Paste papers and rust prints are among the mark-making adventures on my radar this month, along with the trademarked 'Zentangles' (Since I am unable to insert the R copyright/trademark symbol using this iPad keyboard, I must henceforth refer to thIs topic as 'The Z Word')
One of my rust print excursions (below) is via Canal paper (artisan-made by Saint Armand in Montreal) and features vinegar-splashed iron chunks sprinkled with Assam tea for blue-black tannin marks:
Next is something I have never tried before; pedantically, I was thinking it was just a fad, basically the 'Pet Rock' of markmaking:
The Z Word
Throwing prejudice aside, I bought a wee kit for my daughter, who, seeking some artistic diversion to offset the pressures of work, was ready to give these fancy doodles a go. We both tried; for my effort, i gave myself zero, having broken the Fancy Doodle Rules (use a pen, no ruler, no eraser, start at the line, etc. ) and not having filled in the whole three and a half inch square required:
My daughter, on the other hand, became enchanted. This is her first Z Word:
And her second:
She ran off home, excited to do more Z Words, plus try more spirograph from Michaels (she and Dylan, aged five, play with that together) plus a fancy old-fashioned kind of spirograph from Lee Valley Tools that architects used to use and that Google knows nothing about. Thank you, Z Word, and please accept my apologies; you are not the Pet Rock of the art world after all.
'Fresco' paste papers.
Paste paper was the next experiment. The textured surfaces of papers coloured with pigmented paste seem fresco-like; so my aim for the overall look of the paste papers became: abraded surfaces – pitted, peeling and faded, ancient walls…
I have enjoyed making paste papers in the past, painting more or less traditional swirled and combed patterns and using mostly natural dyes ( I have reported on the paste recipe, patterns and results in a previous post.). Favoured by book artists, paste papers are usually coloured with a home-made wheat or cornstarch or rice paste (sometimes wallpaper paste or methyl cellulose) mixed with acrylic paints or other pigments.
Paste paper was a kind of side activity traditional with bookbinders, a frugal way to use up the leftover paste used in book construction. The paste (wheat, corn, rice, etc., depending on cultural traditions and era) was mixed with colours and painted in simple but effective designs on paper that could be used for book decoration. Today, many bookbinders make paste paper for its own sake and as a way to obtain beautiful and unique materials for Artists' Books displaying complex, painterly designs.
Really, you could just use straight acrylic paints instead of going to the trouble of making coloured paste. Still, making paste papers nowadays is perhaps more about rediscovering and emulating the long-ago customs of bookbinders and connecting yourself with the history of the craft. But allowing your creativity some contemporary licence. The resulting art papers can be used as pages, end papers or covers for Artists' Books, as background for book content or even as the book content itself.
For my 'fresco' papers, I chose acrylic paints by Golden for their high pigment load. ( Wheat or cornstarch paste tends to thin out the pigment so paler prints can result from less concentrated paint colours). My preference is for a basic palette I can use to mix the colours I want, either by layering colours on top of one another on the paper, or by mixing them before application.
For this batch, I chose Hansa yellow, Cadmium red, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Green Gold, Cadmium orange, Titan buff (instead of stark white), 'sludge' by Tri- Art ( a factory mix of leftover paints that offers a cheap, brownish substitute for black that gives a more faded, antique look to the darks on the page) and Interference red, a metallic paint I used as a resist before the paste layer, and as bit of shine on the surface, brushed on straight.
Some of the paste papers were printed in two or three layers of colour, and dried between layers so that a wet top layer could be wiped, scraped, rolled or printed off in areas to allow the under colour to show through. Textile scraps (coarse linen strips, crochet lace, netting, heavy weaves, etc.) were pressed with a brayer into a wet paste layer, then removed, leaving their impressions like stamps and lifting off a lot of the surface colour, creating new texture and revealing the underlying layers. The textiles can also lift off bits of paper, too! The abrasion was not hard to achieve…Other marks were made with carved rollers, combs, etc.
I took several monotypes from the 'host' paste painting by pressing a clean, damp sheet of Canal paper on top of the painted page (or two) and pulling a secondary print. In some cases, as in this first image, you can see that layers of paper were pulled up from the surface of the paper along with the coloured paste, creating a look of broken plaster.
This image belpw shows the monotype I printed off the 'host' paper, above, with bits of paper pulled off the surface and adding to the 'fresco' effect.
The Interference red used as a resist before painting the first coloured layers changed colour to purply- grey when the 'sludge' was rolled over the top of the yellow and red layers. The metallic worked better on the top surface in this paper.
Until next time!