Paste Paper for Journals or Books

Paste Paper for Journals and Books

I use paste papers for the endsheets or covers of my visual and written journals. I also like to tuck them into a journal to make sections.

This paper technique takes time and is a messy project, but it’s fun and you get some great textured paper, lots of great textured paper, in one sitting. Many artists refrigerate the paste and use it for several days, but I never get the best results from this ‘kept overnight’ paste, plus I prefer to make the mess all at once. (Then there’s only one clean up, too.)

Suggestions for paper to use include Mohawk Superfine, Strathmore or Arches Text Woven.

Use a 5:1 ratio of water to corn starch OR water to rice flour (five parts to one part.) You can add a little dishwashing soap to the mixture to make it smoother. (I’ve only used Ivory.) Also make a 1:1 ratio of water and starch or flour to use as slurry. Set the slurry aside.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, then simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add slurry and stir until mixture is smooth. Blender can be helpful with mixing, but clean promptly. When it is smooth (no lumps,) cover with wax paper and cool. Add about a tablespoon of acrylic matte medium or Mod-Podge for every cup of paste to decrease chipping and for some waterproofing protection, or use beeswax for waterproofing as described at the end of this entry.

To color the paste add tube watercolor, powdered paints, water based tempera paints (cheap works fine) or acrylics. Actually nearly any type of paint will work. I use the cheap bottled acrylic paints found in craft stores (CeramCoat or Folk Art are two brands, but there are others.) If you want more color using less paint use a tube acrylic such as olden.

Use individual throw away cups or containers for each color you make. I use whatever is around – any clean, plastic container will do fine. Divide your mixture into containers and add color. Sometimes I add metallic or luminescent paint, glitter or mica to obtain the look I want. Marble colors the colors if you wish.

Wet your paper by slipping it in and out of a tray of water or spritzing it heavily with water. Place paper on flat, smooth surface. Working from center to the outside, brush bubbles from paper using a sponge or squeegee.

Spread paint over the surface, using a wide painters brush (cheap) or paint roller for walls from hardware store or, in a pinch, a wide sponge brush. The paint roller gives me the effect I want.

To add design in the wet paint, use a comb, a dull but pointed object (craft stick, nature’s stick), sponge or other tool. A common practice is to comb in curving lines, but for interesting designs, consider using a multi pronged hair comb about two inches wide and do a basket weave, checkerboard or diamond effect.

Let dry and then glue to surface.

Once paper is attached as a book endsheet or cover, you can polish lightly with beeswax or a commercial product called Renaissance Wax and a soft cloth. Another option is to spray with Matte Krylon for durability. It all depends on what effect you wish to achieve. The Krylon needs to be used in a well ventilated area and has an odor which will dissipate in a day or two

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