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  • Writer's pictureMaking To Make Happy

Collagraph Materials 101: Getting Started!

Collagraph printmaking is one of the most satisfying (imho!) because it allows for such creative play and the resulting prints have such juicy textures.


Collagraph is a relief printmaking method where you create a collage and then seal it.  You can then apply ink onto it and press paper on top to create a print.  If you’d like to dive into more of the process check out this blog or try one of my Skillshare classes (new joiners to Skillshare get a one month free trial via my links, so you can’t lose ☺️).


The first biggest excitement in the process is finding materials to create your collage with, and this blog aims to give you some ideas with which to get started.  Will you turn into a bit of a magpie as a collagrapher, saving random materials for later and seeing potential in everything?  Yes.  Yes, you will.


What materials can I use in Collagraph Printmaking at Home?


✨ The Go-To Fail-Safes…


Tin Foil


Tin foil (aluminium foil) is going to be one of your best friends, so grab a sheet!  It can be scrunched and torn in a myriad of different ways, meaning you can create both subtle and bold effects.  This also means it can be a great background or “filler” texture, used in little gaps or blanker spaces to give a hint at texture but without stealing the show.


Tissue Paper


Tissue paper is a great staple material. The kind you buy to wrap gifts or craft with tends to feel a bit crisper, so can be easier to manoeuvre and will hold its shape better, but there is nothing stopping you from trying the tissues in the box on your side table.  You can also use Toilet Roll in the same way, but just be aware that when it comes to sealing, it might turn a bit soggier before it hardens.  It can be rolled up, scrunched into balls, squished into rugged shapes… and, just like foil, it can be a great supporting act around other textures.


Packaging


You know that ridiculously giant box you got your Amazon order delivered in? Don’t throw it into the recycling bin just yet - we can use it here.  Firstly, you can use a flat side of it as your base plate, to stick your collage onto, but secondly, you can cut it up to create collage elements.  If the cardboard is corrugated, you can rip away the top layer to reveal the bumpy inner bits - these could be great in creating abstract linear textures. If the card is thinner, you can cut it into more intentional shapes to create landscape or character elements for your design.


Other types of packaging are worth holding onto too.  Those weird netty-things that fruit can often come wrapped in?  Cut a piece of it and stick it down!  Got some annoying plastic wrap to dispose of?  Scrunch little pieces up and see what textures they create.


Sandpaper


This is a great one!  Sandpaper is clearly textured and can create some excellent printed results.  It can be cut into specific shapes, or torn to be more abstract.  Depending on how rough it is though, be careful with your hands if you tear it!


🧶 Textiley Textures…


Wool & String


Wool and string are great for creating linear yet bendy shapes, and their rough textile surfaces offer up some wonderful printed textures.


Felt


Felt is easy to cut into particular shapes and it already has a nice rough texture that woks well in prints.


Lace (& Textured Fabrics)


Scraps of lace can be great to stick into a design, as they add unusual and delicate patterns.  Look out for other fabric scraps too which have interesting textures - a scrap of fleece or an old sock might surprise!


🌾 From Kitchen to Garden…


Rice or Lentils


Dried foods such as rice or lentils can be interesting to create spotty textures.  They can be a little fiddly to stick down, but fun to try!


Dried Stems


Elements from the garden can be fun to try, but make sure they are fully dried first (see Squishy Things below for why!).  I really love using the thin stems from Bunny Tail Grasses, but you could also perhaps try a pinch of straw, or a dried leaf.


🎨 Raiding the art cupboard…


Hot Glue


If you’re a bit crafty, and you own a Hot Glue Gun, try drawing some doodles with it in your collage.  The thickness of the glue means it is able to create a raised line.  You could also experiment with things like polyfilla, smearing it into interesting shapes.


Pencil Shavings


Need to sharpen your pencils?  Save the shavings!  Put them aside for when you make your collagraph and experiment with what textures they can create.



 

🙅🏻‍♀️ Things to Avoid?


Is there anything you should avoid?  While creative exploration is all about experimenting, there are a couple of things which are better left alone…


Sharp things


If you put anything sharp onto your collage, it is very likely going to tear the printing paper you try and press onto it later…and, if like me you are printing by hand, you could hurt your hands as you press the paper down.


Squishy things


If you try to stick down anything which has moisture in it, such as a green leaf picked from the garden, it may look good and seem fine, but it might squish more under pressure later.  Also, you run the risk of having a mouldy plate later on too, depending on how it was sealed.


 

Once you have a few bits and pieces you can start sticking! I generally use PVA Glue to stick down my collage materials onto my backboard.


This list is not comprehensive - because there are sooo many options out there!  I hope this can be a jumping-off point, to get your ideas whirring - and I hope it spurs you on to go exploring and experimenting with whatever you can find!


If you come across some awesome textures that I’ve missed here, but that are easily achievable for others to enjoy too, I’d love to hear!


To jump on into the the next stages of collagraphing at home - sealing and printing - check out this blog, my YouTube Channel or my Skillshare.  I’ll see you there…



Thanks for reading!

Keep Making Happy,

Gemma 💛



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