Monday, 13 June 2011

Making textured paper backgrounds... part 1

As promised, I'm going to take you through how I make the textured paper backgrounds for my seashore art pieces. It's not difficult, and I find the best thing is not to try and plan it too much, but just go with the flow - which suits me just fine!

You will need :
  • an old plastic carrier bag
  • fine cotton fabric (e.g. muslin/cheesecloth)
  • pages torn from a colour magazine
  • white tissue paper
  • glue - PVA or wallpaper paste
  • a paintbrush
To start with you will need to cover your work area with a layer of plastic - I usually just open up a plastic carrier bag and use that. Make sure it doesn't have any holes in it!

Because I stitch into these backgrounds, the first layer I use is fabric, cut roughly to the finished size of the piece, to give it some strength. A fine cotton muslin (cheesecloth) works best - it takes the glue well and is fine enough so you don't really notice it.  Spread the fabric on the plastic and dampen it to keep it in place.  Spread a layer of glue on top.

The next layer is simply torn paper from a colour magazine (I like the weekend Telegraph magazines because the paper is a nice thickness - sadly that is not regarded as a good way to choose the household reading matter!). Choose pieces with interesting colours or patterns on them - the colours can be quite different from the final colour of the piece.  In fact, in some ways, the more contrasting the colours the better.  As these pieces are for my cards they are quite small so I'm only using one piece of paper, torn to size, for each.  If they were larger I would build up a patchwork of torn pieces.  Crumple up the paper to take the shine off it, then open it out and press it on top of the pasted fabric.

The final layer is tissue paper.  Tear a piece of tissue paper a little larger than the paper you want to cover.  Spread another layer of glue on top of the coloured paper and put the tissue paper on top.  Using a wet paintbrush, push the tissue paper around a bit to make wrinkles and to bring the edges in level with the coloured paper underneath.  Don't worry if bits stick out, you can either leave them or tear them off when it's dry.  Press it down to make sure you flatten all the wrinkles and the tissue paper is soaked through.

Again for a bigger piece you can use a patchwork of pieces of tissue, but don't layer it up too thick because you still want to be able to see the colour from the paper underneath.

And that's it for the first stage - now you just need to leave the whole lot to dry.  It will probably curl up but don't worry about it!  I know they don't look much at the moment, but don't worry, they will.  You will need to come back for the second part of the tutorial!


  1. Brilliant! I so love your postcards I couldn't believe you were going to share your secrets with us all :-) Can't wait until Part II.

  2. In a way I'd expected your pieces might lose a bit of their magic with the explanation - but actually it's the opposite. I love how well the creases in the tissue paper work. On to part 2!


Helen Smith, artist and maker in glass, print and stitch.


Related Posts with Thumbnails