Eco Dyed Paste Papers

To paint the covers and endpapers of my artist books, I am using powdered plant dyes from Couleurs de Plantes (France) in partnership with Maiwa (Vancouver). Most of them I cannot obtain from my own garden.

For this set of experimental papers, I use a mix of corn starch paste, about 2 tablespoons/30 ml to half a teaspoon/2.5 ml of dye powder – mas o menos…The papers are Canson, various weights. (Paste recipe: one part corn starch to three parts water, cooked, cooled, blended/processed and sieved to de-lump)

Dyes used for this selection of papers: logwood, madder, cochineal, weld,quebracho, chestnut and lac.

Madder, logwood and cochineal on 140 lb watercolour paper. Cochineal goes grey in acidic conditions.

Ditto, above.

Madder and logwood, wood block print.

Logwood, brushed.

Two layers: Golden Rod first overprinted with madder on wood block.

Golden Rod overprinted with logwood and combed

Logwood, brushed

Lac with wood block removing paste

Golden Rod, combed

Quebracho, colour lifted by wood block

Cochineal, combed

Logwood, brushed then stamped with Indian textile block

Chestnut, stamped with African block to lift colour.

Note that sometimes you can lift colour off or lay colour on with the printing blocks.

Next post: Paste paper book


15 thoughts on “Eco Dyed Paste Papers

  1. Aren’t you incredibly creative and wonderful. I’m wondering if these papers could even have encaustic medium added on top? Love them. Thanks for sharing the idea – brilliant.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Thinking of doing encaustic at some point. I like to have the content call for the medium or vice versa , the medium being the message…The wax is indeed a good candidate for use in art books, maybe instead of glue as well being as a content bearer


    1. Hello there!
      Yes you can add some alum to the water in which you soak watercolour papers before printing or paste painting. Patrick at Couleur de Pl and antes says their experiments there have never been with dyes on paper – thus we are pioneering…as such, we must be prepared to experiment and develop “best practice” on our own.
      Nothing excact. A couple of tablespoons in four inches of water in a container large enough to hold sheets from one pad of paper, usually 12 sheets. Leave a couple of hours, minimum.

      Good luck


  2. Those papers are lovely! I especially like the African blocks. I’ve done paste paper before but with tempera paints, combs and kitchen tools and Indian blocks. It’s so much fun! However it never occurred to me to try it with powdered plant dye extracts. You are so inventive! Thanks for sharing the details, Wendy.

    1. Hi Louisa,

      If you like the blocks enough to buy them, contact Paula Benjaminson. She will be glad to help. She was instrumental in organising the Oshiwa co op when she lived in Namibia. Paula is in Gsbon now but will be bsck in the US (Portland) next year and hopes to give Oshiwa more exposure.
      Thanks for your interest!

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