Let's Make: Paste Paper

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Taught by Nancy Tompkins

Nancy Tompkins is a visual artist and an elementary school art teacher who was raised in Greenwich Village and Mexico City. She studied at Bennington College, The School of Visual Arts, Instituto Allende (Guanajuato, Mexico) and Massachusetts College of Art. She knows how to do a lot of things, and she is one of a small handful of people in the world who doesn't live in Brooklyn.

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Want to turn make wallpaper for your (tiny) bathroom with a roll of paper from Staples? Impress your artist friends with your fancy monoprints? Or Wrap presents in your own personalized homemade wrapping paper?

All of this and more can be done with very simple and inexpensive ingredients, some of which you probably already have on hand.

Paste paper is a centuries-old craft that was originally used for the endpapers of books. The technique involves dragging various implements (chopsticks, combs, forks, fingers, expired metro cards, paper clips, corks, strips of cardboard, ad infinitum) through a paste made of flour and water mixed with pigment to create deceptively sophisticated and complex designs: it's sort of like grown-up finger painting.

Although paste paper is traditionally used for decorative applications, the colored paste can also be used as a drawing ground. Highlights in a drawing can be created by rubbing off areas of the paste, while darker values can be created by the addition of more paste.

Paste paper is a very spontaneous, forgiving, somewhat messy, deeply satisfying medium to work with. No special skills are needed and all materials will be provided. However, if you have objects that you think may make interesting marks or any special paper that you want to use, please bring those things along.    

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