My first thought for illustration of the Artists’ book is to use Collograph. My experience has been to try it once on a one-day course which I went to because my computer workshop was cancelled!
So here is “Head”
What is collograph?
Okay, in a nutshell! (more in due course):
It is like etching in that a plate is inked up and off-set prints are made from it.
Etched plates are metal and are engraved using acid, but collograph plates are made of cardboard such as mountboard.
- The cardboard plate has thin pieces of card, materials, wall paper etc. glued on. The neckpiece is made of wallpaper and the cloche hat is satin brocade. The eyebrows are scratched in and are black from the residue of the first printing. The left side of the face is textured Japanese paper with long threads and the nose, lips and cheek detail is shiny gold card which resists ink.
- The collograph is then varnished with shellac or similar.
- It is inked up in a similar way to an etching plate – ink is pushed into every single crevice and layered on quite thickly.
- The ink is wiped off laboriously and carefully, leaving it in the scratched marks and indentations. It might be wiped over smoother surfaces leaving traces or wipe-marks.
- If you are working in more than one colour as above, different areas would be inked up at the same time so that the borders blend. Wiping down is then even more meticulous. Expect to take an hour to wipe down and “burnish” the plate.
- The plate is laid on the printing press bed and damp paper is put on top.
- The printing press is then rolled over the plate forcing the damp paper into the indentations to pick up ink and to emboss slightly
“Head” is a (rather funny) pottery head that I copied. As she has a cavity for flowers, I gave her a headdress.
The template on the left in both photos is the plate which is built up and varnished. I used a peacock feather (which should have been wiped down more skilfully, but you can see how beautifully the textures are reproduced in the print on the right. I cut the head out and gave her a different hat for the image at the top of the post. I also discarded the background.
I really think this way of illustrating has potential and I could even use a real plate for the cover. My only reservation is that the print needs to look as “gorgeous” as the plate.
There is a 2-day collograph course coming up which will be the start of my research.
b.t.w. Here is Head in the garden with some dying daffs!