Printmaking using Packaging

By Karen Wicks

Karen Wicks is a printmaker and ex-art teacher who is inspired by derelict buildings and captures the presence and intrigue of these abandoned structures using intaglio print techniques. In this resource, Karen demonstrates how these buildings can be brought to life with the use of discarded packaging.


Collagraph by Karen Wicks

Notes for Teachers

  • What is the aim of this exercise?

    The aim is to use recycled packaging to create a print, and to use a range of mark-making techniques to create different surface textures.

  • What materials will I need?


    • Packaging suitable for making a plate: mount board off-cuts, orange juice carton or Oatly milk carton (silver lined), medicinal or perfume packaging with no raised logos on it, cereal box cardboard, takeaway foil lids
    • Scalpel, engineers scribe or drypoint needle, ruler, pencil, biro
    • French polish (shellac) and an old paintbrush
    • Small natural treasures (flowers, small shells, small feathers etc.)
    • Caligo Safewash relief ink
    • Scrim and jersey t-shirt off-cuts
    • Tissue paper and newsprint
    • 300gsm watercolour paper or card to print onto
    • Water spray bottle
    • Pasta press and thick felt pieces or craft press with felt blanket (X Cut Xpress)
  • What age range is it suitable for?

    This activity would be suitable for young people aged 11+.

  • How long does the activity take?

    1-2 hours for making a plate and 24 hours for the varnish to dry and 1-2 hours to print.

  • What can we do after this activity or how can we extend our learning?

    Experiment with different types of materials to create other collograph plates, for example masking tape, nail varnish, acrylic paint, sellotape, wire wool, silver foil.

  • What artists might we look at?

    There are many printmaking artists who use collagraphy in their work who may be a source of inspiration but you may want to look also at how artists use mark-making in their drawings as I find this helps me to think about the marks that I use when I make a plate, for example take a look at Van Gogh’s sketches of cottages and the variety of line that he uses.

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