Collagraph on fabric
There is little written about collagraph printing on to fabric, and even less about printing from fabric based collagraph plates on to fabric. My work then became mostly trial and error. I had good success in printing collagraph plates on to paper so first started with that method to see if it would work on fabric.
When the fabric prints weren’t as crisp as I had hoped I revisited the paper prints I had produced to see if I could change any other variables in the printing method to improve the prints.
Adding more ink was possible using a sponge roller rather than a hard roller used for inking up lino plates.
Tighter weave fabrics have a smoother surface than loose woven cloth, including some samples using smoother fabric surfaces has given more detail.
Finally, the paper prints where damp paper had been used retained more detail than the dry paper prints. Also more ink was apparent on these damp prints.
Fabric was first sprayed with water to moisten the surface. This was then laid on the inked collagraph plates surface and pressed on to the plate using a rolling-pin. Paper was laid between the rolling-pin and the fabric to prevent any paint that worked its way through the fabric for getting on to the rolling-pin and being transferred to future prints.
The tissue paper sample produced in stage two is one of my favourite samples. It is neat and well produced, but I wondered if this could be replicated using fabric.
The collagraph printing method above was used to ink and print the plate with fabric scraps being added to the plate with Pritt used to adhere the fabric scraps to the final fabric print.
Pritt is sufficient to temporarily attach the scraps to the final print but they have been stitched to the print too to ensure they do not move.
This is a very effective way to add an area of colour to the print made.
I had focused much of my visual research and sample prints in finding materials that would print well and a method via which these details could be transferred to fabric.
I had also only really tried to print plates in one colour. The final sample printed on to fabric was from two different collagraph plates, one printed, dried, and then another printed over the top of the first image.
This would be a good way to combine different plates, stamps and direct drawing on to a single print. Also each layer could be printed in different colours.
This final print is much more interesting that some of the single prints. There is plenty of scope here for further work, however, it would be wise to not try and combine every method and every plate together. Details may be lost and begin to look very messy.
Printing from plaster ice cubes
The plaster ice cubes are a unique shape, it would be difficult to produce these any other way, and they also give some very unique prints – as seen in stage two.
I enjoyed expanding the area over which these prints were made but the cubes were very difficult to hold on to while they were being printed from. Once they had been painted they were very slippery to hold on to, this left some small finger-tip prints on the finish prints.
Both methods used to print from these cubes has left some large areas of the fabric background uncoloured. These could form good ‘windows’ to view other prints behind.
Funky foam is very easy to draw on to and cut out. It also has a very uniform surface so gives good prints when inked.
These are easy to make but look a little bit simple when compared to some of the collagraph plates.
They would be good to add single images on to previously printed surfaces.
This is a good way to draw directly on to fabric. Dilute acrylic paint mixed with textile medium passes well through the nozzle but the occasional clump of paint can easily clog the nozzle. Pressing the bottle too hard can release too much paint in one go leaving too much paint on the surface. This can take some time to dry. Errors cannot be erased from the fabric using this method.
Possibly the best surprise in my sample making was the washable gutta. It was very thick but there is a chance that it was quite old, having been in the back of a drawer for a while. A new tube might be easier to paint with.
The gutta was difficult to apply to the fabric and took some time to dry, roughly six hours. It was also easily covered with the paint used so I was unsure if it was going to work as I had hoped.
The paint was set using an iron (2 minutes, hottest setting) and the gutta washed out using a small amount of hand washing soap and cold water.
This could be used to mask printed areas to be retained with other plates printed on top.
I had hoped to make larger scale card cubes but unfortunately my origami skills let me down. I couldn’t get the number of folds I wanted in to the surface of the card I was using. In order to make the cubes as I would have liked a very large piece of card would have been required.
The plaster cubes looked very soft once they were made so I thought I would try to make something similar to them out of fabric. I made a few samples of different sizes and stuffed them using toy filling.
Sample 1 was a bit too small, it looked like a ravioli rather than a cube.
Sample 2 was a more manageable size but was over stuffed. This meant that one of the valleys seen in the plaster cube was visible, the fabric had essentially been pushed out tight.
Sample 3 was filled with toy stuffing but much less than sample 2 and just enough to hold the two fabric layers apart and to allow some of the fabric to form folds on the side of the sample, similar to the lines seen on the plaster cubes.
Sample 4 was also underfilled but felt a little bit too large.
A further sample was made but small areas were raised and stitched to mimic the lines of the plaster cubes. Unfortunately the stitched areas, both straight stitch and whipped stitch, looked messy and pulled the cube a little bit out of shape.
Rather than making hundreds of plaster ice cubes I wondered if a mirror room, or in this case a scaled down mirror box, could be used to create the illusion of more cubes.
The box was very successful, but very difficult to photograph due to the reflective surfaces.
I do not think that I can take this idea any further. Increasing scale would incur much expense and would produce a very heavy item that would be difficult to make, store and ultimately post to either a tutor or for assessment.
I am pleased that I got this sample to function in the way that I thought it should.
As I was making these I didn’t think very much of them. Revisiting them after producing the collagraph prints I feel that they work quite well.
There is a patchwork feel to each of the hexagrams produced which could be a good way to use up, or revive, poor prints. They are also a good example of overprinting and overdrawing.