Spring 2007 , Volume 13, No. 2


by Yuji Hiratsuka
"Wild Banquet" 24"x18"
printed on HPR-16 Kitakata Roll
For printmakers, no matter what kind of printmaking technique they use ; relief, intaglio, lithography, screen printing or monotype, the type of paper which supports their images is an undeniably important concern. The best paper, when handled properly, can help produce the finest quality of image. The printmaking technique of chine collé is traditionally defined as : a method of adhering with glue a thinner piece of paper onto a larger and heavier sheet of paper. The papers and glue are passed through the press at the same time that the inked image is printed. The use of chine collé enriches the print with a unique dimension of tones and textures.

Altered chine collé technique
With continuous alterations (additive/subtractive) to a copper plate I print a sequence of black, yellow, red and blue, passing the same plate through the press for each design and color change. To begin this process: the first tones to the plate are given with line-etching, drypoint, aquatint, soft-ground, sugar-lift, and photocopy transfer. I pull my first color (black), completing the entire edition. With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with scraper, burnisher and a palm sander to enhance the light areas and the motif. If certain etched areas need to be made completely flat once again, I fill them with Plastic Metal (which can be found at auto supply stores) and sand them smooth. I repeat this process with each color in the edition.

As in the French use of chine collé, I apply glue to the back of Washi paper after completing the above mentioned process (CMYK* printing) and pass it through the press with a dry heavier rag paper (BFK Rives, Arches or Somerset, etc.) beneath. I use Duromount-R (Durotech co.)** which is a thin plastic film coated with acid free archival adhesive on both sides for mounting Washi paper onto a rag paper. For convenience I say the technique by which I create my prints is chine collé. In a strict definition, my intaglio prints should be described as "printed on Japanese paper then dry mounted on a rag paper" since neither do I print chine collé paper and damped rag paper simultaneously nor use any water-soluble or powder paste for gluing. I learned this dry mounting technique when I was working at a print studio in Osaka, Japan a couple of decades ago. The problem I found then was that they were using a spray adhesive which was apparently non- archival and not permanent. After searching for a replacement, I came to the conclusion that Duromount-R best fit my purpose.

Quest for the best Washi paper
In order to achieve best results, a selection of the right kind of Washi paper is crucial. First, the paper should be tough enough to grasp details from the etched copper plate four times (CMYK printing). I need a paper that has endurance and can pull fine quality details for every single color throughout the four color printing process. Secondly, it is ideal that the paper I use doesn't stretch or shrink when it is moistened during the printing process. This is very important for accurate color registration. I've learned some papers often stretch or shrink in one direction a lot and the other direction less. This depends on how the paper was made. I also keep the plate on the press bed in the same direction when printing. It is important that I use the same blankets and the same pressure as this minimizes unwanted stretch of the paper. Another important fact is that the paper has to be thin enough that I can see the inked image through the paper when it is placed on the etched plate. With this simple method I never have had any sophisticated or complex registration system to match up the plate and the paper. I simply drop the moistened Washi paper onto the etched plate to register.

Most Kozo papers which weigh between 25-45 g/m2 and have long and strong fibers work well and meet the criteria of thin yet durable. Torinoko paper is sometimes too heavy and opaque. Gampi is like Matsutake mushrooms, both are quite expensive because they are difficult to cultivate. Right now I've settled with Hiromi's Kozo-shi MM-1 (24 g/m2) for my chine collé Intaglio. I also use Kitakata roll (100% Philippine Gampi) for larger images. Gampi usually shrinks but Kitakata retains its size. The price of the machine made Kozo-shi and Kitakata rolls are reasonable and assist in yielding a professional image.

* C = Cyan, M = Magenta, Y = Yellow, K = Key (Black)
** Durotech has recently been bought by Drytac Corporation, Richmond, VA

contact to Yuji Hiratsuka : Yhiratsuka@oregonstate.edu

"Swift Clouds" 24"x18"
printed on HPR-16 Kitakata Roll

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