How do I color a paper evenly?

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Wednesday September 17, 2008

Color paper

I'm currently working on several rather lengthy projects and cannot present any new works today. On top of that I started something new today instead of ending something old! So I thought I'd tell you something about different methods of coloring paper.


The picture above does not show - as you might think - the result of me slaughtering and skinning my annoying neighbor, but the paper of my newest project. I started this today despite various other lengthy projects. So I can't present finished work today. Instead I will talk a bit about dyeing paper.

Paste paper:

Basically, you make paste paper by first coloring the paste with a water-soluble color (e.g. with acrylic paint, which dissolves well in the paste and dries water-resistant) and then applying the colored paste to the paper. When the paste dries, nothing sticks and the paper is colored. The advantage over simply painting with color is that the paste is nice and thick and you have time to work on this mass before the paper dries. For example, you can create beautiful patterns just by applying the colored paste with the brush. For example something like this:This is a very simple paste paper. First you color your paste with blue acrylic paint and then you can get patterns on the paper just by how the brush moves over the paper.

Another possibility is the displacement technique: After you have applied paste evenly, part of it is brushed away again. For example like this:
If you want to work in multiple colors, there are many more options: You can apply the colors at the same time and mix them skilfully, or work one after the other and in principle as with scratches: First apply one or more light colors and let them dry, then a darker color over it and then scrape them away. You can find even more examples, instructions and suggestions here.
These two were essentially made by removing part of the paste. The first is an example for a one-colored sheet, the next is two-colored: first the yellow paste was applied and let to dry. Then the green paste is brought evenly on top and then partially removed by a comb. There is a very good tutorial on this topic onthis german page.


Make paper look old
That’s basically what I wanted to do with the paper hanging out there to dry on the cover picture. The first time I tried this for the first page in 'Growing up':
This was parchment paper from an art supply store and I dyed it with coffee and tea, crumpled it, and dried it.
What you see drying on top of the clothes horse is simple greaseproof paper from the supermarket. It's a lot harder to crumple and unfold again without tearing it up, but it works. This time I tried different teas: black tea, mint tea, and green tea. At the moment I like the mint tea paper best, let's see how it looks when it's dry. For this you make very strong tea (e.g. I used two tea bags for a small cup) and rub the damp tea bag over the paper. If it gets too dry, just dip into the cup again.

The first time I tried these techniques I made it for 'Growing up' - you can see the page above. I dyed the paper with coffee and tea, then scrunched it up and unfolded it. The paper you can see on the very top is just ordinary parchment paper from the supermarket (ment to be used for wrapping sandwiches). Today I experimented different sorts of tea and infusions. While it is still drying I like the paper made with peppermint best. Let's see how it will look like when it's dry. While I prepared this post, I found this instructive page.

Color with oil / Use of Oil
I have read somewhere in the last few weeks that there is a nice effect of crumpling up paper in oiled fingers and unfolding it again and again. At some point it would feel more like fabric than paper. I can't remember where that was - maybe at Tulibri? Well, and then I thought I could try that with interesting oil:
I took Silberburg rag paper and folded and kneaded it in my pumpkin seed oiled fingers. The paper has absorbed a lot of the oil, has a nice green color and smells wonderful. Overall it looks a bit greener and less brown than in the picture, at the top left corner you can perhaps guess the 'real' color. The paper no longer feels oily at all, but I have not yet had any experience of how and whether it can continue to be used. - I'll tell you more about it soon.

This paper was dyed using pumpkin seed oil. I covered my hands in the oil and folded and unfolded the paper several times. It surprised me how much oil such a paper can soak up. It doesn't feel oily to the touch now. I'll keep you informed how and whether one can still use it.

Another tip / more
Billie had a series of tutorials of dying paper with alcohol ink recently. I never tried her techniques, but some of you may be interested.

The tutorial I want to point out here is from Billie and is entirely in English: It describes how you can use alcohol-based ink for coloring. I've never tried it myself - it looks like a mess, but the result is impressive!

So that's it for today. Have fun copying!