Beautiful Trash

Collagraph demo

Relief inking the surface

The first press

The first result

The inked collagraph

Three printing methods

Starting my plate

Abstract fence

The plate inked

After the first press

My favorite relief print

Color result in yellow ochre

Over the last couple weeks in the printmaking studio, I’ve been busy making art out of garbage and it’s amazing how beautiful the results can be. Collagraph relief printing is fascinating. We’ve been playing with all the various textures and surfaces these found materials can leave behind when assembled together, inked and then run through the press. It really changes one’s way of thinking about throwing things away. I’ve always been a huge craft reclaimer, and I often work with recycled paper, but learning this new print method takes the concept of craft recycling to new heights. It really makes one think twice about what is being tossing away in a normal day, and potentially how it can be reused.

Recently I’ve been studying Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Running Fence” installation which was on display for only two weeks throughout the hills of Marin and Sonoma County in 1976 before it was permanently removed. This veiled fence was assembled by thousands of volunteers. It extended for over 24 miles, and was composed of over 2,000, 18-foot panels of white nylon, held by steel wires anchored into the earth. The battle over getting this incredible installation built, and the political discussion and arguments it caused over 40 years ago about what is considered “art” is still something that people in this area recall. My parents remember this time, and one of my instructors at DVC was a volunteer who hung some of the panels.

My fascination with the fence was an inspiration while working out this abstract collagraph print. Compiled from a variety of packaging materials, paper waste, aluminum foil, wire, elastic, string, weeds, leaves, and even a bone - it was an exercise in patience. I learned a tremendous amount about playing with the press pressure and struggling to move oil-based ink around each surface. There were a few repairs in-between the pressings, but overall it’s pleasing to see the end results. I can’t wait to make more art out of garbage soon!

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