A Mixed-Media Art Resource for Everyone

paper collage

Torn-up Paper Collage by Elizabeth
St. Hilaire Nelson.

cate pratoBack in 2004 when I first started working on Cloth Paper Scissors, I thought I was pretty familiar with the paper end of mixed media. I've always loved the fancy paper found in stationery stores, and I even knew there was more than one kind of watercolor paper.

But I was in for a big surprise. Not just because I learned about papers I'd never heard of (mulberry paper?), but because it had never occurred to me to use "found papers" in an artistic way. Sure, I'd collaged with magazine cutouts before. But suddenly, every napkin, wrapper, and piece of packing paper became precious to me: an aesthetic wonder.

At first, my family and friends thought I was a little nutty. But a couple of weeks ago when I peeled the red, white, and blue wrapper off my ice cream cone to save for "a project," no one even blinked.

Barbara Delaney, assistant editor for Cloth Paper Scissors, and I were reminiscing about how much we've both learned from working on the magazine. Barbara got to experience déjà vu all over again as editor of The Cloth Paper Scissors Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art.

Working on the book gave her a chance to revisit past projects and artists, including some she had nearly forgotten about.

"I came across a number of articles that I remember saying [at the time] I wanted to try and somehow never got there. Jacqueline Sullivan's Mixed-media Watercolor Techniques and Image Transfers on Metal by Janette Schuster come to mind. I now have stickie notes tagging the pages of a large number of articles I plan to get back to," says Barbara.

mixed media paper quilt
Kelli Nina Perkins's paper quilt, embellished with beads made
of found papers.

I spied so many projects and ideas that I, too, had put on the back burner and am now itching to try. Plus, my approach to art has changed over the years, so techniques I might have been too afraid to attempt before now look more appealing to me.

One of the most useful and inspiring aspects of The Cloth Paper Scissors Book is that it puts a lot of resources in one place, such as a glossary of mixed-media terms, a tool box of basic materials, and lists of unusual bits and pieces to consider including in your art.

One of those lists contains 50 papers to use for collage and mixed-media paper crafts. Again, I was amazed to see how many of these I might never have considered just a few years ago that are now a staple in my studio.

Here are 20, just to get you started.

  • Candy wrappers
  • Coffee filters (used and new)
  • Confetti
  • Pamphlets
  • Sandpaper
  • Teabag paper
  • Tickets (movie, plane, etc.)
  • Foreign language papers
  • Ledger pages
  • Receipts
  • Maps
  • Mulberry paper
  • Napkins
  • Newspaper
  • Old drawings and paintings
  • Old notes/letters
  • Origami papers
  • Directions
  • Doilies
  • Envelopes

If you're new to mixed media, you'll find new ideas, direction, and exciting projects to get you going. And if you're a veteran, it will help you take the leap to try something different.

Either way, The Cloth Paper Scissors Book is a must for your studio bookshelf, a resource you'll refer to again and again.

P.S. What papers do you collect for your art? Leave a comment below.

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