Chine-collé is a special technique in printmaking, in which images are transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process. This allows printmakers to print on a delicate surface, such as Japanese paper, which pulls fine details off the plate and, if desired, provides ground color behind the image that is different from the surrounding backing sheet.

In the "direct print" method, the printing plate is inked, dampened Japanese washi /paper is placed on an inked plate and trimmed to size. Jin shofu / Japanese wheat paste is applied to the Japanese washi / paper, and the ensemble (plate plus washiwith paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet. This is then run through a printing press. Under the pressure of the press, the ink is transferred to the washi /paper and simultaneously adhered to the backing paper. An advantage of this method is that the Japanese washi / paper will be exactly the desired size, since it is trimmed to size and then quickly affixed in place.

Another way of printing the direct method is to have the washi / paper already cut to size before preparing the plate to print. Heavier backing paper is put in a bath and dampened according to the printmaker's preference, then set aside. If the Japanese washi / paper was painted on, it is then dried and is also set aside, ready. The plate is inked and wiped then placed on the press face up. Thin Japanese jin shofu wheat paste is brushed on the back of the Japanese paper and it is placed face down on the plate and registered. The jin shofu is put on just enough to coat but not saturate, which dampens the washi / paper appropriately. It is not easy to brush jin shofu paste on a damp piece of Japanese paper, as it may rip. The print paper is then placed on top of the pasted side of the Japanese washi / paper, a sheet of newsprint added on top of the stack and the felts then covering the stack. It is then run through the press. This process is less tricky to maneuver than the first method, is cleaner, and more accurate in registration

In the "pre-pasted" method, the washi / paper (dry) is trimmed to the size of the plate, then paste is applied and allowed to dry. When the printmaker is ready to print, the paper is dampened to activate the paste and placed, paste-side up, on an inked plate. Then the ensemble (plate plus thin paper with paste) is placed on a dampened backing sheet and run through a press as described above. An advantage of the pre-pasted method is that once dried, the paste-applied papers can be stored indefinitely, just like a lick-and-stick postage stamp. A disadvantage of this method is that because the paper is trimmed dry, the artist must take into account how much in each direction the paper will expand when it is dampened prior to printing.

(definition adapted from Wikipedia)


For in-depth techniques, refer to "Magical Secrets of Chine-Collé" published by Crown Point Press

Step-by-step instructions for printing and pasting Japanese paper to a support sheet. Adapt chine colle techniques for working with collage and mounting paper, fabric, and other materials with or without a press. Additional chapters provide information on sizing paper or fabric, gold leafing, and scroll mounting. Examples of chine collé prints and step-by-step techniques are illustrated in color.