May 302013

Collograph printmaking experiments from Tess Martin on Vimeo.

This video shows experiments with animating collograph prints. The first segment is three separate prints made from three slightly different collograph shellac plates. The second segment is those same three plates printed on top of the same piece of paper. The third segment is three different carborundrum plates printed onto the same piece of paper.

This was a mixed success – the segment that works the best as an animation is the first one, and this is because I printed onto three separate sheets of paper rather than on one. Each frame is very clear and isolated (whereas the other two segments get a bit muddled). But those of you that have been following my printmaking experiments know that I’m trying to develop a technique where it is possible to reprint over the same piece of paper instead of creating mountains of prints for one film. This has proven challenging, and it may be that creating separate prints is ultimately the way to go.

But even if this is the case I don’t know that collograph printing in this manner is the best option, because I had to create one separate plate for each print, essentially doubling the work. I created a similar result back in January using just one plate but inked differently each time. This would definitely be the preferred option of the two.

The three shellac collograph plates used to make the first two experimetns

The three shellac collograph plates used to make the first two experimetns

The second segment is interesting – the animation is successful on the right side of the print, where you can clearly see the shape getting bigger and smaller. On the left the problem was I printed the big shape first, so the second and third smaller shapes were obscured. I should have made that area very light on the plate, or designed all the movement just so it gets bigger rather than smaller. This I will explore further.

The dragonfly segment at the end is a success in that one can see the dragonfly moving across the page, but again, I had to create a separate plate for each position – not really worth the effort for this result – I could have just potato stamped the dragonfly moving across the page instead. It is true that with doing it this way I’m able to ink the whole plate a different color between each printing, creating the flashing psychedelic look of the backgrounds, which is interesting, but ultimately not a big enough advantage to justify the labor, I think.


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