Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chine Colle--collage during the printmaking process

This is pronounced "Shin Kol eh." It means Chinese collage--where papers are adhered to the substrate (the base material that images will be printed onto) during the printing process. Wikipedia has a thorough description here. In the print below, the blue was applied using Chine Colle.

You can tear or cut your collage papers. For this project I wanted them cut, so I drew a template on Mylar, and I cut two colors and styles of paper. If your paper is really fine, you may need to hold your your template and paper simultaneously while cutting. I had to do this with the blue paper because it's too delicate for a pencil. Note: You need to think in reverse when cutting your shapes. See next step.

Check your work. I place my shapes on my actual plate--right side down--to see if I need to do more trimming. I made a note to myself on my template so I cut out the papers correctly. I did it incorrectly at first with my red papers. Do you see my first set of pencil lines in the picture below? (Substrate paper goes into the water bath at this time.)

Ink and wipe your plate as usual. I'm using Akua intaglio, but you can use oil based if that's your bag.

I typically use wallpaper paste, or methyl cellulose. When using MC, lightly spritz your collage papers with water, and sprinkle on a fine mist of of MC though a sifter. (Pantyhose makes a nice sifter. Just tie a knot and make a little MC sack.) This time I'm using Nori rice paste. Apply a minimal amount of paste. You want the entire piece of collage paper to be covered, but you want it so thinly applied you can't see it. I used a business card to gently scrap the excess paste. Note: applying the paste with the applicator nozzle and then scraping off the excess, can actually stretch your papers a wee bit. I undercut my papers just a bit in anticipation of this.

Now, position your papers on your plate/matrix with the glue side up. Tweezers are handy for this step. Hopefully your collage papers won't begin to curl, which makes for tricky positioning. (Take your paper out of the water bath now and blot it as usual.)

Place your blotted paper onto your plate that is patiently waiting for you on the press bed--hopefully you have already set the press--and print! An easy way to add color. And by doing it during the printing process. the image on your matrix has now been printed on top of your substrate and collage papers.

Note, the Nori paste turned out to be a bad idea for my red collage papers, which had a backing of cheese cloth, or some such material, and it held too much of the rice paste, causing big blobs of paste to squeeze out and get all over the print. Proper Chine Colle takes practice. Sometimes it's a matter of the collage papers being too wet or not wet enough, or there's too much or not enough glue. Luckily this mistake will send this print to my scrap bin to be made into something else.

If you have any of your own Chine Colle tips, I'd love to hear them!

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