Family First Workshop: Making Paste Paper

  • Curate Reynolda Blog

    Curate Reynolda

Why CurateReynolda? Our staff carefully sort and select (“curate”) content daily to find the most interesting stories to share on our CurateReynolda blog. Follow for behind-the-scenes peeks, insider perspectives, and curious observations from the staff of the Museum.

Family First Workshop: Making Paste Paper

By Julia Hood, Education Coordinator |@LearnReynolda

Have you ever noticed all of the different patterns at Reynolda House? In our June Family First Workshop, we explored repeated patterns and irregular designs found in the architecture and furnishings in the house. Then, the participants created their own designs by making paste paper.

Sample paste paper

What kinds of patterns can you find in your house? Families at the June workshop noticed patterns in the molding of several rooms in Reynolda House. They spied repeated designs in the carpets and some of the curtains. They noted the pattern of floor tiles on the Sun Porch. They observed carved patterns in some of the furniture. Even the wooden grates in the ceiling that help direct the sound of the organ have a fun crisscross pattern. Can you find them in this historic image of the Reception Hall?

Then, in the studio, I demonstrated different tools and techniques for creating patterns with colorful paste and participants started experimenting on their own.

Family First workshop participants creating their own paste papers

Paste paper made during the workshop. Can you spot the triangle pattern in the window?

Inspired to create your own paste paper? Download the activity guide below for materials, instructions for how to create the paste, and for suggestions of tools and other resources.


Step 1: Begin with a smooth washable surface. If you don’t have access to a sheet of safety glass or Plexiglas, work on a surface covered with newspaper.

Step 2: With a sponge and clean water, dampen both sides of a piece of paper.

Step 3: With a wide brush, brush paste mixture onto the paper.

Step 4: Smooth out brush strokes (or use bristles to create a textured pattern).

Step 5: Use a tool to create a pattern. Here, I scraped a credit card with cut teeth in a circle. The teeth made grooves in the paste and revealed the paper beneath.

Step 6: I didn’t like the way the first row looked, so I painted over it then again used the credit card tool. Next, I added drops of pink paste and ran a tool through them in two directions.

Finished paper:

 Step 7: Remove paper to dry on newspaper or a drying rack. Then, with your sponge, wipe off the surface and make another piece of paper. Note: You can paint one color on paper, let it dry, then create another pattern on top by painting a second color.

Step 8: After the paper has dried, you can use it to create a book cover, wrap a present, cut it up and use it for collage.

Book made using paste paper

Gift wrapped with paste paper


Add new comment