"Without chaos nothing will grow."
Cassou and Cubley

Creating Collages With Rice Paper
© 2000 Nita Leland

There are hundreds--perhaps thousands--of papers commonly called rice or Oriental paper. These papers are extremely versatile from the plain, sturdy kind used in sumi-e to heavily textured fibrous papers used in collage. I generally use acrylic matte medium for these rice paper techniques. You can apply matte medium directly to heavier weight rice papers,then adhere them to your backing. For lighter-weight papers, brush matte medium on the backing and lay the paper on the wet medium. Gently roll a soft brayer from the center out to the edges to seal it to the backing. If the brayer lifts the thin rice paper, try patting with a damp paper towel or sponge. Here are some ways to use these papers:
  • You can place medium-to-heavy-weight rice paper on a sheet of absorbent paper and paint directly on it with watercolor. Edges will be soft. Use less water with this technique. You can also paint into the blotting sheet underneath using the colors that have soaked through from the top sheet. Mount on mat or illustration board.
  • Crumple up the paper, then smooth it out before painting on it. The paint will soak into the creases, making a batik effect that is very interesting. When the painting is finished, mount it on mat or illustration board.
  • rice paper collage of Canada geese in snow
    Crumple up the paper, then smooth it out and mount on illustration board before painting. Paint after the paper is dry. This technique is called lamination. This is the technique used in the painting of Canada geese on this page. The background trees were formed by painting soaking into the creases of the rice paper.
  • Tint rice paper with watercolors or acrylics, tear it into pieces and use as collage with other materials.
  • Use thinner rice papers as an overlay on paintings or collages. The rice paper acts as a glaze, softening the underpainting. You can paint back into it if you want to.
  • You can build up layers of rice paper to recover white areas or to create texture. Be sure you use some in other areas as well.
  • Tear up rice paper and combine it with decorative papers to make a collage design.

    marbled and rice paper collage

For more collage ideas see The New Creative Artist pp. 32, 155; and New Creative Collage Techniques pp. 40-41, 77-81, and 86-88.

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