I have experimented with chine colle at earlier points throughout the course, combining various papers such as tissue, Lokti, Kahdi and gold leave with woodcut, collagraph and linocut.
Collograph plate with chine colle and burnt texture
Two layers and chine colle on khadi paper.
I wanted, in this project, to be rather more ambitious and use the technique to include a digital image. This was suggested to me by my photographic references and sketchbook development looking at iron smelting and casting.
I felt the colours and activity in some photos taken of a video would work particularly well with textural printing. In particular, I think they capture the shimmer of the extreme heat of the processes.
I prepared my materials by mounting acid free tissue onto printer paper using repositional spray glue, and printing my photos. At present, I don’t have pigment ink in my printer, so this is not archival, but that would definitely be the way to go if successful as a technique.
I prepared a collagraph plate using my method of applying various media to a kraft board and melting it to give the impression of molten metal and slag. My first idea was to have very hot colours surrounding the digitial image but my proof was unsatisfactory. The tonal contrast between the photo and the ink is too great and the yellow has produced a poisonous green over the blue. I could have scaled the photo down so that it was not overprinted but I wanted to integrate the photo into the print. For this reason, I didn’t cut out the photo, just tore it into a rough shape.
My next print was better. A change of palette has better echoed the colours and tones in the photo, allowing it to integrate better. I inked the plate intaglio with a wider range of reds and oranges and then, after wiping, rolled over with a blue echoing the photo. I think this works much better.
I tried using the other photo of figures with a steam hammer (such a great shape) but I don’t think it works as well; the larger figure provides more of a narrative and connection. I also used a monoprinted background in this print to try and increase the range of colours and texture but that wasn’t particularly successful.
I produced a series of these prints, experimenting with the levels of inking, the relative viscocities and the tonal balance around the photo. There is a difficult balance to be struck between the integration of the photo, tonal balance across the print and retaining interesting texture.
I also tried adding gold leaf to heighten the effect of molten metal. I found this extremely difficult to apply and when I managed it, the gold leaf stuck to the plate, not the print. I therefore turned to gold tissue paper, which was much easier to apply. The gold only really shows through in the sparsely inked areas, and isn’t as dramatic an addition as I had hoped. Also, I am sure that it would not be archival.
In this print, my ambition was to use chine colle to create a narrative about the heat and fury of smelting iron and to create an image which combined two views; the process and the product. I also wanted to push the ideas of chine colle further than I had previously by using a digital image printed onto tissue paper and integrated into the plate design so that one might be looking down into a pool of molten iron and seeing its creator reflected in the surface.
Combining the digital image successfully with the print proved very difficult. The edge of the photo is hard to loose in the printing unless the tones are very carefully managed, and I have only been partly successful. However, if the tones are too uniform, the print looses impact. I think I have probably achieved the best balance to be hoped for with this photo.
Manipulating the tissue, both for digital printing and placing on the plate, is very fiddly. I found printing onto Japanese Hosho tissue much easier, but the slight extra thickness means the print has not dried quite so uniformly flat. However, preparing my own tissue does give me more control over the archival nature of the materials.
The idea of incorporating digital images is exciting, but very challenging to bring off successfully. This plate was designed around the image, and needs the image to provide a centre of interest.
The richness of the colours and texture do invoke the feeling of molten metal and heat I was looking for, and give the print real impact. The additional of gold tissue is interesting but not as strong as I hoped.
Combining digital print with traditional printmaking techniques isn’t something I have seen used much. The two types of image create contrast and interest in a print and the development of a richer narrative or atmosphere. I think this technique offers lots of opportunity for future development and originality.
Print 3 – Nude
After a life drawing class, I often wonder if I could create a print from my work and how I could most effectively capture the freedom of a drawing. I have, in the past, tried creating drypoints, but they look very thin without a lot of cross hatching which I don’t feel sits well with the softness of curves. In my research into chine colle, I saw several prints featuring chine colle used effectively to add tone and a sense of volume to a drypoint. Tone could also be added using carborundum sparingly.
A recent drawing in charcoal was selected on the basis that it combined bold line with tone. I photographed it (it’s A3) and reprinted it at A4. This was placed under a piece of drypoint acetate and redrawn using a Dremel. I chose this, rather than a drypoint stylus, to try and maintain the spontaneous feel of the lines. These were redrawn warts and all; I didn’t make any adjustments or ‘corrections’ as I wanted to retain the feel of the original drawing. For the same reason, I applied micaceous oxide paint with a finger, rather than a precise brush.
I had in mind some tissue which had been passed through the press in order to clean earlier Alchemy plate, but I also created some extra tissue. I prepared it with pigment inks (Inktense) by dipping, dripping and painting. This weakened the paper and most of it simply melted when I came to apply glue.
I did not proof my plate before printing on tissue as I knew that the burr and the micaceous oxide would wear away very quickly. The colour of the ink used was dictated by the colour of the chine colle.
In this first print, the tissue tore and melted as I tried to lift it off the glue, but that has produced some interesting shapes.
This is also painted tissue which just made it onto the plate. The plate is over-wiped leaving the image too pale. The tissue needs to be quite pale and subtly marked or it overpowers the print.
The next two prints use collagraph printed tissue. The tissue has created too hard an edge above the breasts on the left. The right hand print has a accidental diagonal element which helps the image, but isn’t as well wiped. I like the texture in the right hand print but it doesn’t really relate to the subject and the way is falls across part of the body.
Final, selected print.
After a life drawing class, I often wonder if I could create a print from my work and how I could most effectively capture the freedom of a drawing. I have, in the past, tried creating drypoints, but they look very thin without a lot of cross hatching which I don’t feel sits well with the softness of curves. In my research into chine colle, I saw several prints featuring chine colle used effectively to add tone and a sense of volume to a drypoint. I was excited by the subtle colours and textures I had created printing my earlier Alchemy print onto tissue, and felt that these could be used to good effect in this context.
I have used a combination of drypoint, carborundum and chine colle to give the figure impact and volume. However, in copying a drawing, its nature is changed and the feel of the original compromised. The sweeping lines of a Dremel and the soft carborundum are as close as I have ever got to capturing a life drawing.
The figure needs some added interest to offset all the white space and the chine colle provides that. The shape of the tissue was chosen to break up that area of white space to the left and to give a diagonal thrust balancing the backward lean of the body. The shape of the tissue is a bit too convex and uniform. I would wish that the top edge were less straight.
This ink on the tissue is very slight and pale but still looks quite strong in the print. The contrast between the tone of the body and the tissue is a subtle balance and I think this print achieves it best.
I do like the softness of the carborundum for the subject but it is a blunt instrument to apply subtly; the shadows are too dense and abrupt. However, it is the carborundum which gives the print its impact. I hope it conveys to the viewer the beauty and endless interest of the human body.