Collagraph Plate after printing

A small description. 

Mixing plaster up with PVA glue and painting it onto the surface of a plate, and then drawing into it makes some amazing textures and surfaces, that you can print from. This way of making Collagraph plates is a fast, effective and wonderful way of making Collagraph printing plates.

Also there are many ways of printing these plates including Double drop printing, multiplate printing, a la poupée and many more.

Materials Needed

Making the Collagraph Plate

  • Sharp craft knife
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Mount board to use as your base plate.
  • All of your image’s, your drawings and ideas.
  • Pallet knife
  • PVA glue
  • Mixing pot
  • Shellac
  • Carborundum Grit (this is not explained below but if you want to add it then either mix with glue and apply or sprinkle on top of glue.

Printing the Collagraph Plate



1. Find your drawing, design or photograph that you would like to make a plate of. Make sure your clear on the layout and what you want your image to be.

2. Mix in plaster with PVA glue – do not use water as the plaster will break up in the printing process. The more glues you use the longer the mixture will take to set. You ideally want a porridge consistency.

3. Put it onto your plate using a pallet knife and create your image, work quickly as it dries very quickly. Score into it or push textures into it. Enjoy the process.

4. Let it dry overnight

5. Sand it back with an industrial sander so your plate is almost flat, if you don’t have an industrial sander then use a block with sandpaper round it to try and get an even consistent sand across the whole of the plate.

6. Shellac the plate. This will seal it so that you are able to print the plate again and again. If you do not seal the plate it will not print properly, and it will not last very long.

7. When printing use oil paint or etching ink – water based or oil based. Just remember that if your using water based inks you will need to make sure your paper is completely blotted after soaking it or making sure you scrape it down well before printing.

8. Soak your paper for at least 15 minutes. Recommended paper to use is Bockingford Rough however bread and Butter paper from John Purcell’s is very good – it is not expensive and conservation standard.

9. Ink your plate up with a brush or mountboard corner scraping and pushing the ink where you want it. Then wipe away the excess ink with newspaper or scrim

You will need a medium pressure to print the plate and your one blanket. Remember that it might take 4 prints to get a really good print from the plate especially if you have not sealed the plate.

Drying your prints – use a drying wrack, hanging system or sandwich with weights. If you hang your prints your paper will dry buckled if you leave your prints on a drying wrack to dry they will also dry buckled. If you leave your prints to dry in a sandwich of conservation tissues and boards with weights your prints will dry perfectly – just remember that if your paper that your printed onto was extremely wet you will need to change the tissue paper if left for more than 3 days

Things to Remember

  1. Your print will print backwards so you will always need to draw your image on backwards.
  2. Blot and scrape your paper properly if using water-based inks.
  3. Take your time inking the plate up – it will print as you see it on the plate.

Once your happy with the plate you have lots of different options of printing.

  • Intaglio
  • Relief
  • Chine-collé 
  • A la poupée
  • Viscosity printing
  • Double drop printing
  • Multiplate printing