March 15, 2013

When Black & White are Not Enough - Method 3

        Ink is not the only way to add color to a block print.  Simply printing on colored paper is enough to give an image some brightness.  But sometimes one color of ink on one color of paper seems too plain.  (I know, I know.  It's hard to imagine that one color of ink and one color of paper could ever be insufficient!  But strangely enough sometimes people do want more color than that.)  This is the place for a technique called chine-collé.

Method 3.
Lay colored paper with adhesive on the back of the inked block, then lay background or backing paper on top of that before pressing.
        By cutting or tearing the colored paper to size, it can highlight just a particular part of the print.  (Cutting, of course, is easier to control, but I think torn edges blend better with the background paper, so I prefer to tear the paper when I can.)  For example, to make this sunflower, I first inked my block, then carefully laid down the glued yellow circle just over the flower.  I then laid down the green paper over the whole block and pressed the whole thing as usual.  The pressure simultaneously transferred the ink to the paper and adhered the yellow paper onto the green paper.
        I've used the technique most often to cover an entire block almost completely, with the white paper as a sort of background border with just the edges of the ink touching it.  But there's no reason you couldn't use multiple scraps of colored paper on each block and have lots of different colors.
        The only difficulty I've had is in smearing the ink if the adhesive makes my paper too damp.  Also, it's a little difficult to juggle the timing of inking and gluing so that neither the ink nor the glue gets dried out while waiting for the other.
        This is a technique that works especially well with a serious press so that the multiple layers are embossed together.  It doesn't work quite as satisfyingly with hand pressing, alas.  It's still fun, though!

[Pictures: Sunflower, wood block print with chine-collé by AEGN, 1999;
Weeping Willow, linoleum block print with chine-collé by AEGN, 1998.]

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