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Spring Break—Time To Play Catch Up

April 9, 2012

See the post for complete details.

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Above: Painted half and quarter sheets of multimedia watercolor paper that I'm going to use for decorative paper for handmade journals.

Spring Break—I haven't had one of those in decades. It was good to have a week off from drawing classes, however a bookbinding class that I was teaching fell into that slot along with a lot of catch up, so it wasn't so much a break as a shift in focus.

And of course whenever I'm really, really busy I find time to make more books. 

But before I can make books I have to make decorative paper for the covers. That's what you see above: 90 lb. watercolor paper painted with acrylic paints in a variety of strokes and layers and of course spatters. The paper is the multimedia watercolor paper I wrote about early this year. Follow the link in the photo caption to my review and information on the paper. It's the second paper reviewed in that post.

When I did my small sample test journal of this paper I found that I didn't like some of its properties for working on in my daily journal. But I had a bunch of it left over and it seemed a sturdy paper so I have been painting it in the abstract fashion you see above for use on my journal covers. It was very economical, so it is great to take time to experiment with it and see how it handles itself for this application.

A new batch of decorative papers is always a fun day for me—all the colorful sheets looking like a mish-mash on the floor as they dry. I get so happy knowing that soon they will be turned into books.

Also during break I made nine books (which I'll share in a separate post as soon as I set them up to photograph). It was definitely a productive break, made more fun because the weather conspired to allow great bike rides!

Tips on doing decorative papers like this:
1. Lightly pencil a series of full length lines in the grain direction on the back of each full sheet before you tear and/or paint them. Spacing them about every 3 to 4 inches will be fine. This will ensure that you always know the grain direction even on scraps.

2. Think about your principles of color theory (mixing complements is going to result in neutrals; analogous colors are going to feel a bit more vibrant) but allow yourself to push and use colors you might not regularly use. For this batch I did a lot of indulging in magenta and PINK, which is not "me" at all. But I have some lovely, lovely books because of these experiments.

3. Don't judge your end result, which may look confused and even garish. Put them aside to dry and then look at them next to the book cloth selection you have. You'll start to see "croppings" within the paper that will make lovely pairings.

4. Have a selection of brushes on hand to make different marks with: a floppy tipped sumi brush; wide 3- and 2-inch brushes; toothbrushes for spatter; sponge brushes; sponges. I also used some scrunched up plastic wrap on one of these sheets.

5. If you have a sheet that doesn't have enough contrast you can always go in with darker or lighter colors to alter that. It's the fun of working with fluid acrylic paints or acrylic inks.

6. If you have a sheet that really doesn't seem to be "happy" at all, spatter it with a bit of gold! That often can salvage even the most "hideous" sheet.

7. Don't worry if you can't salvage a sheet. It's an experiment, it's play, it's discovery. You've learned something. You can always cut the sheet down into small bits that you can use in your collage work, or on cards as backgrounds! Scan the sheets and alter them in Photoshop by inverting the color, or using filters. Then you'll have a great background for your digital work, or you can print that out on paper and use it for your collage work! Be inventive. You'll use it up.

  1. Reply

    Hey Roz- love the paper- I finally have a space to do this kind of messy stuff! I love painting big sheets and haven’t done that in sometime now.
    New email:
    terrygarrett763@gmail.com
    address:
    1137 Whisperwood Court SW
    Bemidji,MN 56601

  2. Reply

    Terry it’s great to hear you have the space for this stuff and to have your new email, etc. I’ll change my address book.

    I put sheets of plastic on the floor (construction plastic that comes in large rolls) or newspapers (several layers) and then try to keep spatters and flips of paint going in directions that aren’t where “important” things are shelved. I have paint all over the floor and furniture because of that. But I live here so that’s OK.

    I hope you have great fun making stuff!!!

    I hope you are also having a pleasant, if early, spring!

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