Artistic Beauty in a Hardware Store – How to Find the Materials to Make it!

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Artistic beauty is not on the average persons mind when they visit a hardware store, but for all the artists out there, it should be. Hardware shops are where you will find many things that are supremely useful and cost effective. What more could you want.

I hand paint the covers to a couple of my books and the secret ingredient is from Bunnings (Hardware Store). Here is a picture so you get the idea of the effect this tutorial will achieve (hopefully)

Hand painted Book Cover with Zebra

Hand painted Book Cover with Zebra

The Zebra is an after market addition (children’s book image), it is  the painting underneath that I speak of. How did I create this type of pattern? The key is a product you can find in the painter and decorator section, it is called Masking Paper. Painters use it to stop paint splashes getting everywhere, we’re going to use it in exactly the opposite way.

This paper is non-absorbent, strong and the coolest thing ever if you like to screw things up to satisfy your stress levels. ( I love it!) The reason it is so good for the following project is when wet, it retains its strength.

1.First rip off some paper from the roll (I use about two arms length) and screw it up into a ball, unravel it and screw it up again, really tight! You will notice that the paper is strong but still pliable. It does tear though, consider yourself warned! Once you have scrunched sufficiently, un-scrunch your paper and smooth it out with your hands, so you have the shape of the paper to work with.

The paper on the way to being a scrunched canvas

The paper on the way to being a scrunched canvas

2. Lay it out on a table you can paint on safely, it can get really messy so would recommend coverage of said table. This is another fun bit.  (in fact the whole thing is a bundle of fun, if you like this kind of thing, which you do otherwise you would have stopped reading by now). Use  a water sprayer bottle and wet the paper, use your

My painting table (the dining table)

My painting table (the dining table)

acrylic paints and dollop and squeeze a fair amount on the paper. Using a damp paintbrush, spread the paint around in an ‘artistic manner’. It is up to you what colours you use, I would recommend those that do not turn to brown when mixed as there is a fair amount of paint mixing with this method. Continue to use the water sprayer if the paint is starting to dry and you haven’t finished.

3. Repeat Step 1.

4.Smooth the new piece of scruched paper out and  lay it across the painted piece. Sometimes I wet this second piece of paper before putting it on the paint, and sometimes I don’t. Use your hands to press the paper into the painted piece when it is layed on the painted paper. ( I forgot to take a photo of this part of the tutorial, sorry)

4. Remove the second piece of paper and hang it somewhere to dry.

A close up of one of my creations

A close up of one of my creations before I made a book cover out of it.

Hanging to dry on the balcony

Hanging to dry on the balcony

5. If you have kept your original painted paper wet with the sprayer you may be able to create another print from it with another creased piece of paper. If not, don’t worry as the original paper can be hung up to dry and used as a book cover, or whatever use you have imagined for it.


Notes: For the book shown above, I used a core of tyvek and then glue the paper to this core before creating the cover for my books. It provides stability and also means the cover cannot be torn.

This is my first attempt at a “how to” so feel free to ask any questions you like. 


The Ultimate Bookbinding Book Review

I was looking for a bookbinding text. The descriptions publishers provide give you some idea of what a book is about, but I personally look for reviews by the real people in the world who have actually read the book. It was during my study of reviews that I came across a little gem.

Most book reviews are about the content of the book, but when you are dealing with people who actually create the binding the book is presented in, you get the committed bookbinder whose review is  about the the binding of the book! I love it!



Reviews for Manual of Bookbinding

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  • This is a print-on-demand verison Book rating:4

    Tony ChengI’ve got a copy of this book and to be surprised to find that this is a print-on-demand edition. The prints are not that clear when compared to the original edition and the binding is perfect binding instead of section-sewn paperback. Overall this is only acceptable.