Part 4, Projects 1 & 2 – Monotype and collagraph printing

Project 1 – Monoprinting

Exercise 1, Markmaking

For this first exercise we were asked to make marks into the inked printing plate from which we were to take a print I quickly found out that my printing roller was no longer operating properly. It kept not rolling and simply pushed the printing ink around the plate rather than smoothing it equally. I therefore resorting to adding ink with a brush and rags which has created some interesting effects throughout these projects: This caused me a lot of problems throughout this part of the course. I decided to focus on trialling the techniques and perhaps try some more experimental approaches. This will probably come back to bite me though!


This first print used a knitting needle and the end of a paint tube to create marks, unfortunately there was too much ink and it was too runny so the print was not successful. It was an interesting starting point from which to develop though. I like the spiral design, I have been looking into circles in one of my sketchbooks lately; mainly looking at creating rich backgrounds for embroidery.


For this print I painted the ink onto the plate and used both ends of a pencil and my finger to make marks based on my circle sketchbook. I like the contrast between the lines made by the paintbrush and the spirals and circles. It is a very playful print. It reminds me strongly of a windy wet day. Swirling seas over rocks in Cornwall also come to mind which, if you know me you will know is always one of my favourite things! I think this would work well printed on fabric with embellishments and stitch.


I added some brusho and extra water to this plate before taking a print to create a more watery effect. The marks got a little lost with the water but it is in interesting textural effect that I may use in the future. Again it looks very sea like to me and would work well as a background for stitch. It would be a nice textured base to work with. The undulating lines would work well with couching.


‘Fast’ mark making was the aim of this print. The marks swirl and dash around with a lot of energy. Finger tips and the sharp end of a paintbrush were utilised to create the marks.


This print reminds me of Japanese wave paintings. The ink was painted onto the plate then removed in parts with a cloth and knitting needle. Swirls were then added with a dry brush.


This print is quite messy and not very attractive but I like the depth produced by the multiple layers of print. I don’t think it will make it to being mounted but was a good experiment to do.


I thought I would try a completely different substrate for this print. It uses organza as a background and is highly effective when held up to the light or hung. I am particularly enjoying creating painterly backgrounds it would seem. It is crying out for some stitch on top. Couched lines or French knots spring to mind here.


This pleated sample was created as part of the first section of this course. It was a little boring so I though I would see what happened when it was printed then re-pleated. I find it far more interesting now. I love the idea of pleating patterns or printing pattern over pleats.


Unlike the previous sample, this pleated sample was printed whilst already pleated rather than being pleated afterwards creating a totally different effect. This would be interesting to re-do with printing ink on fabric.

Exercise 2, Drawing onto the printing plate

For the second exercise we were to create simple drawings on the plate using colour to form the print.


Although certainly not a good advert for my (basic at best) drawing skills, I do like the layers on this print. A finer brush is needed I feel. It was so difficult to use the thick acrylic to create detail. It also dried so quickly that it was difficult to get a good print.


This print of bladderwrack was slightly more successful. It won’t win any prizes but I felt that I was beginning to get to grips with the technique a little at this point. I used watercolour on the plate as a background, this was picked up by the paper creating a floaty watery effect which I quite like


This print was more successful, on a different substrate with more detail it would be even better. I struggled to work fast enough and the ink dried too much, losing some of the detail. More print medium in the mix may have avoided the issue.


I painted on the printing plate with varying colours using various tools including brushes and my fingers and printed onto pre-printed sheets of paper (mostly unsuccessful previews print attempts) to create these multilayered prints. I would like to recreate these on fabric at some point and stitch into them as they would look fabulous accentuated with stitch and perhaps some beads.


Exercise 3, Back drawing

For exercise 3 we were to lay a piece of paper onto the plain inked plate and draw onto the reverse of the paper:


I had the ink a little too dry for this print so it lost some of my intended detail but it was still semi successful. It could easily be worked into with other media for example. I want to try this again with some printing ink rather than acrylic.


This very painterly background detracts too much from the grasses drawn with a pencil.I am quite pleased with the technique overall however. I do seem to be struggling to achieve much of any use at the moment though.


This print worked out rather well thanks to a happy accident, the paper picked up some of the background ink in some parts (I possibly touched it with my hand whilst drawing, I’m not sure) and not in others creating an interesting background to the seed head.


Another accident really, I decided to try printing over a previous print with a different colour. It a smudged a bit as the ink was too thick and too wet so not a success.


This print of back drawn bladderwrack worked really well it has a lovely balance of light and shade, background and foreground strength.



These last two prints are I think, two of the happiest accidental outcomes I have had in this section of the course the last one in particular, although showing little resemblance to what I thought I was printing certainly echoes the source particularly well. Based on some rock formations in North Cornwall, I had concentrated on the lines found in the rock but due to the ink being a little too wet and excessive what I ended up with were prints that were very rock like indeed!

Exercise 4, Working with stencils

For this exercise we were to use simple paper masks to create printed shapes.


I stad this section with my collection of grasses and leaves. I laid the leaves etc. down on the print plate to act as a stencil which proved to be both interesting and informative. I think the ink was still too wet so it smudged a lot losing the detail I was hoping for.


I then tried torn paper shapes as a mask: these prints were particularly interesting when combined with other techniques as in the next two prints where I painted the design onto the plate then added the stencils leaving a negative space.




In the next two prints the stencils were added as before but also used in other ways. to add positive marks as well as negative spaces. The paper stencils were also used as a collage material in the final print to add depth and interest.




Experimental mixed technique prints

I completed this section by experimenting to create textures using mixed techniques. I think these are my most successful prints. They use a combination of the above techniques to create a multi layered print which would be great as a background for hand or machine embroidery or in some cases, fabric design.








Project 2 – Collatype printing

Exercise 1, Create a collage block

For exercise one we were taught to create a collage block using various found objects. My block used:

  • Rug canvas
  • String
  • Sycamore seeds
  • Some embroidered hessian
  • Some milliner’s sinamay
  • Some heated Tyvek
  • A Camellia leaf
  • Some netting
  • An acer leaf
  • A piece of screwed up paper


A plain print on watercolour paper. This printed reasonably well but not uniformly


A plain print on a watercolour washed background


This was a much better print, the ink had dried a little more than the previous two prints


This was the most successful of my trial prints. The print printed more uniformly and I even prefer the background colour!

Exercise 2, Polyfilla block

The second exercise involved making a block using polyfilla manipulated using a range of mark making tools. My first two prints were not very successful as there was too much ink on the block and it did not allow the texture to show enough to get a clean print.




My second set of prints were much better, I removed some of the ink which really made a difference. The prints were much sharper and clearer




The print below had too little ink on the block . I quite like it though as it has a very delicate feel


The print below would have been almost perfect had I not managed to move the paper against the block which created a double exposure look.


My last print in this section is my favourite,  I printed it over a coloured background which tied it in nicely with the seaside theme I have been using in one of my sketchbooks.


Exercise 3, Collatype collage prints

Exercise three was an exercise bringing together what we had learnt in the previous exercises to create four collatype collage blocks to print from. My first block used some of my collection of grasses stuck to a piece card to create a design from which to print.


I played around with various colours and amounts of ink on the plate and different backgrounds. I chose to stick with colours derived from the landscape from which the grasses were taken whilst I was out walking locally.

The print below is my favourite and again it is due to an accident. The plate had become a little gunky from the layers of paint and it lifted some of the paper leaving a texture on the print. I would have loved to have managed to replicate it again but I couldn’t.


The print below worked really well, a lighter version of the same colours created a brighter, more modern, clean look.


My second block again used grasses but combined with card and textured papers again I tried different variations of colour and thicknesses paint / yes of paint:






I stuck with my theme of grasses for my third block but this time rather than sticking the grasses to the block, I pushed them into a layer of polyfilla to create an impression. I then experimented with different methods of adding ink,  colours etc.




Finally I took a print onto fabric which I hope to work into further by the end of the course.


My final print block was based on a sketch of the rocks at Boscastle taken from my sketchbook. To create the block I used mainly polyfilla with some tissue paper and card. I didn’t think about reversing the design so it’s the wrong way round but it does work well as a design particularly the textured areas. The second print was a bit wetter which made for a more atmospheric effect.




I have really enjoyed this section of the course so far it has been a lot of fun and very difficult to tear myself away from. I am quite pleased with the prints I have created and feel that many if them could be moved on to create further designs.

I particularly enjoyed using the plant material to print with. Exploring different ways of using natural materials has become a bit of a theme for me during this course. It has been great to try so many different techniques.


About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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