Category Archives: acrylics

How to make Paste Papers


Close-up. Pulled paste paper. One layer.

Today it is all about making Paste Paper, showing you some results, and giving you the info about how to make them. A while ago I wrote an article  for a zine about making paste papers – how to make them, tips and tricks.  Now it is here on my new Resources Page for my blog readers to load down and use. Please give me acknowledgement if you share it. This first photo is a close-up of one of the ones done late in the day to use up colours.  This pulled one, in fact, was one layer, just folded in half, pressed down and seperated again.  You can do large sheets like this, but you really need two sets of hands to hold the four corners of the sheet. It is nice to do a pair of sheets for each person, as it is good to have a co-ordinated thing happening.

For the ‘pulled’ paste papers, you really need home-made paste. For others, commercially available paste such as Matisse Print Paste works well. I use it when I teach workshops. But it doesn’t work  to make these lovely mossy marks when you pull the sheets apart.


Looks like red and blue tartan with a heavy overlay of gold. Difficult to photograph with all the gold laying on the surface. Not a success.


Selection of blues and greens, some good, some bad.

The first thing I say in my article is that even your worst paste papers look good when they are put to use.    Here’s a fairly bad one. The colours weren’t working so well, so I put gold over the top. With metallics, you have to put in plenty of paint because they can be quite transparent. In this case I overdid it. It is all trial and error.

This one with blues and greens has some good and some bad. I am taking a’ bad one’ to a friend so she can see for herself how good they can look.


This one is beautiful IRL. Vermilion, cadmium red and yellow deep.


Made from leftover paste at the end of the day. Folded in half and pulled apart.

We mixed up a lot of reds, because I wanted the reds, pinks, terra-cotta colours of Italy. The one with the red-to-yellow gradient was made from the left-overs and pressed onto itself and ‘pulled’.  I am having trouble with all my devices wanting to turn reds to magenta so I have had to tinker with the colour of the red ones and they are still not perfect.

Some of these I like very much and others……not. But there is a roll of them in my suitacse already. One has been made into a book cover for my own Fabriano sketchbook. Which one do you think I have used?


Southern Ocean Blue and Gold. Two layers. I love Southern Ocean Blue.

I haven’t photographed all that we made. There were so many. And two weeks later the paste is still in the fridge and perfectly useable.

Do look at some of the links in my article.


Pink and Green. I think the pink is a discontinued colour that I dragged out especially for somone who likes pink. Australian Sap Green. Two Layers.

Other people’s paste paper can be very different. Mine is very slapdash, rough and ready, but I am happy with the results. Any questions, I am happy to answer.


Filed under acrylic paint, acrylics, decorated papers, paste papers

Playing with Gel…testing, testing, testing.

self_levellingI have been playing around testing a new product for the manufacturer. Lots of fun, though time-consuming. It was weighing on my mind, and first I had to come up with a PLAN.   I got an idea about transparent plastic sheets from a video from Jane Davies, then I put my own take on it. I love the vivid colours of the Matisse Inks so I wanted to see how the  gel would dry with the ink mixed in. I wanted to find a use for the gel for fine art purposes, rather than craft, but not to just pour it straight onto canvas.

I knew this needed a safe place to dry over a number of days without a cat walking on it. So first I did all my washing, so that the top of the washing machine would be available. The gel was to dry on plastic sheet protectors – the ones you use in display books. So I started with a sheet of perspex under the sheet protectors, so that I could move it to the top of the washing machine when I was ready.

I mixed up four little potions of ink with the self-levelling gel, each colour in its own little plastic shot glass. Each shot glass was about 2/3 full of medium, and I added ten drops of ink. The colours I used  were yellow, red, turquoise and green. (I wouldn’t use the green another time, because the colours mixed sufficiently that the  yellow and turquoise made green). I dribbled each colour on and they merged and blended as I poured more on.

When I was finished I moved them to the top of the washing machine to dry. I didn’t take into account that this is an old terrace house and the floors are not totally level. Nor the fact that the perspex bent a little to follow the contours of the top of the washing machine. Soon I was having to wipe up small spills and to  wedge articles under parts of the perspex sheet to ensure it was level. It caused the colours to move about and blend and marble some more. This is the part that gave me some lovely feathery edges as the medium retracted when the perspex was level. It was touch dry by the end of the day, and after a day or two I could pull it off the plastic sheets. I have left it three weeks to cure. Acrylic often appears dry long before it is cured. Now it is not sticky on either side.

I have cut this piece off with a craft knife and stuck it in my sketch book with PVA glue.  This is a test also. I will leave some waxed paper in there for a while to stop it sticking to the facing page, but eventually I will remove it to see what happens.  Then we will know if it can be used inside a book. It is a couple of millimitres thick, and quite flexible.  Possible uses: 1) an art piece made by cut-out pieces glued to a perspex sheet with the light behind it. (2) an installation of pieces with the top rolled around a small dowel and hung with the light behind them. I’m sure there are many more uses.

I think it is quite possible to control this product and make many kinds of flexible transparent sheets. It is possible to peel it off a large perspex sheet as long as you coat it with Vaseline first. I would use scissors to cut it in future, as the craft knife drags it a little.  I also think it would be possible to peel off a sheet that had a lot of holes in it as long as you were careful.  But the gel also does have a mind of its own. Control is not absolute, and you might get some happy surprises.

I was hoping to add some more close-up photos to show you the lovely feathery edges, but the days are so dark that the flash keeps going off. Maybe later.


Filed under acrylics, inks, Matisse Derivan

A Paste Paper Day

This week we had a paste yellow_blue_pastepaper day. It was the first for over two years, and we had to get back in the swing of it. Julia came, and Annie, and we each made some paste at home the night before. It was a first forpaste_teal Julia. Annie and I had done it many times before but neither of us could remember which recipe we used to cook the paste. Both of us used a different recipe and got different results. Julia used a third method.

My aim for the day was to make some good ‘pulled’ paste papers. This is done by putting two wet pieces of paste paper face together and pressing them down with your hands so that thred_green_pastee paint transferred from each one to the other. Somehow we had a bit of trouble with getting interesting ones, whereas , beginners’ luck,tulip_paste we used to get wonderful ones in the past. The first pair of papers here are done this way, but the results weren’t the wonderful mossy marks we are used to getting. Maybe the paste was a little thin.

Later in the day, Annie made a great one by using a slightly larger sheet and folding it back on itself, giving the intricate patterns seen in the green-and-red and the blue-and-yellow-and green. These are my papers, made using this method. We were using slightly thicker paste by this time.

silver_pasteThe last job of the day for me, late in the day given it is winter, was a final coat of silver on top of many coats on a paper I wasn’t happy with. Looking good. now!

One thing we learnt from the day,was that the papers done on thicker paper seemed to work out the best. It can’t be too thick, because it then can’t be used to cover book boards. Watercolour paper is both too thick and too absorbent. We used a lot of different papers including 110gsm cartridge paper. The very best paper, we got from a paper warehouse that has since closed down and of course we can’t get it any more.


Filed under acrylics, decorated papers, paste papers

The Europe Notebooks

Photo 27-07-13 11 14 49 AMJust before I went to Bali recently, I made two tiny notebooks. One for Broni, one for me. They were for writing down things like phone numbers, exchange rates, things like that. They were so useful that we pretty much filled them up. Well, when you’re working in millions of rupiah, all those zeros take up a lot of space.

We decided that we would need new ones for Europe, and that they would need to be a bit bigger. We will have train times to write down, a few more hotel phone numbers, and besides that, the trip goes on a lot longer. So, these new ones are A6 size, and the structure is a concertina with a signature sewn into each valley fold. They are stitched with pamphlet stitch, and a band of paper has been threaded through the stitching on the spine and glued into the cover to stop the concertina unfolding. The covers and endpapers are made from credit card papers.

We will be off at the end of the month…….Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Thailand. Send me a message if you want to catch up.


Filed under acrylics, book art, decorated papers

Collaging the pages in my sketchbook

kozo_paper These are the papers I use to collage my sketchbook pages. I buy them from Artwise the Amazing Paper Shop. You can click on any of these images to get a better look!

kozo_on_bookI lay them on the sketchbook (in this case, a Stillman & Birn Delta series……nice and robust for this sort of work….pages don’t curl) and work out which pieces I will use. I always tear the papers rather than cut them.

I use Matisse Gel Medium, though other mediums would also be fine. Then kozo_with_gelI glue them against the pages of one of our local papers, the Inner West Courier, which has glossy paper so the newsprint doesn’t come off. One by one, I paint the medium onto the kozo paper, out past the edges, so any loose fibres will stick down. Then I place them kozo_gluedon the sketchbook page and press them down.

I could go right ahead and put watercolour paint on now, but unless I am pressed for time I put waxed paper between the pages and let it dry overnight. In the morning I slosh on some watercolour paint. kozo_paintedSometimes I just use what is on my palette but if I think I am going to be painting sandstone I use some yellow ochre or raw sienna.

This page was used for the Sydney University archway sketch, and the one on the left in the picture of the sketchbook was for the tower and roof.

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Filed under acrylics, collage, watercolour

Gelli Brights

Though I haven’t been sketching much lately, I have been making cards with my Gelli prints. Many of the ones I’ve made previously have been on top of recycled etchings or other types of fine art prints. I made quite a number framed by white and cream (the eco dyed ones for example) so I decided I needed more brights. As it happens, the ones I chose to photograph this time are Gelli printed only.

The first one has been printed with a capsicum (green pepper) and some sewing cotton. It has some glorious colours in there, and of course I don’t have a clue what colours I used. Perhaps some Matisse Primary Red which is quite a blue-red.

The second one is with a commercially available stencil and  another layer with some sewing cotton. There is a layer of yellow, some red, then some blue. I’ve noticed that I often use the three primary colours for Gelli printing.  This one has some yellow, a warmer red, and some  blue. I often use Matisse Southern Ocean Blue. I love that colour.

The third card uses the same colours, but could it be more different? It’s a combination of fruit and vegetable bags from the greengrocer.

Number four with the purple border is just gorgeous ‘in the flesh’.  There’s some orange there, some magenta, and a colour that could be Australian Yellow Green. (All these colours are Matisse Flow, used about 50/50 with Matisse Open Medium.)  This one is capsicum again, with I think lemons in a pale colour underneath. There are some filmy capsicums in iridescent on top.

The final one is a yellow first layer with sewing cotton, then lemons with green, followed by a stamp with a capsicum in Southern Ocean Blue.

They all have colour coordinated envelopes in brights that contrast with the main colour of the card.


Filed under acrylics, decorated papers, Gel printing, Gelli Plate, Print-making

My friend Derivan Dave

Here’s another video for you to watch. I may have mentioned David from Matisse Derivan. He now calls himself Derivan Dave. I thought you might like to see his video too. He’s not normally so serious.


Filed under acrylics, Matisse Derivan