Tissue Paper Backgrounds

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The I Dare You! prompt in Tangle All Around this week is to make colorful backgrounds using tissue paper. (I posted a tutorial here.) I remember how much fun it was to make these backgrounds the first time, so I pulled out my tissue paper and played again.

I bought this tissue paper on Amazon. It’s called Spectra and it is made specifically to bleed. I have enough tissue paper in this pack that I will never need to purchase it again. I took some colors I liked and cut the papers in half, putting the other half back into the packet for another day.

Swapped out that green for a prettier one, and tore some of the colors into smaller pieces. The first time I did this I was more precise with my piecing. For this day’s work, I wanted to see if the color would work better if the edges were torn instead of cut. Someone asked that question in the tutorial post and I did not know the answer. So here we go.

I began by spraying water all over the paper I used. My paper for this project? A sheet of Bristol from Hahnemühle. This paper is 120 bs which means it should work just fine for this kind of art.

I randomly placed pieces of torn tissue paper all over the wet sheet of Bristol. No thought to design or color placement. Just slapped those things on and tamped them down into the wet.

There were a few areas where there wasn’t enough water, so I sprayed more. I apologize for the shadows in these photos. Nighttime work and not awesome lighting in the kitchen where I chose to do this project.

Once I was sure everything was wet and tapped down, touching the paper, I set it aside to dry for about 20 minutes. That was the plan anyway. But – I got busy arting other pieces and forgot until like an hour later. It was totally dry at that point and it didn’t make any difference. It worked fine.

Other pieces I worked on include a couple cold pressed watercolor postcards also from Hahnemühle. Same process, these triangles of color were left from the previous project day.

I soaked the whole piece with water. I like how the blue ran down into the yellow and orange causing pretty green rivers.

This is the second post card I worked on. Love pink and yellow and how they make orange between them. So I was really looking forward to this one being awesome!

Soaked the card and set it aside to wait.

Then I moved on to this sheet of Harmony hot pressed watercolor paper from Hahnemühle. I chose these colors, then cut them into strips.

I think I actually forgot to wet this paper before I placed the strips down. I tried to cover the entire page, not leaving any white space.

The first blast of water shot half my tissue paper off the page and I had to rearrange them. Hahaha! Then I made sure to spray and tap everything down. I sat it off to the side to dry, moving on to another project. About an hour later I remembered these pieces and returned to them.

Here it is totally dry. I wasn’t sure what would happen when I removed the pieces, since the directions I followed the first time I did this said to remove before dry. But I flicked these pieces off into the trash and this is what I had:

Mostly ok, not wonderful but I like it. I had been so careful to make sure all the tissue was wet and touching the paper. Disappointed? A little. If you look at the picture before this you will notice what did not work were the yellows. Lesson learned for the next time around, but too late for this time.

Totally dry and the papers were flying off.

Same thing happened with the post cards. The pink and yellow I was excited about – yeah, it is disappointing. And this one the same. So I know from now on I need to stay away from the lighter colors. Majorly disappointed in the results with these two. Then I turned to my last sheet, the first one I showed you in this post. With the pinks and yellows and greens. I thought – not good, I used a lot of yellow in that one. Hmmm.

Here it is dry. I didn’t know what it would like underneath, but I was loving these littles bits of beautiful right here!

This photo is upside-down from the one above. Sorry. I love this color! I can not wait to do something wonderful with this sheet! I love the ice cream/sherbet colors I got with these three colors of tissue paper. Perfection! I am even alright with those white spaces. Beautiful!!!

Results and satisfaction?
1) I made four pieces. Two worked great, two did not. The two that worked were on smooth paper. One was a watercolor paper, but it was hot pressed which means a smooth surface. That could mean better contact between the tissue paper and the surface of my substrate. The two that did not work were cold pressed watercolor papers. Cold pressed is the bumpy paper – in laymen’s terms – and are not smooth. Which could mean the paper to paper touching would not be as good. I am guessing that is why they did not work well. Originally I thought the lighter colors were the issue, but they worked great in this last piece – the ice cream piece – so that was not the reason. I guess I need to play some more. Hahahahahaha!
2) Did the hand torn edges bleed better than the scissor cut edges? I did not notice any difference. At all.
3) Why didn’t the yellows work consistently? They worked in the last piece. My only other guess would be if it had something to do with leaving the paper on until after it was dry? Is there a reason to remove the tissue paper before it is dry? Does it absorb more of the color back into itself while it is drying? All good questions and I have absolutely no answer. Sorry.

Did you make tissue paper backgrounds this week? I would love to see them. Several people in Tangle All Around have already been posting theirs and we would love for you to join us. You can just click here and I’ll meet you at the door. Want to make sure you never miss a post? Subscribe by filling out these two boxes and each post will go straight to your inbox. Thank you for reading along, I hope to inspire you in your art journey.

Hahnemühle
Cold Pressed Postcards here and here
Hahnemühle Harmony Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper
Spectra Bleeding Tissue Paper



10 thoughts on “Tissue Paper Backgrounds

  1. Great technique, Alice! I think instead of tossing all the used tissue, I’d stick ’em on with clear gesso or gel medium to add texture and replace some color on the ones with so much white. You could probably even shape the bits into objects – like hearts. Hmmmm. I may have to buy a pack – Mom will be expecting a Valentine’s card!

    • I did keep all the triangle shapes, just not the torn pieces. I’ve used gesso on them before – the only problem it creates is the color reactivates so I can’t use a lot of wet on top. but it does work.

  2. I wonder what would happen if you put another piece of paper on the top and then some weight to press it together . . .

  3. Great to see you working through the process – part art, part alchemy!

    To be honest I have played about quite a bit and can’t narrow it down to rules that work every time. Different papers do have an impact, maybe about how absorbent they are…

    I always let them fully dry and that causes no problems. Sometimes intense colour, sometimes not.

    One other thing you could try. Keep the dry used tissue pieces and use them again – the colour is paler for sure but often beautiful as the colour is already mingled!

    • I do keep most of the pieces for collage work, hadn’t thought about re-using them. I didn’t keep these torn pieces, I like the triangle ones

  4. There is no end to your amazing creativity and talents. You are such a wonderful person to share them with us!

  5. Interesting – I wonder if there’s something about the other ingredients e.g. sizing used in the paper that would affect the take-up of colour?? Very strange indeed about those yellows, doesn’t seem logical does it? Hmm!!

    • it probably is the sizing, I never thought about that. does sound logical that it would be

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