A collagraph is a print made from a collage of items glued to a sheet of cardboard, metal or similar flat material.  It should not be confused with ‘collatype,’ which is a type of photomechanical printing.   The collagraph is primarly used in the fine arts.   Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Georges Braque were famous practitioners.  The collagraph is a relatively modern form of printing, probably originating in the late 1800s.

A wide variety of objects can be attached to the plate to give a wide and wild variety of designs and textures.  Common materials include cardboard cutouts, pieces of metal and wood, sand and glue.  The collagraph plates can be printed in relief (meaning, the ink is placed on the highest parts), in intaglio (meaning, the ink is placed in the lowest parts) or both.  The prints often have the plate mark, or pressed in area engulfing the printed area, that is typical to intaglio prints.  Collagraphs are often combined with other printing methods, including lithography, woodcut and etching.

Making your own collagraph.

Collagraphs are fun, easy and allow for imagination and experimentation.  Both kids and adults can make them.  As there are so many different and combinations of materials that can be used, there is almost a limitless variety of styles and designs one can make.

      This following simple example will show you how to make a simple collagraph printed in the relief manner. 



Plate = flat sheet of cardboard, metal, wood or similar material

Ink or paint


Brush or roller for applying ink

Paper to make your print on

Cardboard for making designs to paste to the plate. 

Stuff to clean up your mess


1) Cut out cardboard figures or other designs you want have in your print (trees, dog, clouds, whatever).

2) Glue the cardboard figures onto the plate.  Hot glue dries fast.  If you use Elmer’s glue, you will have to wait a while for it to dry.  You can glue other items to the plate if you wish (coins, stones, wood, design in glue).  Just realize that, for proper printing, everything has to be of similar height.

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3) With brush and/or roller, apply the ink or paint to the top surface of the items you pasted to the plate.


4) Place your piece of paper on top of your printing plate.  Apply pressure (with hand, paper towel other).  Remove the paper, by slowly pealing it from one side.

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5) You have made a collagraph.  If you like your design, you can re-ink your printing plate and make as many prints as you want.  You can add further detail to your print by hand painting or drawing designs.


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