This is a quick romp through one of my collagraph plate making techniques. I have been making a series of small bird plates to keep myself occupied and to experiment with inking techniques. Small means that everything goes faster and if I make a mistake I am not wasting acres of ink and paper.
I always work from drawings and have met all the birds I make. I have a box full of my own photographs, they are not brilliant, often out of focus, even empty as the bird moves off out of shot. But it is important to me however bad a photograph it is, it is my bad photograph, therefore my starting point and research.
I trace my drawing using a sharp B pencil.
I then cut a piece of grey board slightly bigger than I need.
Here comes the health and safety.
I always start with a new blade, blunt blades will slip and therefore be more dangerous. I always use a safety ruler and can show you the scar the one time I did not take my own advice. I also always cut card standing up, it means I am in the right position to cut downwards with force on the blade.
I tape my tracing pencil side down onto my grey board. This means that the image will automatically reverse and will print the same way round as my original drawing.I then follow the traces lines with an HB pencil transferring the original pencil tracing to the substrate.
The grey board will give me a mid tone when printed, so my next job is to add the light and white. Here I use exterior wood adhesive.
I give areas that I want very white a couple of layers of glue, letting it dry between each layer. Using a fine brush I will pop white detail onto the feathers and with a pointed stick draw into the glue as for the cotton on the reel.
With the glue dry I will use a scalpel to carve and peel layers off the card for dark details.
Here you can see the glue detail in the eye ready to give that cheeky glint.
My statement style is to have cut shaped plates often leaving a square edge somewhere to help my framer out when positioning work into frames. To cut round the plate I use a heavier knife following my earlier safety guidelines.
I cut out sections gradually working from the image to avoid cut marking the plate accidentally.
This creates lots of bits but is worth the extra time carefully cutting.
After a layer of thin shellac the plate is ready to print.
This sparrow print is 10cm X 10cm