Make Paste Paper

August 25, 2020

Learn how to make beautifully decorative paste paper in this video tutorial with NBSS middle school book arts instructors Colin Urbina BB ’11 and Erin Fletcher BB ’12.

This fun and versatile hands-on technique has been used since the 16th century to create decorative paper. In bookbinding, they are primarily used for book covers and end papers, or the decorative sheets that line the inside covers of books. But you can use these in any way you like: as wrapping paper, to decorate your fridge, to frame as art… it’s up to you!

Prepare the supplies you need (note this can be a very messy project!):

  • A plastic bag or tarp for your workspace
  • An apron or old clothes
  • An area to let your finished papers dry
  • Paste (see recipe below)
  • Tempera or acrylic paint in any colors
  • Container to mix paste and paint together
  • Paper that can withstand getting wet
  • Spray bottle or dish with water and a sponge to wet the paper
  • Bristle or foam brushes
  • Tools to make designs: combs, lids, pottery tools, bubble wrap, your fingers… use your imagination! Just be sure not to use any tools also used for food.

There are many recipes out there to make wheat or starch paste to mix with the paint. Here is one recipe you can use:

  1. Mix 1 part flour to 4 parts water
  2. Cook in a double boiler over high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk for about 6 minutes or when it reaches the consistency of cream of wheat
  3. Cool completely before you mix in paint

We’d love to see your finished papers! Share them with us on social media at @nbssboston.