How to Make Simple Collagraph Christmas Cards in 5 Straightforward Steps

collagraph xmas cards 1

I have been rediscovering my love of collagraph printmaking by making my Christmas cards this year. I use a wonderfully simple form of collagraph printing which is similar to lino cutting but with the great ease of using cardboard plates and textured papers to make the design surface for printing.

You do not have to be good at drawing to make some wonderful designs and patterns.

Today I am going to introduce you to some tools and textures you can easily and cheaply find or buy if necessary. And show you examples of what I have produced with these simple methods.

I roll different colour inks over the cardboard plates so each print is quite individual and a mixture of different colours. I love this about this way of working.

Tools and Equipment

tools for making a collagraph plate 1

You will need some shiny card the kind of card that often comes as packaging with shirts, tights and bedding. You can also buy something like that from your local art store. It helps to stick this with a strong glue to a thicker card base for rigidity but not necessary.

You will need a craft knife ( I show two different types), an etching tool but a long screw will do just as well and search through the tool kit in the garage and find any useful things that will make a good mark. I show a nail punch here, second in from the left.

tools for making a collagraph plate 2

Additionally you will need an assortment of textured papers. A good source of this is old wallpaper rolls found in your loft and in charity shops or out of date wallpaper books from your local decorating shop. Scissors and glue to attach them firmly to the card.

Making a Collagraph Design Step by Step

1. Draw or copy a design onto the card. Any lettering must be mirrored/ written in reverse so it reads the right way when printed.

sketch for collagraph Christmas cards
The designs have been drawn on transparent paper with soft pencil so I can turn them over as shown to transfer the pattern to the card.

2. Using the craft knife cut shapes through the shiny card surface and carefully peel it back and remove it. This takes a little practice to get the hang of.

3. Make marks with etching tool or screw drawing quite deeply to mark the card.

collagraph plate ready for printing
An example of a collagraph plate before printing showing textured papers, cut out shapes and reverse lettering. The berries are made with the nail punch!

4. Stick textured papers on, you can also cut into these and create further shapes. Always bear in mind that you will get a “halo” effect around any textured paper you apply. This is shown well on the “Joy” card where there is white around the cut shapes. On the “Noel” card this effect is used to create the grid of the squares and reinforce the pattern.

5. Once all is cut and pieces stuck down it is a good idea to cover the card plate with a paper varnish like Mod Podge blue label waterbased sealer and allow to dry. The plate is now ready for printing. I will cover the printing process in another blog.

collagraph plate after printing
The “Joy” plate after printing which shows how some areas will not pick up any ink because of the stuck on textured papers.

I do hope that inspires you. Next time I am doing some printing I will record the process and give you tips on printing.

collagraph christmas cards 2
Here are the two completed printed cards from the plates I have shown you

I run workshops on this process, new dates to be fixed.

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