Recycle Your Art

My stack of watercolor “duds,” “almosts” and “maybes” was growing embarrassingly large, but I just couldn’t bring myself to throw out all that expensive paper. Still, it was time to clean up. As I started sorting I came across my little book on making paper. Inspired, I got the blender going and for two days just had a real good time whirling up pulp from my failed watercolor paintings. You can easily find information on the basic mechanics of papermaking but here are a few things I discovered that may help you.

1. Have your screens made up to a size that will fit an envelope if you want to make cards. My paper, once folded, fits a card envelope readily purchased in a stationery store. I can also cut the paper in half and mount it on card stock.

2. Shred your paper into groups of white for whiter pulp, and blues, greens, reds, etc. for colored pulp. If you just put it all together, you’ll get a gray pulp.

3. Tear you watercolor paper into small pieces. Presoaking them helps to make a finer pulp and is easier on your blender.

4. When doing a blue batch, for example, don’t presoak all pieces of the blue paper. Adding coarser, brighter colored pulp with give a nice confetti look to your new paper.

5. While you’re shredding your paper, you’ll find some nice bits of painting. I tore out small buds and flowers and floated them into the pulp. It was a bit tricky getting them where I wanted them positioned, but it was worth the effort.

6. Be prepared for making a real mess and have fun with it. I found it very cleansing to get rid of stuff I just didn’t like. Best of all, I didn’t waste anything.

Mark A. Collins of Charlottesville, Virginia, has been a full-time artist in transparent watercolor since 1996. He’s a signature member of both the National Watercolor Society and the Virginia Watercolor Society. His work was included in the book Splash 6: The Magic of Texture (North Light Books).

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