Friday, July 18, 2014

chine collé

I am intrigued by chine collé, which I mentioned in my post of June 4th, as a way to add texture to my monotypes. I also sense that there may be other reasons to incorporate into my work the thin, fine, beautiful papers that are used for it. They are papers that require support, being too fragile to stand on their own, but they certainly have applications beyond just chine collé. In any case, part of the lure of the monotype world is the chance to learn about, explore, and enjoy paper. I really don't know much about it.

In the most simple chine collé process, a piece of moistened paper with powdered glue sprinkled on its back is laid face-down on top of a painted plate, and this ensemble is inverted onto a piece of damp support paper and run through the press. (At least, this is what I understand so far.) The paper used for this needs to be strong enough to withstand being moistened and manipulated without losing its shape, and must be able to absorb whatever paint or ink is used in the image. I've ordered a jar of rice paste powder, and a sample pack of gampi paper from Hiromi Paper, a major importer of Japanese fine papers. Gampi paper is made from the bark of the gampi bush, found in Japan and the Philippines (and maybe elsewhere). It is very thin, strong, and satiny, and apparently is perfect for chine collé work as it takes ink well. Rice paper is also frequently used for chine collé, and I'm sure there are many other papers and even fabrics that can be used. It all depends on the effects that you want to achieve. The image above is a close-up of a piece of rusted cotton-rag napkin that I incorporated into a print in Helper, and shows how the process can enrich a print's surface.

I've also ordered Magical secrets about chine collé by Brian Shure (2009), another in Crown Point Press's Magical secrets series. The book contains both practical information and instruction, and inspirational examples from dozens of artists. An informative DVD is included; actually seeing some of the processes helps a lot. I've barely skimmed the surface so far, watching and admiring, since I don't yet have the materials I need to try it.

I don't know, yet, what role chine collé will play in my monotype work. But the delicacy of the materials, and of the process, represent an aspect of monotypes (and maybe printmaking in general) that appeals to me. There is a lightness, fragility, and elegance that I perceive dancing at the edges of my imagination, qualities that I'd like to bring into my work. I'm not sure just how this will manifest, nor how I will arrive at that goal, but I am happy to be on the road.

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