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Hand-Dyed Paper Canvas Painting

Susan Rogers-Aregger hand dyes tissue paper to create this unique canvas painting.

Susan Rogers-Aregger lives in Oahu, where she has pursued her talent for oil painting.

Materials and Tools:

fiber-reactive dye concentrates
oil paint floats
oil paint
linseed oil
odorless turpentine
white tissue paper
unprinted newsprint
gold and silver foil wrapping papers
stretched canvas
acrylic gloss medium and varnish mixture (for adhering tissue paper to canvas)
acrylic gel medium (used for gluing foil papers onto the canvas surface)
1" and 2" hardware store bristle brushes for applying glue
craft knife
pan of watercolors or bottles of permanent acrylic inks
brush for reinforcing/adjusting paper colors
protective rubber gloves
aluminum baking pans
1/3 gloss to 2/3 matte Soluvar varnish
glass jar containers
paint stir sticks
paint roller
sponge and bucket of water
picture frame


1. To dye the papers, mix fiber-reactive dye concentrates according to manufacturer's directions in glass jar containers.

2. Make the oil paint float by mixing oil paint, one part linseed oil and three parts turpentine together in a jar.

3. Pour water in an aluminum baking pan. Pour the mixed dye into the water and stir with a paint stir stick. Pour in the desired color of the oil paint float. The oil will float on the surface of the water-based dye in the pan.

4. Wearing rubber gloves, dip a piece of tissue paper in the dye solution in the pan. Lift it up and place it on a piece of newsprint.

5. Fold the newsprint over the tissue paper and roll it with a paint roller to absorb the dye into the newsprint. Set it aside to dry overnight.

6. Dye several different pieces of tissue paper using combinations of dyes and oil paint floats. Let dry.

7. Tear pieces of gold and silver (with white backing) foil-wrapping paper. Adhere the foil papers to portions of the stretched canvas using gel medium. Clean the foil with a wet sponge to remove excess gel medium. Let dry for 30 minutes.

8. Use yellow ochre paint to draw a light watercolor outline of the desired design on the canvas for placing the tissue papers. Let the paint dry for 30 minutes

9. Apply the first layer of dyed-tissue paper over the design and paint over the drawn design with water.

10. Tear away the tissue paper along the water line.

11. Adhere tissue paper to the canvas using a mixture of acrylic gloss medium and varnish. Apply the mixture with a 2-inch paintbrush.

12. You will be able to see the yellow ochre paint lines through the tissue paper. While the adhesion mixture is still wet, use a craft knife to cut through the tissue paper and follow the design to remove unwanted tissue paper in the design.

13. Apply transparent inks with a paintbrush over the tissue paper in certain areas while the adhesion mixture is still wet. Let dry.

14. Apply different dyed-tissue papers over the design using the adhesion mixture. Cut away unwanted tissue paper with a craft knife. Continue adding tissue papers until the design is complete. Let dry.

15. Frame the hand-dyed paper canvas painting and display.

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