Friday, January 30, 2015

Newsprint is it an art tool - or unique art supply?

This is my 3rd post about my favorite artist tools - but I suppose they could actually be called unique art supplies depending upon how you use them.  FYI - Art supplies and tools don't always have to be expensive to be considered "good".

This week's post is about newsprint.  But of course, I rarely (if EVER) use NEW newsprint... I instead, prefer recycled newsprint.

What is newsprint?  It is most recognized as..well.. newsprint.  Your morning newspaper is printed on it (if you still subscribe to that sort of thing).  Or you may know it as packing paper (which is how I usually find it).  I know it as the paper I was allowed to color on and make messes on as I grew up.  :) My parents always had a stack of it in the basement from when we last moved.  As I grew up and started to recognize quality art supplies (and quality art paper), I turned my nose up at newsprint.

BUT as an artist who is not only looking to recycle and reuse items, but to be thrifty as well.... newsprint actually is a very economical paper source and one that is often readily available IF you're willing to do a bit of work!

 You CAN buy newsprint in nice boxes, where it's guaranteed to be clean and wrinkle-free.  OR you can luck-out and find a box of it in a thrift store that's ALMOST brand-new and still clean and wrinkle-free (which I did).  That was a most-excellent thrift store find!  It was something like $3.99 half-off for an entire box (perhaps a few sheets were missing but it didn't look like it!).  

A few of the 13 garbage bags full of recycled newsprint
OR you can do what I did when I ran out of my beautiful, thrift-store find.... I looked on craigslist.  Now I didn't want to BUY any more... I wanted some for free.  And did I find it for free?? YES I DID!!  13 BAGS OF IT... and not just shopping bags of it, but 13 huge trash-bags of it!   Now I went through 8 bags.  All of it was crumpled (because it had all been used to move someone accross the country).  So I spent HOURS uncrumpling paper, smoothing it out, and sorting into usable vs non-useable piles (non-useable had big holes or tears in it). The stuff I deemed non-useable was offered to kids to color on or paper-mache with - and some did go into the recycle bin (especially if it had questionable stains on it!..ew!!).  But the majority has been neatly stacked and is ready for me to use.  You can even iron it to get wrinkles out should you need to!

How do I use it?  Well, as a silk painter, at first I needed it to roll up my painted silks so I could steam them. (silk painters use a lot of newsprint for steaming!).  But since I have so much of it around, I started finding more uses for it. 

Right now I have several layers of it taped down onto my tabletop, to protect it from the silk dyes.  When they get too messed up, I just un-tape them, recycle them, and tape down some more.

Artwork patterns taped to an old closet door

As I started to paint on bigger pieces of silk, I found that I needed larger pieces of paper to create my patterns on.  So now I have a rolling wall (ie, an old closet door with casters on it) that I hang the paper on so that I can draw out my designs in large-scale.

I'm also experimenting with abstract art (and SLOWLY working my way through "Exspressive Drawing" by xxxx - which is a FABULOUS book by the way), and need big pieces of paper for some of those exercises.  Newsprint paper is perfect for me to practice on without feeling like I'm wasting "quality" art paper!

I also grab a few sheets of newsprint to use as drop-clothes when I'm doing craft or home projects.
What can I say - newsprint is SUPER handy!

Oh and by the way, when I say I'm done with the newsprint and am going to recycle it, yes that sometimes means it does get tossed into the recycle bin... but it also gets re-used, yet again, for other things.  For instance... my art journal is covered in newsprint that was a drop cloth for some craft projects I was doing.  I so loved how the paper looked, that I ended up using it to cover my journal (I think I used modge-podge to decoupage it).   Cute right?  I like the look so much, that when I finally fill up this journal, I'll be covering my next one with something I've recycled. :)

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