Recently, the craft Your Life team gathered for a lunchtime craft session and made Paste Paper. We had so much fun and made so much paper, we decided to give some away. You may recall last month’s post in which we gave away a few journals covered in paste paper, now a lucky reader will be able to use the paper for whatever project they wish.

We also had the pleasure of chatting with the very talented Diane Maurer who uses paste papers in her work and conducts workshops/classes on the subject. She has authored a lovely hand bound book on making paste papers. For more info, check out her website.

Paste Paper, A (very) brief History:

Paste papers have been used in bookbinding for over 400 years. Typically, they were used as decorative end papers as an embellishment after the pages were sewn together. Early Paste papers were monochromatic, using a burnt sienna or indigo blue pigment. The popularity of paste papers were at their peak in the 18th an early 19th centuries. They were first used in North America in the 1750s. Paste paper is still used today as embellishment or in illustrations. The popular children’s author, Eric Carle decorates tissue paper with a paste paper process, then cuts the paper to create collage illustrations. Check out how Carle makes his paste paper here.

On with the Freebie:

We are giving away a pack of the paste paper the Craft Your Life team made at our craft session.  To be entered for a chance to win the paper pack we’re giving away, leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m EST on Monday, October 25. One winner will be selected at random on Thursday, October 28. Click here for the official rules.

Continue reading for the interview.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Juliecache for leaving the winning comment as determined by random.org for our paste paper giveaway!!!

A chat with Diane Maurer interview by Kristi Pfeffer

I took a week-long class at Penland School of Crafts on paste paper painting and making handmade journals—I’ve been hooked ever since. Diane, what got you interested in paste painted paper?

I was hanging a show of my marbled papers at the Philadelphia Print Club in the ’80s and bought a little booklet it had on the subject. Later, in 1996, when I was writing Paper Art, I rolled up my sleeves and explored the subject more fully so I could include a section on paste papers in that book.

I always end up with more sheets of paper than I know what to do with. What are your favorite uses for the papers you create?

I use them in my paper collages to represent mesas and rivers, ocean waves, mosses, and even architectural structures. I also use them as cover and endpapers on my handbound books. I create paper frames and paper jewelry with them, and I used them as tip-ins and cover papers for my little book Making Paste Papers.

When teaching students, how do you get them started painting? Do you work together to make the paste before starting to paint? Do you follow through to using paste painted paper in different projects?

I like to work with a starch paste rather than methylcellulose, Kristi, because I believe it gives the paste paper image a more defined line, which I prefer.

Because this type of paste has to “set up” and thicken, I always show up for class with the paste already made — sometimes in a hotel room the night before! I bring a hot plate and pot to class and cook up some paste so students can see how it is made.

I usually mix up some colored paste for students and then let them add high-quality acrylics to 1/2-cup containers of paste to obtain additional shades. If the papers dry in time to be re-wetted and recovered with paste, we use metallic paints to second coat sheets and make some dazzling papers.

When I teach two-day classes, we use the papers made the previous day for various projects. Tunnel books and flag books are great fun to make with the previous day’s papers.

Do you have a collection of historical paste painted papers used in bookbinding arts?

A colleague gave me some swatches of historic paste papers, which are interesting but a bit muddy-looking compared with modern-day paste painting.

Some of the students in my classes connect with the diamond-grid and thumb-print patterns found on some of the older designs, but I prefer more contemporary images.

My work tends to be very graphic, with repetitive mark making. Sometimes I feel envious of more fluid work. What do you think are the advantages of precise patterns compared to looser and more organic shapes? Do you prefer one over the other?

I think both precise patterning and more loose organic shapes are beautiful and exciting. Many times the project determines the type of image created.

Most of my papers do lean toward more precise images, probably because I have spent so many years as a paper marbler creating very precise designs, in which the slightest waver in a line can create an unacceptable flaw in a marbled pattern.

I especially enjoy making scallop designs in paste with metal graining combs. There is something about the rhythm in a repetition that almost feels like dance.

What other art do you do?

I’m known primarily for my marbling on paper and silk and collage work.

What inspires you, Diane?

Kristi, I live in a beautiful part of Pennsylvania surrounded by mountains, fields, and streams. Much of the inspiration for my collage work comes from nature.

Several trips to places like Hawaii and Indonesia have also influenced my art. I often find myself playing with combs to create the perfect arching lines in paste to represent grasses blowing in the wind, or placing my palm in just the right consistency of paste to create an image that resembles moss or lichen.

I keep a stockpile of paste-painted, nature-inspired images ready to cut and layer for my collages.

I encourage you to check out Diane’s work on her website, It’s beautiful and has a creative energy that carries all through the collages, marbling, and scarves.


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The Craft Your Life team covers traditional general craft topics, from ceramics and paper ...

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