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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, really helpful explanation. I am attempting my first chine colle print on the weekend and am a bit anxious about it. You've explained the process well.

Shelley