Making Paste Papers: Part Two

Paste papers drying

If you haven’t read part one yet, you can find it here Making Paste Papers: Part One.

Once I’m happy with the way my paste paper looks, it’s time to let it dry. I transfer it to another nonporous surface (and clean up the one on which I made the paste paper). To save space, I set up a drying rack in the bathroom to hold the paste papers on their drying boards (see above photo). Why the bathroom? Because the bathroom floor is linoleum. Cleaning colored paste off a carpet is not easy, just take my word for it!

While the papers are drying, I have to regularly lift up each paste paper to make sure it doesn’t adhere to its drying board. Failure to do this results in a ruined paste paper, which is just one more reason why I prefer making them in the summer. The drying time, as well as the constant checking and lifting of each paste paper, is a lot shorter than at any other time of year.

If you’ve ever had to dry out a piece of paper, you know that it warps as it dries. Paste papers are no different; once dry they need to be ironed flat. I like to iron them on a wooden board, with a piece of an old sheet on both sides of the paste paper. This protects both my iron and the board from getting color or paste on them, just in case. I use a dry iron, and I iron both sides of the paper.

Two books I made which have paste paper covers.

Now, I’m finally ready to make art with my paste papers. I originally made paste papers for bookbinding, either as end sheets or as covers for books. Now I use them for all kinds of paper crafts, and I keep finding more!

Three boxes made out of paste paper.

If you are interested in learning more about paste papers, my favorite book on the subject is The Art of Making Paste Papers by Diane Maurer-Mathison. It’s currently out of print, but you can find it on Amazon for around $40 used. That’s pretty expensive for a paperback, but it’s the best book on making paste papers that I’ve ever come across.

Enjoy, Candy

11 responses to “Making Paste Papers: Part Two

  1. this is great! the patterns are extremely beautiful. 🙂

  2. Love the colours and textures on your paste papers, and especially love the book covers! Have you tried using GladBake under your papers to stop them sticking when they’re drying? I use it a lot; very useful stuff … =D

    • I never heard of GladBake. I will have to check it out. I do love to play with color. As I ironed my latest paste papers I covered one wall in my studio/gallery with them. I took photos which I will show in a future post. They do show lots of color and texture. I’m kind of sorry that the summer is over because I would love to do more experimenting with my paste papers.

  3. Candy
    You are so talented and generous by sharing your knowledge.
    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Julia. Stay tuned throughout the month as I will be posting more information about making paste papers. I’m going to be trying some new things and will be reporting on how they work out.

  4. Out of curiosity, why the non-porous drying surface? If you have to move it to prevent sticking and iron the paper anyway, I’m not sure what the advantage is. I’d think a fabric or mesh support would only help speed drying.

    • I use a non-porus surface because those types of surfaces are readily available. I use acrylic, glass, old laminate, tile board, old plastic from light fixtures and more. They don’t warp and are easily cleaned. Fabric or mesh might work, but would need some sort of support built for them and they would need to be washed often. What doesn’t work for me is cardboard, particle board, newspapers, wood, etc. I have had as many as 20 sheets of paper drying at the same time, and these are fairly large pieces of paper.

  5. why don’t you let them dry outside, and could you use the metal cooling racks for baked goods? I want to try this, though it does intimidate me

    • The reason I don’t dry my paste papers outside is that bugs, dust and debris are also outside and tend to attach to the paste papers. I like to dry my paste papers inside and on a flat surface. Many people dry them on lines, like clothes lines, to make the best use of space. That’s almost a necessity when teaching a class. However, it also makes it a little more difficult to iron. I have adapted to making paste papers in as clean an environment as possible and with drying my paste papers on a flat, non-porus surface (like plexiglass or plastic). I am a bit of a perfectionist. When starting out and learning, so ahead and try making paste papers and drying them outside. Learn and play. If you use metal cooling racks for your paste papers, then you might not want to use them again for food. A rule of thumb of mine, it it’s not safe to eat, then I don’t use anything from my kitchen. For all of my paste paper recipes, I think they’re safe until I add paint to the paste. At that point, I never use anything that will go back in my kitchen again. Think of this as the finger painting you did as a child. Play. Whatever happens is learning and playing. Have fun and enjoy the process.

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