The Power of Tissue Paper

Tissue paper and Gesso
Ah, tissue paper. It’s the wrapping tissue I’m talking about, that thin, translucent paper used for packing, wrapping, or protecting delicate articles. In Sweden it’s called silk paper (silkespapper). I don’t have a huge collection of it, but the plastic folder I have containing tissue papers is a little treasure among other papers in my stash. The reasons I love it so much are mainly:

* It’s transparent therefor perfect for layering in collage
* I like the feel and sound if it: it’s so thin that it rustles when you touch it.
* It’s extremely cheap if you’re collecting it at birthday parties and Christmas gift un-wrapping of gifts!

Tissue paper
Plain tissue paper with a brownish tint (I think this one was found in a shoe box once), and some polka dots that I’ve actually bought at a craft store (not free but still I had to have it, I adore polka dots!).

Last month I made Paper Cloth using fabric and tissue paper that eventually ended up as really cool layered looking Postcards. If you want to make paper cloth check out my tutorial for inspiration! It’s messy but fun. And now I’ve got another reason to enjoy tissue paper – I’m paining it to make pretty background papers! First a layer of gesso, then some paint. Amazingly fun to do!


Paint on tissue paper
Paint on tissue paper
Paint on tissue paper

The crusade to paint on tissue paper has been a revelation. How can painting on something so fragile be so fun? I have no idea so don’t ask me. Its just fun. Fun fun fun! Just try it for yourself and see if you like it.

When the paper is wet its difficult to handle, but once it has dried it becomes stronger and more fabric-like. I bet it would be fun to sew into this material. I’m going to try that next. I’m also experimenting with the transparent gesso (!) I bought for Suzi’s class. Cool stuff. There are always many more experiments to try. I hope I will never sit down and say: what to try next? Horror!

Big stamps
Anyway, whats next? I once bought some big letter stamps and almost never used them. I tend to forget my stamps. Today I took them out and stamped some letters on the painted tissue paper because Michelle Ward suggested it. Her favorite way to used painted tissue is to cut out stamped letters from it. I thought that sounded like a fun idea.

Letters and paint
Tadaa! With black acrylic paint I stamped these letters. You were supposed to “have a plan” for your page but I seldom do. I forgot what my plan was anyway when in the flow. I love getting into the flow process of creating a colorful journal page. The result looks like this:

Tissue Paper Crusade
Tissue paper experimenting, first page. More detail photos below.

Close-up photos from the tissue paper journal spread I made:

Inside my brain
Colors inside my brain.

Tissue paper Heart
Heart punched out from orange tissue paper.

Manekin magazine image
Cool image from magazine ad.

And the tissue paper – quite a powerful material!

Tissue paper resources

Also check out Michelle Ward’s crusade of March, the post that inspired this post, Grab a tissue (and participants list for more inspiration), and also The Paper Phantom’s post about tissue paper Almost Free art supplies! Also check out the e-book Card. Paper. Ribbon where you’ll find more cool tissue paper projects!

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24 Responses to The Power of Tissue Paper

  1. hanna – it’s always so fun to visit here. your work is so full of color and life. love to hear your enthusiasm too. the clear gesso is a great tip, especially for the pretty tissues that we don’t want to paint. i agree with you, the rustling of the tissue is such an attraction.
    thanks for sharing your fabulous work with the street team. i appreciate that you showed the *in process* photos too. xo

  2. iHanna says:

    Michelle, thanks for this great crusade, I’m sorry I missed February. I hope you are feeling better now! I took the liberty to share the beautiful postcard you sent me in the swap, talk about layers there! Love it!

  3. Karen says:

    Wow!!!! This is so full of vibrancy, it makes you smile just looking at it

  4. iHanna says:

    Thanks Karen, your comment made *me* smile! Hihi.

  5. Corrine says:

    Wow, gorgeous, electrifying and so PINK! Pink and polkadots
    and texture
    what more could you want…

  6. spooky says:

    Thanks for the link! Your page looks so pretty and colorful. Did you paint directly on the tissue paper? Mine always seems to tear when I do that.

  7. iHanna says:

    Corrine, haha, pink – that’s me for sure!

    Spooky, I love your blog! Yes, I did paint on the tissue paper while it was laying flat on the surface where it could dry. No tearing, but then I started with a layer of gesso and did some more painting later. Go to the crusade page and Michelle explains more about it.

  8. John says:

    Inspirational as always. I’m almost sure Eric Carle (The Hungry Caterpiller) uses painted tissue paper for his collage illustrations as well.

  9. dawn says:

    bahhhhhh, i love your work!!!

  10. TJ says:

    Your tissue looks fabulous Hanna! And it looks quite sunny in Sweden. I’m sew jealous. I mean so jealous. hee hee. I’m going to have to hunt for transparent gesso. What a great idea! happy creations from tj

  11. Kim Mailhot says:

    Hi Hanna ! I was already inspired when I saw what Michelle had put together for the tissue paper fun, but your bright and colorful play has me totally itching to get to it ! I am just back from vacation in Mexico and I have visions of the tropical colors dancing in my head. Tissue paper, here we come !
    Thanks as always for the inspiration here ! Cheers !

  12. Jackie Wood says:

    Hanna, your pages are so fun and colorful and your post full of great ideas. I have now added to my list to try sewing on the painted tissue paper. It really does feel like a completely different material once you add gesso and paint.
    Thanks for sharing all of the fun details that went into your pages!

  13. Ann says:

    Now I know another way to use my tissue stash! I also use it
    under paintings for texture.

  14. Imelda says:

    Yummy colors and inspirational as always

  15. Such a gorgeous layout! Brilliant colours and layering and… lots of other stuff! Love it!

  16. Pretty pretty pretty!! I have a new found love for tissue paper too. :)

  17. micaela says:

    i’m in awe of all the pretty creations on your blog! i wish i could sit down and learn from you. GORGEOUS!

  18. Goudenregen says:

    O you make such a wonderful pages. I now love tissue paper too. Thanks for your wonderful tutorials. Helen

  19. regina says:

    AMAZING! Thanks for sharing so many pics & info.
    My life has been SO crazy and I hope I get to this challenge before the month is out.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE your pages

  20. Monica says:

    I love tissue paper, use it all the time for wrapping gifts. I actually wanted to use it in my recent work but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it – very fiddly.
    You’ve inspired me to try tissue paper more extensively in my journal. I’ve used it only sparingly.

    Love your pages!

  21. Mary says:

    I have been checking out all my fellow participants in the tissue challenge. Yours is amazing! Love all the bright colors!

  22. Mona says:

    Your pages are so happy. Lovely work.

  23. K Hutchinson says:

    WOW what pretty pretty pages! I love the colors and the textures!

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