Can you see opportunities to develop this printmaking technique?
Yes. I really enjoyed the inclusion of collage into the ‘sandwich’ of print layers. It adds another dimension, a point of interest and a colour effect not possible to produce with just inks/paints/wet media.
I tried two placement variations:
- Adding a completely different print plate size collage to the base paper before the first print layer (in this case it was pre-dyed greaseproof paper). Why bother to use a base paper if you are going to cover the entire print with a collaged layer? I wanted the whole print area to have the benefit of the dyed piece but a pristine white surround to enhance the depth of the pattern effects.
- Adding lightweight papers (Japanese rice paper, commercial Japanese paper with inclusions and my own printed tissue) between the print layers, enhancing different sections of the work, i.e. under the foliage or within the brick sections.
I did not use another technique I read about whereby both the monoprint and the linocut are laid down and a very translucent white tissue is laid across the entire surface. This has the effect of knocking back the colours, perhaps making the imagery more ethereal or distant, certainly more indistinct. I’d like to try this but my design doesn’t lend itself to it this time.
Rather than the collage being within the ‘sandwich’ it sits atop the entire printing. Covering the full print could be done a couple of different ways: the collage could fit snugly around the image, cut to print plate size. Alternatively, it could cover the whole print and the unprinted surround. So, once framed none of the base paper would be visible as it would have a very thin translucent covering of tissue right up to, and underneath, the mount. I like the idea of this.
Can you find alternative materials to incorporate in your prints?
Yes, I can, but what I chose for this project suited the subject matter. Metal foils were suggested in the course manual. I also thought about skeletonized leaves (dried leaves were also suggested), dried petals, maps, sewing patterns, Japanese rice paper book pages, newspaper, telephone book pages, lightweight Lutradur (& Crash (crumpled Lutradur)), labels, stickers, stamps, fake money (like Monopoly or other games) and paper pulp.
I seriously considered some very lightweight tissue silk and silk organza I’ve dyed but rejected them. The collage effects would be positive but they won’t glue without marking and hardening to some extent. I’ve been down the gluing fabric route before and never been happy with it. The sheen of the silk dulls from the soaked through glue, the colour becomes uneven and semi watermarked and the handle of the fabric changes, becoming hardened and unpleasant. Admittedly I haven’t done this with rice glue which is less wet than some others so I might be misjudging the effect with it.
I also thought about my recent foray into the world of carborundum and the possibility of adding sand to selected print areas. However, is that really chine collé? It’s more a glued effect without using a print plate to place it, possibly a more traditional collage than what we are required to do here – but still an attractive idea and it falls within the realms of the question (materials to incorporate in your prints).
Were some materials more suitable than others?
The commercial Japanese paper and the soft, slightly furry, washi paper worked very well. They adhered properly, they could be held in place easily whilst applying the glue and as they are so thin a diffused colour is achieved against a white paper base.
The dyed greaseproof paper is another matter. I was very surprised that the lino print took so well to the surface, although several days later I can still see the shine of wet oil inks on the paper. That’s a slight worry but I believe they will dry properly in time. However, more of a concern is that the edges of the greaseproof are lifting from the paper base already. I’ve spoken to my glue expert who has given me a bit of advice (at the same time asking me why on earth I’m trying to glue a waxed surface to paper anyway) and I’ll see if they can be repaired. In hindsight I should have photocopied the greaseproof paper patterns on to tissue paper and laid that on the surface instead. I’ll know for next time.
Anyway, if the glue option doesn’t work then I’ll go to plan B which is to stitch them in place. Can I do this, as this work is part of my course submission? I can’t see why not. They’re my prints and my interpretation after all.
Other questions I’m asking myself and things I’m mulling over.
Exactly what is chine collé, the definition, and what can it encompass?
The International Fine Print Dealers Association quotes the following:
A process developed in the 19th century which enabled artists to print on delicate papers imported from China. This paper (“Chine”) was attached (“collé”) to a heavier paper support as it passed through the etching press. This process gave the artist access to greater variety in their etchings; they could add color to the print by choosing a thin paper in a shade that differed from the backing sheet. In early practice, the thin paper was usually the same size as the etching plate but the paper can also be shaped by cutting or tearing to create a print that appears to be “a combination of collage and printing” as chine-collé has been described by Gabor Peterdi in his seminal book, Printmaking Methods Old and New.
In the Spring 2007 issue of World of Washi Newsletter Yuji Hiratsuka writes:
The printmaking technique of chine collé is traditionally defined as : a method of adhering with glue a thinner piece of paper onto a larger and heavier sheet of paper. The papers and glue are passed through the press at the same time that the inked image is printed. The use of chine collé enriches the print with a unique dimension of tones and textures.
That clarifies it. The thinner material or whatever is being collaged needs to go through the press process (as per image left).
So my thought about adding sand is strictly a collage technique. My idea of tearing and attaching multiple prints together in layers is collage, unless they go through the press with additional ink layers.
My mind is already on the next project and I now have a few new things to consider.