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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Paper Fabric (or Is it Fabric Paper?)

Apparently it's paper cloth. The on-going project for this round in my Crazy Fridays class is making paper cloth from the mixed media book Stitch Alchemy, by Kelli Perkins. The goal is to have lots of sheets in different colors and textures, which can then be cut up and embellished and incorporated into projects. The base is very simple: mix two parts water to one part white glue, brush it onto muslin or other plain fabric until it is saturated, and then layer on torn pieces of tissue or other thin paper, using more glue mix to adhere it.
Here are the different sheets I made. Most are tonal, using one color of paper in different shades (lots of reds and pinks because I want to make a Valentine mixed media garland). One sheet I covered with old Spanish stamps, another I covered in words cut from a photocopied page of the Nutcracker, for another project. The sheet on the far left is made from different scraps of Chinese papers that came in a grab bag from Silver Crow (the best online store ever), and the one next to it has confetti, sequins, thread snippets, and yarn (with another layer of tissue paper on top).

The next step is painting. The book goes through dozens of different techniques for adding color with paints, chalks, wax, bleach, inks, and pretty much anything you can think of. We did the coloring in class, which allowed us to share materials.
It's hard to tell with the glare, but this is the paper with the words on it. I used pearl white Jaquard Lumiere paint, with a little green, which was sheer enough to still show the text. These sheets will be cut up and be used as "frosting" on mixed media Christmas "cookies."
For the Chinese papers I brushed on thick gold and red paints with a very dry brush. For the bronzey sheet I used copper paint in two consistencies -- I first watered the paint down and brushed it over almost all of the brown and gold tissue paper, then added a second layer of undiluted paint on the edges of the different tissue pieces. Not sure what I will do with these.
For the pink paper on the left I brushed on a pretty pink paint diluted with a texturizing goop whose name I can't remember. The result is much prettier than the icky baby pink of the unpainted tissue. I had glued on bits of paper doilies, which did not absorb the paint as well, creating a neat effect (yet another way to manipulate color -- different papers react to paint differently). Once it was dry I sprayed on a glittery spray (Glimmer Mist?) to add a bit of iridescence. The one on the right was made with dark pink tissue papers, to which I glued cut up bits of silver candy foil. I swirled on thick silver paint, then brushed over the whole sheet with a lavender pastel chalk, which highlighted the texture of the paper. I then sprayed it with fixative to keep the pastel from rubbing off. I think this will look better when I cut up the sheet for the garland.
The white paper with the sequins and thread inclusions I washed with the diluted pink I used above, and then for both I dabbed on red paint with a natural sponge.
The last technique I used was Dy-na-flow paints from Jaquard, which are the neatest things ever -- very sheer, thin paints that are highly pigmented, giving a lot of color without obscuring the paper underneath. The result is a lot like watercolors, but brighter. For the stamps I used purple, red, and blue, for the green paper I used purple, fuschia, and orange, and for the sheet with the sewing patterns I used bright yellow and orange. Unfortunately the orange dominated, when I wanted the the sheet to be mostly a strong yellow, so I may add other paints to it to get the color I want.

I have other sheets still to paint. It was fun, but the process takes up a lot of space and drying time, so I want to get all the sheets made and painted at once, leaving me with a stack I can then cut up and use at my leisure. I don't think I will do this technique too often, because of the aforementioned space and time issues but also because I don't want to get sucked into buying more paints and inks and so on (which is why I was glad Perkins had instructions for using pastels, allowing me to make use of the pastels I saved from way back in college for an art class). I have enough techniques and gear already.

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