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Tips: Tearing Paper

I'm here in Victoria BC teaching a workshop meeting wonderful new friends / students, everyone always has such wonderful ideas to share so I will be posting a few new tips so you can feel as if you have joined us.

Tearing paper:

It seems like tearing paper should be really simple, but many people have problems with it, (especially the heavier weight papers). If the paper isn't tearing easily the student feels frustrated and ends up cutting it leaving one side with a sharp cut look while the others have a deckle or feathered edge.

The problem with that is if you want to float your painting (meaning exposing all of the edges of the paper) one side is not the same.

To tear, fold the paper in half, watermark side up (watermark is the side where the manufactures name is spelled correctly) this is called the front or felt side. You can use both sides but the advantage of this is that the snap of the paper will be on the back giving you a better looking edge on the front side.

Tearing paper by Audrey Bakewell

Now this one I hadn't seen before.

  1. Weaken the seam by folding back and fourth.
  2. At the top start a small tear or cut.
  3. Place on the table tent side up.
  4. With one hand on the seam apply pressure downwards so it can naturally tear.

Other ways to do it:

  • Create a small tear or cut on the seam then pull and tear evenly on both sides.
  • Dampen the seam, place a straight edge along the fold and tear (the only problem with this is that you MUST use clean water or you could leave an unwanted pigment line along the edge.
  • In dryer climates you can place the paper tent side up, start with small tear or cut on the seam then quickly hit the seam snapping it in half (works better in some climates then others)
  • Weaken the seam, at the top start a small tear or cut, tent side up take it to the edge of the table, apply even pressure while pulling upwards working your way down the seam.


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