Magical Properties of Chine Collé

I’ve loved chine collé since the first time I took a stab at it, even though the paper slipped into the wrong place when it went through the press, and I felt giddily out of control when handling the diaphanous rice papers (I generally prefer remaining firmly in control).  There is something about the process, and the delicate surface of the tissue-thin papers, that seems vaguely magical.  Abra Ancliffe, one of the professors at PNCA, mentioned yesterday how the etching and litho studio seems like the kind of place where dragons could still lurk, like an uncharted and mysterious location on an old map.  That idea appeals to me (though, alas, images of dragons do not).

I did a quick chine collé demonstration for some of the students in my class yesterday.  It was a rushed and awkward demo, owing largely to the upside-down state of the studio.  Some of the furniture is getting moved around and/or discarded, including the rickety wooden cabinet that used to house all the materials for doing chine collé.  I wound up sprinkling powdered glue by hand onto lightly dampened paper.  It works, but it’s not the most elegant or reliable method.

After class, I had some fun dinking around with an old plate that I never pulled a good edition from.  The first one, I will admit, was an accident… but I think I like Variation 4 the best, which I wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t made that first mistake (even if it is a “rookie” error).  I think these four prints nicely illustrate how a printer can play with chine collé.  I accomplished nothing that I intended, but I did enjoy pulling these.

(Also, today is my birthday.  Happy birthday to me.)


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