Collagraph Charisma

Collagraph Charisma large-houses1

Brique Collage series, 128 x 98 cm each, 2002


The term collagraph is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue and graph, meaning drawing.  In the 1950’s, collagraph became accepted as a legitimate printmaking technique, largely due to the abundance of work produced by Glen Alps, a printmaking professor from the University of Washington, in Seattle.  Elementary collagraphic techniques can, however, be detected in 19th century prints.  The development of collage as an art form in the early 20th century also led to collagraph printing.



Lifesaver, collagraph, 38 x 28 cm, 2005


Collagraph is a printmaking technique where various materials can be glued to a plate.   Paper, fabric, leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds, carborundum powder, plaster and acrylic gel medium are some examples of materials that can be used.  The plate-making process is entirely non-toxic.  Collagraph is a direct approach to printmaking, allowing for spontaneous work, while providing the possibility of creating more complex pieces.



Mother Zeppelin (detail), collagraph, 170 x 110 cm, 2008


The base plate can be cardboard, wood, Masonite, Plexiglas or metal.  Lines and textures can also be engraved into plates. The plates are printed in intaglio with an etching press.  This method can be combined with relief printing by applying ink with a brayer over the textured plates.



Animal Mask, collagraph, 38 x 28 cm, 2009


I have been making collagraphs for twenty-five years.  I work on a high density cardboard that I prepare with acrylic medium, yielding durable plates.  I generally make editions of 40, however, I have made two editions of 100 each, by touching up plates along the printing process.



Artist's books, collagraph, 2009


Collagraph is a flexible medium, lending itself to experimentation. Over the years I have explored two-plate color printing, cut-out plates and large formats.  I have also incorporated collagraphs into my papier mâché sculptures and one of a kind artist’s books.



Little Black Dress, papier mâché, wire, collagraphy on Japanese paper, 61 x 31 cm, 2011


Although I use a wide variety of materials, I keep returning to plaster.  I use premixed drywall joint compound.  Not only is it inexpensive, it does not break under the pressure of the press. Typically I apply the compound with spatulas, shaping it into place with swift movements.  Once dry, I often engrave into the compound with a drypoint. It is also possible to imprint objects into the compound.  Recently I discovered a way to make bicycle tire prints.



Traces du va et vient, collagraph, 56 x 76 cm, 2012


I learned the fine art of collagraph at Atelier Circulaire in 1987 from French master printer and artist, François Xavier Marange. François Xavier worked at Leblanc, Lacourière-Frelaut and Maeght studios in Paris, where he printed for great artists such as Miró, Tapiés and Zao Wou-ki.  In France, artists were making collagraph prints with oil based, toxic varnishes.  In Montreal, Francois Xavier experimented with local, non toxic products with a view to producing a durable plate that could create a full range of subtle printed effects.

After twenty-five years of pushing this technique to new places I can say with conviction that collagraph is my printmaking medium of choice.

Talleen Hacikyan

All artwork by Talleen Hacikyan

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