Monday, 30 July 2007


So, 2am this morning here's what I was doing. I was in my studio with all the windows wide open making Turpentine paper. Egads it's a smelly, messy process, but I'm pleased with the results.

Now Neda was asking the other day if I'd do a little tutorial type thing on the mail art I'm engaged with currently, and I will soon, promise! I just need to get it together enough to take a few photos and write something. In the meantime here's a quick rundown of how to make your very own turps paper.

You will need

~ National Geographic magazine (I'm told it won't work with any other mag, something to do with the type of paper)
~ Real turpentine, the substitute stuff won't work
~ A throwaway foil tray slightly bigger than the magazine
~ Newspaper, plastic sheeting etc for protecting your work surface
~ Rubber gloves
~ Very good ventilation, ideally work outdoors

Ok, what you do is put your magazine in the tray and, starting with the bottom page, tip a little turps onto it. Smoosh (technical term) lightly with your Marigold clad fingers or tip the tray back and forth to wet the whole page.
Move on to the next page, repeating the whole process until you've worked your way through the magazine. Make sure your completed pages are in good contact with each other and are thoroughly covered in turps. After you've got about halfway you'll notice that there's a build up of turps in the tray. This makes the whole thing easier as you can agitate the tray to cover your new pages as you go.

Once you've done the whole magazine pick it up and gently squeeze out the excess turps, then prop it up somewhere to dry (this can take a while). I ended up putting mine in the garden to dry out as it was taking too long for impatient me! Once it's dry separate and pull out the pages. It will still smell strongly of turps so I advise pegging bunches of the dry pages up outdoors and letting them 'air'.

I did find that not all the pages worked and the ones which did best were the highly coloured photographic ones, but it's a pretty random process and you get some surprising and beautiful results from it. Worth trying if you're looking for something different.


  1. no way! is this amazing or what?

    we have LOADS of NG mags! (who doesn't?)


    I am putting this on the TOP of my "I almost need to do this RIGHT NOW" list!



  2. This is really interesting and such a cool thing to share! Thanks!

    I love your blog!

  3. wow, this is so cool and gorgeous! will definately have to try it, thanks for sharing the how to!

  4. Inspirational. Love your work (found you via Joanne w)..I'll be back definately.

  5. What an eerie effect... Thanks for sharing this unusual (and slightly scary :-) ) technique

  6. I will come back to visit...I have so much to catch up on. We had electricity cut-offs and I haven't been able to log on...In the meantime, please check my blog and come get your little surprise, my friend :)

  7. i wonder who discovered this process, anyway? some other curious, mind, im sure...

  8. I'm back..Wow! Thanks a bunch for this technique. I have a few questions:

    1. Is there a specific amount of turpentine that you need to pour?
    2. Can you dilute the turp with water?
    3. Once dry, what kind of media would the paper accept?
    4. Will it take glue?

    I am so soon as I get back to Austin, I'm going to try it! Thanks again.

  9. How cool! Fran are you wearing gloves when you do this? Turps can be absorbed right through our skin (most of our art materials can't) and it is way bad for ya. ;)

    What an awesome technique!

  10. sallyt12:09 am

    Awesome page, Fran! This process can be done with CitraSolv also (cleaning product - find at natural food stores, etc.) I need to make some more I'm nearly out of my stash and I LOVE these pages. Some samples and instructions are posted on July 8, 2006 in my blog archives:
    AND I have some in a photo album at my blog sidebar:

    I'd love to see more of yours. They are so awesome. I use them for collage all the time.