I’m often told persistence pays off, and I can be extremely persistent, but in this case, I give up. The aim was to print an edition of ten little collagraph prints, but after two printing sessions, I’ve ended up with not even a ‘variable’ edition but rather a variegated edition. Some days are like that, especially in the studio, though never have I before reached this level of frustration.
I started with the bright idea of a jigsaw collagraph. Nothing wrong with that, except…
The cardboard I chose to use worked only to a degree. It was too flimsy to be continually fiddled with while placing the ‘jigsaw’ pieces together. Next time, I will choose something sturdier than a teabag box! I chose the jigsaw block to enable easier printing of different colours. Yeah, right. The itty bits (the whole block just over 4 inches square) were a pain in the bum to roll ink onto – kept sticking to the ink and rolling with the brayer. Then there was the challenge of fitting them together, now more curved than flat, and inserting them into the surrounding ‘keeper’ frame while wet with ink.
I decided to use Somerset Velvet paper, of which I had plenty of off-cuts to utilise from an edition of larger prints. It’s a nice thick, soft paper and I figured it would work well for a collagraph print, especially dampened, when using the book press. The first batch of paper I soaked in a dish, sheet by sheet while I inked the fiddly block, section by section. Some pieces of paper were not damp enough – depending on how long it took to ink the itty bits and peel them off the brayer, and often having to re-ink. Other sheets of paper were, to say the least, odd, in the way they absorbed the water. Several ended up half the sheet saturated to almost transparency. There was a definite demarcation line, as if the paper had been half in and half out of the water for days, instead of fully submerged for a matter of minutes. Yep, odd.
The result was some possums having very dark heads, and others with very dark bottoms, as you can see in the photo, depending on which way I laid the wettest section of paper. So much for that printing session.
After trawling through both the collagraph and Linocut Friends Facebook pages, and consulting the oracle, Mr Google, I decided to have a second attempt with a different paper-dampening method. I dipped every second sheet of paper, layered wet and dry sheets in a stack, sealed them into a zip-lock bag, and left them overnight, to allow the moisture to wick evenly – I hoped – through the stack.
Back to the studio bright, early, and hopeful, the next day, I began again with rolling and inking the itty bits. The result? Major frustration at the inconsistency of the so-called edition. Naturally, the print is for an exchange, with a speeding-towards-me deadline. So, what to do? A reduction linocut, of course – now in progress!