Chine Colle was developed by nineteenth-century printers as a way to use thin Chinese and Japanese papers without employing Asian mounting techniques. The term comes from French: chine means “Chinese” and colle means “glue”.
In chine colle the paper to be printed is backed with a water soluble glue before its face is laid on an inked plate on the press bed. Then a stronger dampened paper is laid over the pasted sheet. When the press is run, the thin paper is adhered to the backing paper and printed simultaneously.
Prepare your glue. There should be Methyl Cellulose PVA 1:1 mixture in the lab, if it is not free flowing (not soupy/some body) add a little water .
Choose your chine colle material. Most anything will work as long as it is a lighter weight than your backing paper. Keep in mind that paper stretches when it is wet, and when it is run through a press. If your chine colle material is of the non-stretchy kind, you may get some buckling when the print dries and shrinks. If you let your print dry between blotters or on the taping wall you might minimize this. But don’t let it stop you from experimenting.
Paste up your chine colle pieces. You can either pre-cut your pieces, then glue them, or glue entire sheets of paper and cut the shapes you want once the glue dries. Using a stiff brush, apply the paste to the back of your chine colle piece on a sheet of waxed paper. Start gluing in the center of the piece and work your way out. Be careful not to get glue on the side that will be printed.
Let it dry on the sheet of waxed paper. This is important. You don’t want to use this wet, or the glue may squish under the pressure of the rollers and run all over.
When you are ready to print, all plates are in place on the press and backing paper is ready, peel the chine colle piece off the waxed paper. Yank off any loose strands of glue, squirt the glued side once or twice with a water spray bottle and place the piece, glued side up, where you want it on your plate. Register your printing paper, place newsprint behind that, then print. It is important to use newsprint to protect the blankets from getting impregnated with glue.
Lift off your print slowly and admire your perfectly chine colled creation.
Once your print dries, if your chine colle is not sticking or comes up for some reason, you can try ironing the back of the print with steam. The steam will help reconstitute the glue and adhere it to the paper.