Something Borrowed

Do you love old paper — fragile book pages, vintage maps, crumbling sheet music, brittle newspaper — and such? And how about flimsy tissue paper — and delicate Japanese papers? They can add character, texture, dimension and intrinsic meaning to artwork.

But if you want to monoprint on these papers, you’ll find they might not hold up to the process.

So let’s borrow from a traditional intaglio printmaking process called chine colle’, apply the concept to printing with Gelli®, and put those interesting papers to work!

Chine colle’ (pronounced “sheen co-lay”) is a method that uses two kinds of paper. One is lightweight, like thin Japanese paper. The other is heavier and more durable.

In this process, the papers are collaged and printed at the same time. A very thin coat of glue is applied to the back of the lightweight paper, then positioned face down on an inked plate. A heavier paper covers this and the whole sandwich is run through a press. The result is a print on a collage.

For our “faux” version, we’ll adhere our delicate papers to a heavier sheet before we print.

Matte medium, PVA, or your favorite paper adhesive will work. Make sure you’ve created a good bond. (I’ve experimented with permanent glue stick — with varied success — so I can’t recommend it.)

Once the collage is dry, it’s ready for printing.

1. Apply paint to your Gelli® plate with a brayer or soft brush

2. Create textures, designs and marks in the wet paint

3. Lay your collaged paper onto the paint and rub to transfer paint

 4. Remove the paper to pull the print

Use transparent paints where you want the collage to show through.

Opaque paints can effectively block out areas to create a very different result.

Masks can be particularly useful — they can be used as a resist to preserve areas of the collage from being printed.

 Try overprinting your collage to create multiple layers.

You can achieve interesting results as different collage papers will accept the paint differently. So experiment with an assortment of thin and fragile papers! See what happens when you mix it up! There are no mistakes!

Now, don’t you love it when you find an easy way to achieve the look of a tricky printmaking technique?

For alook at some examples of Gelli® prints with “faux” chine colle’, watch this video slideshow!

Thanks and Happy New Year! 

All comments are welcome and appreciated!

11 thoughts on “Something Borrowed”

  1. Have always love China Colle since I took printmaking. Even taught my students in high school how to do it on their own etchings. I am beyond excited about this.

  2. Thanks so much to all of you for your comments! Hope you're all inspired to do some Gelli printing 🙂 … and we hope you'll share your prints on our Facebook page!
    Suzanne: Gelli printing is great on paper AND fabric! Thanks for asking!

  3. really good post – my sister and I both got Gelli's for the holidays – enjoying them a lot! So much easier than mixing, pouring, carefully cooling and oh, the heartbreak of unmolding a gelatin plate…

  4. The faux chine collé technique shown looks great, it's really something I'd like to try! I'm interested in all kinds of printing but hadn't heard of Gelli before. Just found your blog via the YouTube video and will start to follow it from now on!

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