Redefine Paper in Your Collage

To me, there are few art activities more relaxing than paper collage. I just love dipping my sponge brush into decoupage medium, swiping the backs of the pieces of paper, and gluing them down on the page-one by one by one. There’s a mindless rhythm to the task that’s very meditative.

Collage bookmark on Tyvek  by Kathy McCreedy |
Collage bookmark on Tyvek
by Kathy McCreedy.

But paper can only take a collage so far. If you want to add more texture, stitching, and mediums, or you just experiment, there are many other collage “papers” to consider.

One of my favorite collage materials is Tyvek®. This spun-bond plastic-commonly seen used with house siding and as a flexible mailing envelope-has applications in mixed-media collage and art journaling. Tyvek is lightweight, water-repellant, and very resistant to tearing. You can cut it without worrying about fraying and it takes color from acrylic paint and inks. You can also stitch through it.

Artist Kathy McCreedy works with Tyvek a lot, and she shared the following observations in her piece “My Take on Tyvek.”

  • Rubber-stamped images look terrific on the painted Tyvek, and MemoriesTM Acid-free Dye Inks, VersaFineTM Archival Instant Dry Pigment Ink, and Staz-On® inks all work especially well. These inks do not bleed and tend to produce very sharp, well-defined images.
  • Metallic calligraphy markers do not bleed on Tyvek, and I especially like using them after the paper has been painted. (It will produce a totally different effect if you write on the paper with a metallic pen first, and then paint it). Some of my favorite pieces of painted Tyvek have been pieces I practiced calligraphy on using gold ink, stamped over the words with various images, and then cut up or punched them and used them in collage.
  • Tyvek can be sewn just like fabric, but keep in mind when the needle goes through the paper, it will leave a hole behind.
  • You can punch shapes out of your painted Tyvek, but you will need to reinforce it first. I either glue a paper substrate to the back first or fold the Tyvek onto itself, wrong sides together, and glue it. Simple punch shapes tend to work best.
  • For collage work, painted Tyvek cut into strips approximately ½” and 1″-wide work well, and squares cut from those strips are also useful in design work.
  • The adhesives I’ve found to work best are Yes!TM glue, which works well every time, and UhuTM glue sticks. You may have to experiment to see what works best for you.

Tyvek is just one of the many kinds of papers and other materials that can be used in mixed-media collage projects. We have a new eBook on just this topic, Unique Layers: 10 ways to enhance collage art. You’ll learn techniques for how to make a collage using metal, gampi paper, Lutradur, Tyvek, and recyclables. Unique Layers is available for download now from the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop.

P.S. What kind of unsual papers do you use in your collages? Share with everyone below!


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle

One thought on “Redefine Paper in Your Collage

  1. I recently taught a collage class to some amazing 2nd graders…They tore up their own paintings and drawings and created the most wonderful tree paper paintings. As they were cleaning up the torn leftovers I realized that this paper was going to waste and so I was gifted with this “unique” one of a kind paper. I have since used it in two of my pieces with much pride….mraz


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