Painting with paper pulp

Pat Torley took thirty years to develop her pulp-painting technique: instead of paint she uses very watery paper pulp, layer upon layer. Her pallet consists of many containers with different colored pulps made of fibers like cotton, linen, sisal, silk, kozo and gampi. She sucks the watery pulp into a pipette or turkey baster and lays the pulp in thin layers on a screen. With a knife she shapes the forms in the thin pulp.

She works upside down, starting the painting with the colored layers your eye sees first, with as many as 20 layers following. She applies the layers of pulp wet on wet, requiring much precision to prevent damaging the layers that are already there.

When the painting is finished a vacuum pump is used to suck off the remaining water. The end result is an amazingly thin piece of paper. The lower layers of the pulp show through the transparent top layers. This blending gives a very subtle way of color mixing and shading in the picture.

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