Feeling festive? The holidays are a lovely time to enjoy some slow-process arts and crafts. Collagraph printmaking can definitely be one of those satisfying slow process arts when you are creating plates you want to last, but it can also be pretty quick if you cut certain steps out. If you just fancy having a go, as a bit of quiet time between all the busy bits of the holidays, this is the technique for you!
What You’ll Need:
A cereal box (with a shiny/sheeny outer surface)
Printing Ink (like Essdee Waterbased Ink) or try with Acrylic Paint (if you can use an extender medium to keep it from drying too quickly)
Brushes for applying ink
Cloth for wiping excess ink/cleaning
Plain Paper (I’m using standard printer paper)
Making the Plate
Cut along one of the folds of the cereal box to open it up, then cut along the next fold over to separate out a nice large piece. Trim away the rough flappy edges, and you’ll have a neat rectangle to use as a base.
To create a design of three hanging baubles:
Grab three different sized items to draw around to get nice neat circles. You could also use a compass if you like, or of course, go freehand!
Cut out the circles with scissors.
Position the circles roughly on the plate, to get an idea of where they’ll sit in your design. As you do this, remember that your final print will be a reversed image of your plate.
Cut slivers of card to create the strings of the baubles. Cut them longer than you think you need, and then cut them down when you have decided more firmly on the design.
To create the little nublet on top of the bauble (is bauble nublet the term? - you know, it’s the bit which allows the bauble to be strung!)… Cut a small rectangle, or square for the smaller bauble, and then snip off the top two corners. The shape can then be placed between the bauble and the string.
Now flip the plate over so the shiny side is face up. Here is the important thing to remember - anything we stick down onto the plate needs to be shiny side up.
Tip: Due to the patterns on the outside of the cereal box, it can be harder to visualise the design on the shiny side - it’s handy to map things out on the plain side before you start sticking.
Lay out the design again on the shiny side - once happy draw around the key elements - that way you’ll have a guide for where to stick them later on.
Draw a simple design onto the large bauble, such as a series of curved lines. (The handy thing is, by drawing it on the plain side like this, it will automatically get flipped when you stick it down shiny side up later.)
Cut just a smidge to the right of the guide line, then cut a smidge to the left of the line. Do this with each of the lines you’ve drawn, and then place the pieces back together with a small gap in between them. The gaps will create the design in the print later on.
Using PVA glue, flip the pieces of the bauble over and stick them down one by one, lining them back up together on the backboard. Then stick down the bauble nublet and the the string.
Repeat this same process for the other two baubles, but with different cut designs.
Feel free to add on extras like tin foil or sequins to the design - they have shiny surfaces themselves, so will be fine later on. However, don’t add on anything which is porous (like tissue paper or wool) as these will soak up the ink rather than transfer it.
You can go as detailed as you like with your design, but it’s ok to keep it simple! Once everything is stuck down, leave it to fully dry.
Time to Print!
Put a blob of ink into a pot and grab a brush. Roughly cover the whole plate with ink. A little ink goes a long way, so don’t feel like you need a thick covering.
To remove ink, or to move it around to get different textures, you can use a loose-weave cloth on areas of your plate.
Then it’s time for the first print! Place a piece of paper straight down onto the plate. Use your hands to apply even pressure, feeling around the plate to push the paper into the textures. Then, you can use your thumb to localise the pressure to the edges of each bauble, and the ridges of the patterns on each, as well as the strings.
Note: With other, more textured forms of collagraph, I find it’s better to use thin papers which are dampened down, so that they can bend into deeper crevices without tearing - however, because this cereal cardboard is so thin, and the design is so flat, we can get away with using standard paper which is fully dry.
When you are ready, pinch a corner of the paper and peel the paper away from the plate.
What do you think? Did the print work out how you expected or did you get a surprise?
Hopefully you’ll get a result which has some nice rustic, vintage festive vibes to it!
Want to try some different colours? You can grab a damp cloth to wipe away the ink from the plate and then re-apply different coloured inks.
I hope you enjoy playing with this fun process, through the holidays and beyond!
Thanks for reading!
Keep making happy,
Love Gem x