I discovered an easy and affordable way to make decorative paper. This is fun for adults and kids of all ages. Paste paper is decorative paper found inside books and used on the outside of books as part of the cover. Centuries ago, book binders used their left over book binding paste mixed with pigment and brushed that onto the paper. They used various techniques, brush strokes and different tools to make 3-dimensional patterns and designs.
I was introduced to paste paper when I attended the Florida Letterpress Wayzgoose, there is more on that here and here. Kendra Frorup, a book artist, papermaker, and sculptor of the University of Tampa Art Department gave the demo.
- Paint/pigment (your choice of acrylic, tempera, inks, or watercolors in a tube)
- Universal wallpaper paste
- Tape (painters or masking)
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Rags/paper towels
- Newspaper to project surface you are painting on
- Paper (rice paper or print making papers medium weight)
- Various sized brushes or foam brushes
- Any tools that make a pattern in the paste (comb, stamps, feathers, faux paint tools and etc.)
- Optional Martha Living Paint Finish Tool Kit $14 at Home Depot
How to mix the paste
Mix 3 parts of acrylic paint to 1 part wallpaper paste.
First, tape the paper in place to the surface you are working on. I taped the backside of the paper to utilize every inch of the paper, but you can tape the corners and sides and trim the edge off later. Dampen the front side of the paper with a sponge. Do not spray water directly onto the paper. Apply one coat of paint with a brush.
Choose a desired tool and start making decorative patterns. There is no right or wrong way; this is a very forgiving medium. If you want to start over, simply wipe the paint off the paper with a cloth and apply the paint to the paper again.
Swirl technique was achieved with a faux painting comb tool (shown above).
Here, basket weave patterns are made by alternating the direction of the tool.
Alternating swirl patterns with two colors of paint used (yellow base and green).
Paint another coat after the first has dried or paint a second over the top and start making your patterns or writing quotes in the wet paint. The possibilities are endless – just have fun.
What will you use your paste paper creations for – wrapping paper, book covers, scrapbook paper, and cards whatever you decide we’d love to hear about it? Please leave a comment below.