Brown Paper Critters

During the last few days of Zooly, I ran across a stack of handmade watercolour paper that I had put aside years ago and forgotten about. I originally bought it from the Daniel Smith Company back when they sold all kinds of things besides their own paints, and I remember reading about how it was made in their catalogue. It was called Indian Village paper, and was made in — where else? — a village in India, by hand, out of cotton rags. There was a picture of the sheets drying that particularly stuck in my memory; they stuck them to the walls of buildings to dry in the sun!

The batch that I bought was a sampler package; it had half a dozen large sheets of each colour. I tore them down into quarters because I had nowhere to store them at the time, and anyway I didn’t want to work that large. Now they are precious, because I can’t get them anymore, but as they were made to be painted on, I took a deep breath and did so. I tore down one of my quarter sheets into four smaller sheets and made these:

Zooly  Przewalski Horse.jpg

Przewalski’s  Horse (pronounced “she-val-ski”) — ink, watercolour, coloured pencil

Zooly Eland.jpg

Giant Eland — ink, watercolour, coloured pencil

Zooly Tapir.jpg

Malayan Tapir — ink, watercolour, coloured pencil, gouache

As you can see, the edges are very irregular. I wanted to maintain that look all around, so I used the wet-brush technique of tearing the paper. To do this, you fold the paper where you want the tear to be, then run a bead of water with a brush down the fold. Fold it back the other way, and run some more water down the other side of the fold. When the fold begins to look translucent when held up to the light, it’s ready to gently tear. Think of it as teasing apart the fibres. This works particularly well with handmade papers, but can be done with any paper.

 

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