Whisking tile cement enables you to create collagraph plates with lovely spirals and 3d tube forms which can be quite geometric, or very organic.

An accident led to a discovery

'Returning', print made from whisked tile cement plate

‘Returning’, print made from whisked tile cement plate

I was using a palm sander to smooth a cement plate when I noticed tiny spirals on the surface. The electric sander operates in a circular motion, and as it moved over the dry surface of the cement it left little spiral trails behind, these looked like pipes, and bendy springs.

This gave me the idea of deliberately making spirals in the surface using the circular movement of electric tools.

Spinning tools

'Watersource' collagraph print from a whisked tile cement plate

‘Watersource’ collagraph print from a tile cement plate

Searching for something that would create a circular motion I experimented with electric drills, (too fast and furious), hand drills (too uneven), aerolatte coffee frothers, (battery ran out too fast)

I finally found the ideal solution in a cheap kitchen whisk.

The perfect scribe

Kitchen whisk adapted with broom bristles.

Kitchen whisk adapted with broom bristles.

I attached various scribers to the end of the whisk attachment to make marks in the cement;some worked better than others.

The perfect and safest combination I found is a plastic bristle from a yard broom taped to the whisk attachment.

This is stiff enough to mark the cement and is bendy enough to alter the diameter of the spiral when pressed harder onto the surface.

It is not sharp so doesn’t damage the surface or people using it.

Here is a video showing the ‘whisking tile cement’ process

Instructions for whisking tile cement

Prepare your surface

Spread the cement on your surface in an even layer. You can use cardboard, plastic, wood or metal as a base.

Whisk it

Using an adapted whisk

Using an adapted whisk

Use the whisk to create marks in it – you can vary the effect by tipping the whisk from side to side, moving it into or against the direction of the spiral. The speed of rotation and also speed you move it across the surface will affect the density of patterns.

Practice on some rough pieces till you get your hand in. It is fast and needs concentration!

Sand it

Half the plate is sanded

Half the plate is sanded

The cement surface is very rough and impossible to print without sanding it.

The action of sanding flattens the top surface and often reveals new and interesting elements in the design.

Use an electric sander for speed, but finish it off by hand to get a good finish.

Seal it

Print from a whisked cement plate

Print from a whisked cement plate

A diluted coat of pva will smooth the top surface off. This makes it easier to ink up, giving more contrast between the lighter surface colour and the ink in the grooves when printed as intaglio.

This print was made by a student on the ‘extending collagraphs’ course.

Contain the cement

spiral tubes made with a whisk

spiral tubes made with a whisk

You may want to rig up a shield around your work as the cement tends to flick around– we used a cardboard box with the side cut off. Ideally work out of doors in a messy area.

Sanding the surface produces a lot of dust so is also best outside, you may need a face mask to avoid breathing it in.

Other whisk activities to try…..

Whisk mono prints

Mono print made with a whisk and a matchstick

Mono print made with a whisk and a matchstick

For a different effect have a go at whisk mono prints; use the whisk with a matchstick taped on to the attachment directly on an inked up plate.

Whisk drawings

Fix a pencil lead to your whisk and draw on paper. These examples are from my sketchbook. Have a go with a felt pen too…..

pencil drawings using a whisk

pencil drawings using a whisk

Keep Spinning

I hope you give it a go – please leave a comment below and don’t forget to post images of the results on instagram #thecuriousprintmaker.

For posts with more cement activities please see:

cement crackle

cement plates