Make a Monoprint with a Plate of Lace

Have you ever looked at a heavily stitched or textured textile and thought, “That would make a great pattern for printing?” Lace, embroidery, even free-motion stitching can all be inked up (or painted) for monoprinting and surface design.

lace collagraph print for surface design
This plate was made on card, using lace and pin-tucked fabric, which was protected by gesso before printing.
Art by  Val Holmes

Painting on fabric with a raised pattern and turning it into a monoprint is a great way to make use of textiles that someone has donated to your stash, but aren’t in colors you’d normally use. Gaudy colored trims make great fabric prints, too.

If you’re going to make a print from textiles and stitching, it’s often easiest if you first mount the materials on a plate of some kind. Printing from a plate with raised elements attached to it is called collagraphy.

To create the pattern on the collagraphy plate, you can use cut cardstock or craft foam, acrylic texture mediums, sandpaper, yarn, threads, and a variety of organic materials as well as textiles, trims, and found objects like buttons. Adding text (in reverse) with yarn or will allow you to print writing on fabric.

The plate can be used to make a monoprint using different colors of paint or ink, and you can even use different parts of the plate to make your print. Once your fabric print is dry, you can add hand or machine stitching to emphasize parts of the pattern.

embroidered collagraphy plate
Stitched patterns on a fabric
collagraph plate.
collagraph monoprint
The resulting monoprint.
From Print with Collage and Stitch.

In Print with Collage and Stitch: Techniques for Mixed-Media Printmaking, author Val Holmes offers a complete guide to making collagraph plates, choosing materials, making prints with and without a press, and embroidering the prints.

Here is Val’s list of substrates you can use for the base of the collagraphy plate. Each has advantages and disadvantages, noted here briefly.

Cardboard. Cardboard (such as matboard) is cheap, readily available, and you can stitch through it. Even the stiffest board will eventually break down, however, resulting in a loss of design details.

Cork tiles. These provide a hard but flexible surface for a plate. The kind used for model making is fine and flexible, and you can cut into it and hand stitch through it.

Plastic. Ink behaves in an interesting way when applied to plastic and it is easy to wipe clean. You may have to experiment to see what kind of glue works best with the plastic you are using.

Wood-type products. Fiberboard, chipboard, and plywood can all be used as a base for a plate. Holes can be drilled for sewn attachments or added texture, and other materials can be added easily with wood glue or PVA glue.

Metal. Metal holds up well to a press and can be cleaned again and again (though the glue might not stand up to the same number of cleanings). You can’t stitch hard metals, but drink cans (such as beer cans) can be stitched and manipulated; squashing them makes an interesting pattern.

Other materials. There are no real rules for what materials to use as a collagraph plate, so experiment to see what works for you. Val says she has used watercolor paper, Lutradur®, unmounted stitched fabric (protected by gesso), and some organic materials.

The inspiration and techniques Val puts forth in Print with Collage and Stitch will give you a lot of new ideas for surface design using your textile stash.

P.S. Have you printed with fabric, lace, or embroidery? What did you create?

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Monoprinting & Screenprinting, Quilting Daily Blog