Here is some more information related to yesterday's description , because I often get asked about them, and after a long day's printing it is fresh in my mind.
The collagraphs are made from recycled cereal packets mostly, which means the cardboard relief is very slight and thin, much thinner than a lino-cut or woodcut; so inking up is a very sensitive process.
'Dollies' are little dabbers made of tightly wound up cloth, usually cotton T-shirt type material, although I have got so picky that I am now sensitive to the weave of the fabric - which actually affects the texture of the mark, so that this morning I was scouring the house for something more sensitive and less coarse and had to sacrifice a pair of M&S cotton knickers - just the thing - being thinner and more finely woven than a T-shirt.
How tightly the dolly is wound up affects the nature of what I call the 'incidentals' - in a lino cut these would be the gouge marks, or on a woodcut the knife cuts, of the areas taken away that take up a little of the ink and print in a characteristic way.
On a collagraph the raised parts of the image, the thin layer of cardboard, is fixed - but the dabbing dolly overlaps the raised image and produces a slight shadow of ink which contributes to the effect. It prints more faintly because it is physically further away from contact with the roller when it goes through the press. And this shadow of course varies in each print with the rhythm of the hand and the build-up of ink on the block.
I have to concentrate all the time and be aware of this build-up, but once the first print has been taken it is very difficult to identify a new layer of ink from the old.
And ironically it all sometimes works best when I rely on the rhythm of my inking and do not try to be self-consciously interfering with it.
But the rhythm can vary from day to day and, without completely cleaning the block between each print, some slight variation is inevitable; hopefully this all adds to the excitement of the printed image, the slight feeling of working on the edge;the 'shadow' is an important part of the image; the slight unpredicatability keeps the excitement going for me, and it means of course that each book, though a multiple, is also a unique piece of work.