Over the years I have explored many original printmaking processes including monotype (one-of-a-kind prints), etching, viscosity printing, drypoint and collagraph. Each has its unique charms and challenges!
One interesting example of a collagraph process was done to resemble a mezzotint. Mezzotint is a metal plate that has been scored and roughed up so deeply that, when inked, it will print a solid, velvety black. The image is developed by scraping the rough surface and burnishing it to create lighter areas in all that darkness.
Collagraph is a plate that is a collage of almost any materials, glued to a plate, sealed with acrylic and then inked and printed. The textures of the glued materials hold ink and are visible in the final print.
I wanted to explore the possibility of using fabric on a collagraph plate to create rich darks similar to those seen in a mezzotint. I had recently stretched a very fine nylon fabric on frames for serigraphy (or screen printing). I thought that might be too fine a mesh, so I found another similar fabric that was a little coarser in texture. I covered a piece of mat board entirely with the fabric, gluing it down with acrylic gesso. To develop the image, I painted layers of acrylic gesso and acrylic mediums to fill up the mesh of the fabric, working from dark to light.
Where I wanted the image to print grey or white, I used more layers of acrylic. As a final touch, I used gloss and matte mediums to control how white the lightest area would wipe.
The resulting print, “Healing and Peace in Midnight Abide”, has the same rich blacks as would be found in a mezzotint. A mezzotint afficionado might notice that the light areas have different characteristics than a mezzotint, though the overall effect of an image emerging out of darkness is similar.
Another print, made with the same fabric as that used for screen printing, is shown in “El Capitan”. In this collagraph, the emphasis was on using the acrylic medium to create a very tactile textured surface to evoke the weather- and glacier-sculpted ediface of El Capitan and neighboring cliffs.