Friday, April 15, 2011

Transparency in Paper

Chris from Canada wrote:
This is something my mother used to do with plain paper and a vegetable shortening like Crisco to make translucent paper backings for silhouette pictures for her Sunday School classes. This was back in the days when a scrapbook was folded newsprint paper stapled into a plain cover, into which you glued photos, newspaper clippings and the like, with hand-written comments: no fancy paper, stickers, miniature embellishments etc....

Technically this is not a trash project unless you happen to have saved some grease-spotted paper from the bottom of a donut box, but the basic principles of making a piece of opaque paper translucent are the same. All you do is rub some clear vegetable oil (canola, corn etc.) into a piece of bargain-priced paper (it's thinner than the good stuff) and put it on a rack to let the oils soak in. After 2-3 minutes you can check it by holding it up to a light, and touch up any spots you missed.

When you are satisfied with the overall transparency, use a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil, then lightly spray one side with a matte sealer, and when dry, spray the other side. Taa-dah! :-) A sheet of semi-translucent paper for Japanese screens and lanterns, window blinds and all sorts of things. Add colour with a thin wash, sparkles or anything else you can come up with and have fun, 'cause it's better (and cheaper) to make your own! :-)