The Printmaking Process
The conventional method of 'Collagraph' printmaking is a collage printmaking technique, of which a detailed description can be found here. In this instance however, I use the Litter itself as the 'plate'. I use the textures and shapes of the Litter to make up my designs, often waiting until I have seen the print of the item before deciding what to turn it into.
Find and Collect Litter
Much of my material has been collected from the beaches and coastline of The Gower in South Wales. More recently I have been combing roadsides, riverbanks and the countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in preparation for h.art this coming September.
Wash and Sanitise Litter
Washing the Litter is not only necessary for acheiving a good quality print, but for my own safety and for the safety of my workshop participants. The shapes, textures and lines presented by the Litter are captured best without interruption of sand, mud or outdoor substances
Thouroughly Dry Litter
Although I am looking for ways to replace the use of oil based printing inks in my design process, my current use of oil paint requires my items to be absolutely dry. This allows for thorough and even ink application.
Use Items of Litter as 'Collagraph' Plates
Once dry, the Litter is brought into the Printmaking studio. I apply ink to the surface of each piece of litter and into the creases and folds. Using Yellow pages and Tissue Paper I then gently rub away excess ink, leaving a delicate layer of ink to print with.
Soak the Paper
The inked up items of Litter must be printed on damp paper in order to pick up all the ink. I have tried printing onto dry surfaces on several occasions, but the results are never the detailed, high quality prints I get from using soaked paper. I use high quality paper such as Somerset or Fabriano so it does not rip when printed, or dissolve in the water bath.
Remove Excess Water
Once soaked, the paper needs to be 'squeegeed' and blotted to remove excess water, leaving the paper damp for printing.
Send through the Press
The inked up item is then sent through a hand operated roller press, ink against the soaked paper, sandwiched between sheets of newspaper to protect the Print Press blankets.
Produce Collagraph Print
Under the pressure of the press, the ink collected along the creases and folds of the piece of Litter transfers to the soaked paper to produced a detailed, Collagraph print of the item (in this case a smoothie carton).