Transforming ugly paper into usable collage material
OK, I am ashamed to admit that I have paper bearing glitter in my collage stash.
I know not from whence they came.
I suspect they were part of a mixed pack – they have been in my folders so long that I have quite forgotten.
These are scrapbooking papers. I am not a scrapbooker and have no interest in it. If people look down on mixed media art as not being particularly artistic, then scrapbooking is even further down the chain. Personally I remain delighted that scrapbooking became popular in the last decade because it gave me another source from which to collect papers. That said, the lesson I have learnt is buy a ‘pack’ expecting that it will be about 2/3rds useful, 1/3 toss out. Hmm… ‘toss out’… not usually in my vocabulary when it comes to collage material. So it seems that I have kept these papers (left in each picture) and well… what a surprise… I’ve never used them.
I can’t imagine why I haven’t had call to use a prancing horse with glitter, but there you go.
So in an effort to justify these papers taking up room in my collage collection, I decided to transform them. The best part about an ugly paper is the gusto with which one can throw oneself at changing it as it can surely get no worse.
My main challenge was getting rid of the glitter as it is upraised. In the end I used a variety of media to extinguish it, including:
- gesso over the top which ‘filled in’ the non-embossed areas and gave a new flattened surface
- light molding paste (by Golden). This has to be one of my favourite gel / pastes to use as it is so lightweight that the paper tolerates it and it’s marshmallow finish just sucks in the colours of the glazes you put over the top.
- opaque paints - with this you can still see the upraised pieces but at least the glitter is gone (see below)
The photographs don’t do justice the richness of colour in the reformed papers.
While I doubt that I could ever have found an artful application for purple paper with green glittered dots, the rich wine colour is something I most certainly will use. It has been completed using a number of glazes as well as some handwritten additions in my favourite crayons (Caran d’ache neocolor I’s) which shine through the subsequent layers. The greenish-glitter has now turned to an orange-gold courtesy of the quin crimson & quin nickel azo gold layers. It now has depth and intensity.
Last but not least is quite possibly the ugliest of all the papers I set about transforming this week.
The purple mermaid with green glitter. Oh, it’s just too stylish.
I had a lot of difficult photographing the piece after painting as it kept reflecting light – in particular in the bottom corner where there is some Clear Tar Gel giving it a gloss. A close up of the middle is featured below.
Of all the papers this one got the most gesso. It is also the one that looks most like a ‘piece’ rather than paper that I’m just going to put back into my stash to rip up another day. I suppose in all of this the question is, why bother transforming ugly paper… why not just start with clean paper? I think the close up below answers that well. While it looks nothing like the original, it got to where it is based on the original. The upraised elements are still present (without the sparkle), and the colour choices are in part informed by the purple as I needed something dark and high staining like the quin crimson to cover over the purple and some gesso where I wanted to knock it out altogether. Besides, there is no need to ‘cover up’ clean paper. Eliminating glittered tackiness from my stash is a good excuse to just spread paint around with abandon! I’ve got another 4 days before I go back to work and another 4 pieces of ugly paper. Fun!