a knife, added some sellotape and brown tape, and hey presto; I have a 'collographic plate'.

Of sorts.

Ink it up, put it through the press, and bingo; my very first collograph.


I think I prefer the plate to the print.

I also prefer the tissue papers used for cleaning the plate before printing.

And the marks on the work table in the room next door.

Self doubt creeping in, big time....


A cup of coffee and a piece of cake restore my enthusiasm, and I get to work on my second plate.

I am still not thinking of a picture, but can manage abstract squares; no change there.

Everyone else is busy creating forests, rivers, trees, frogs, beaches, and other proper landscapes.

scrim and eggshells on tissue paper and tin foil

I am stuck in square mode

Adding plant material to the already inked plate creates a silhoutte effect.

This is not mine....

flowers and egg shells; also not mine.

It takes a very long time to ink up the plates and then wipe off the excess ink.

Too much ink and you have a dark splodge. Cleaning off the ink in the crevices with a cotton bud is essential.

over inked print getting a bit murky

But running the same plate thought the press again without inking futher creates a 'ghost print'; a paler and more subtle version of the original. Handy if you have too much ink the first time.

my ghost print of scrim squares

I prefer the lighter look.

I am not a patient person and all this cleaning was beginning to get me down.

I have only just got over the extreme ironing that I had to do for the wedding.

photograph by Istvan Magyar

 Thanks to Istvan for my favourite shot of me at the wedding.

The others were churning out elaborate prints of great elegance.

I knew this wasn't my style.

But then the lovely Birgitta handed me a gift.

She asked me if I would like to try blind embossing.

No ink required. She could obviously see that I was struggling.

I had to think what to make.

Agnes Martin came to mind, and I created a grid.

 First I printed it plain, without any ink, and was surprised by the pleasure that this gave.

Then she allowed me to choose a colour.....

I broke the rules with a pretty playground pink.

..... I was away.

Creating something that felt true to me.

pink collograph

ghost print

scrim inked up and placed directly on the board

 I finished with a  little piece of scrim applied to a little square of card.

I liked the result. Something about creating art from the materials that are used to create art......

 I knew that I would be back for more.

Less sticking and glueing and more cutting and inking seems to be the way foward.

And more photography.......

of course.

bird on wire

blot on the landscape

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