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Making Paper Cloth

Having just  shown some pictures on my blog of items I recently made with paper cloth, I thought perhaps I would do a tutorial the next time I made some.

You will need a large piece of freezer paper, plastic side up.  Your paper cloth will be assembled on this and left to dry overnight.  You can use a piece of muslin for the foundation of the cloth or I have used a product called do-sew, which is a woven product and used to make patterns.  I initially used this because I wanted something a little bit lighter than muslin, but without enough layers of paper on it, it could tear.  So my advice is to use muslin as a base or plenty of layered papers.

Lay your base cloth onto the plastic side of the freezer paper.  Mix a glue solution of half glue and half water.  I prefer to use an acid free glue because I may sell what I make with this paper.  If you do not intend to sell your product, a regular glue would be fine.  With a brush, cover your entire base with the glue solution.  Now the fun begins…

I happened to have some very interesting printed tissue papers that I worked with in this project.

If you have an interesting piece of craft paper or a heavier paper with words or pictures printed on it, you will want to use it in your first layers. The beauty of making paper cloth is the transparency of the tissue paper layers.  If you use a heavy paper on top of the tissue paper, you will lose transparency.

Begin to tear random strips and lay down into the glue solution in various places.

Brush more glue solution over the strips so that they are coated.  Choose another paper and tear and lay strips randomly.

Continue to brush the glue solution over the papers  each time you add new paper.

Keep adding papers to your liking.  After all the papers are down and saturated with the glue solution, let it dry overnight.  This is what it looks like the next day.

Now for more fun…I like the idea of all the colors and layers being transparent so you can see whiffs of them here and there, so I  use paints that are transparent to paint on this surface.  Inks would also be good.  I have recently taken a liking  to Lumiere metallic paints which  is what I used here.  Mixed with some water, they will still be plenty transparent.  I don’t want to completely cover the designs on my patterned papers. I stamped words and lettering on this in two ways…before the paint and after the paint.  I like the words better under the paint.

Experiment with all sorts of ways  of creating paper cloth.  The first time I made it, I painted it and wasn’t happy with the color, so  I gessoed it and tinted it with some more paint afterwards. This is a completely different look than painting it with metallics.

For this paper cloth, I printed out big words in big fonts on regular copy paper and cut them out to add to the collage. This is the piece I gessoed, which gives a whitewashed look.  This turned out very heavy and durable, and after layering it with batting and another piece of cloth, I stitched  a design on it, used Fabrico fabric markers to color it a bit and then made a needle case out of it. Marker colors used are Pine and Brick.

This next picture is the same paper cloth, but it has been painted over  with Lumiere paints…(I love how the metallic paints go down into and emphasize the crackly texture of the tissue papers)…

…then I layered and stitched it, colored it with fabric markers, and added antique buttons. Later I couldn’t stand it and had to stamp it with some handwriting.  No pic of that yet.

I hope this tutorial has sparked your creative juices and given you some awesome ideas for making paper cloth.  Now get going and make some!

Update: Ok, now I have some pics of it with the stamped writing on it.

Here’s the markers I used on these and the next one I made. They are Fabrico markers and are made by Tsukineko.  I sell them but don’t have them listed on my website yet. See this post from February to see how I discovered how to get this softer look on paper cloth. I used colors garnet, pine, and autumn leaf to achieve the look below.  These inks have very rich colors with lots of pigment. I stitched hearts and leaves in the paper below, then colored the leaves and hearts with the markers.

Update: Below is a finished needle case with a “bead” made from Angelina film.  I wrapped the bead with wire and small glass beads.  A stretchy rubber strap makes the perfect closure with the bead.  This piece of paper cloth has metallic paint on it which makes it difficult to photograph…all that shine!

Update: I made some smaller cases for friends…and used a different method to decorate and close them with.  The buttons look good on the ties. This particular sheet of paper cloth used tissue paper with dots on it.  I really love using patterned tissue paper to make the paper cloth with.


Update added on October 17, 2011

Recently I tried another approach to making paper cloth.  This time I decided to leave off the painting and let the papers I chose do the work.  I chose some black and white designs on copy paper and some toile in this one. There is also a black and white image of a tree in there too.

The next one consisted of old sheets of music, stained coffee filters and copper tissue paper.

After these were dry, I dry brushed some gold metallic paint ever so lightly to catch the wrinkly spots.  I really love these two pieces.

And don’t forget…scan them into your computer and you have a never ending ability to use these forever….like making journal covers.

The extra image in the lower right corner is a copyright-free image transfer using TAP transfer paper (which I LOVE, BTW!) because the cover just needed something a little more to add to the nostalgic look.

So to recap the ways I have done this so far:  one way is to look for textures and patterns as your base and plan on painting over them OR let the papers do the work and plan accordingly!  Do a color scheme or a theme.  With these two samples here, I was going for a nostalgic, Victorian theme and I think I accomplished that!