Scrapbook Paper, Art, and How to Turn One into the Other

Every time I reach for a piece of scrapbook paper to create handmade cards or paper collages, a devil and an angel pop up on my shoulders.

how to alter scrapbook papers for paper collages art by linda peterson
One of Linda Peterson’s ‘Hazel’ paper collages,
made with altered scrapbook paper.

The kooky angel artist (she wears glittery papier-mâché wings) taps me lightly with her paintbrush and gently admonishes, “Now Cate, do you really want to take the easy way out? A real artist creates her own paper art background layers, one at a time.”

Then the red-suited devil artist (he wears studded high-tops) pokes me with an awl and whispers, “Go ahead and use that scrapbook paper. No one’s looking! You don’t have time to create your own layers. It’s not cheating.”

Truth be told, I have a lot of scrapbooking supplies and I almost always feel guilty about using them for art. (I also feel guilty for not using them for scrapbooking my daughters’ childhoods. But that’s another blog post.)

I’m sure I’m not alone, as I know for a fact that many of today’s mixed-media artists started as scrapbookers.

how to alter scrapbook papers art by jenny cochran lee
Jenny Cochran Lee stitches together found and scrapbook papers to make an entirely new material for paper collage.

So many of us have a slew of scrapbooking supplies, from papers to card embellishments, that we don’t know what to do with. But I have found from my own experiments and those of others, that there are ways of altering these materials so you can save time and money, but also make them your own.

So, consider the scrapbooking materials a “base coat” and then:

  • Spread on gesso and swipe it off with a baby wipe or piece of paper toweling.
  • Apply a sheer coat of fluid acrylic paint.
  • Spritz yellow- or brown-toned alcohol ink onto the paper or embellishment to “age” it.
  • Mix scrapbook papers in with other found papers in a paper collage, paper quilt, etc.
  • Collage sheer tissue papers or printed deli wrap paper over the scrapbook papers with soft gel medium or Mod Podge®.
  • Stamp or print directly onto the papers.
  • Tear the papers into medium-sized pieces and stitch them back together or just stitch lines or words onto a sheet of paper.
  • Take out your Sharpie® and gel pens and doodle over the papers.

Note: When working with scrapbook papers, be careful of how much water is in your wet media as too much moisture can cause the paper to buckle.

Two artists in the May/June 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (Linda Peterson and Jenny Cochran Lee) create mixed-media paper art by altering scrapbook and other found papers. Each issue offers techniques and tricks for making your art your own; with a subscription to Cloth Paper Scissors, you’ll find ways of using all your artistic materialspast and presentevery time it arrives.

P.S. Do you use your scrapbooking supplies in mixed-media and paper art? Do you use them as is or do you alter them? Comment below!


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


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