Chine-Colle Etched Print

Laura Zeck shares her Chine-colle printmaking technique for this delightful etched print.


Laura Zeck of Seattle, Wash., has a passion for printmaking.

Materials and Tools:

tracing paper
zinc etching plate
hard ground acid-resistant coating
nitric acid
baking soda
brush or feather
photo trays
protective respirator
industrial strength rubber gloves
various texture making tools
medical latex gloves
palette knife
Easy Wipe compound (ink)
glass surface
Japanese paper (several colors)
water bottle
wheat paste
mat board
Italian paper suitable to etching process
blotting papers
rolling pin
etching press
poplar wood
Masonite board
wood finish
archival book binding glue
rubber roller
craft knife
scrub brush
odorless mineral spirits
artist white tape
orange pumice soap




1. Draw a chosen sketch on tracing paper.

2. Paint a blank etching plate with hard ground (coating) until it is completely covered and let dry to the touch for 15 minutes to an hour depending on the thickness of the hard ground and humidity.



3. Lay the sketch over the hard ground and transfer the image onto the plate by tracing over the sketch with a pencil. As you draw on the hard ground you are removing the ground and exposing the plate. Remove the sketch and trace the outlines again with the pencil to completely remove the hard ground lines.



4. Transfer the plate with finished drawing to a tray of nitric acid. Use a mixture of one part nitric acid to eight parts water. It is important to wear protective gloves and a respirator and to work in a well-ventilated area. Baking soda can be used to neutralize the acid and should be available in case of emergency. While the plate is bathing in the acid, check on it several times and brush the bubbles away from the drawing using a paintbrush. When the etching is finished, pull it from the acid, rinse with water and check to make sure the etched lines are the desired depth. Clean the hard ground off the plate with a scrub brush and odorless mineral spirits. After the ground is removed clean it with an orange pumice soap.



5. Create marks and textures on the plate with hand tools.

6. Trace shapes on the plate to create a pattern.

7. Trace shapes on various colors of Japanese paper and cut out shapes.

8. Choose ink colors.

9. Soak a piece of etching paper in a tray of water while inking the plate.



10. Ink and wipe the surface of the etching plate using a piece of mat board to push ink into the crevices. Wipe excess ink off the surface of the plate with cheesecloth. Buff the ink off the plate with newsprint.

11. Place etching plate on the press bed.

12. Spritz and dust cut out shapes of Japanese paper with wheat paste.



13. Place Japanese paper in layers on the plate.

14. Pull the soaking etching paper from the water. Lay it on and cover with blotting papers. Use a rolling pin on blotters to soak up excess water leaving the surface of the paper evenly damp.

15. Place etching paper on top of the plate with Japanese papers. Lay the felts of the press over the paper.

16. Turn the crank of the press and roll the press bed through.

17. Lift felts and pull print. Hang to dry overnight.



18. After the print is dry, trace the shape of the wood onto the print. Cut out the print with a craft knife.

19. Paint the wood with archival bookbinding glue and place the cut out print on the wood. Use a rubber roller to smooth and adhere the print to the wood and weight it down. Let dry overnight.



20. After the print (wood piece) is dry, attach Masonite spacer board with glue, and attach the print (wood/Masonite) piece to a final piece of finished wood. Drill and screw all pieces together from the back for additional support.



21. Wax the surface of the print much like inking the plate above using a piece of mat board. With gloved fingers wipe the wax into the surface of the print and remove excess wax.

22. Melt the wax into the surface of the Chine-collé etched print with a hairdryer and let cool. Repeat as necessary

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