Resin coated v Fibre based

See the rather broken, jagged lines between the horizontal sections of this collage? That’s what happens when you tear across a fibre-based print. You can only make the tear once: fiddle about any more and you risk a mess. It’s because fibre-based paper is heavier, thicker and more brittle than the resin-coated variety. As the image develops, fibre-based paper absorbs water and chemicals. It gives the photo greater depth and richness but makes it harder to wash and difficult to dry flat. Difficult to tear, but easy to glue – the back has a lovely rough texture.

Resin coated paper, by contrast, is easy to tear, and tear again. You can create long, curving edges. In fact, the danger is you can keep fiddling so long you spoil the idea. The paper is thinner, and the layers of polyetherine that coat it mean it doesn’t absorb chemicals; it washes quickly and dries flat, faster. The downside is that there’s less depth to the image because the photographic emulsion sits on top of the polyetherine. And it’s harder to glue because you have to carefully peel off the synthetic layer on the back to expose the rougher paper.

You have to work with what the materials will allow you to do. The construction of the paper creates the visual possibilities/constraints of the finished collage.

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