Deena Schnitman: Paste Paper and Natural Dyes

Fustic and Aquarelle Liquid Indigo by Deena Schnitman

Boston artist Deena Schnitman creates works on paper using the age old technique of paste paper. She writes: “Paste paper dates back to the late sixteenth century when it was widely used by bookbinders in Europe for endpapers and bookcovers. The process has changed little and remains simple. A paste is cooked, colored with paint and brushed onto wet paper. While the paper is still wet designs are made using a variety of tools. The tools used to create designs are limited only by one’s imagination and range from paintbrushes and combs to handmade carved rollers to flea market finds and kitchen gadgets.”

Deena’s inquiry into natural dyes started when a friend brought her some flower dyes from India, which made a bright golden yellow. Soon, she was harvesting lupines for a subtle green and exploring what other colors existed in nature that she could use for her art.

Logwood and Indigo natural color paste paper by Deena Schnitman

Now Deena has added a new twist to contemporary paste paper by using Botanical Colors Aquarelle Liquid Natural Dyes on her latest work. Deena appreciates how easy it is to use the liquid dyes, especially since a natural blue has been elusive (experiments with powdered indigo and her technique resulted in a paste that looked like an otherworldly blue Jell-O). She’s created a new look with her interepretation of both traditions and the results are stunning. The colors are rich and add a depth to her designs. Deena graciously shared some photos of work in progress using Aquarelle Liquid Indigo. I’ve also included samples of her work from a portfolio she sent me using natural dye extracts. Simply beautiful!

A variety of naturally colored paste paper works from Deena Schnitman

For more information, you can visit Deena’s website and see more examples of her 2-D and 3-D work.
Deena has also written an article “Paste Paper: When Old is New” for Art Buyer that details the history of paste paper making.

1 thought on “Deena Schnitman: Paste Paper and Natural Dyes”

  1. Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for all the kind words and support. If not for you I wouldn’t be nearly as far as I am in using natural dyes in my work. Love, love, love the colors I can get with the naturals dyes/pigments. And, with the new dispersing agent I’m sure I can solve the problem of the jelly paste! I’m really excited about the new aquarelles. Can’t wait to try the other samples. Now I just have to get someone to help me update my website with examples of the natural dyed papers. Deena

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