Making Paste Papers: Part One

It’s Summer, which means I get to pull out my paints, cook up some archival paste, and play for days making paste papers. I only make paste papers during the summertime, because they dry so much quicker. Since I have a limited amount of space in which to work, the faster they dry, the more I can make.

This is what I use to make my paste.

I usually work with two paste recipes. The first is simply methyl cellulose and distilled water, which I use when adding gold and silver highlights. I get powdered methyl cellulose from www.danielsmith.com. Getting it to the right consistency takes about two days and lots of stirring. Once made, this paste can be used for months. The second recipe consists of wheat starch, rice flour, glycerin, tincture of green soap, and distilled water. This requires cooking, cooling, and running the paste through a sieve to remove any lumps. Even when refrigerated, this paste only has a shelf life of a week or less.

Here I am painting yellow paste on wet paper.

Once the paste is ready, I put it into small containers and add acrylic paint until I get the intensity of color that I want. I generally use Golden Acrylic paints because they’re highly pigmented; ‘a little dab’ll do ya’.

Here I have added more colors of paste and am blending them together on the paper.

If you’re working with children, and you want a simple, kid friendly recipe, you can make the paste from flour and water and use tempera paints to color the paste.

Before painting with the colored pastes, the paper needs to be wet. I have a shallow plastic storage container partially filled with water in which I can dip my paper. Now the real fun begins. After putting the wet paper on a non-porous surface and smoothing out any bubbles, I apply the colored pastes, usually with a large brush. Then I make marks, patterns, and textures in the paste with all sorts of objects. I’ve used combs, bottle caps, brushes, rubber stamps, chopsticks, various found objects, and anything else that happened to be around at the time. I also sprinkle metallic powders on some of the paste papers.

Now I am adding texture by stamping a bottle cap into the wet paste.

My favorite paper to use for this is Mohawk Superfine, which I use in a variety of weights, from text weight all the way to cover stock. It all depends on what I plan to make out of the finished paste paper. For my non-porous surface, I use glass, plexiglass, or a piece of laminate.The first day I make paste papers usually feels like a warm-up. By the second day, however, I find myself making some absolutely fantastic paste papers. Since I only do this once a year, I try to make sure the color combinations I use cover all four seasons. It feels weird to be making a ‘Winter’ paste paper on a hot summer day, wearing a tank top and shorts.

Paste paper laid flat to dry.

We’re not done yet! In Part 2, I’ll tell you what comes next, and I’ll show you some of the new paste papers I’ve made this summer.

Enjoy, Candy

P.S. Click here to view Making Paste Papers: Part Two.

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Illuminated Paper Sculptures Workshop

The shadow box can be closed with a candle or other light to illuminate it from inside.

I just got back from two incredible weeks of making art, sort of a working vacation involving playing with paper, lamps, calligraphy, bookbinding and so much more. During the first week of my vacation, I took a workshop, Illuminated Paper Sculpture, from Helen Hiebert. Helen makes paper and also makes the most incredible paper sculptures and lamps. You can see her Mother Tree Project along with links to more of her art on her website: http://www.helenhiebertstudio.com

Here is one of the projects I made during the workshop. This shadow box can be closed to make a lamp shade structure or opened to make a screen. It looks great with a light shining through.

Here the screen is open with a light shining from behind.

My problem now is that there are only 24 hours in each day. I want to play with so many of the structures I learned in the workshop and at the calligraphy and bookbinding retreat I attended last week. After being gone for two weeks, unfortunately, there are other things that I need to attend to before I can just play with my art again. I hope to be caught up by this weekend so I can spend more time in my studio next week.

Enjoy, Candy

War Is An Excuse To Kill

War In An Excuse To Kill

This is one of a series five calligraphy pieces I made, each having same quote. Each piece was done in black, red and white and measured 22″ x 30″. This is my favorite one of the series and the only one I have left.

It has been a number of years since I made this piece, but it seems as appropriate today as it was when I originally found this quote. I have now had the piece scanned and made matted prints (smaller than the original).

I tried to make this piece so that the red “war” would catch the viewers attention and invite them come close and read the words. You get an idea of what the work it about from across the room, but you don’t get the full impact unless you get up close and read the words. It was my intention to get the viewer to interact with the piece. I hoped to convey the power and emotion I felt to those who saw this piece.

When I made this War series, I made it for myself, never thinking that someone would actually want to purchase and display a calligraphy piece on war in their home. I was wrong. I sold three of the series. My sons, playing ball in the house, threw a ball into the glass of one of the pieces which ruined it. This, my favorite, I kept for myself.

Peace, Candy

Mother’s Day Accordion Book

Mother's Day accordion book closed

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, April 13 to be exact. So here is a unique and beautiful way to tell your mother she is very special to you. This accordion book is a variation of the Happy Birthday accordion book of my last blog post.

The intense purple and gold paste paper I made for the cover of this accordion book makes a positive statement before the book is ever opened. The inside of the book is watercolor paper on which I have drawn the words Happy Mothers Day, then used watercolors and embellished them with a variety of gold and black pens.

Happy Mother's Day accordion book open

This book, like the Happy Birthday book my previous post, is about 2 3/8″ wide and 3″ tall. I make these little books with a variety of messages like Thank You!, Congratulations, I Love You!, Happy Birthday, Feel Better Soon and more. My customers constantly tell me that these little books are absolutely loved by their recipients.

This book, like the Happy Birthday book in the previous post, is about 2 3/8″ wide and 3″ tall. I make these little books with a variety of messages on the inside like Thank You!, Congratulations, I Love You!, Happy Anniversary, Feel Better Soon and more. My customers constantly tell me that these little books are absolutely loved by their recipients.

I like to tell friends and loved ones I care about them on a regular basis. I have lost a few over the years, and am ever grateful that I made it a point to tell them how they enriched my life while they were still alive. Having lost some very special people in my life is perhaps why memories are so very special to me and why I am drawn to making art that either creates new memories or commemorates old ones.

hugs to all, Candy

Happy Birthday Accordion Book

Accordion book closed

This is a fun little book I made last month. I started with a paste paper that I made last summer and covered davy board with it. I just loved the color of the paste paper and how happy it made me feel. The book ties closed with gold embroidery thread and beads to match the orange of the cover.

On the inside I hand drew the letters on watercolor paper. I used watercolors in colors to match the paste paper covers. Then I embellished the letters with a variety of gold and black pens. I just love how festive it turned out.

I just love the festive colors of the open book

This book is about 2 3/8″ wide and 3″ tall. I just love making tiny books, and I especially enjoy making ones that create memories. I am sure this little book will eventually go to someone very special, create a wonderful memory and make them smile each time they look at it.

Enjoy, Candy

A Dozen Handmade Boxes For Valentine’s Day

A dozen tiny handmade Valentine Boxes made from my handmade paste papers. I think these are much more original than a dozen roses!

 

A dozen red roses are a common gift for Valentine’s Day. I am not a fan of roses. I much prefer local grown flowers which are not in abundant supply at this time of the year in Oregon. It was below freezing this morning when I got up. Spring may be just around the corner, but the flowers have not come to life quite yet.

I got to thinking about what I could substitute for a dozen roses. With my recent 50 boxes for a 50th Wedding Anniversary (see my previous post), I got to thinking about a dozen tiny boxes for Valentine’s Day and here is the result. I made a large heart out of card stock to put put the boxes on and make them look more festive.

The contents in the photo below are not the ones I will be giving to my sweetheart. I go for more health options, which these obviously aren’t. These do, however, make for a great looking colorful photo. My sweetie will be getting tiny heart carrot cakes (his favorite, and it doesn’t have sugar or eggs), some other homemade goodies and a few love notes.

Just like the boxes for the 50th Wedding Anniversary, these boxes are tiny, just a little over an inch square. They are made with my handmade paste papers. I make paste papers each summer when the weather is warm so that they can dry quickly.  I will include a post or two this summer when I make my yearly supply of paste papers.

Enjoy, Candy

Here are the boxes opened. The treats here are not healthy and will be replaced with more healthy options when given to my sweetie.

50 Boxes For A 50th Wedding Anniversary

Here are the 50 boxes I made from my hand-made paste papers.


In late November I received a call from the daughter of some friends of mine. She told me her parents were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary on New Years Eve and wanted to know if I would be interested in sending her a card for their anniversary and maybe including 50 of something in honor of their 50 years of marriage.  It was to be a surprise. I said sure and started thinking of what I would make.

This photo shows some of the boxes open.


Once I start thinking about making something, the idea of doing something simple seems to fly out the window, and this time was no exception. I decided that 50 tiny boxes made out of some of my hand-made paste papers would fit the bill. So between Christmas gifts, my mother’s birthday and setting up a Holiday Studio for Studio Artists at the Art Center, I made these 50 little boxes with a little help from my friend Paul.

50 boxes with some more of them open.

Once the boxes were made, they begged to be filled. These boxes are just a little over an inch square, so I had to think of what I could put in them. I had some tiny wooden spools that I had rescued from the trash that I made into little scrolls. I also made scrolls out of colorful cellophane topped toothpicks. Twelve M&M’s fit nicely into the boxes which allowed two of each color and was nice and colorful. Hearts seemed appropriate, so I cut out some in a number of colors. I also made some colorful paper flowers.

This shows all of the boxes open.

It was a fun project, the type I really love to do. I love making art that involves memories. That seems to be my specialty.

I loved the result and so did my friends.

Here are the 50 boxes all opened. The boxes are just a little over an inch square.