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Delicate papers for mixed media collage and quilting

Delicate papers pose a special problem in collage and in mixed media art quilting.  Over the years, I have been on the lookout for methods that allow them to be included in my work without compromising the strength of the finished piece.  One of my favorites is a method made popular by Jonathan Talbot, which involves encasing the delicate papers in acrylic medium before fusing them together.

 Dreaming of June, an encased collage

I came across a second method by Beryl Taylor which also used acrylic medium, with a substrate of muslin.  My own take on it was to use gesso instead of medium to make a layered "paper fabric" so that the resulting merger would be more needle-friendly.  Gesso isn't a particularly good adhesive, however, so there were still compromises being made.

More recently, I came across Rebekah Meier's method, which she called "Fragile Fusion" in the March/April 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.  Rebekah advises using fusible webbing as the substrate, which you can then heat-fuse to any quilt or collage project in the future.  Finally...a strong enough bond that is also sewable!  I highly recommend Rebekah's book More Fabric Art Collage (see my review at the link), in which she covers dozens of other layering techniques that would also work for delicate papers.

My here is my version of Rebekah's method.  If you haven't seen her article, I definitely recommend you get ahold of a copy of CPS, because she has a much more complex tutorial than this one.  The inclusions that I used may look a bit familiar: they are tiny scraps from my black felt quilt project.  See?  Don't throw ANYthing out, ever!


1. Using a piece of parchment paper below the stack, lay out ripped or cut tissue and other delicate papers on a double-sided sheet of fusible webbing.

2. Cover the stack with parchment and iron from both sides.

3. Add inclusions as desired, dotting them with fabric glue.  Iron.

4. Apply paint (I used bubble wrap) to help unify the colors.  Iron to heat set.

5. Apply foil as desired.  Below is another example, but this one is made with a single sheet of delicate tissue paper instead of multiple pieces.

Copyright 2013 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 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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You know, I blame you for the clutter in my office Cyndi... and this is why, " Don't throw ANYthing out, ever!"

I love what you did with the project, and those little scraps are just perfect for it!!!
Cyndi L said…
Oh come on had clutter long before you ever met me ;-) lol!
But you encourage the magpie in all of us! You make it a virtue - at least thats my story, and I'm sticking to it, lol!
Love the tips! I found a couple of sample videos on Northlight that show something similar from Nita Leland's two DVDs, encasing leaves, and creating something she calls "crystal" paper, which looks like fairy wings and is very, very strong.
One good turn deserves another, so if you don't collect leaves already, now is the time to start looking for last years skeletons to preserve, lol!
Cyndi L said…
Oh goodness, I luuuuurve Nita Leland! Her book is my MM bible. But sorry to tell you, my skeleton leaves are still covered by 6 inches of SNOW...LOL!! Another month or so :-)
Cherie said…
Love this tip! I'm with June, you're to blame for the clutter in my craft room! LOL
Thank you for including all the pluses and minuses of the various methods. It helps to decide which will be most suitable.

Beautiful examples too!
P.S. I too have been overwhelmed by spam lately. It seems to be coming out of Europe and Asia (based on post times and grammar).

I'm thinking of adding word verification; but am holding out hope that the spambots will give up on this fruitless effort once they realize their comments aren't getting through. On the other hand, I wonder, do they even know or care?
Cyndi L said…
I don't think they care at all if it gets through. I think they are people who are paid by the hour to leave comments. Like you, I've always had comment moderation, so I know that the only thing that puts them off is word verification. I *HATE* it, but what are you going to do?