We have a teacher to thank for the multi-media collagraphy technique we know today: Glen Alps, a professor of art and printmaking at the University of Washington. Alps, who taught from 1947-1984, furthered the collagraphy process, which had been in use for many years, and coined the name collagraph during his tenure as an art teacher.
Collagraphs combine several artistic processes. Simple enough for young children but satisfying event to the experienced artist, the process begins by identifying the artist’s subject. Say, a flower with multiple petals and a stem, for example. Next, the artist identifies various shapes within that subject that could be compiled, via the collage process, to create the scene.
Now comes the fun part. The artist searches for materials that might be cut into those shapes, while at the same providing interesting texture to the piece. Almost anything goes, provided the material does not stand more than ⅛” of an inch deep. For example, the artist might decide to create the petals of the flower using ovals cut from card stock, felt, lace, or foam or the artist might decide to use real petals and leaves in his or her piece.
Once the collage materials have been compiled and assembled to create the desired image, they’re glued onto a “printing plate” made of cardboard or heavy paper stock, and the entire piece is varnished or shellacked. When dry, the piece is coated with a thin coat of ink and pressed with another blank page to create an embossed print. This print, in turn, can be enhanced further with additional layers of hand-painted watercolor or other mediums.
Combining the creativity of collaging with the ins and outs of print making and the freedom of painting, collagraphs make the perfect classroom project.
Introduce your students to the collagraph process with our Colorful Collagraph project. View a complete lesson plan for this project, including images, step-by-step directions, and a materials list, here.
For grades 6-12.