Monday, August 2, 2010

Playing around with paste papers

Before I start this post, I wanted to point out that it is not just the south that is burning! For all my European and Asian friends, 105F is about 41C. Heat indexes will be higher due to the dreaded humidity. I snagged this extended forecast from yesterday evening.

Now back to art. This was the post that was supposed to happen last Friday. I was sure I had written a tutorial on paste paper, and when I went to find the link, I realized I had never written one. I already had these photos off my memory card when I realized I should write this up as a tutorial. So, sadly, the photos are going to enlarge, but will be extremely pixelated. I really try to save my tutorials at a higher resolution. I was actually just playing around, trying to find a "teal" color for a color swap I'm doing and was concentrating on color mixing more than paste papers.

I was struck by something Susan Leschke wrote in a comment on Saturday:
"I have made paste paper before but it was with a somewhat time consuming recipe that had to be cooked."
I have made those same paste papers as Susan made. In fact, several of you noted you had seen recipes for making paste paper. In case you have never seen one of these recipes and are wondering, it involves cooking either wheat paste, rice paste, or methylcellulose with distilled water (if you want archival quality paste) for an extended period of time, stirring and beating as you wait, then when cooked, straining it through a colander or window screen (but never cheese cloth because of fiber contamination) to remove any lumps. Next you place the cooled mixture into small containers, to which you may now add gouache, acrylics, tempera, poster, or pigment paints (but never oil paint). Then use it like crazy because it forms a film rather quickly, molds within a day, attracts bugs, doesn't refrigerate well, and should be thrown out after 2 to 3 days. Oh, did I mention you have to wet your paper on both sides before applying the paste and you really should be using a heavy (140 lb or higher) watercolor paper?

If this sounds like something you want to try, and are willing to invest in the ingredients, tools, and time, I have links to several sites you can visit that should get you started. However, if you are a low tech kind of person like me, lets do it the simple way. This time the tools are a bit different, but the supplies are primarily the same. I'm repeating them in case someone missed the tutorial on making paste papers I posted last Friday.

Supplies (clockwise from lower left):
Various cheap acrylic craft paints
Foam brushes (or whatever old brush you want to use), one for each color
Plastic cups (one for each color)
Sta-Flo liquid starch (found at discount stores, drug stores, and supermarkets in the laundry section)
Various substrates (I used 110 lb white cardstock and 140 lb green cardstock)
Various tools that will create lines (I used purchased ones, but you could cut up old credit cards, use bamboo skewers, combs, anything that will create a line or pattern)

I was on a quest to make teal. Even the internet isn't sure what "teal" is, with answers ranging anywhere from "blue and green" to turquoise. Still unsure what color teal is, I decided to play with colors. You can see I have various blues and greens, along with gray and some yellow I decided I might need after I took the photo.

Again, I have not heard from anyone in other countries as to availability, so I am not sure if Sta-Flo is available in all countries. However just look for concentrated liquid starch, even if it's not the same brand name.

I began with these two: Essential Blue (a JoAnn's exclusive) and Kelly Green. I knew the green was more intense, so wanted to start with only two drops.

Those two drops changed the color a bit, but it was still too light.

That's when I grabbed the black and added a bit. At this point, I realized these colors wouldn't get much darker without a lot of black, so I declared this color ready to try. I think I'll call it "beach baby blue."

Next I added the liquid starch, a little at a time, stirring after each bit I added

until I had the consistency I was hoping for. If your mixture is too thin, simply add more paint (unless you are insanely trying to come up with your own color). If it's not thick enough, add a splash dash more starch.

While I had the black out, I thought the two colors looked good together, so made up a batch of black paint and starch.

Now, referring to Friday's tutorial, paint the first color on your substrate (cardstock or watercolor paper works best).

Allow the first color to dry (or not if you prefer a bit of mixing).

Paint the second color over the first color.

While the second color is still wet, run a comb, skewer, or tool of your choice over the page.

This one (and all the ones I made using black as the first color) was a disappointment. The black read gray after I applied the turquoise.

The ones I made using "beach baby blue" as the first color and black as the second color, are much more fun. Be sure to wipe your tool after each swipe. I wiped mine on a piece of sheet. The sheet accepted the color quite well.

Lessons learned today:
1. Don't "assume" just because you've done the technique, it's been turned into a tutorial on the blog.
2. Using a dark color on top of a light color works better than the other way around.
3. Straight lines are not as interesting as wavy lines.
4. Practically any weight paper will work for this project.

Today's blog is Threads of Inspiration, written by Susan Leschke who lives in Wisconsin (in the northern US). Because of her comment on Saturday's post (see above), I went to her blog and found it really did contain threads of inspiration. Besides crochet, she also loves to garden. Her veggie garden puts mine to shame. Susan also likes to cook. I must warn you, don't go to her blog if you are hungry. The photos of some of her concoctions will make your mouth water with delight. And she likes her iced coffee similar to mine, although I like mine quite a bit whiter. So pop on over and enjoy the lovely sights, good food, and humor Susan dishes out at Threads of Inspiration. And try to stay cool, too unless you live in the southern hemisphere!

13 thoughtful remarks:

Doone said...

that is definately teal in the prcture against the yellow thingy - - and I hope you are sitting in a cool bath not overheating...

will be doing your low tech mwthod on return from hols as a base for an overdue ATC...

many thanks for yoru freebie exccellent tutorial - very generous of you both time & knowledge wise...

See you weds,


La Dolce Vita said...

hi Elizabeth, I think I used a comercial elmers product years ago to make paste papers too, it was easier and I think it kept pretty well a day or two in tupperware if memory serves me! this is always a fun project to do to make lots of great papers, in fact I am still using my bundle!
we got a nice gentle rain last night to cool things off... but more heat coming to day!!

Dianne said...

so glad you found these photos and posted this tutorial! have been wanting to know how to do this, so will have to put the starch on my grocery list and try it! as always, you inspire! stay cool!!

Terri Kahrs said...

So sorry to hear that you're still in the grip of a heatwave. The way you've done your tuts on paste papers is amazing! Think snow, Elizabeth! Hugs, Terri xoxo

Healing Woman said...

You are an incredible source of information and inspiration. I know I can return to your blog and go through your archives to find information on just about anything to do with art! I can't thank you enough for your generous time and energy put forth.

This heat is incredible but before long, it will be winter again and we'll all be freezing and thinking about the heat of the summer of 2010.

Threads of Inspiration said...

Thank you so much for the kind remarks about my blog and the links...Susan

Cynnie said...

I have always used wallpaper paste,,,ugh,,,for my paste paper. Thanks for turning me onto fabric starch. I have used fabric starch in the spray can for other paper projects but never in liquid form or for paste papers...will give it a go...I don´t like the smell of laundry products so I have to search for an unscented one:)

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

We are trapped in the heatwave this week too. I love your blog and welcome you to my small blog. Today I retrieved my works from my exhibit "Whispers and Echoes of Women's Work" after a two month stay. I am sad in one way but I am now able to move into a more visible and art friendly environment. I love making paste papers and can hardly wait to play once my move is made. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Hi Elizabeth, thanks for this tutorial :-) Great papers, I particularly love the pattern on the bottom right hand piece. I must give this a go.
As for my July pages that was the first month I joined in (well I did start in June but didn't like the pages at all but then didn't have time to re-do them so decided to start again in July), you can join in any time. I don't normally journal but I love to play like this and thought it was a good way of recording day-to-day life without having to write too much.
Anne x

Mar said...

i said i was not going to complain about it being hot...back when it was -30 snowing and blowing
i am getting weak tho...

these pages turned out so lovely!
makes me think i should experiment...i have to wait until a slower time tho
when it is 30 again!

FlipSyde said...

Oh my god - the Heat there...
I bet with heat index it's even nastier.
I love summer - but, do hate the crazy hot days!

Melinda Cornish said...

Does this paper made this way keep better? the other one just sounds like so much work!!!!!

Moe said...

Hey there, I've mentioned your easy as pie tutorial on my blog here:

hope you'll pop by :)