Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Technique Tuesday - Paper Towel Backgrounds

Welcome to Technique Tuesday!   As I was thinking about this week's PID challenge -- "everyday things" -- paper towels kept coming to mind.  They are very much an every day item, AND I use them a lot in my art.  Yes, to clean up with, but also as an actual part of the creation.  They are sturdy, inexpensive, and come in a variety of textures.  Sounds like an art supply, right?   For today, we'll be focusing on coloring paper towels with water based colors.  Gather together all or some of these supplies:

  • a well protected work surface (and you may want to wear rubber gloves)
  • some place for drying your creations (plastic on the floor works for me)
  • paper towels, of course
  • other paper (cardstock, copy paper, etc.)
  • spray bottles, water, old paint brush, disposable cups
  • color medium of your choice -- re-inkers, color washes, diluted acrylic paint, shimmery mists (commercial or home made)
To get a retro tie-dyed look, fold the towel fan style:
Then fold in half:

Then, prepare some cups of the colors you've chosen.   Dip one end in one color, then turn and dip the other end in a second color.  Unfold and refold so that some uncolored portion is now an end, and dip in another color.   Continue until you have the coverage you want.  Open the towel up and set aside to dry.  (I put a plastic sheet on the floor)  and you'll have something like this:
You can also scrunch up the paper towel and dip it randomly, changing colors and moving the scrunched up towel around before dipping.  No telling what you'll get, but this look is one possibility:
Another technique is to lay a paper towel on your protected work surface and spraying color on.  You can also spray the wet color with water to make it spread out, and that gives a nice watercolor look.  Again, no predicting the result, but this is one outcome:
Dropping color directly on the paper towel results in something completely different:
The wet and colored paper towels can also act as a stamp!  I pressed a sheet of plain copy paper over one of my finished towels, to help speed up the drying.  When I lifted it off, this impression was left on the paper.  You can really see the detail of the paper towel's texture, and I'll definitely be using this in a future project:
Some of these techniques result in a very wet paper towel.  You can press additional sheets of towel over the top to get extra completed sheets.  It will also speed up the drying time.
Last of all, this is the paper towel I'd used all morning to clean up my work surface in between techniques:
I'll use this too!
And here is the tag I made for the weekly challenge:

I placed a mask of a clock over the dried towel and sprayed it with a darker color of a home made shimmery mist.  Another technique!
The wonderful Alice in Wonderland images I used are from one of MANY Alice sheets available in the PID shop.
Paper Imagery Designs
Design Team

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9 friends said:

Angie Hall Haviland said...

WOW---Lots of twists and techniques on this one, Eileen!! THANKS!!

Tammy D said...


Dorothy said...


Hands to Work, Hearts to God said...

I usually keep my baby wipes, rags, paper towels which I use to clean up with! So useful! I've never used them as a stamp though! Will try this! Great idea!

francine said...

very interesting technique!

Nancy Lynn said...

I love using colored paper towels in my artwork. I always have a huge stack of them in all different color combinations. Run a brayer over your really wet colored paper towel and then roll the brayer on paper.....very nice design that way too.

Laura said...

Another great thrifty technique, your blog is excellent, it is the only one I have started to follow and looked through ALL of the archives.

paperqueen said...

Nanc! I love the brayer idea...will add that to my paper towel arsenal of techniques.
BTW, I've received some of Nancy's gorgeous colored paper towels and they really are wonderful!

Lynn Stevens said...

A fun tutorial! TFS
and Thank you for entering my giveaway!