Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stencils + Paper Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer = Embossed "Paper"

This is an old technique that I've dusted off.  Some time back, I had heard that Paper Solvy was no longer being sold, but I just found it easily at and a number of other places; vendors of fabric arts supplies offer it, since it's made to be used in that arena of art-making.

Note:  It's important to look for Paper Solvy -- in a package of 12 8.5"X11" sheets -- not the Solvy Stabilizer Roll, which is a plastic-like material.  I have never tried this embossing technique with the latter; my hunch is that it would not work.

There are lots of ways to vary this technique: 

Before embossing the Paper Solvy, you can try printing a Photoshop drawing/design/pattern on it. I've been leery of running it thru either of my own printers, but the manufacturer assures us that this can be done.  My personal recommendation would be to use a printer with dye-based inks -- not an inkjet printer.  Inkjet-printed colors will bleed when exposed to wet media.  However, if you like the bleeding look, go for it! 

Another option is to use the Paper Solvy in its original white form; after the embossing, the Solvy will eventually dry.  At that point, color can be added with blending chalks, pastels, dry-brush paints, Distress Inks, etc. 

For the most dramatic embossing effect, choose a stencil that has large openings.  Any size stencil will work, but I prefer the 9"X12" size.  In the following photos, I've used one of the beautiful stencils from 


Cover the work surface with a thick layer of newspaper.  Place a stencil atop the papers.  Place a sheet of Paper Solvy over the stencil. 

Use a mister to spray the Solvy with water.  Soak each area until you see it begin to dissolve and take on the shapes of the stencil openings.  Do not over-soak -- that will make the Solvy dissolve (which it's actually designed to do, when used for its original purpose in fabric arts.) 

That's all there is to it, unless you follow my lead -- as in the above photos -- using liquid watercolors in misters, spraying them onto the Solvy before spraying with water.
Dry-time depends on humidity level.  Be prepared for a long wait.   

These finished "papers" are beautiful in collages and on greeting cards.  To avoid re-wetting this fragile material, I use extra-heavy gel medium for adhering these embossed "papers" to collages.  When I add them to greeting card covers, I use a dry adhesive; my favorite is Tombow Mono Glue Sticks. 

It can also be noted that if you have on hand old sheets of handmade paper, it can be embossed on a stencil in the same way as Paper Solvy -- as long as it's not an ultra-thick homemade paper.  

Another material that works with stencils to create an embossed result is:  Toilet tissue!  Use double-ply, and  lay down two layers, one atop the other, before spraying with water.

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