Saturday, January 27, 2024

More on Wet-strength Tissue Paper

 Several readers have asked me to give more information on the topic of wet-strength tissue paper.  Here goes:

In an earlier post, I showed a collage on stretched canvas that I'd created with the help of printed wet-strength tissue.  At that time I considered the artwork finished.  But over time I've continued to add more layers of tissue.  I'm glad it progressed that way since I now have 3 photos to help illustrate the use of stencil- and mask-printed wet-strength tissue in collage. 

These three photos illustrate the effects achievable with wet-strength tissue printed in a variety of stencil-printed patterns as well as the visual blending of colors.  Some of these papers were printed with pure white tissue.  Others with yellow tissue, but I purposely varied the saturation of the yellow.  Still others were printed in sap green, orange, etc.  The medium I used on these papers was Golden High Flow.

Now to name the two excellent teachers I've mentioned in earlier posts.  Both work with wet-strength tissue paper and both teach online classes.  Both are UK residents.

Sally Hirst 

Kasia Clarke

Recently, I had stated that wet-strength tissue is no longer available here in the US, but I believe I have now found it, here. I've placed an order and have yet to receive it, but I have faith this is the right stuff.

The reason for using wet-strength tissue in art-making is almost always to create layers of material on a collage.  

By itself, wet-strength tissue is not usually a substrate all by itself because of its flimsy nature.  

Paper lanterns and "willow structures" are an exception but those three-dimensional projects require special treatments not covered in this post.  But if the urge strikes to use stencil- or mask-printed wet-strength tissue to create these sculptures, a good place to start is here.

Wet-strength tissue is used in collage because it becomes either translucent or transparent after being adhered to a substrate with gloss medium (liquid or gel), Nori adhesive, or any other adhesive that dries clear.  Using matte medium (liquid or gel) reduces transparency to translucency.  I suggest trying both, experimenting to find personal preference.  And of course preference can change, depending on the art-making project at hand.

Altho the tissue itself, once adhered to a substrate, becomes transparent or translucent, the paint or ink that's been added to the tissue paper will remain clearly visible.  The result is that when the tissue is adhered to a substrate, the painted marks appear to have been made on the substrate itself.  And when layer after layer is added, each with its own markings and colors, the result can be a delight.  Colors, hues, markings -- everything! -- will appear to merge into combination imagery that can capture attention.

Another advantage of using wet-strength tissue that bears an artist's stencil prints or ink marks or paintings (acrylic or watercolor) is that once media is dry, the artist can flip the paper over to see which side best suits the purpose at hand.  The printed/painted/inked side of the tissue will be as bright and clear as if it were on any other surface.  Its flip-side will bear the same prints/paints/marks, but -- depending on how heavy-handed the artist applied the media -- the flip-side will appear somewhat less bright.  Its colors will be somewhat muted in comparison with the side that was worked on.

So if I'm working on a stretched canvas where I want the piece to have a brighter, darker appearance in specific areas, I will use the "top" side of the tissue.  And I will often turn the tissue over to add "echoes" of the same markings and colors elsewhere on the artwork (in areas that are called "rest areas for the viewer's gaze.)

Before the printed tissue has been adhered to the substrate, an artist has the option of starting the project with watercolor or acrylics or water-soluble crayons.  (It's most likely better to avoid using oil-based media until the artist reaches the top layer and last steps before calling the artwork finished.

The other option is the one I most often take -- I start with acrylic paint, add layers of tissue, and finish with more acrylic paint, but most of the top layer of acrylic paint will be transparent, not opaque.  

When I use Nori adhesive instead of acrylic gel as the adhesive, I cover a finished artwork with a layer of "satin" acrylic medium.  "Satin" is the word used by at least one manufacturer to designate a medium that's roughly halfway between glossy and matte.  I consider it a "happy medium" since it combines the transparency of gloss with the gloss-muting effect of matte medium.

An artist can easily create homemade satin-finish media, by mixing gloss medium with matte medium (either liquid or gel versions) and adding a little water.  I won't give measured amounts because every artist experiments to find just the right balance for the individual.  And it's good to take the extra step of painting a test layer of the mixture onto printed scrap paper, then waiting for it to dry, then judging what has resulted in terms of transparency, glossiness, etc.

As to the substrate for wet-strength tissue, I personally used stretched Fredrix "watercolor" canvases.  This specific type has a very smooth surface which has been coated to readily accept watercolor.  I do this because I want to work on smooth surfaces and create my own texture.  I personally dislike working on a textured surface but that's just my individual choice.

Wet-strength tissue will adhere better to a smooth surface than to a textured surface, but there is a go-around for this:  An artist using a textured substrate can pounce a wet paintbrush all across the surface of the tissue right after it's been added to the artwork.  The tissue remains flexible, up to a point, so gentle pouncing and press the tissue down into the low areas of the texture.

If I were to work on watercolor paper rather than stretched canvas, I would use 300-pound hot-press watercolor paper.  This paper is sturdy enough to tolerate layers of tissue.  Cold-pressed watercolor paper has texture.  Hot-press watercolor paper is smooth.

Other substrates are also good candidates, as long as they are sturdy.  Cradleboards are one example.  If there's a carpenter in the house, these can be homemade.  (A special coating needs to be added to a "naked" wooden surface.  Its purpose is to seal the surface.)

I haven't myself used wet-strength tissue to collage onto the sturdy version of Yupo (a synthetic substrate that comes in tables and is available in varying thicknesses.)  But it too would work as a substrate.

As said above, the reason for using wet-strength tissue in art-making is almost always to create layers of material on a collage.  However, some artists  -- like Kasia Clarke -- use this tissue to create texture on a substrate; after the tissue dries, paint or other media are applied in ways that highlight the texture.  Creating texture this way merely means crumpling the tissue before adhering it to the surface of the substrate.

The photos below show other collages of mine that took advantage of the qualities of stencil- and mask-printed tissue papers.  One or two have already been shown here, but since this post goes into depth on the whole issue, a second look may be helpful.  Something to look out for is the visual interplay between layers that have each been printed with a different stencil or mask.  Whole new shapes (usually abstract) are created when these prints are layered.  This mingling can of course also be done on a gel plate on one sheet of paper.  But the effect with tissue is different enough to be touted.

In some of the artworks above, the printed tissues were the very top layer. In others, printed tissue was sometimes partially covered by newer layers of translucent acrylic paint.

Thanks for checking out my blog today! To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at, please start here.

Friday, January 19, 2024

3 Other Artists Using My Masks and/or Stencils

Number 1 --

In preparing to order the 2022-published book Innovative Abstracts in Mixed Media, I happened to notice that its author, UK artist Helen Kaminsky, used one of my masks from (6" x 6" Ski Lift Works s463) in developing one of her artworks, titled The Toolmaker.

I was immediately struck by the way that this particular design does indeed fit into an image that calls to mind a toolmaker.

Ski Lift Works s463 -- confession time! -- is a misnomer.  I designed this mask basing it on a photo I'd taken of some kind of machinery.  I honestly don't remember whether a ski lift was involved.  It may have been a photo taken during a ride on a cable car in Quebec.

The photo on Amazon is of course copyrighted so I won't show that.  I'll simply show the mask itself:

6" x 6" Ski Lift Works s463

I look forward to having Helen Kaminsky's book in my hands!

Number 2 --

The full beauty of the image above -- created by artist Marine Amirkhanyan -- doesn't show here since the original is on gold foil (which reflects when I photograph it!)  Marine used my 9" x 12" Garden Montage L652.

Number 3 -- 

Above: A gorgeous collage by artist Marilyn Roane.  Marilyn cut her collage element for the center of the middle row from a gel plate print she made using my 9" x 12" Clustered Leaves L433.

I fairly burst with delight when I come across works by other artists who have chosen to use some of the stencils and masks I've designed for  To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at, please start here.

Thanks for stopping by here today! 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Faux Washi Tape

 The ultra-creative mastermind behind the monthly trades at StencilGirl StencilClub is Linda Wyatt, and she came up with a brand-new idea for a recent trade among StencilClub members: Faux Washi Tape.

She gave us the dimensions -- 12" x .5" -- and the monthly color challenge, which was verdigris, a color that I never would have thought of.  

I loved the challenge of this trade, first of all, because to achieve the specified color, I discovered a need to mix one of my red acrylic paints with one of my copper metallic paints.  My shelves carry a variety of copper metallic acrylic paints as well as every imaginable reddish hue in acrylic paint.  Different manufacturers label their colors in individual ways so that acrylic copper by one maker differs from that of another.  The same is true for the color red, which has variations nearly endless.  I chose a deep red that carried a hint of pink and a copper that was relatively dark.

Second of all, this challenge gave me another opportunity to print wet-strength tissue paper with stencils and masks.

Since wet-strength tissue remains translucent after being applied to a surface with acrylic medium (gel or liquid) or Nori clear paste, an idea was born.  I decided to place my faux washi tapes onto Artist-Tac permanent dry adhesive sheets -- my goal being to create something akin to actual washi tape -- so that, once peeled off the white backing paper, each tape would have dry adhesive on its back. It would then be ready to use; no need for any additional adhesive.

(Note: Other brands of double-sided adhesive papers are available at Amazon and other online art venues.  It just happens that I use the brand named above.  I have yet to try any other brands so as to compare them.)

In my mind's eye, I pictured faux washi tapes that would be translucent in areas where they were not printed with stencils and masks using acrylic paint: with the result that when the finished tapes were applied to any surface, such as the page of an art journal, part of the original surface would remain visible, while part of it would bear a strip of abstract designs.  Any stencil- or mask-print would appear as abstract, once it was cut into strips 12" x .5" -- as illustrated below:

Above: Notice the translucency of the faux washi tape once it's glued to the background; parts of it seem nearly invisible while parts of it are printed with what appears to be abstract markings.

When I had printed a slew of wet-strength papers for this project, the results were this--

Some of the individual papers looked like this --

Above: This tissue was printed during an earlier printing session; its colors didn't qualify it for the trade but I wanted to use this paper for cutting into tapes anyway, for my own future use.

Below: A close-up of one section, cut down from its original size, but not yet cut into strips --

I tried several ways to cut the papers into strips....... and I decided to use my paper cutter as well as my scissors.

Used in today's post:

6" x 6" mask Chandelier s971

6" x 6" mask Diatom s972

9" x 12" mask Clustered Leaves L433

6" x 6" mask Tiger Lily s524

9" x 12" mask Tangled Pods L344

6" x 6" mask Pavilion Shadows s464

4" x 4" mask Carnival M340

Thanks for visiting today! To scroll thru the pages of my masks and stencils at, please start here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Whack Apart Those Stencil or Mask Prints and Re-Assemble Them in Layers

 Now I'm taking not one but two online classes; both focus mainly on wet-strength tissue. 

Today I've come close to finishing a collage on stretched canvas.  For the most part, its assortment of shapes were printed using my masks and stencils.

In making the prints, I alternated between using a gel plate with using a sponge brayer (an approach described in several recent posts.) 

Before creating the shapes on this canvas, I cut apart a large number of prints.  

Most of them went onto the canvas in layers that placed part of one stencil or mask print next to that of a different print.

Recently I switched from using heavy matte gel medium to Nori adhesive.  This has reduced fumes from the acrylic paint that are hard to chase away.  (I use fans that try, as well as a chemical air cleaner.)

For what I'm doing now -- wet-strength tissue collage -- Nori is definitely better, in my opinion.  Partly because it makes the pieces of tissue removable, or able to be repositioned, within the first several minutes after application.

To scroll thru my stencils and masks at, please start here.

Wet-strength tissue is not available here in the US, as far as I have been able to determine.  You can get similar results with white mulberry paper but try samples of this paper first to find the strength/thickness of the paper you want to use.  If you use mulberry paper, the resulting prints will have small opaque threads of fiber that run thru the paper. The paper itself turns translucent after applied to the substrate with Nori or either matte or gloss medium (either gel or liquid.) To buy wet-strength tissue from the UK, check it out on the second link below, for Kasia Clarke.  

To check out the classes I'm taking -- I vote both of them as excellent -- you can use these links:

Sally Hirst, BTW, is one of my fellow designers at I love her masks and have bought two of far!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Goodbye Duck!

My November 11 post -- before veering off into a whole new territory to appear here later in this post! -- started this way.....

In printing on wet-strength tissue paper, I chose my sponge brayer approach*.

Below are a couple of those prints.  The top one was made with 9" x 12" Fire Cherries L879 --

...and the bottom print was made using 9" x 12" Garden Montage L652 

Next, I started auditioning these prints and/or parts of them onto a prepared background...

After making my final selections, I adhered them to the background with matte gel medium.  After that had dried, I brushed on zinc white acrylic paint to partially obscure areas of that evolved into background for a duck shape.

However!  More has happened since November 11!  The progression went like this --

And the finished  piece is below:

The duck is history!

*My sponge brayer approach is simple and it saves my wrists and hands; they suffer if I indulge in too much sponge-pouncing to make prints with my masks and stencils.  My steps are below: 

I squeeze out heavy-body acrylic paint (shown at the top of the photo above); then I load the sponge brayer by rolling it repeatedly over the acrylic paint.  Often I add more paint as I go, since the sponge soaks up a lot of it while getting the outer layer loaded.

Above:  A sponge brayer being loaded with heavy-body acrylic paint.  This old photo shows my using a disposable foam plate. Now, I use a tablet of pallet paper.

After loading the brayer with paint, I place a stencil or mask atop a substrate, secure it with masking tape, and roll the brayer across the top.  See below:

Thank you for checking out my blog today! To scroll thru the pages of my masks and stencils at, please start here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Tear the Edges of Your Stencil Prints!

Late last year I started to post projects I've done with wet-strength (artist-grade) tissue papers.  (These papers may be available from other sources, besides the one cited in the link above.  When ordering, simply make sure you've landed on "wet-strength" papers.  Giftwrap tissue won't work when creating papers for use in collage.)

Sally Hirst teaches online classes that have prompted me to explore this new direction in my artwork.  Oh yes, like nearly everyone else, I had already used tissues in several kinds of art-making -- but never the way that Sally teaches, which I find really exciting and fun.

Upon arrival, these papers appear mostly white, with only a faint translucence, until they're glued with a clear adhesive to a background. Once they're saturated with any clear gluing medium, they become more translucent; in some cases, they go all the way to transparency.

Below:  One of the prints I made with this tissue....

Above:  I used metallic gold acrylic liquid paint and purple Golden High Flow to make multi-layer prints with 6" x 6" mask Chandelier s971 and 6" x 6" mask Diatom s972 .

Out of the starting gate, I used scissors to cut my tissue prints into a variety of shapes.

As I continued to experiment, however, I switched to another option that Sally suggests:  tearing the paper rather than cutting it, to achieve ragged edges.  It turns out that I love these edges.  Two close-up examples are below --

Note: In the above 2 examples, I'd drawn the squiggles before wetting the tissue with spatters of paint.  One type of tool useful for this kind of squiggle is a needle-nosed paint applicator bottle.  Various styles of these are available online.

Roadblock!  In creating my beloved ragged edges, I quickly discovered that wet-strength tissue is resistant to being torn against its grain.  Result?  Trigger thumb!!  (If you don't know what "trigger finger" means, you are young and/or lucky!)

(Here, I should add that you can use a water-moistened brush to draw a wet line along the edge that you want to tear. This makes the tearing easy.  However, it also slows my art-making way down since, for me, the resulting limp edges are a pain to work with.  Some artists have patience to work with limp edges.  I don't!)  

Solution!  Almost since dinosaurs walked the earth, I had owned a bevel-edged ruler.  Naively, I'd supposed that the bevel-edged ruler was all that was available.  But because my left thumb needed a long vacation, I went shopping online, and found these:

Above:  I think I found these on Amazon but they may be available elsewhere.

These tear-edged rulers work beautifully with wet-strength tissue.  

Below is a recent collage I developed by using both scissor-cut and torn-edge papers.

Above, you'll notice more squiggle-marked tissue pieces. What's much harder to recognize is the fact that I used stencils and masks to embed images and designs into the collage. These images and designs were printed onto wet-strength tissue before it was cut or torn apart to create the shapes that form the abstract composition.

I admit these are very hard/impossible to see in photos, but subtlety was the effect that I wanted to achieve for viewers who will see this artwork in person.  Most of the subtly embedded images were made using 9" x 12" Figures Praising L727, designed by Valerie Sjodin.

In the upper right, I included a fan-shaped aqua partial-print created with my 6" x 6" mask Diatom s972.

To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at StencilGirl, please start here.

Thank you for taking time to stop here today!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023


 I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the December 12 issue of StencilGirl Talk.  That post comes from a very gifted artist, Jane Bellante, who has made a video that features my 9" x 12" mask Longwood Florals L675   ... which looks like this:

If you have time during these busy December weeks, please check out the December 12 issue of StencilGirl Talk.  That's where you'll find the link to Jane's video. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Christmas Cards -- for Place Settings or to Mail

Today's post brings 6" x 6" Christmas cards decked out with quick, easy collages assembled using cut-outs from my stencil- and mask-prints (  Most of my Christmas cards have a traditional look; a few others go out on a limb, giving traditional Christmas colors a nod, yet veering away from traditional designs to employ abstract imagery.

The white "glow" circles around some of today's candle flames are laser-cut white paper doilies of the type that's available here as well as elsewhere.  The metallic stickers (stripes, stars, snowflakes, etc.) are from

Above:  I printed this black-and-white background with 6" x 6" Swatton Grid stencil s077. Atop that background I've mounted a small sheet of metallic silver paper multi-printed using 9" x 12" mask L268 TwinshipTopmost is a Christmas tree cut from textured red foil.  The star-like shape at bottom right, s well as the red stripes, are stickers from


Above:  the pillar candle started as glossy black paper.  I sponged metallic green ink over the paper; when it dried, I used metallic red acrylic paint and my 6" x 6" mask Champagne s960 to make a mid-century modern-inspired print. This pillar candle is cut from that 6" x 6" print.

Above:  One of my Artist Trading Card-sized masks included in L769 ATC Mixup Swatton #2 is just the right size for making a print to become a pillar candle like the one above as well as the one below. 

Above: To print the pillar candle, I used 4" x 4" M051 Fern Fronds Silhouette Mini and green acrylic paint.

The next two cards feature pillar candles made from holographic giftwrap paper that I'd printed using 9" x 12" Facets L283.

Making the print for today's final Christmas card, above, I used  L769 ATC Mixup Swatton #2, one of 9 Artist Trading Card-sized stencils and masks that fill this 9" x 12" sheet of sturdy Mylar. I worked with pale gold metallic acrylic paint on a background of glossy black cardstock.

Flames in today's post were freehand-cut, but for anyone seeking  a flame shape already formed in a stencil or mask, Bulbs and Banners S955 is a 6" x 6" mask that has a sideways flame-like shape in its upper right.

6" x 6" fold-over style greeting card blanks are available here and here and possibly elsewhere.

There is a small surcharge for mailing 6" x 6" greeting cards.  Check with your local P.O.

Many thanks for visiting here today! To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and asks at, please start here.