Chine Collé [2]

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Chine-collé is a special technique in printmaking in which the image is transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process. One purpose is to allow the printmaker to print on a much more delicate surface, such as Japanese paper or linen, which pulls finer details off the plate. Another purpose is to provide a background color behind the image that is different from the surrounding backing sheet.

The final image will depend on the design and ink color of the printed image, the color and opacity of the paper to which the image is directly printed (plus any inclusions such as petals or fibers in that paper), and the color of the backing sheet.
In the typical “direct print” method, the plate is inked, the thin paper (dampened) is placed on the inked plate and trimmed to size, paste is applied to the thin paper, and the ensemble (plate plus thin paper with paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet. Then, this is run through a printing press. In the pressure of the press, the ink is transferred to the thin paper, and the thinner paper is simultaneously adhered to the backing paper. An advantage of this method is that the thin paper will be exactly the desired size, since it is trimmed to size and then quickly affixed in place.
In the typical “pre-pasted” method, the thin paper (dry) is trimmed to the size of the plate. Then, paste is applied and allowed to dry. When the printmaker is ready to print, the paper is dampened to activate the paste and placed, paste-side up, on an inked plate. Then, the ensemble (plate plus thin paper with paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet and run through a press as described above. An advantage of the pre-pasted method is that once dried, the paste-applied papers can be stored indefinitely, just like a lick-and-stick postage stamp. A disadvantage of this method is that because the paper is trimmed dry, the artist must take into account how much in each direction the paper will expand when it is dampened prior to printing.
Some artists have moved away from precise trimming of a single sheet of paper to the size of the printing plate when using this method. For example, some experiment with pre-cut shapes for a collage effect. Or simlutaneously adhere multiple overlapping pieces of paper under the printed image.
A more traditional paper choice would be a fine paper made from gampi fiber. Some artists experiment with non-traditional papers, using such things as newspaper, ephermera, dress patterns, and book pages as the sheet to be printed on.
Chine-collé is sometimes mistakenly used to refer to any type of collage.
Chine-collé roughly translates from French, chine = tissue and collé meaning glue or paste. “Chine” because the thin paper traditionally used in the process was imported to Europe from China, India and/or Japan.
There is some variation in adhesives used for Chine-collé. Some artists are reported to use a dusting of flour right before pressing rather than paste. Some have tried using no adhesive at all, simply relying on the high pressure of the printing press and properties of the paper (fibers, sizing) to fuse the papers together similar to paper-making; however, this method may be variable and unreliable. More recently, some artists have turned to adhesives such as PVA glue or gel medium rather than paste.
In traditional paste-making for Chine-collé, wheat or rice starch is separated away from gluten and other things in wheat or rice flour. Then, pure starch is cooked with distilled water to form a congealed gel. Finally, the gel is passed through a fine sieve such as a piece of silk to form the paste. Starch-based pastes are considered archival and are sometimes used in other paper-based applications, such as book binding, book repair and collage.

Chine Collé [1]

Chine Collé [1]

Chine Colle was developed by nineteenth-century printers as a way to use thin Chinese and Japanese papers without employing Asian mounting techniques. The term comes from French: chine means “Chinese” and colle means “glue”.

In chine colle the paper to be printed is backed with a water soluble glue before its face is laid on an inked plate on the press bed. Then a stronger dampened paper is laid over the pasted sheet. When the press is run, the thin paper is adhered to the backing paper and printed simultaneously.

Procedure

Prepare your glue. There should be Methyl Cellulose PVA 1:1 mixture in the lab, if it is not free flowing (not soupy/some body) add a little water .
Choose your chine colle material. Most anything will work as long as it is a lighter weight than your backing paper. Keep in mind that paper stretches when it is wet, and when it is run through a press. If your chine colle material is of the non-stretchy kind, you may get some buckling when the print dries and shrinks. If you let your print dry between blotters or on the taping wall you might minimize this. But don’t let it stop you from experimenting.
Paste up your chine colle pieces. You can either pre-cut your pieces, then glue them, or glue entire sheets of paper and cut the shapes you want once the glue dries. Using a stiff brush, apply the paste to the back of your chine colle piece on a sheet of waxed paper. Start gluing in the center of the piece and work your way out. Be careful not to get glue on the side that will be printed.
Let it dry on the sheet of waxed paper. This is important. You don’t want to use this wet, or the glue may squish under the pressure of the rollers and run all over.
When you are ready to print, all plates are in place on the press and backing paper is ready, peel the chine colle piece off the waxed paper. Yank off any loose strands of glue, squirt the glued side once or twice with a water spray bottle and place the piece, glued side up, where you want it on your plate. Register your printing paper, place newsprint behind that, then print. It is important to use newsprint to protect the blankets from getting impregnated with glue.
Lift off your print slowly and admire your perfectly chine colled creation.
Once your print dries, if your chine colle is not sticking or comes up for some reason, you can try ironing the back of the print with steam. The steam will help reconstitute the glue and adhere it to the paper.