Collagraphy A to Z at PCNJ


Collagraphy A to Z at PCNJ pcnj

The Printmaking Center of New Jersey


On June 21 and 22, I taught an intensive two-day collagraph printing workshop at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey (PCNJ), in Branchburg, New Jersey.  After my whirlwind art tour of New York it felt wonderful to find myself amidst the green rolling hills, horse farms and quaint villages in this scenic region.  The Printmaking Center organized a home stay for me with artist Liz Mitchell, who is the Board Chair of the PCNJ.  My encounter with her, visiting her studio and seeing her art were bonuses to the already enriching experience of coming to teach at PCNJ.





I had the pleasure of working with six women artists,  including one returning student from the first workshop I gave there last year.  With only two days to make collagraph plates and to print them, there is no time for participants to ponder over image content.  This is good.  It pushes them to jump right in and get an intuitive grasp for the medium and to disregard any tendencies toward self-censorship.



Student collagraph


Charissa Baker


The atmosphere in the studio was warm, welcoming and positive.




The women started by practicing subtractive methods on their prepared cardboard plates: dry point, X-Acto knife and tearing.  They went on to explore additive techniques: collage, plaster, acrylic gel and carborundum powder.  After these directed exercises they were free to create more plates combining all these techniques according to the effects they wanted to achieve.



Dorothy Clair



Judy Tobi


I gave a printing demonstration, according to traditional methods handed down to me by master printers. After we all witnessed the magic of the first printed collagraph hot off the press, everyone grabbed a smock and latex gloves and got to the exciting business of printing their plates.  The first collagraphs were printed in black to get a true grasp of tonal effects and then we dabbled in color.





Carborundum collagraph by Sandy Anton


I love the organic process of teaching and learning that happens on the spot.  Often the best tools I have to explain techniques are generated by the student work itself.  Each print becomes my teaching assistant.  The women had brought interesting materials to create textures with: antique lace, surgical tape and Band-Aids, dried flowers, microscopic beads, copper shavings, sawdust and evergreen clippings. Everyone was struck by the versatility and expressive quality of collagraphy.



Inked plate with embedded copper shavings by Charissa baker


Collagraph with dried flowers by Sandy Anton


Students explored different approaches.  Leokadia Stanik and Judy Nylan printed  two-plate color collagraphs.  Judy Nylan overprinted a silkscreen with a collagraph plate and Judy Tobi made several prints using her own hand made paper.



Two-plate collagraph by Leokadia Stanik



Two-plate collagraph by Judy Nylen


During a two-day workshop my immediate goal is to teach the basics of collagraphy and to convey the unlimited possibilities of this wonderful technique.  I also want to inspire students and encourage them to continue exploring the technique on their own. Ultimately, when I teach, I strive to create an atmosphere where participants connect to their work, to each other and feel joy.  I am lucky to be part of this dynamic where printmaking becomes a celebration of life.


Talleen Hacikyan


Thank you to Linda Helm Krapf, Sheila Goloborotko, Liz Mitchell and to all the students.

Photos by Sandy Anton, Talleen Hacikyan, Matt Koosner and Leokadia Stanik.  Thanks!

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