ATV - Pt2 - PJ1 - Creating Surfaces · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Manipulating Paper – Simple Layering.

I have a huge collection of paper, I’ve been accumulating it for years and good friends save unusual wrappings and papers for me, so this project has made me very excited. Sad but true!!

Recently some amazing bark paper and other hand made papers have come into my possession and I’ve been itching to play with them. They have a very fabric like quality, rough and fibrous rather than smooth.

My original plan was to take them to my husbands workshop and bash and weather the papers with his power tools but time has got the better of me and I’m been working in my own workroom at home. 

My original source material: the archived garments had lovely textures and detail created by wear and tear and I want to experiment with different ways to distress my paper.

After the distressing I shall go on to some explorations involving the hems and seams and then the folds of the smocking.  

Including the smocking feels like an obvious choice but they are so beautiful it would be rude not to at least have a go at doing some different with it. 


My textile archive source material is subtle and mono in colour which is in stark contrast to the second source material the flowers, which were very bright and bold. 

I shall bring in some colour using this as the reference to the second source at this point.

So in the absence of manly power tools I got out the embellisher and armed with a few lose ideas I set to work on creating some interesting surfaces.

I forced some muslin and ribbon through the bark paper; bits of needle flying off everywhere! Luckily broken needles still work with paper. Good job too, embellisher needles cost a bomb!

These samplers were too small, so I changed onto A4 sized sheets. I’m not completely sure using muslin and ribbon really meets the brief but I liked the result so decided to continue with the explorations even if I chose to disregard them later.


These first few samples are simple; I selected 2 layers: 1 plain and 1 coloured and ran them under the needles until the thinner layer started to rip and distress. 

Orange lutrador and handmade fabric paper (tissue paper, PVA glue & calico)

I like the areas where the weave of the fabric is starting to show through.

Flecked cartridge paper and handmade silk paper. The cartridge paper started to flake and I’m not sure it will hold together once stitched without a coat of PVA or gesso.

Mulberry paper and the lighter grade bark paper. Yummy yummy! The bark paper started to give and stretch but didn’t rip as I forced the mulberry paper through the fibres again and again. 

The colours are very bright, which has the reference to the bright colours of the flowers but I wanted to tone them down, so with a nod to Alberto Burri I rang the heat gun over the edges to char the raised and loose fibres.

Finally I had a go at embellishing some scrim through some cartridge paper. It’s not my favourite but it does give me a simple base where I could let the stitch be the star.


I’m not finished yet, my next post will be some multilayered experiments and today I bought a Variable Speed Rotary Tool with 172 grinding, sanding and stabbing accessories. Just how much mischief can I get into with that?!!

3 thoughts on “Manipulating Paper – Simple Layering.

    1. Thanks Karen, I can’t wait to get started with my new tool. I read the instructions last night and if you didn’t know they were for a rotary tool you’d think it was a page from 50 Shades! Made me giggle like a girl.


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