Online T&T 1: Notan/Counterchange

Tips & Tricks Challenge 1

Notes before starting:
As we are currently unable to meet as a group face-to-face we welcome everyone to our first online Tips & Tricks session.

We hope our members, website followers, and anyone else who stumbles across our blog will enjoy and participate in the small projects and challenges we will be posting from time to time.

Please photograph your finished project and email it to our webmaster, Claire, by clicking here.  She will upload your images one week after the project has gone live.  So, in this case, you have until Wednesday 8th April (afternoon) to email your results to her.  This is not confined to our members, anyone may email their results.  Enjoy!



By Dinah Beeston

Notan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark or two different colour elements.  Any form of art could be used to demonstrate Notan but I obviously use paper.

The word ‘counterchange’ means to change parts or (poetically) to chequer, for example with contrasting colours.

2 sheets of paper the same size but different colours
pencil, scissors or craft knife, glue


  1. Choose which sheet of paper will be the “background”.  I’ve chosen the dark piece.
  2. On the other piece draw half a design.  For example, here I have drawn half a face along the side of the pale sheet.  Use a pencil to draw the design so that the lines won’t show on your final piece.
  3. Cut along all the lines and keep the cut pieces in order so you know where they come from in the main design – this is important as your design becomes more complicated!!
  4. Glue the main piece on to the background sheet.
  5. Glue the next largest piece opposite the first piece making sure that they meet and match along the centre line.
  6. Glue all the other pieces to match the location of them in the other half of the sheet.

And there is your final piece.

Your design can be as simple or as involved as you wish. You can use any sort of paper – commercial, handmade, plant fibre.

I’ve added a few samples that I made using handmade and plant fibre paper.

Here is my Notan interpretation of a hippo, orangutan, rhino and tiger.

Posted in Activities: PPA, Member Activities | Tagged | 2 Comments

A painterly mark

Our member, Diana, is an expert at applying colour to paper; be it with acrylics, water colours or inks.  And she loves a splash of metallic.

We’ve seen some of her beautifully filled hand-made books in the past.

We’ve seen her abstract decorative paper techniques.

And some of us have been lucky enough to have learned from her experience.

Her love of working with wet media and paper pushes her to continue experimenting, as she did in this recent PPA event where we explored mark-making on paper using a printing press.

And now she’s turned her attention to making cards.

Look out for these cards, as they will be for sale at our upcoming exhibition in July (assuming we’re all out of isolation by then!).

Posted in Artist Reviews, Colour on Paper, Techniques | Tagged | 5 Comments

The quirky nature of collage

Creative reuse of paper waste – the ephemera of everyday life, has been a source of inspiration for artists ever since Braque and Picasso established the collage technique at the turn of the century.

Here is a celebration of a few talented contemporary collage artists and their figurative interpretations.



Click here to see more work from this artist


Turn on the Catwalk

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Click here to see more work by this artist.


Life Study LII

Click here to see more work by this artist.

Are you ready to have a go yourself yet?  Or perhaps you’re already a collage artist?  We’d love to include your collages in our blog posts.  Use the Contact Us page to get in touch.


Posted in Artist Reviews | 4 Comments

Expanding our Members Gallery

Our member, Dinah, shares some of her art with us on her new Gallery page.

Having travelled extensively Dinah has been exposed to many different cultures and their paper making.  She writes about not only her journeys but also the direction she has taken in her own work and her evolving practice.

Click here to visit her page, learn more about Dinah and see examples of her paper-related art works.

An index of our Member Gallery pages is HERE.

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Paper vessels: At home experiments

By PPA member, Lee.

I was lucky to be able to complete Day 1 of Louise Gilchrist’s workshop on making small vessels.

After making our first vessels with white pulp, we were able to use coloured pulp that Louise had brought with her.

As I had some white pulp left over, I decided that rather than making a vessel with stripes of coloured pulp, I would mix two of the colours with my left over white.  I chose red and a brown which resembled milk chocolate, rather than the darker brown, and mixed them with my left over white.

The result was a tweedy looking, reddish brown pulp in which all the colours were visible.

I made one vessel (which resembled a tweed knitted beanie!) and still had some of the coloured pulp left over.  I packed it in my lunchbox and took it home to use another day.

Wanting to make something ‘different’ I looked around my craft area for inspiration and saw the large scallop shell which had come in a lot that I had purchased at auction.

I decided to experiment – which was decidedly brave given the fiasco that my very first vessel had been!

I washed the shell thoroughly and dried it with paper towel to make sure there were no errant fibres on it.  I decided to use the top (outer part) of the shell rather than the inside mostly because it was so much more interesting, but also to avoid any difficulty in removing the paper shell once it had dried.

Before applying the pulp to the outside, I sprayed the shell lightly with WD-40.  Until I did so, I hadn’t realised that this was different to the silicone WD-40 that Louise had used during the workshop – the smell gave it away!  I quickly wiped away most of the WD-40, but not all, because I did want to be able to remove the finished shell.

I then began to carefully apply my paper pulp to the ridged edge of the shell.

I applied it very thinly, starting at the base of the shell and extending it slightly onto the ridged area.  I then gave it a ‘little dry’ – as Louise described it.

I covered it with a couching cloth and pressed lightly with my hands and then placed a hand towel over the couching cloth, again pressing  lightly. This slightly dried the pulp, making it easier for the next application of pulp to ‘stick’ to the first, as I applied pulp to perhaps another inch of the shell.  I again gave the pulp a little dry, and continued in this way to work my way to the top of the shell.

I nearly ran out of pulp, but was able to recover some that was overhanging the edges of the shell, and mix it with the remainder. I also pressed down more firmly on the pulp that was already applied to the shell, extending its coverage.

When the shell was covered, I tidied up the edges of the pulp, gave it a big dry with the couching cloth and hand towel, and left it to dry overnight.  The next day, the pulp was still very wet, so I placed the shell outdoors in a covered area, and it was dry the next morning.

Being a coward, I left the pulp on the shell for a couple of days more, before gingerly trying to lift the paper from the shell. When it didn’t move, I found a very thin knife and inserted it under the edge of the paper shell, and was able to separate it from its mold without damage.

While the paper shell is very delicate, it is also quite strong – but I wouldn’t want to test it. Now I am wondering how, and if, I should seal it.

Webmaster Note: If anyone can give Lee some advice on whether she should seal her paper shell and, if so, what she should use, please add your comments to this post.

Posted in Activities: PPA, Artist Reviews, Member Activities, Paper, Techniques | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Review: Making small vessels workshop

Although we unfortunately couldn’t meet for the second part of this workshop we all came away from the first day with enough skills to enable us to continue making paper pulp vessels at home.

Here’s a quick look at the day.

Firstly, Lou had a lot of samples for us to examine; different sizes, shapes, thicknesses and colours.  Always great when you have an idea what you’re aiming for!

Then she showed us the basic idea of how to form our vessel shapes.

(Don’t you just love the cat apron Lou is wearing?)

And we were up and running on our own designs (with her help, of course).

Everyone had been asked to bring along a few molds they thought might be suitable and not all were your standard bowls or cups ….

We kept on working.

And at the end of the day they were left on racks to dry.

Two weeks later and they were dry, and what fantastic results!

Many of the pieces were taken home before photos were taken, so anyone who has their completed vessels please send us some pics to share with the rest of the group.

Posted in Paper, Techniques, Workshops, Workshops: PPA | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Focusing on: Sammy Seung-Min Lee

Many thanks to our member, Michelle, who discovered this amazing paper artist.


Sammy Seung-Min Lee was born and raised in Seoul, Korea and moved to Southern California at the age of sixteen.  She studied fine art and media art at UCLA and architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and also learned bookbinding under the tutelage of master bookbinder Daniel Kelm in Easthampton, Massachusetts.  Her work has been exhibited internationally and can be found in collections around the world.

Water & Wind, for Uchi Denver Restaurant, 2018

She is an interdisciplinary artist based in Denver, Colorado.  Her work focuses on spatial, narrative, and sequential qualities in personal and smaller communal history, as she incorporates her various explorations in art and architecture.

Open Denver, Redline Contemporary Art Center, Denver, Colorado, 2017

Hung dried #35, hanji, water, UV acrylic varnish, clothespin, 2016

Book Art:
Māyā-bheda is a collaboration between photographer Joshua Bergeron and the artist. Images are from the Durga Puja celebrations in 2015 in Kolkata, India.  The design of the case and workings of the book are based upon the design of the original Kodak camera released in 1888, by George Eastman, which in many ways brought portable photography to the masses.

Click here to read more about this project.

Visit her website to explore many more innovative creations in paper.


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