Calligraphic Paste Papers and Tacket Bound Album with Jacqueline Sullivan

Today’s paste paper workshop with Jacqueline Sullivan was full of lots of sloppy fun. When I arrived at my table, I found an awesome handout that included paste paper recipes, suggestions for paste paper tools, and directions for the tacket bound album that we made later in the day.

Paste Paper/Tacket Bound Album workshop handout

Jacqueline started the workshop by giving us some basic tips on making paste papers:

  • Don’t buy premixed methyl cellulose because it’s too thick.
  • Methyl cellulose is clear, which creates brighter colors.
  • Flour paste adds depth and fuzziness that you don’t get from methyl cellulose.
  • You can keep paste in the refrigerator to stave off mold. It also helps to use distilled water when creating your paste.
  • Arches text wove paper has great wet strength which makes it great for paste paper. You don’t want your paper to buckle while you’re working.
  • Methyl cellulose creates a good writing surface that you don’t always get with flour paste.

Next, she talked about colorants:

  • You can use anything to color paste, including watercolors, gouache, acrylics, powdered pigments, or cake colors.
  • She prefers Golden heavy body acrylics because they’re the highest pigmented acrylics on the market.
  • Be careful to not let your colorant take over the paste.
  • Watercolors are transparent and aren’t waterproof when dry. You need to add acrylic medium to the paste to make the colors permanent.
  • Use 3 tablespoons of color in each 8 ounce container of paste.
  • She prefers matte to gloss medium.
  • You need to use water soluble pigments, not oils.
  • Interference colors don’t mix well with paste because you lose the luminescent quality.
  • Iridescent pigments work well with paste.
  • Mica and metal powders help to create a brilliant metallic paste. You can also use Pearlex powders as colorants.
  • Use 1 tablespoon of mica or metal powder for each 8 ounces of paste. Be careful not to inhale the powder!

Then came the demos – yay!

Paste paper demonstration by Jacqueline Sullivan

Jacqueline talked about using polymer medium gloss as a resist – it’s like a blank paint. You can make marks with the medium and then let it dry.

She recommended that when we started off making our papers, we should stay within one quadrant of the color wheel. I decided to go with reds, oranges, yellows, and golds.

Paste paper

Paste paper

Making paste paper is pretty straightforward. Dampen your paper with a sponge, smear paste on the paper, use tools to make marks. If you’re a slob, clean your work area. Repeat.

Jacqueline told us that to make a good mark you had to stand up and move your body. The lazy person in me objected to this, but I told that me to shut up and do it because that’s why I came here. We even did some stretches before working to loosen up our bodies. Lazy me complained, even though the stretches felt good.

We used water soluble pastels as a way to add marks to our papers. We were advised to stay in an analogous color scheme because the powdered pastels would smear and not be resistant to the paste. More expensive pastels have more pigment in them. After smearing the marks with water, we added the paste on top of them. The result was subtle.

Next, we used oil pastels to make marks. These acted as a resist to the paste and did not smear. Jacqueline told us that using oil pastels was a way to add colors on the opposite end of the color wheel without them getting muddy. She also said that they were great for adding words to your paper. I loved loved loved using the white pastel on my paste papers.

Then it was lunch time and I was sad because all I wanted to do was make more paper. Sad.

After lunch, we used our papers to make a tacket bound album. We used 21 lengths of thread to bind it.

Raw materials for tacket bound book

Sewing tacket bound book

Tacket bound book

I love how my book turned out. There are infinite possibilities for what you can do with the loose threads. I’ll have to figure that out when I get home.

More tips from Jacqueline:

  • In between uses, X-Acto blades oxidize and they get dull. Always start each work session with a new blade.
  • Use the flat side of your bone folder to minimize shiny marks on your paper. It will also interfere less with the fibers this way.
  • Wet your brush before dipping it into PVA.

And the quote of the day:

Don’t measure unless you have to.

LOVE that one.

4 Responses to “Calligraphic Paste Papers and Tacket Bound Album with Jacqueline Sullivan”

By Ellen - 28 June 2013 Reply

Looks like so much fun! Thanks for the reporting from FOBA. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t come, but it’s great to be able to visit vicariously through your blog!

By Elissa - 3 July 2013 Reply

Ellen –

The great thing about FOBA is that there’s always another one in 2 years. 🙂


By velma - 29 June 2013 Reply

agree with ellen. elissa, you do a marvelous job reporting, and i just love your quotes. i really appreciate you blogging about this conference.

By Elissa - 3 July 2013 Reply

Velma –

One of my favorite things is capturing quotes from the instructors – it shows their wonderful personalities.


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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