A new collagraph print with surface roll – Banksia serrata 3

After a year of being in sort-of recess, I am getting back into art making and growing an art business.  Studio time is blocked out, and and a new collagraph print has been made.  It’s a little different this time, as I decided to use a surface relief roll (as you would for a linocut print) together with the usual intaglio inking.  See details for making a purchase below.

Banksia serrata 3, EV1/8, ©Jacky Lowry, collagraph print with relief roll of real Banksia serrata leaves.
Banksia serrata 3, 1/8

I chose orange for the background because the flowers are orange (though perhaps not quite so bright).
I’ll take you through the process of working with two colours together. Really, the only extra tasks are to prepare and apply the second colour.  

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker; Orange relief ink laid out on workbench, with a roller brayer.
Orange relief ink laid out, with a roller brayer.

You can apply more than one colour to a printing plate with good relief, using what is known as Viscosity Printing.  It works because oil based inks that have different viscosities will not easily mix, and so can sit on top of each other. I used a dark, green-black intaglio ink with a relief ink (linocut ink) for the surface roll. However, just adding a little oil to a second (or third) colour of intaglio ink will change the viscosities, and that will also work.

In the image, behind the orange ink laid out on glass, you can see my dark intaglio ink, partly exposed from under its protective layer of aluminium foil. (Oil-based inks keep very well in aluminium foil, but not plastic film.)   

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker; The Banksia 3 collagraph printing plate being intaglio inked up using a brush.
Intaglio inking the printing plate.

I use a brush to add intaglio ink to my collagraph plates, adding Easy Wipe as necessary to ensure spreadability.  I don’t want a stiff ink.  A brush lets me apply ink into all the nooks and crannies of plant collagraph plates. The first inking of a plate is always thorough and complete, but subsequent inkings can be quite light, as plate wiping evens out the ink and provides plate tone. In any case, most of the ink is wiped off. For plate wiping I use soft knit cotton or polyester/cotton waste cloth.  I find tarlatan much too stiff and rough for wiping cardboard-based collagraph plates.  Another reason for not wanting a stiff ink.

Collagraph printing plate with a surface roll of relief ink.
Collagraph printing plate with a surface roll of relief ink.

Next the orange relief ink is rolled over the top. This takes several passes as my roller is not wide enough for one go. To get the leaf patterns inked in black, I wiped off the orange ink, first with soft knit cloth. and then more completely with plain, fragrance-free baby wipe.  In the image, the top two leaves are partially wiped.  Once the leaves were cleaned (mostly) of orange ink, they were gently brushed with a thin layer of dark intaglio ink to catch their vein patterns.

The Reveal - Paper being removed from a freshly-printed collagraph plate - The Reveal
The Reveal – lifting the paper off a newly printed plate.

Here you see the moment truth, The Reveal, when the plate has just been through the press, and the paper is pulled back for the first time.  There is always a moment of a little tension – quite addictive.

Roller showing dark ink picked up from the printing plate.
Roller after applying relief ink to an intaglio inked plate.




One of the irritations of using two or more colours in a single printing is that the plate and the roller must be cleaned between printings. The roller picks up bits of the dark intaglio ink, which if not cleaned off will contaminate and change the colour of the relief ink.

In the past, before discovering plain baby wipes, I would have changed to nitrile gloves (which don’t deteriorate with turps, but are more expensive), taken everything outside (for better ventilation) and cleaned down the roller and the plate with rags and messy turps.  The baby wipes can be used in the studio with my usual gloves and make the process so much easier.

Banksia serrata 3 print close-up showing leaf details.
Print close-up showing leaf details.

This close-up of a print shows that my technique of gently brushing in details before printing is very effective.  

Well, the printing is finished, but the process is not complete.  I will let the prints sit for a few days to let the ink cure further.  Then comes numbering and signing each print with pencil, in the usual printmaking tradition.  That done, there is the documentation.  Images of the plate and prints are scanned (done) before the cured prints can be sleeved and numbered.  I keep records of my art on my computer, and also in my Artwork Archives account.

Banksia serrata 3 prints in drying rack.
Banksia serrata 3 prints in drying rack.

And now I’m thinking of printing another edition from this plate, with the background painted in my usual fashion.  I’ll show you when it is done.

Banksia serrata 3, EV1/8, ©Jacky Lowry, collagraph print with relief roll of real Banksia serrata leaves.





To make a purchase, contact me.

Banksia serrata 3, © Jacky Lowry, a variable edition of eight collagraph prints.
Image size:  
 11 cm  x  26.5 cm
Paper size:    23.5
cm  x  37.5 cm
Price:              AU$150 plus p&p.

View the image in greater detail in Artwork Archive. 




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