How to – Intaglio drypoint collograph

Carol Nunan has initiated a “How to” on Collographs for this month.   Here’s my contribution.  I love this method because it is non-toxic and I get to recycle my milk cartons !    Judy Barrass  shared this method with me:

Step 1.    I save my tetrapak soy milk cartons  and cut them up to create printing plates.   The size of the carton will of course  limit the size of your print.  I have been lucky enough to have Judy send me some  tetrapak “off the roll”  so now I can use it for creating larger prints.

Step 2.  I Draw my image into the silver side of the tetrapak  with a drypoint tool.  Unlike drypoint on a metal plate there is no burr created so the printed line is quite sharp and crisp.

Step 3.  Next I glue the tetrapak to some cheap grey board with PVA glue.   I Shellac the edges and back so that stray ink can be wiped off easily (no need to shellac  the image) &  I trim the edges with  a stanley knife.

 Step 4.  Ink up the plate as you would any intaglio plate.  I use old phone book pages  and tarlatan for wiping back the plate and I use cotton buds  to wipe in the highlights.

Step 5.  Print onto damp etching paper using a press.

 Here’s a print made using this technique.  It is called “Yoga Mama”.  


An exercise in patience

Intaglio printmaking is an exercise in patience! It is slow and I feel a real intimacy with the process when I am in the studio. I have taken to sitting down whilst I ink up my plates because it takes me such a long time !    Intaglio printmaking tests my patience and sometimes I could scream when I pull a print and it’s  over-whiped or underwhiped or the edges are messy ! ! I walk out of the studio, take a break, have a cuppa tea then come  back later and re-evalute how to wipe the plate to achieve a good balance of lights & darks…..and I start  again.  Today I printed some collographs and achieved only one good print.  It was a good ‘flowing’ printing session, however,  because  I am getting used to the small space in the Green Room and I got very organised before my print session
Here are the prints: 

I feel that this print of the wren is successful.  The composition works and I have achieved a good overall balance of light and dark areas.   The following prints aren’t terribly successful due to the way I’ve wiped the plates.  The first print has distracting splotchy wipe marks  and the second doesn’t have enough contrast.  I have achieved some interesting  textures  and the compostions work I just need to work on the inking ! I’ll persevere with them & I’ll probably add another colour to  all these  prints.  Stay tuned….


My lesson for the day was to make sure I print enough proofs on proofing paper before printing on “good” papers.    I need know  each plate intimately and know how to treat every inch of my plates when inking and wiping.   I managed to “waste” some very nice heavyweight Hannemule paper today because I didn’t do enough proofing first and didn’t know my plates sufficiently !  As always a good learning curve…. and I am always comforted to realise that the paper isn’t really wasted as I use my “dodgy” prints for bookmaking, cards or collage.

Lino Prints

These are the first prints I ever did. I love the simplicity of black and white lino prints.   I took a Lino Printing workshop with Jennifer Marshall on Bruny Island in 2007.   Little did I know at the time how significant that was  in arousing my curiosity and ingniting the spark that  fuels my deep love of Printmaking.




Lithography / photography






 I tried  Zinc Plate Lithographic printing  last year at college for the first time.  Linden Langdon was our fabulous teacher.  I drew directly onto the zinc plates with lithographic ink using a nibbed pen.  I also tried some tusche washes on stone to try and achieve some good reticulation but didn’t get any good results.  I was totally inspired by Kaye Green’s reticulation that she achieves in her prints !   I must have another go at litho and try and get some reticulation happening.  I also think of Judy Watson’s print “back lash / cross dressing”  when I think of  beautiful reticulation.    Reticulation is what happens when the liquid drawing ink or tusche  dries and reticulates on the surface of the stone in the most astonishing manner, creating exaggerated billowing, web-like patterning.

I printed my lithographs on to pure silk and whilst they weren’t very successful as prints alone,  I loved playing around with layering  the semi-transparent silk prints against each other and against different printed backgrounds and photographing them.    The photographs (above) are way more interesting than the lithographic prints.  


This is what happened when I tried to get reticulation happening on a zinc plate.  I just got this mottled, spotty effect that is know as “toadskin “!  I quite like the photos however.  I tried again on stone but didn’t have much success with it.  I probably need to do some research on the technique.