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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Wednesday-Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday

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Making Art Together

Collagraph Prints

Inspired by the many materials and techniques that 30 artists used in the exhibition Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, we decided to explore a process that would invite guests to experience a range of media. We also were inspired to continue our exploration of printmaking after last year's monotype print project. So we decided to try collagraph printing, a process that involves collage, paint, and printing techniques. It was time to test out our first two-stage drop-in project in the Art Studio!

To create a collagraph print, you first make a textured collage “plate”. For this, we provided guests with collage materials to glue down onto a matboard or cardboard base. We used tacky glue and found that the bond it created was strong enough that the plate could be used right away without waiting for the glue to dry. This was important in our setting where most guests complete the project in one sitting and aren’t able to return later to finish the process.

Once guests created their plate, they were invited to “ink” their plates up using brayers rolled in washable tempera paint. Different colors could be layered on top of the plate, creating secondary colors when printed.

The last step involved hand-printing by pressing a paper onto the “inked” plate, evenly rubbing the paper with hands to ensure a transfer of the thin layer of paint to paper.

Removing the paper is a fun moment in printmaking, there is always a surprise in seeing what transferred from the collaged plate to the print.

This was the first time we had tried collagraph printing in the Art Studio and we learned a lot. We experimented with using textured fabrics in this project, but found that they can be hard to cut without the right tools (such as sharp fabric scissors). In future Art Studio collagraph projects, we will stick with mostly paper-based materials. We found plenty of textured paper materials including corrugated cardboard, paper doilies, and thick card that can be cut into shapes. Next time we will also try using string to add more texture and line to the prints.

We also learned that in a multi-stage process like collagraph, it was important to set up stations in the room. Collaging took place at sit-down tables across the studio as this step took the most time. Printing took place at tables in the center of the room where it was easier to stand, roll the paint on, and press the paper onto the plate. Guests moved between the stations and could start at any point in the project, whether it was making a print from an already prepared plate, or starting to collage one of their own. For some, rolling the paint out and experimenting with color mixing using the brayers directly onto paper was a generative starting point. It was important that the project always remained open-ended, so the stations allowed Art Studio guests, of all ages, to move through at their own pace, and in their own way. 

We also wanted to encourage multiple prints because this is one of the exciting characteristics of printmaking, the ability to create a series from one plate. In addition, there are many variables that can affect the outcome of the printmaking process, from the amount of paint added to the plate, to the way that the colors mix as they are layered on with the brayer. So it was important to give space for experimentation and repetition.

The results of all these variables often produced unexpected results, making this a fantastic opportunity to encourage what we started to think of as a laboratory approach. Each collaged plate would start with a hypothesis about what would happen when paint was added. The print stage became the test of this hypothesis, and an opportunity to make observations about the result. After completing this process, it was an opportunity to make adjustments and start all over again. This led to many discoveries, from learning that everything turns out in reverse in the print (all words will end up backwards!) to the way that using less paint often produces more detailed results.

We are excited to return to collagraph printing in the Art Studio. We will continue to try out new approaches, incorporate all that we have learned, make adjustments, and see what happens next!




by Meg Nicoll

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 at 12:47 pm and is filed under By Meg Nicoll, Collage, Every Day Art Program, Found Materials, Mixed Media, Painting, Printmaking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

The space and programming of The Carle Art Studio is supported by a generous annual sponsorship from Penguin Books For Young Readers.

We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we're excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment:

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials.


Martha Butler
Tuesday, January 1, 2019 - 3:20 pm
Hi Meg, I work at Longwood University's museum, LCVA (Longwood Center for the Visual Arts) in Farmville, Virginia as Assistant Educator. I really enjoyed your blog post about the collographs art activity you shared with your visitors! I teach Summer Art Studio and often run across the challenge of planning art projects (literature based) that can be completed in one visit! Your two-stage project sounded successful! We do not use hot glue guns and primarily use regular Elmer's School Glue My question: what kind of tacky glue did you use to get the collage items to stick so quickly? Do you buy bulk and refill the bottles (guessing they have brushes attached to lids?) Thank you for your post and any information you could share about the tacky glue! Kindest regard, Martha Butler
Wednesday, July 7, 2019 - 4:57 pm
Hi Martha, Thank you for your great questions! We use Aleene'sĀ® Tacky glue and purchase it in bulk by the gallon. As for the containers, we have discovered that using large, opaque bottles can be quite frustrating for our audience as they clog, are difficult to squeeze, and we cannot see when they need refilling. So we purchased empty glue pots that have brushes attached to the lid, are a smaller size, are transparent, and have a wide top for easy cleaning. (They are the ColorationsĀ® Glue Jars with Brush that are sold by the dozen.) Thank you again for your post, and we hope that you enjoy making collagraphs at the LCVA! All the best, Sara
Susan Goebertus
Thursday, July 7, 2019 - 6:13 am
Reading about all the art activities you provide to children and families is one of my favorite things to do! In my job as an education director for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Florida, I tutor and provide art experiences for children. Unfortunately, my background is not in art but teaching reading and reviewing your projects helps me tremendously! I am wondering if and when the Carle will publish a book describing all the art projects, etc. It would be so helpful to have such a resource in my 'toolbox'! Thank you and keep up the beautiful work you all do for children and families. (Visiting the Carle is on my list of visits next summer!)
Wednesday, July 7, 2019 - 4:48 pm
Hi Susan, Thank you for your kind words, and we are so happy to hear that our blog is a source of inspiration for you! We do not currently have a book published exclusively about our projects, however, this past year we contributed to a book entitled "Collage for Kids" written by Shannon Merenstein ( Inside the book, Shannon provides wonderful, open-ended collage art projects themed around different topics, and we wrote a brief section for each chapter about our experiences in the Art Studio with each theme. (If you have any further questions about projects or our Art Studio practices, feel free to directly email us at Thank you again for your note, and all the wonderful work that you do with children and families! And when you visit The Carle next summer, please introduce yourself in the Art Studio as we'd be happy to show you our space! All the very best, Sara

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