Paper Tearing

When I was in school I used to work with many types of papers.  We used specific papers for painting, bookmaking, watercolor, drawing, and the list goes on.  Papers that are used for artistic purposes are usually made in a variety of different ways.

They usually vary in weight, the type of fibers, and the way they are pressed.  The reason being, is that they are meant for certain uses.  Of course some papers that are meant for printmaking work very well with other medias such as painting.  At the same time, some papers that are not absorbent for paint at all may be great for drawing.

If you go to any art store be sure to notice the differences in the papers that you come across.  Even the papers that come in a pad are usually meant for different types of media.

Handmade papers are made in such a way that they always have a nice deckle on the edge.  Most of the time the sheets come in very large sizes and can cost anywhere from 3.99 to 15.99 per sheet.  So in order to preserve the look of the original sheet you can tear your paper in such a way to preserve that same look on the edges.

In order to do so you will need very few supplies.  A ruler, a pencil, a flat surface, and the paper you plan to tear is all that you’ll need.

You want to begin by taking your paper and measuring what size you want to work with.  Whether you are making some handmade cards, or you just need a surface to paint on be sure to know your measurements.

For the first sheet of paper I am going to work with a Japanese paper that has many fibers visible in the body.

Working with this type of paper is a little more difficult simply because the fibers don’t tear as easily.  Therefore, you will have some that may snag as you begin the tearing process.

Begin by measuring out the size of the piece that you want to use. This part is very simple, just take your ruler and very lightly mark a dot along the edge onto the sheet of paper.

It is always best to use a ruler with a very sharp metal edge, or a ruler that’s completely made out of metal.  These rulers are less flexible and sturdier to use when tearing paper.

Next, find the small pencil marks and line up the sharp edge of your ruler along these lightly made marks.  With one hand hold your ruler steady and pull the paper up with the other hand.

Be very careful in your approach since you may not be sure the quality of the tear until you actually begin the process of tearing.

When you are ready to tear the other side place the sharp side of your ruler where you want your new edge to appear.  Then gently pull along the that side of the ruler until you have completely torn your paper.

If all went well you should have a very nice deckled edge.  If you don’t like the look you can certainly give it another shot until you have a tear that you like.

Some papers, in my opinion tear better than others.  I find that watercolor papers and heavy duty papers like arches, fabriano, and bienfang tear very nicely.

Any crafter can use this method to make cards look more elegant.  Artists can also use this method for tearing if they want to utilize the entire surface area of a sheet of paper when making a new painting.

Printmakers also tear paper, in order to have the option to use the entire sheet to print on.

Try it at home it’s a very easy and fun way to cut paper if you don’t have scissors and you want you paper to look fancy!  Have some fun with it!

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