Designing and Making Paper Items

There are several ways of decorating paper. Most of the techniques were born out of experimentation of the artist with the colours and other materials found in the environment. This implies that aside from those methods that will be detailed, every artist must endeavour to create new ways of designing paper items.

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

2. Comb-pattern

3. Wax resist

4. Doodling

5. Spraying

6. Roller and twine pattern

7. Ink-blowing

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

Marbling is a method of making decorative patterns on paper by transferring colour from the surface of a liquid onto paper. Tools and materials required for marbling include paper, brushes, thinner, basin or trough, various colours of oil paint, cooked starch, empty tins, stick, and water.

Controlled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with cooked starch in an even consistency.

2. Sprinkle different colours of oil paint on the starch.

3. With the aid of the stick, stir gently for the colours to mix on the surface of the starch in order to make the patterns.

4. Place paper flat on top of the starch and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough to remove the starch.

6. Excess starch is washed off with water and hanged to dry.

Uncontrolled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with water.

2. Sprinkle different colours on the water.

3. Stir in different directions for the colours to come together over water.

4. Place paper flat on top of the trough and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough.

2. Comb-pattern

The tools and materials are large brush, paper or hair comb, cooked starch, water, powder colours, paper.

Process:

1. Mix powder colour with cooked starch to an even consistency to form a thin paste.

2. The brush is used to paint paste over the entire surface of paper.

3. The comb is used in making rhythmic patterns on the sheet.

4. It is hanged to dry.

3. Wax resist

Tools and materials required for this paper pattern making technique include brush, crayon or candle, powder colour, paper.

Process:

1. A sheet of paper is folded and creased to create parallel lines.

2. Wax is used to draw lines within the folded lines.

3. Go over the lines for a second run.

4. Colours are mixed and painted over the waxed paper.

Another technique is to sprinkle molten wax on paper. It is painted over with any high key colour. Wax is sprinkled over again and painted over with a low-key colour. After drying it, place the paper between two sheets of newspaper and iron to remove the wax leaving the patterned design.

4. Doodling

The tools and materials used include pencil, colours, paper, and brushes.

Process:

1. Create doodles to cover the entire sheet. Doodles are scribbles make on paper without any forethought plan.

2. Different colours are mixed to paint familiar shapes created by the doodles.

3. Erase the extensions created by the pencil.

5. Spraying

Tools and materials used include spray diffuser or shoe brush, paper, colour, cut out shapes, natural objects.

Process:

1. Arrange the natural objects or patterned templates and maintain their positions with drawing pins on the sheet of paper.

2. Spray colours on the patterns using the spray diffuser or an empty pen barrel with a mesh held at one end.

3. Gently remove the drawing pins and the cut out patterns.

4. The sprayed patterns on the paper is left to dry.

6. Roller and twine pattern

Tools and materials used include paper, printing ink, two hand rollers, rags, twine, thinner, glass slab.

Process:

1. Twine is wound around one hand roller.

2. Printing ink is placed on glass slab and rolled over with the second roller.

3. Printing ink is transferred onto the twined roller by rolling it over the glass slab.

4. The inked twined roller is rolled over the paper from the edge to edge and covered all over.

5. The rollers are cleaned with thinner and a different colour is used to go over the already created pattern to give a two coloured effect.

7. Ink-blowing

Tools and materials used include ink, paper, and empty pen barrel.

Process:

1. Sprinkle the paint at different sections on the paper.

2. Blow the paint to sprinkle it in a hairstyle manner using the empty pen barrel.

3. Leave the paper to dry.

Decorative papers are used for making book covers, endpaper, wrappers, wallpaper, background for calligraphy etc.

History of Ear Gauging in Tribal Civilizations

A study of the history of ear gauging indicates the practice to be as old as recorded human history. For males, this form of ear piercing has been a symbol of status, while for women, in addition to being used as means of bodily decoration, it has also been employed to signify the attainment of womanhood.

Ear gauging, which is also referred to as ear stretching, is the stretching of ear lobe piercings to larger diameters than that of the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many young western people adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, since it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist.

In many cases, ear gauging has been used historically to indicate the standing of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the situation today. Stretched piercings have been, and still are, a reflection on the individual’s sexual capability and also their superiority over other males in the tribe. The larger the stretching, the more important the individual.

Otzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have stretched ears. This is the earliest known example of ear gauging, Otzi having 7-11 mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears noted in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is mere supposition.

It is supported, however, by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang people of Thailand use this ‘gravity’ technique to stretch their piercings. Let us have a look at the ear gauging practices used today by various cultures.

A. Mursi Tribal Women

The Mursi is an Ethiopian tribe where the women are obliged to wear plates in their gauged ears and on their bottom lip. About a year prior to her marriage, or at about 15 years of age, a Mursi girl’s lip will be pierced by her mother and a wooden peg pushed through the incision.

Once healed, the peg is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a plate of clay or wood, and this plate is successively changed for larger diameter ones until the required diameter is attained – from around 8 – 22 cm in diameter (3 – 9 inches). Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without them, and is known as a ‘Bhansanai’.

These lip and ear plates need not be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment during special occasions such as during weddings and other celebrations, and when they serve food to men. Today, young women can generally make their own decision as to whether or not they follow this tradition.

B. The Masai People of Kenya

The practice of ear gauging has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. In recent years, however, most young men have not been following this custom, although you will still find many Masai women wearing ear decorations made from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood and animal bones.

The original piercing is carried out using a thorn, sharpened twig or a sharp knife point. Once healed, ear gauging is then carried out by wearing increasingly heavy jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of gauging ears in the more primitive cultures, although many Masai today will use proper ear gauging techniques, such as their own versions of insertion tapers or taper spikes. Beads are a common form of ornamentation, although plugs made from bone, tusks and wood are also used.

C. The African Fulani Tribe

Fulani women from Nigeria and Central Africa tend to use smaller diameter ear gauges, and decorate them using large gold domes or hoops carrying earrings. A Fulani child will have her ears pierced at around 3 years old, although they may not be stretched until she is older. The gauges used by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Masai and Mursi, although the jewellery can be larger.

D. Asian Hill Tribes

Of the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear gauging are the Lahu from Thailand, and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) from Myanmar (Burma) and also the Phrae province in Thailand. That latter tribe are best known for their neck rings, offering the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe the ear to be sacred and the more jewellery they can wear on the better. By gauging their ears, they are able to wear the maximum amount of jewellery they believe possible.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear gauging was regarded as desirable for males. There are many Mayan representations of men with flares and ear plugs (ear spools) in gauged ears, and the material used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade ear plugs were worn by the higher classes, while the rest would use bone, stone, wood and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in the ear gauging plugs and ornaments of gold and silver, though the lower classes would adorn their stretches earlobes with shells, copper and wood among many other imaginative materials.

Ear gauging has been carried out worldwide, and among other notable areas involved in this practice are Japan, where the Ainu used ear jewellery made from shells, bone and a ball and ring known as Ninkari. There are many other cultures worldwide where ear gauging was a part of their life, and even today many people regard ear stretching as a fashion statement and a way of expressing their own personality and individuality.

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web Piercings

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web piercings are all very rare and rather extreme. In fact, if you are even considering getting one of these piercings, you are truly one of the brave. The pain varies, and in fact usually there is minimal pain involved with the piercing, but the aftercare of these particular piercings is only for the stringent at heart.

Your hands are two of the most active places on your body. They are constantly in motion, they are full of germs, and they are very sensitive (all those nerves running through our hands help the brain process pain, pleasure, and temperatures). A contemporary phenomenon is getting the surfaces on your hands pierced. I’m not against these piercings at all, but more than most piercings, it is important you understand the risks before committing to the piercing.

Hand piercings are all surface piercings, so they are susceptible to the usual suspects – migration and rejection. Your hands are chock full of muscles, tendons, and nerves, so the constant motion of your hands don’t exactly work in your favor. Generally, the less disturbed the piercing area, the quicker and more successful the healing. With hand piercings you will not have the luxury keeping a hand “protected”. It will be exposed to the elements, germs, daily stresses, and abuses straightaway. For this reason, only get a hand piercing if you are willing to do the following.

First of all, you must clean it religiously. Your piercer will recommend cleaning it somewhere around three times a day with a warm saline solution – don’t skip this step! The saline helps keep the piercing site clean and free of buildup. You will have special instructions concerning which soap you can use, what moisturizer you can use, what liquids or gels you can’t put on your hands (Neosporin is always a no-no), ad infinitum. Smoking is definitely discouraged with a hand piercing, for the cigarette smoke that will inevitably drift around it will irritate your new piercing and prolong the healing. You must also be sure to keep the piercing site clean, not just from germs, but from dirt, trash, food, etc. Remember, you have a very delicate piercing that is being assaulted from all sides, so be careful!

Your lifestyle may have to change as well during the healing period. Besides not smoking, you shouldn’t be wearing gloves (they can tear the piercings out) or engaging in any activity that may put your hands at risk. If your career heavily depends on using your hands, you may want to think about getting one of these piercings extra carefully. Your everyday life will be affected by this piercing for at least a year – which is the general healing time. If you’ve never had a body piercing before, this probably isn’t a good one to start out with!

Now that the risks are known, and you still want to go ahead, here is what you can expect! For starters, don’t get pierced with a ring or hoop. You are just begging for it to get ripped out! Your hands touch too many objects everyday and a ring jutting out will get snared on something and it will be gone before you know it. Your piercer and you will decide if surface bars or curved barbells are best for your piercing location (which is largely determined by the shape of your hands, exact location, and lifestyle). It is not uncommon to have to get refitted a couple months after the piercing, for the swelling should have gone down enough to where you might need new jewelry to lie closer to the skin.

For hand piercings, the location can be almost anywhere. Surface bars will almost always be used, and the pain might be a bit intense. Rejection risk is high since there is not a lot of skin or tissue to penetrate, but with care this can be a relatively long term piercing.

Finger piercings generally don’t hurt nearly as much as they look, but these too have a high risk of migration. Generally pierced at the base of the finger to look like a ring, surface bars or barbells are used. The finger will swell after piercing, and is highly prone to infection, but by following the right aftercare and being super careful, you just may be able to make this piercing last a good long while.

Hand web piercings might be the most popular of the hand piercings – the webbing between each finger (especially between thumb and forefinger) is very thin and not hard to push a barbell through. It is also prone to rejection and migration, and infection is a very real possibility. This piercing should not affect your mobility (none of these piercings should affect any of your body functions), but the hand webs are major points in acupuncture therapy, so if you talk to an acupuncturist they probably won’t be keen on you receiving a piercing this area. There’s no western scientific evidence that piercing your hand webs will hurt you, but if you follow eastern medicine and science, you may want to hold off on web piercings.

All in all, piercings on the hand are rather extreme. They require constant care, zealous protection, regular cleaning, and even then it’s not a guarantee that these piercings will last. Yet, if you want to push the boundaries and your lifestyle affords it, you can try to get a piercing on your hand. For many people who successfully have them, it’s their favorite piercing!

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.