Research Point – Chine Colle

Chine colle is the application of pasted thin papers or metal leaf to a plate such that when it is printed, the inked image will overprint the applied paper and integrate it into the image and the support. Printmakers use the technique to produce a variety of effects:

Sally McLaren uses it to add soft shapes and additional colours to her etchings, eg Land Series

Barbara Rae uses printed images to add a figurative or narrative element to her prints (in this example a monoprint) Codfish Inishkeas

 Brenda Hartill uses metal leaf to add a reflective, shimmering element to her collagraphs, eg Silver Window I

Terry Winters used chine colle to juxtaposition two contrasting but related images (eg Untitled, Tate), both, in fact, prints but the one chine colle-ed into the other. The contrast lies in the drawn nature of the etching against the photographic nature of the photogravure print.

Kitaj used chine colle as an extension of collage to both juxtaposition and overlay related images. In The Red Dancer of Moscow , British Museum, he has used it to provide the figure with a ‘skirt’ but also to include related images to create a narrative. Often he would included printed materials and travel documents, tickets etc to create a sense of time and place or context.

Thoughts on using applied tissue:

  • paper can be torn or cut depending on the crispness or softness of shape required
  • tissue can be used to extend the edge of a print outside the plate edge
  • archival issues, acid content, lightfastness
  • papers can be painted, printed (commercially or fine art), coloured, textured (Japanese, Kadhi, Lokti etc)
  • thickness can be an issue, glue can penetrate very thin tissue and stick it to the plate rather than the print, thicker papers can leave a halo and warp the support


  • acid free pva or cornflour
  • needs to be easily spreadable but not too high water content
  • applied thinly so that none is pressed out at the edges when printing

About SteveCussons

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts.
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