Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Collagraph printing on fabric

This is a technique I have been dying to try since I read about it in "Mixed Media - New Studio Techniques".  Recently I saw a different version on Design Matters TV and I also read about it on an art site.
Basically, this technique uses the different properties of surfaces to create different values in the print.
Here's what I did.
 Here is a piece of stiff card, and some tape, masking tape and shiny tape. I have scribbled on the shiny tape so you can see it.
I have drawn a leaf - half on one tape and half on the other.  I then scored the tape with a scalpel, both around the outside and to make veins, which you can just see if you look carefully.
 I removed the tape outside the leaf as I will not be using it.  I did this on the other side too.
Now you can see the leaf.  I have drawn over the scored veins so you can see them.
 I transferred the tape pieces one by one to the piece of card and stuck them down firmly.
Next I painted over the whole thing with fabric paint.
Here it is with a coating of paint.
 Next I wiped off most of the paint.  You can see how the plain cardboard is the darkest, the masking tape is a little bit green and the shiny tape is white.
I covered this with a piece of damp fabric.
And rolled it very hard with my brayer (mostly people use a printing press or a pasta machine, but I don't have one....yet)
The resulting print appears very successful.....

But as you see in these two dried samples, the colour bleeds significantly and fades.  Probably because of the damp fabric with no fixative.
This one was done on dry fabric. It has more texture, which is promising and is sharper, but the contrast is too low.
Next, I added some textile medium to the paint.  This was a bit of a disaster.
Here I tried thickening the paint with Aloe vera gel.  The colour in the paint became too dilute although the image is slightly sharper.  It was more of a disaster.
In these two prints, I used fabric which had been soaked in alum, rather than water (then blotted).  This solved the bleeding problem, and had great texture, but I wanted more!  So I changed media.
This one used a shiva paintstick and the edges had really good definition.  The creamy paintstick stuck well to the edges of the tape, but did not really work on the background and wiped off both tapes evenly which was disappointing.
However, my cardboard was getting a bit damp, since I had been using water based media.  The cardboard was really too thin and needed to be sealed to use fabric paint.  It started to buckle, so I ironed it...and
It got even more buckled and melted some of the clear tape.  It is actually quite pretty and I might use it in a collage, but no good for printing any more....
So I made a new one with really thick card and two layers of the clear tape.   I also increased the size of the cracks between pieces.  You can see the different surfaces and how they hold the media very well in this picture.  The background, which is rough card, holds lots of colour, whilst the masking tape on the right holds a little colour and the clear tape holds no colour at all.  It is these different values of colour that I want to get in my print.
These two prints used soft, dry pastels.  I got both of them from the same plate and they have great line definition, but the fabric was not damp enough to pick up the colour from the open areas.  It was worth a try!
I tried oil pastel, but like the shiva sticks, there was little transfer.  Oil pastels are just too thick.
So, last of all, I used oil paint. This seemed to work better.  I was getting the background and the lines and a little bit of colour on the masking tape.  The darker print is the first and the lighter print is the second from the same plate.
This is my final print and it is getting very close to what I want.  I used my fingers and nails to scratch over the back surface of the fabric (I suppose that's cheating) and I liked the lines that produced.   I could use different things to create textures, the end of a dowel, a spoon, a knitting needle etc.
The masking tape did not retain much paint, but next time I will try some other textured tapes and things.
But before I do any more experimenting with this technique, I will make some sealed plates with lace and dried leaves and bit and pieces....and harass my other half to make the press for me.  (honest, he said he would - we already have the rollers), but failing that I will get a pasta machine.  I am sure the prints would be better with stronger even pressure.
When I make the sealed plates, I will post and I will also report on the fastness of the colours in this experiment.  I think it best to let the oil based media cure for at least a few days.

The more you make mistakes, the more you learn