Currently, all the prints are ‘collagraphs’. The name comes from the Greek words ‘koll’ or ‘kola’, which means glue, and ‘graph’, meaning ‘to draw’.

Unique Prints

Every print is an original – known in printmaking circles as a ‘unique print’. This means that it doesn’t exist in any other form and was conceived and executed purely as a print. Furthermore, many of my printing plates are printed only once, with many printed less than ten times. Even in instances where a plate is used to make more than one print, the print is never a copy, as the plate is inked by hand individually each time, resulting in colour and tone variations between the impressions. Other factors influencing the look of the print include the use of different papers and adjustments to the roller pressure on press.

For me, despite being a little more experienced in platemaking and printing than I was last year, there is always surprise (and sometimes disappointment) and delight in printing a plate. Although I have a good idea of how a plate may print, it is impossible to know exactly how a plate/paper/pressure combination will behave. I have learnt to be more patient and accept that mistakes and ‘good accidents’ may occur. Also, with the kind of plates that I make, sometimes the plate looks amazing, but prints poorly. This is usually because I did not seal the surface adequately or because there were insufficient differences in tone to register on the print. I try to learn from these mistakes for the next plate of that kind.

Making prints and printing

To date, most of my printing plates have been made using standard 2mm or 3mm thick mount board, bought from art shops, craft suppliers or stationers. The board is relatively cheap to buy, and one large 20″ x 30″ sheet can be cut into many smaller sized pieces. Essentially, textures are built up on the surface of the board using various materials – household filler, plastic fruit bags/netting, plastic washers, twigs, carborundum powder (the same stuff that glass paper is made with) etc. Almost anything can be used, provided that the surface is not raised by more than about 2mm, as the plate must pass under a printing press roller under heavy pressure.

The surface is then sealed using varnishes or French Polish (Shellac), to prevent ink from penetrating the surface and oozing out everywhere on the printing press. This isn’t pretty and must be avoided!

Plates are then printed on a specialist etching press, where the pressure applied to the plate and paper, via the rollers, can be carefully controlled. To date, I have been using quality printmaking papers including Somerset, by St Cuthberts Mill and BFK Rives.

The Ropewalk

Most of the works have been printed at The Ropewalk, a gallery and arts centre in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire, under the expert guidance and encouragement of artist and printmaker Tim Needham. A warm and huge thank you is extended to Tim and the Ropewalk, for their support and enthusiasm for my work and for supporting printmaking and the wider arts scene within Lincolnshire and beyond.