Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chine Collé

I have been asked to describe chine collé and so I thought I'd share my explanation here. Basically, chine collé is a collage technique used by printmakers. Very thin Asian papers or tissue papers are often used to create color fields and textural effects within a print in such a way that the glued paper is seamlessly integrated with the inked image impression from the plate. It doesn't matter whether it is an etching, woodcut/linocut, lithograph or monotype plate, chine collé techniques can be used for each printmaking process.

It is a matter of preference which type of glue and technique is used for chine collé. I prefer methyl cellulose which I have seen used at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (RBPMW) in NYC and that's where I learned the technique that I will describe here. 

There are many recipes for mixing methyl cellulose powder with water to create the paste, but it's tough to say which is best because it all depends on the needs of each project. You can find recipes online by searching for "Methyl Cellulose" and "Printmaking," but I've used a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of methyl cellulose powder to 1 cup of warm water. This is mixed and left to stand for a while while the mixture cures a bit.

The methyl cellulose mixture is applied with a foam brush (keeping all strokes going in the same direction) to a sheet of clean plexiglass and left to dry (about an hour). A second application of methyl cellulose is then applied to the plexiglass with perpendicular strokes to the first application. While this second application is wet, carefully lay the piece of paper intended for incorporation into your print onto the wet glue surface. Start with one end of the paper and carefully lay the paper in stages from one end to the other, smoothing air bubbles as the paper comes in contact with the glue. Let this dry overnight so that your paper will be ready for chine collé application when you are ready to print.

Once your plate has been inked and is ready to print, you can apply the glue-coated paper to it as long as the paper and it's glued surface are dry. Carefully peel the paper off of the plexiglass and lay it down, glue-side up, onto the plate in the place where you would like the paper effect to be in you final print. Keep in mind that the final printed image will be a flipped version of your plate and so when the chine collé paper is glue side up on the plate, this will also be a flipped version of the final print. Also keep in mind that the paper you are printing on needs to be moist in order to reactivate the glue for this type of chine collé technique to work as it is run through the press. 

I would like to note that there are alot of differing ways to apply paste to the paper and there are nicely documented alternate versions seen here and here. The first linked site shows wet glue applied to Japanese Gampi paper after it has been laid onto the plate. The second link has more step-by-step photos which include paste-making.

I hope to have some photos of an upcoming project to add to this post, but I thought at least I would offer an explanation now for those who are curious about what chine collé is and would like to try it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Explorations in Etching

Detail: Through Humans' Scope
Aquatint Etching, ©2012, Elana Goren

Through Humans' Scope
Chin Colle Aquatint Etching, ©2012, Elana Goren

I had been experimenting with different ways to create explosive, violent images using aquatint etching techniques and this piece is a result of those explorations.

My goal was to use 12 to 16 plates (all 9" x 6") to print in a brick pattern on large (44" x 30") paper in order to create a kind of wall of explosive imagery that one could see from a distance. As the viewer came closer to the piece, images would emerge from the dark, splattered areas and the experience would be more complete.

Technically, the difficulty lay in inking and wiping that many plates at once and printing them with the hopes that there was enough consistency in the color tone and richness through all the images. I also needed to see that their arrangement would be visually balanced throughout the entire piece.                         

I started by printing them on Unryu paper which is very thin and has fibers in it that I hoped would add to the chaos of the imagery. I layed these prints out on top of the big sheet of Rives BFK to figure out my composition and get a sense of how the prints were all working together. During this process I realized that chin colle was the way to go as I saw the piece come together.

My description of Through Humans' Scope for an upcoming show is as follows:
Animals are simple caricatures in most humans’ minds, not existing in our reality unless they are being utilized for some selfish purpose or another. This concept was the driving force behind my etching piece, Through Humans’ Scope, where animals are depicted in outline form, almost not there, until their image crosses into the dark realm of violence and exploitation where they turn into actual flesh. The explosive, dark fields, almost reminiscent of gunshots, bring each of the twelve subjects into a more modeled and fleshed out version of themselves. Only through violence do they become real to humans.

Through Humans' Scope, can be seen at the Theo Ganz Gallery in Beacon, NY from July 14 until September 2, 2012.

UPDATE: This piece was mentioned in a NY Times article.