Wednesday 5 April 2017

Intaglio and Chine collé printing

I was out early on Sunday to head into the National Print Museum in Dublin in order to attend a printmaking workshop given by artist Elaine Leader. I signed up for this workshop because the technique of "Chine collé" was featured and I have been curious about this technique since I became aware of it about 20 years ago (I had never heard of it in printmaking classes I had in art school in Toronto). To start the day we were given some pieces of thin plastic (or thick acetate?) referred to as "axpet" (which I had also never come across before). Once I removed protective film from the axpet I could use it as a plate to do an intaglio sketch on. My tool of choice (we had our pick of several  etching tools) was a converted large sharpened nail. I ended up with two plates, the first one, done in the morning a city ruin sketch and the second, done in the afternoon based on one of my stick sketches.

The plate was inked with a dark ink, cleaned and then given a "roll-out" layer of translucent colour. For the Chine collé I ripped two random pieces of a light weight handmade paper. Wallpaper paste is thinly spread on the back of the paper and they must be placed upside down on the plate (so that the glue will adhere to the print paper). The Chine collé is the last thing to do before going to the press as the paste must be very thin and thus can dry out quickly -- make sure your paper has been removed from its water bath and blotted before you prepare the Chine collé paper!

We were printing on lovely Fabriano paper, so it needed to be in the water bath at least 10 minutes before blotting.

This is a close-up of the sticks print, with two pieces of Chine collé.

 Although I had the sticks plate ready to go, Elaine Leader was talking about the embossing technique, and I wanted to quickly try it out. I cut several pieces of sandpaper into "natural" shapes, got my paper ready, and at the press itself, placed the shapes onto the back of my first piece of axpet. A piece of tissue paper is placed between the plate with shapes and the paper, which keeps the paper clean (and in my case, it was a great barrier between the paper and rough sandpaper I was using for incredible texture).

I was thrilled with the way the embossing worked and wanted to see if Chine collé could be worked with it, so I started the process again. 

I thought the workshop was fabulous! I learned so many things in such a short space of time and can now think about how these processes can be used in other works.

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