August 28, 2018

Students' Collagraphs

        This summer my classes produced some particularly pleasing collagraphs, and I’d like to share a few.  For a refresher on the definition and techniques of collagraph, check out this previous post.  I’ve given students a variety of materials to use over the years, ranging from classes in which anything goes, including dried leaves, and scraps of every imaginable textured material, to classes who used nothing but puff paint.  This year’s provided materials were basically puff paint, craft foam, and corrugated paper.  This first picture is a sampler I created to demonstrate the effects the different materials could have.
   1. printing styrofoam (the kind usually used by kids too young for carving tools)
   2. a foam sheet that came wrapped around some books I ordered
   3. corrugated paper
   4. textured mat board
   5. craft foam
   6. crumpled paper
   a. puff paint (atop the types of foam, and on the base board)
   b. pressing into the two types of foam with a pencil
        This first piece made particularly nice use of the puff paint on top of craft foam.  I like the effect of the white shadow around the raised paint, contrasting with the more clearly visible edges of the craft foam shapes.

        The artist of the second piece made the unusual choice of building the bird's outlines with narrow strips of craft foam, instead of drawing them with the puff paint.  The wing is a larger foam shape, but only its outlines show because two stripes of corrugated paper were glued on top.  Its charm is in its simplicity.
        And finally, a duck that uses the variety of materials especially well.  The wing is corrugated paper, and the reeds long strips of cardboard that got a little crumpled or bent.  The water is the packing foam, and the white speckles on the duck’s body are indented into the craft foam with a pencil point.  It printed so clearly in part because instead of gluing the wing on top of the body, this artist fit the shape of the wing into a space on the body like a puzzle piece.  That means that all the raised areas are raised to roughly the same level, thus getting inked more consistently and printing more uniformly.
        I think I’ve finally found the right balance of materials to give the kids some options to stretch their creativity, while ensuring that all the materials used are stable enough to make successfully printable blocks.

[Pictures: Collagraph material sampler, by AEGN, 2018;
Flower vase, collagraph by EK, 2018;
Bird, collagraph by K F-K, 2018;
Duck, collagraph by SA, 2018.]

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