Print 1. Project 14: Research

Today I’m looking at artists who use chine collé in their work.

Rachel Gross

I see the consistent thread running through all her pieces as being the use of paint, collage and bold shapes.  Her methods include intaglio, aquatint shapes, relief roll, spray paint, hand-painted acrylic and flashe paint, collage and chine collé.  She uses woodblocks extensively and also etching plates, producing works in both 2 and 3 dimensions – some on paper and others on wood panels, plywood shapes and the like.


Impressed – 2012

Impressed-2012 close upThis range includes a combination of intaglio, chine collé and woodblock printing and are all 6″ square.

In the close-up, left, it’s possible to see the extremely neat overlay of print on collaged piece. Impressed-2012 close up 1 She has taken extreme care when cutting and placing the collage and, later, the overlaid mask when adding the printed layer.

On the right this close-up shows the grey chine collé piece, fine tissue I think, a touch of light printing in mulberry (bottom of picture), some fairly dense paintwork applied by brush and a final overlay of collage which has also been pre-treated with painterly effects and collaged birds.

Rachel has been generous by uploading her photos at a size which enables the viewer to zoom in and appreciate the depth of layers within each composition.

Facet & Blue Box, both 2011

Facet & Blue Box, both 2011

Here we have the same source used for both prints but with very different outcomes.  More examples of multiple outcomes from one start point are shown on her site.  The techniques used are intaglio etching plates with woodblock relief encasing chine collé  Stencils have been applied before strategic spray-painting.

This artist uses a variety of methods to build up the image surface resulting in unified compositions and colour blending and overlay.  Whilst I’m not a great fan of the imagery I appreciate the complexity of the assemblage.

Akiko Taniguchi

Akiko exhibits widely and has won numerous prizes in international printmaking exhibitions and competitions.  Her work is found in collections around the world including Russia, Thailand, USA and Canada.


Left: Release of Sorrow. Right: Fulfilled Entreaty. Both 2008.

I can’t pretend that I understand these artworks but I do find them attractive.  The use of chine collé is very subtle and the images are quite different from those I’ve reviewed above.

Record of Cultivation, 2012.

Record of Cultivation, 2012.

The collaged material is very diluted in colour, with a much heavier printed overlay.  Rather than the chine collé become a huge feature it is used to enhance the scene, to add a highlight/low light to areas behind the feature printing.  I imagine she has used very thin Japanese tissue of some sort.  I recently bought a sheet to use for this project which was astronomically expensive and creases with just a breath of air.  I’d better not mess it up.

I’m also very attracted to the reduced colour palette she employs and the way the elements fuse together within the composition.

Cascade Print Room – Tree Show 2013


Left: Lydia Poljak, Tryst, 2013. Middle Lydia Poljak, Quiescence, 2013. Right: Jeff Gardner, Tree Picture, 2013. Lydia Poljak: etching, aquatint & chine colle. Jeff Gardner: etching & chine colle.

I’ve selected these works from Lydia Poljak and Jeff Gardner as they are composed of extremely fine line work, only possible from metal plate etchings, and they have apparently included chine collé.  I have no doubt they have, they say they have so it must be there.  Tree-Picture-2013-close-up

I’ve looked very closely at these artworks and assume the collaged material is what produces the coloured sections of the work (seems obvious, doesn’t it?) but I can’t see any edging to torn or cut paper, no leap from one colour to the next indicating an insertion of some sort.

However, another thought occurs to me.  Maybe I’m looking at these the wrong way round.  Perhaps the background colour has been created first with inks and the semi-translucent tissue has been adhered over the entire print area, so reducing the impact of the initial layer.  Then a further etching has been applied over the top of the two.  So instead of the paper forming the coloured sections (thereby using a coloured paper) it is used to ‘knock back’ the intensity of the initial print layer by using an almost transparent white tissue.  I think I’ve got it.  Another way of looking at chine collé.

2013 – My prints

Nearly 3 years ago I joined a printing class to see how I would enjoy it if I chose printing as an OCA course.  It was a very, very bad introduction to printing.  I was the only new person in the class, all the others had been going for 4 years+ and, frankly, the tutor didn’t want a new beginner.  So I was pretty much ignored and learned close to zero.

We were to produce an etched plate (just draw a load of lines on acetate, I was told, it will be fine).  A process was followed to transfer the image from acetate to plate, we inked up and printed.  I was then told to tear up some tissue and place it onto the plate after inking up and before printing.  In all honesty, I was intimidated by both the tutor and my classmates and I was unquestionably a nuisance if I asked for information, instructions or basically what was going on.  I still cringe at the experience.

Needless to say, my design (sorry, ‘load of lines’), print colours and chine collé resulted in expensive wasted paper covered in rubbish.  But here they are anyway.

CB-2013So, looking back at these prints, what can I comment on today?

  • I can clearly remember the terror each week but I stuck it out and gave it a go despite almost total neglect by the tutor.  There’s something to be said for a fighting spirit and that has served me well through this OCA course.
  • The initial etched plate has a good range of practice marks, lines and scratches as a first sample template.
  • The collaged tissue and washi paper are appalling.  What was I thinking?  Fact is, I wasn’t thinking, just trying to keep up.  The lesson here is that the collaged materials should enhance and support the main design, be it etched, lino-cut, monoprinted or whatever.  I don’t believe they should necessarily be the focus themselves.
  • Serious colour planning should be done beforehand.  All aspects should be unified.
  • Ask the question: Why are you using chine collé, what are you trying to achieve with it?  Don’t just stick something in because that’s the requirement.
  • Consider the complexity of imagery and how the collage will sit within it.  If it’s a precise neat image should the paper be torn or cut, how would raw edges look, what aspects should overlap, will the colours be too strong against white paper, should the paper be another colour, etc..

It’s time to move my design forward.


Rachel Gross – Images reproduced with kind permission of the artist from her on-line site at
Akiko Taniguchi – there are many of her works shown here, some with a little more colour than my examples.
Cascade Print Room


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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7 Responses to Print 1. Project 14: Research

  1. kath says:

    nice work Claire. I was looking at future subjects for my art course and came across this blog of an earlier student who did a printmaking class at the same uni. they seem to have dropped this subject now (a shame, it looks fun) but in case it’s useful, I thought you might like to check out her pdf/assignments posted on the blog, as they have some great research/artists. we have to use powerpoint to submit assignments, so it looks like she’s saved the pptx files as pdf for the blog (they’re large)

    • Claire B says:

      Thanks Kath. What a great resource. I’ve gone through her initial research and I’ll check the rest out fully tomorrow. It’s all good inspiration and stimulation.

  2. fibresofbeing says:

    From the photo I find your red chine collé sample interesting. I think it’s a mix of shape and the intensity of the two colours, but it’s as if the surface is splitting apart and revealing something deep beneath. It doesn’t relate to the marks, but that effect of depth might be worth investigating.

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