Collagraphs are a type of printmaking when you create a collage of textures, roll it up with ink, and print it. Collagraphs are a great way to give discarded materials a new life.
First, the students learned about the difference between VISUAL texture and ACTUAL texture. After talking about various examples of visual and actual texture in art history, students completed a sketchbook assignment in which they glued actual textures in their sketchbooks and drew them visually on the opposite page.
Next, we talked about printmaking, with a focus on collagraph printmaking. We discussed the importance of the invention of the printing press. I showed them examples of collagraphs, including some by Glen Alps, the artist who popularized this type of printmaking. We talked about how printmaking involves making an impression onto paper with a printing plate. And the prompt for the assignment... IMPRESSION!
Students were asked to come up with an image based on a person/place/experience that has made some sort of impression on their lives and shaped who they are. I shared my example with them of the impression growing an avocado pit into a plant has left on me. It was the first plant I ever grew from seed and nurtured.
We did a couple of brainstorming activities together so the students could come up with their own "impressions". During one of these activities, I gave each student a post-it note and asked them to write down an answer to a PLACE, a PERSON, and an EXPERIENCE that has made an impression on them.
After the students came up with their ideas and started working on sketches, I demonstrated a couple of different ways to build a collagraph plate, including building up, cutting away negative space, using modeling paste, and layering from the background to the foreground.
The students' plates have various types of fabric, textured wallpaper samples, thin cardboard, and other materials. They played with positive and negative space, and I emphasized for them to keep their imagery simple since there would be a lot of texture in their print. Below are images of some of the plates they made.
After the students created their collagraph plates and coated them with a gloss varnish, I demonstrated how to ink and print a plate. Throughout the next week, the students each got an opportunity to ink up and print their plates.