Exercise 2.2: Paper manipulation library

The aim of this exercise is to:

  • develop my skills in the translation of surfaces and textures, building on the key abilities of observation and analysis.
  • develop my awareness of the stages of creative design development.

Following on from Exercise 2.1 and the reflections on my Assignment One Feedback below is a recap of the six sketches I have chosen to work from:

These six images have a wide variety of marks from the crisp, bold lines of the paisley coat sketch to the highly textured marks or the rubbing or the delicate lines pyrography as such I have picked out a broad selection of papers which I can choose from. I decided that I would keep all the papers monotone to focus on texture rather than introduce any colours that might distract the eye (hence using envelopes with grey interiors rather than the more common blue). Below is the shortlist of papers I picked:


Left to right: Strathmore Toned Grey sketch paper, Seawhites’ pastel paper, watercolour paper, heavy cartridge paper, 90gsm cartridge paper, envelopes (numbered interior and woven effect interior), Orla Kiely tissue paper, handmade paper containing dried plant pieces, handmade white paper, tracing paper,  Wookey Hole Papermill Hand made cotton paper envelope and pages from a thesaurus showing words associated with plants or textiles.

The list of suggested techniques and treatments of the papers can be found in this post with a brief explanation of each.


Paper sample 1 – based upon the rubbing of the mosaic. Initially I crumpled tracing paper to create the irregular crease lines. To remove the smooth texture I applied sandpaper (70) and repeatedly crumpled the tracing paper creating tiny holes and bright white spots where the paper creases. Repeated working softened the tracing paper to the touch but created a rigid 3D structure with a tracery of lines reminiscent of the rubbing


Paper sample 2 – Inspired by the close up sketch of the flower. An A4 sheet of tracing paper was repeatedly twisted and untwisted to give the delicate impression of the fine lines of the petals. The resulting three dimensional structure is also reminiscent of the swirl of the hat but in the wrong direction which lead me to create the next sample.

Paper sample 3 – Inspired by paper sample 2 and the hat spiral sketch. This time I used the handmade paper with botanical material in it which represents the straight lines in the sketch. I tightly twisted the paper to destroy the smooth surface and make it far more textured. The paper became much more pliable but I could not get the spiral effect that I wanted. The colour combinations and the delicate texture ended up reminding me more of the pyrography sketches.


Paper sample 4 – Inspired by the paisley coat sketch I scored the general shapes of the dominant lines and folded along them to create a three dimensional structure reminiscent of weaving.

Paper sample 5 – Based on playing with paper sample 4 this pushed the technique further to create curved folds similar to the curved lines in the paisley coat design.


Paper sample 6 – To represent the curled and decayed feel of the pyrography sketches I added some newsprint to the paper selection as it was thin but stronger than some of the other papers I had been playing with. By tearing the paper to reproduce the lines of the flowers I was able to obtain a similar intermittent/unpredictable effect similar to drawing with a pyrography pen. I had initially rolled the paper to soften it a bit but after tearing I used scissors to curl the edges to create more texture and emphasise the chaotic nature of the lines of the sketch.

Paper sample 7 – Inspired by the mosaic rubbing I scuffed tracing paper with sandpaper to give a similar effect and pierced the paper randomly with tiny holes to mimic the dots. This one was particularly hard to photograph as it created a very subtle texture and so the image above has the contrast increased to help the viewer see the scuff lines in the image.


Paper sample 8 – Inspired by the hat sketch I used a craft knife to slash a piece of newsprint to create the swirl of the weave. The cuts were irregular as the newsprint is fine and I intentionally did not support the paper to try to give a greater sense of movement.


Paper sample 9 – Following on from paper sample 8, I wanted to create a more regular structure that I could predict the outcome to represent weaving as the hat sketch contains a criss-cross structure which may be possible to suggest in the next exercise by adding stitch or thread weaving through these regular slashes to recreate movement. Each of these slashes were 2cm with approximately a half centimetre gap between them. This technique has softened the paper and created a slight stretch to the material.

Paper sample 10 – I took a small section of the continuous line drawing of the hat and used some of the 90gsm cartridge paper to cut some of the curves and curl them. This has ended up with an almost cubist/picasso inspired sculptural quality which at first glance bears little relation to the original sketch. I have surprised myself with this one as it would not be my usual style however I am already getting ideas for layering this sort of technique with other materials and/or weaving through the gaps etc.

Paper sample 11 – I had wanted to try to recreate the bubbled texture of the centre of the flower. I tried to place large blobs of water onto watercolour paper in the hope that it would create localised expansion of the paper. Although this did happen it is so subtle that it cannot really be seen in the photograph beyond the watermarks…


Paper sample 12 – As paper sample 11 didn’t work I cut some shapes from a piece of card and embossed the shapes onto a piece of 90gsm cartridge paper to practice the technique. I then went back to paper sample 12 and embossed the watercolour paper which was much harder (you can’t see through it to help guide the tool) but resulted in a firmer finished texture.


Paper sample 13 – Based on the idea of weaving mentioned in paper sample 9 and the spots and lines of the hat sketch I used a hole punch to create holes (for the spots) in a piece of newsprint and then created lines from thin pieces of newsprint and weaving them through the holes to represent the woven texture of the hat.


Paper sample 14 – Weaving was on my mind after creating paper sample 13 and I found a few envelopes which had a woven pattern printed on the inside. I decided to create this multi-layered weaving ie a weave of paper printed with a weave pattern. I left the patches of damage on some of the strips as it reminded me of the decay of the pyrography sketches.


Paper sample 15 – Following on from paper sample 14, I wondered what the effect of cutting the paper irregularly before weaving it would be and it seems to have created a more chaotic effect reminiscent of my continuous line drawing of the woven straw hat.


Paper sample 16 – I didn’t want to waste the mask that I used to create the embossed papers so I used scrunched up tissue paper to create three dimensional textured structures to fill the holes.


Paper sample 17 – Looking at the six sketches together I noticed that there was a huge array of marks represented and wondered whether I could combine as many as possible into one paper sample (akin to my intention to layer the sketches digitally). I decided that the best way to do this was to create a layered paper. I started with a medium weight watercolour and used diluted PVA to first apply a layer of crumpled tissue paper and then added layers of any textured samples I could find such as separated plys of toilet paper, hand towels and kitchen roll, lace details, ribbon, pleated tracing paper, handmade paper and even a feather.


Paper sample 18 – In this final sample (for now) I decided to try substituting the dilute PVA used in sample 17 for acrylic binder. I was inspired by the chaos of the continuous line drawing of the straw hat and the random lines created. The chaotic effect seemed to echo my slightly muddled mind this year which has been a symptom of developing low cortisol. With this thought in mind, I shredded a combination of plain newsprint that I had been working with, the envelopes with a weave pattern on (to represent textiles), envelopes with number pattern on the inside (as a representation of the constant stream of pins, phone numbers, hospital numbers, dates and times to take pills etc that clutter up your head), thesaurus pages with words relating to plants and textiles etc (to reference the original objects) and the patient leaflet from the box of medication necessary to replace the missing cortisol. I then scrunched up and jumbled/layers the strips until it looked like a random mix and used the binder to apply the strips to a piece of tissue paper as it became slightly transparent when the binder was applied (to suggest the way your thoughts can develop gaps where you cannot follow a train of thought until the end). The patches of black on the strips also remind me of those stray “dark thoughts” that can appear in your mind when you are unwell.

[All links accessed on 16/12/18]

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