In the past I have always cut my shape from the tissue chine collé, inked up the lino/monoprint or whatever, laid the tissue over the inked surface, applied the glue and then printed it. By placing the paper over the top of the inked and collaged lino the tissue collage becomes trapped between the paper and the ink. As the glue has only just been applied the chine collé attaches well to the print paper due to the pressure of the press and wet glue.
However I decided to try something a little different. I applied Japanese rice paste to the back of my printed tissue and allowed it to dry, hoping to reactivate it when I came to use it. Why do this? Well, the aim was to avoid having to place the tissue onto the inked plate and apply the glue in situ because the chine collé can move easily and smudge the inked design.
Enter Snag number 1 – the tissue distorted and curled as it dried, and I mean severely curled – so it went under a pile of books for 2 days.
After a couple of days it was reasonably flat, not pristine but usable, so I cut my flower shapes out. As soon as they were cut they immediately curled up tightly again. What next? Back under the books. Snag number 2 – at this stage I noticed that the tissue had changed appearance. The dried paste had hardened it a little. It was no longer the soft floaty tissue paper I started with but had become slightly brittle and crunchy feeling and it wouldn’t sit in place on my inked lino. So the paper needed to be ‘relaxed’ before using it.
Note: Relaxing the tissue would not have been necessary if I was going to apply it on to damp paper (which I decided not to do as I was anxious about ruining the base print layer, completed a week previously, and also about the paper stretching slightly) or if I was using a random shape that could sit in any approximate place on the print. In my case I wanted precise placement of tissue to form an exact printed flower on a second layer of a reduction lino print. Sizing and placement were paramount.
I folded some thick butchers paper in 4 and ran it through a tub of water. It was then blotted dry and the tissue flower was placed within the folds. This sandwich was then placed under a sheet of glass, as a weight, for 5 minutes. This relaxed, dampened and flattened my tissue. Terrific!. Snag number 3 – it didn’t stick to the butchers paper (thank heavens!) and I managed to pick it up successfully, but what a mess I got in. The whole piece had turned into a beautiful flat STICKY shape which I couldn’t control. I couldn’t separate my fingers from it to put it onto the inked plate. Wasn’t going to happen in a million years.
So, with help, I had to stick it straight onto the print paper and then apply my inked lino over the surface afterwards. The chine collé tissue looked fantastic on the paper – flat, pristine, beautiful. And then the lino moved slightly as it went through the press. One destroyed print! Being in a class situation I was using an etching press, which was all that was available, and it ‘bumped’ the edge of the lino as it went through.
Back at home I was able to use my own nipping press (book making press) which has a downwards pressure ensuring there is no movement of layers. I still had to apply the chine collé tissue to the print paper though.
Let’s explore the design – before I show the finished prints.
The concept is a stylized flower pattern to be used to create a book cover. I started by drawing circles and dividing them into sections, drawing in simple flower shapes and rubbing the remainder away. I resized, coloured and arranged with a border.
The lino was cut. I then photocopied it (yes, I stuck it under the copier lid and pressed Start!!). This gave me an exact copy of my plate and enabled me to cut 100% accurate masks when I wanted to shield areas from the rolled ink before printing.
I chose to rainbow roll in 2 colourways: 1) yellow and orange. 2) olive green, grey and blue/grey.
The trick with this is to get the registration correct and the chine collé cut as precisely as possible and in the correct place.
Above: Oil based ink – 65% black 35% extender. The black sits atop the previous coloured print, which was not masked in any way, and as it is semi-translucent the yellow/orange dilutes it further, taking away the harshness but still allowing the dynamic difference in colour. No chine collé was used.
Above: Oil based ink – 65% black 35% extender. In these samples a paper mask was applied over all the flowers when printing the first layer background, so they remained white. Left: the chine collé tissue was adhered to the print paper and the black ink printed over the surface once the paste was dry. The ink has remained more vibrant when sitting on the patterned chine collé. It has a slight sheen to it and seems more densely coloured than the ink that sits directly on the paper. Right: no chine collé was applied.
I have 10 good prints. Plenty to choose from to stitch into and then use to create my book cover. Most of the prints are on cotton rag paper and I’ll use some kind of backing to avoid the stitching shredding the sheets. Another experiment yet to come.