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Peeled paper technique

I have a couple of young friends whose mother passed away from brain cancer a few years ago. I didn't know her as well as I know her sons, because I've traveled and worked with them on youth group trips for years. Knowing what fine young men she raised, I feel that she was an exceptional woman, one of the many whose legacy will live on through her children.

Her youngest son, Nick, founded a non-profit organization in his mother's memory, the mission of which is to help fund the basic needs of children in developing countries. He calls it Cling.

That story reminded me of one of my favorite psalms, which has a line about clinging to God. I've used that verse in this mixed media piece, and I'll share the peeled paper technique with you that I used to make this.

You've got to select very heavy paper for this technique: extra-heavy watercolor paper or hand made papers are generally best. If the paper is heavy enough, you can create multiple peeled layers in each spot. With the 300 lb watercolor paper I chose, only one peeled layer was possible without risking breaking through the backing.

Materials and Tools

Heavy watercolor paper
Silicone-based spray wax
Acrylic paints
Mulberry paper
Verse or poem
Polymer medium or white glue
Plastic straws
Assorted yarns
Heavy card stock, black

X-acto knife
Paint brushes or sponges
Tapestry needle

1. Wet the watercolor paper thoroughly. Use the tip of an X-acto knife to gently lift layers of the paper, peeling them back with your fingers.

2. Spray the curled layers with silicone-based spray wax and manipulate them into place. Let them dry.

3. Sponge or brush on acrylic paints, and let it dry again.

4. Tear a piece of mulberry paper and a verse or poem to size, and adhere them in place with polymer medium.

5. Create some paper beads, rolling mulberry paper around plastic straws, adhering them with polymer medium. Cut the beads apart when dry. Wet the ends of the paper and fray to cover the straw cores.

6. Thread a couple of fibers onto a large tapestry needle and string on the paper beads.

7. Knot and fray the bottom ends of the fibers, and use the needle to thread them through the watercolor paper. Knot in the back.


8. Tear your watercolor paper to the shape you desire, and mount it on black card stock.

Psalm 63: 6-8
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Copyright 2009 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Limarea said…
That's a really touching story. And that scripture is so comforting, isn't it. Aaand your piece is gorgeous :) Cool technique
Cyndi L said…
I hesitated to share the whole story, but Heidi was a special woman and she deserves to be honored. Thank you!
Kathleen said…
Lovely! That is a very comforting Scripture and what a wonderful thing for her son to do.

You make this process seem so easy *laughs* ahem... I am going to give it a try! Thanks for the detailed instructions.
Cyndi L said…
Thank you, Kathleen. It is a really easy technique, but the thicker the paper, the easier it is. :-)
Courtney said…
Thank you for sharing your technique. I love de-constructing items in my artwork, and this has given me all sorts of new ideas.
Cyndi L said…
New ideas can be dangerous, don't cha know!
What a lovely story and a lovely collage.

Thank you for sharing this neat technique as well!
Cyndi L said…
Thank you, Eileen. If only everything sad could inspire someone to do good!
Tammy said…
That's a cool idea of keeping the paper beads on the straw. I'm sure it gives them more structure.
Cyndi L said…
Thanks Tammy! I would have loved to remove them, but the papers I used were so fragile it seemed best to leave well enough alone :-)
Jhayar L said…
Wonderful! I absolutely like the details of a story you posted. I have discovered a lot on your blog and I look forward to more updates. Thanks a lot!
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Shoshi said…
All beautiful - the story, the Scripture, the artwork. What an amazing technique - it has a wonderfully organic look. Thanks!
Cyndi L said…
Thank you, was a very meaningful piece for me :-)