Make Your Own Paper For Fabric Art

pokey bolton

handmade paper fabric art
'Unwritten Passage' by Paula Guhin

Have you ever made your own paper? It's easy, and a great way to create a unique piece of fiber that can be used as a component of your fabric art, or as a stand-alone piece.

You probably have most, if not all, of the tools and supplies you need already, including bits of thread trash, ribbons and fibers, colorants, a frame (an embroidery hoop and organza will suffice), and pulp fodder (like junk mail, egg cartons, and phone book pages).

I was reminded of papermaking as I was reading the latest issue of Cloth Paper Scissors®. It had just come in from the printer, and I eagerly paged through to see how everything looked. (Believe it or not, we actually forget what the magazines look like after they go to press; then we get a pleasant surprise when they arrive in-house. It's like seeing an old friend.)

Anyway, I spotted Paula Guhin's "Unwritten Passage" wall hanging, with its wonderfully intermingled fibers and did a double take. Was it paper, or textile art? Both!

In her article "Personalized Papermaking: How to add custom colors, texture, and more to your paper," Paula gives directions for her basic process. But what really intrigued me were her tips for making the paper unique.

Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Add scents and texture with herbs and spices, such as dried dill, rosemary, and saffron.
  • Try tea leaves, instant tea or coffee, or coffee grounds.
  • Put in some confetti, glitter, small pieces of thread waste, or dryer lint.
  • Embed dried leaves, flower petals, and thread waste (or gauze) between thin layers of wet pulp.

handmade paper fabric art
'Autumnal Accord' by Paula Guhin.

Once you have your papers, you can use them for journal pages, book covers, collage materials, and more. You can dye the paper, paint it, and draw on it, sew it, cut it, or weave with it.

In other words, handmade paper is one more fabric art medium for you to explore and have fun with.

Cloth Paper Scissors is full of mixed-media fiber art ideas like this one. If you haven't explored our sister publication lately, you should give it a try.

P.S. Have you ever made paper? What are your tips? What is the most unusual "additive" you've ever used, and how did it turn out? Leave a comment below.

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8 thoughts on “Make Your Own Paper For Fabric Art

  1. Yes, I have made paper quite a few times. My biggest paper making session was producing many , many sheets of paper from recycled pulp, which I coloured and textured to my daughter’s instructions for a major art project that she was doing. At that time , I had an outside sink for craft works and the paper making , amongst the flowers, on hot summer days, was very creative and enjoyable- give it a try.

  2. Yes, I’ve made paper – the most unusual ingredient was denim waste, which is fluffy bits of blue denum fibre which you can buy, you must add it to paper waste, as on its own it won’t hold together. It makes a beautifully coloured paper, and I have embedded little pieces of embroidered denim, moulded the lot to make a bowl. Then it just needed a bit of varnish to protect it.

  3. I made paper from rhubarb leaves. Color came out brown speckled and two years later, there is still a wonderful fragrance in the paper. A friend had given me dried, red and large leaves from her compost pile.
    Have also enjoyed success with additive of seaweed.

  4. I am a ceramicist and make paper pulp on a very regular basis to make my own paper-clay & paper-porcelain. The eassiest way: tear up any paper you have at hand. Newspaper, toilet paper etc in squares of about 2 to 1 inch. Add boiling/very hot water water, soak for a couple of minutes. Use a kitchen blender and within seconds you have pulp. Be generous on the amount of water: your blender will run better. Use kitchentowel or the cloth for making jam to drain and strain (by twisting the cloth) the water out. As simple as that.

  5. Pokey,
    I had forgotten about making paper! Used to do it alot with my kids using leftover bits of construction paper, etc. from their art projects and the blender! I never thought about adding the paper to textile art or the fun we could have had embellishing our paper with textiles. Thanks for bringing back those memories and turning that lightbulb on in my head!

  6. I played with paper making a couple years ago… I added dried flowers to some, thread scraps and even glitter in some, and some small fabric scraps to others. I also got some really pretty embossed paper by laying a heavy lace on the screen before adding the pulp, then removing it from the surface while the paper was still wet. Lots of fun to do!

  7. I frequently ‘make’ my own paper by collaging one layer of fun papers, using acrylic matte medium onto a heavy plastic or teflon surface. You can add threads, fabric pieces, etc. When dry the whole thing peels off, leaving a fabric-like sheet of ‘paper’. This can then be painted, stitched (machine or by hand), further collaged, or whatever you choose. If the piece is too fragile, I back it with Lutradur (using wonder under as glue). Fun, and easy.