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Collagraph Prints from Recycled Paper Food Cartons

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This is a post from Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.

collagraph-print of a girl and a sunflower made from a recycled food carton

Making Art from Stuff at Home

After printing drypoint etchings from recycled plastic food containers (see drypoints from plastic in this series), I’m experimenting with other household materials. In this post, a recycled paper food carton will be used to make a collagraph print. Let’s head into the kitchen!

Experimenting with collagraph prints using a section of packaging snipped from a rice carton

Printing Collagraphs with What You Have

With lockdowns in place all over the globe due to the pandemic, we have to make art with what we have on hand, right? I used an awl to scribe a figure gazing up at a sunflower, based on a photo my friends Thomas and Maureen gave me permission to use as a reference.

I added printmaking carborundum – which is sand paper grit – around the figure. It’s a great way to add contrast to your prints, since it holds ink, even after wiping the plate.

Carborundum is basically sand paper grit, and it comes in different particle sizes for printmaking

Make Do

If you don’t have carborundum, you can use corn meal. You can also cut fine-grit sandpaper and adhere it to your plate. It also works to sand the plate where you want some dark areas, and that will rough-up the surface a bit.

Seal the entire plate when you’re finished scribing and texturing. If you’re fresh out of gloss medium and varnish, you can dilute white acrylic paint and seal the entire plate (at least twice) front, back and edges. Shellac or button polish also works well.

I used Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish to adhere the carborundum to my plate. I also used it to seal the plate front, back and edges.

After painting carborundum mixed with the liquitex gloss medium over the background around the figure

The lines incised to hold ink on the interior of the rice box were scribed with an awl. You can see the granules of the grit in this close-up

Collagraph Printmaking in the Kitchen (or the Garage)

I hope your creative forays during lockdown have included perusing the drawers in the kitchen and the garage. There are all sorts of culinary and utility tools you can re-consider as art supplies.

Don’t have carborundum? Try finely crushed cornflakes. Don’t have a press? Experiment with a die cutting machine, a bench vice, a rolling pin, or a stomp method of printing. Don’t have collagraph plate material? Try a cereal or pasta box, or a sheet of cardboard.

After inking and wiping the plate with Akua intaglio printmaking ink, the collagraph was pressed against soaked and blotted BFK Rives printmaking paper on an etching press

The collagraph print, next to the rice carton collagraph plate. The image is a little rough around the edges, but a bit of colored pencil will be a fun fixer-upper.

I waited till the next day for the ink to dry so I could play with color and detail using colored pencils.

On the couch, adding the first layer of colored pencil to the collagraph print. The carborundum created a toothy texture the pencil loved sticking to

Adding successive layers and refining details on the collagraph print with colored pencils

The collagraph print, finished with colored pencils. Star Gazing – available in my Etsy Shop.

Put Your Experimenter’s Hat On

I’ve read lots of posts in this Facebook collagraph group from artists who feel afraid to try a new press, or new ink, or a challenging reference image.

Please don’t be afraid of art. We are not suturing a stab wound. We’re making fun things with our hands!

Direct your mind towards enjoying the process. Shrug your shoulders if it turns out a little wonky. You Get To start over if it doesn’t work. Fancy that! And, you take all the particulars you just learned with you to the next experiment.

If you catch yourself starting to feel afraid or hesitant to make something new, tape the mouth of that naysayer, and wrap a super hero cape around your shoulders. Have courage, and make something. (

Thanks for your visit, and I’ll see you in the next post -


P.S. If you’re interested in trying Akua’s carborundum gel (I’ve not tried it myself yet), this product PDF is very informative. It looks fun, right?

P.P.S. If you’re interested in seeing other printmakers using recycled materials, look at Karen Wick’s collagraph prints from medicine and juice containers, and Dan Tirels’ monotypes made from oil paint and plastic grocery bags.

Adding colored pencil to a figurative collagraph print of a woman napping with a cat
Have you experimented with colored pencils on your collagraph prints?

Art Quote

I cannot think of myself apart from the influence of the two or three greatest friendships of my life, and any account of my own growth must be that of their stimulating and enlightening influence.

Edith Wharton

The post Collagraph Prints from Recycled Paper Food Cartons appeared first on Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.


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