I have recently started to expand my experiments with print to monotype and collagraph printmaking. This has led me to experimenting with carborundum.
Collagraph printmaking is a fusion of intaglio and relief printmaking, It is a collage of sorts with different materials adding textural elements. You can read more about different printmaking types here.
Carborundum is a sand like material which is made up of silicon carbide which has been traditionally used to grain lithograph stones. In Collagraph printmaking, carborundum can be used with a glue or acrylic medium to provide different textures and values in your print.
There are some Carborundum substitutes out there such as fine play sand like you would find in a playground mixed with glue. However, I did not get that into alternatives this time.
You can find a list of printmaking substitutes I have used in my own printmaking experiments here.
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In my experiments, I used several mixes of Carborundum Gel from Akua.
Carborundum Mix 1
I used a 50/50 mix of this carborundum gel with an acrylic medium to create a less abrasive and less textured surface. This combination is supposed to yield a lighter area of value in your print.
Carborundum Mix 2
In the second mixture, I mixed about ¾ of the carborundum gel with ¼ of the acrylic medium. This was supposed to yield a darker and more mid tone affect in my print.
Carborundum Mix 3
The third and darkest value was created by using the carborundum gel straight from the container.
The thing with the carborundum gel is it can be painted on a plate or a sheet of some sort or screen printed on to achieve a smooth consistent surface.
I did not have a screen available, so I cut a sheet of sheer curtains and taped it to the table and then screened the carborundum gel right onto the surface of the plate I was using.
According to my research, the carborundum gel was supposed to dry within 20 minutes of application. What I did first was screen the gel onto the plate and then I painted on top of it.
When I do this again, I would utilize this time to remove the sky section as I wanted it to be the lightest, but instead it ended up being darker after I applied ink.
It did not affect the print negatively, it just added a more moody atmosphere to the print.
- Starting with a drawing, I simplified mine as much as I could and only masked out the different values a bit.
- I screened my carborundum onto my plate, which is transparent, and I waited for it to dry.
- Using a light box, I placed my drawing under the dried carborundum plate and used the different mixtures of the carborundum to paint areas I wanted to be different values.
- Afterward, I waited until it was dry and in the spirit of adding a lithography spin, I drew out some areas I wanted to show the lightest by adding a white wax pencil marks. This blocks the texture of the carborundum from gathering ink and only prints the lightest value.
- Because I am a relief printmaker for the most part, I rolled with a brayer, the ink onto the surface of the plate.
- In my first attempt, I gently spritzed my printmaking paper with water, and then blotted it with a towel. I ran it through an etching press.
- On one of the prints, I removed a lot of ink using tarlatan. The carborundum kept hold of the ink pretty well though. This is why I was thinking I would have removed the carborundum initially the next time I print.
- I tried a mixture of dried paper and damp paper. Although, I think I liked the damp better.
Here are the results of my experimentation of Collagraph Carborundum.
They all turned out very different. I even added some chalk pastels to one print at the end. The point of the printmaking is to make consistent prints which are all relatively the same.
However, I was learning new materials and thought it was very fun to experiment.
I hope you can learn some from my experiments.