Collograph Printing inspired by Lesley Dill

Lesley Dill (American, b. 1950). Clothe My Naked Body, Print Tapestries…Poem Wedding Dress, 1995. Photo screenprint on Hindi newspaper. Landfall Press Archive, gift of Jack Lemon and Suzanne and Richard Pieper. LP1996.2. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lesley Dill and Landfall Press, Inc.
Grades 5-6: Printmaking

Students will explore how textures impact collagraph prints and consider the impact of text and language in visual art.

cardboard/railroad board, newspaper, fabric scraps and other textured scraps, tacky glue, scissors, printing ink, brayer
Optional: printing press, oil pastels, paint, brushes

Lesley Dill is a contemporary American artist born in 1950. Her work is inspired by language and how people interact and react to it. Her text and poem-laden work takes many forms including sculpture, printmaking, performance art, drawing, and photography.

Show students images of Lesley Dill’s artwork that include clothing and newspaper. Give them some time to really look at the work or, in groups, make a list of what they notice. Suggested artworks from the Milwaukee Art Museum:
Poem Dress, “The Soul Selects Her Own Society”
Unknown Nourishment

Why do you think the artist likes to use words, letters, text in her artwork?
What occasion might the clothing be worn for? What about the object makes you think that?
How does the text influence the clothing or vice versa?
What kind of words, letters, text would you choose to include in artwork? Why?


Design and sketch an outfit for a specific occasion using a variety of fabrics and other materials that have interesting textures. Encourage students to think about details such as pockets, cuffs, buttons, jewelry, etc.

Cut out each piece of the outfit and use tacky glue to adhere it to the surface of the printing plate (cardboard/railroad board) and allow to dry.

Use a brayer to apply an even layer of printing ink over the outfit and printing plate. Carefully place the inked plate onto a piece of newspaper. (You may want to thoughtfully choose the words or image that the outfit will be printed onto.)

Run the collagraph through a printing press if available, or use a baren, wooden spoon, or the palm of your hand to transfer the ink to the newspaper. Place in a rack or hang to dry as more prints are made.

Allow students to make any adjustments, such as more details or additional textures to the original printing plate to improve the final prints.
Both the printing plate and the print can be added to after they are dry, both pieces can then be displayed.
Consider painting the background a dark color to emphasize the clothing design or consider adding color with paint or pastels to the clothing design.
Perhaps students can write poems or an artist statement onto the printing plate or the print as Lesley Dill is known for incorporating language and text into her work. With students, decide how and where the artwork will be displayed.

National Standards:

VA:Cr3.1.5a-Create artist statements using art vocabulary to describe personal choices in artmaking.
VA:Re8.1.5a-Interpret art by analyzing characteristics of form and structure, contextual information, subject matter, visual elements, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.
VA:Cn10.1.6a-Generate a collection of ideas reflecting current interests and concerns that could be investigated in artmaking.
VA:Pr6.1.5a-Cite evidence about how an exhibition in a museum or other venue presents ideas and provides information about a specific concept or topic.