Project 11 – Textured Surface using Tile Cement

This exercise built on my work for my collagraph test plate. I had included filler, impressed with a grass head, and I wanted to explore this further. On the collagraph course I attended a few months earlier, tile cement was recommended for its economy and residual texture, so I went with that.

A small plate was wiped over with a thin covering of cement and three leaves pressed into it. I didn’t attempt to eliminate the palette knife marks in the cement. My idea here was to continue exploring the negative spaces between these lovely red oak leaves and to see if the filler would take an adequate impression. The plate was lightly sanded after drying to remove any small loose blobs, but not varnished, to preserve the surface texture.

Firstly, I test printed the smaller leaf plate on damped paper, having inked it intaglio, and wiped it with yellow page paper. The cement was very porous and didn’t wipe well, so my first test print was pretty uniformly dark.


First test print inked intaglio


My second print was the ghost of the intaglio print, lightly rolled over in a contrasting Paynes Grey ink to try and bring out the different levels.


Second test print, ghost of first with relief roll over

I also proofed it, without reinking, onto damped fabric so see how this might work as an alternative support.


Ghost of second test print taken on damp fabric

These were reasonably successful but to continue I decided:

  • the plate should be varnished
  • the inks should be in more relevant colours
  • the fabric could be developed with background colours and over stitched after printing



Here I developed the fabric with Inktense inks before printing. Whilst the effect is interesting, the background overpowers the print.


Here I tried to use stronger, more naturalistic colours, but the filler has started to breakdown under pressure of the press, and definition is lost.

My original print on fabric was developed with blue and silver threads.

print on fabric with embroidery development

print on fabric with embroidery development

Here I wanted to accentuate the spines of the leaves, and explore the negative spaces, without overpowering the print. I think this is the most successful outcome from this series. The silver shimmers like frost and this photo doesn’t do it justice.



To explore impressed texture further,  in my sketchbook I experimented with different objects dipped in ink to see what kind of impression they might make and what it suggested to me. I looked at creating radial and linear patterns and developed the radial ones into shape suggesting a flower centre. I scraped filler very thinly over some mount card in broad strokes and then impressed it with objects including a thimble, candle holder, palette knives, silicon shaper etc. I got a bit carried away, making the textured area rather larger than intended.


Initially, I relief-inked this using small and larger rollers and various colours.

Initial print

Initial print

Ghost, second print

Ghost, second print

third print, ghost developed with further rolling

third print, ghost developed with further rolling

The effect is lively and colourful, but I don’t think it really shows the textures to good effect; too noisy. I wanted the petals to have texture but be blocks of colour, so I inked the plate intaglio, rubbing ink over the plate with various toothbrushes, one for each colour. The plate was then wiped with scrim and highlights picked up with small rollers in different colours.

Initial print

Initial print



second ghost with some reinking

second ghost with some reinking

The lipstick coloured ink is Van Son Rhodamine, used at the open press as process magenta. It is the most beautiful transparent colour and produces fabulous purples and oranges. The orange here is produced by rolling yellow over the rhodamine. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available retail.


  • a terrific emboss n the centre of the flower
  • the broad swipes of cement made excellent petals
  • vibrant colours
  • real 3d effect
  • interesting layering up of colours using intanglio and relief technique combined
  • I enjoy the way each print has its own qualities as the ink builds up or is removed from the plate
  • the cement really grips the ink producing intense tone.


  • the proportions of the petal to the flower centre got distorted
  • the rectangular shape of the plate dictated the design too much
  • the emboss meant that the paper creased at the edge when printed – use better paper
  • not enough thought given to the effect of negative spaces around the petals.

About SteveCussons

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts.
This entry was posted in Part 4 Collagraphs, Printmaking 1, Project 11 - Printing from a Textured Surface and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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