Experimenting With Bleeding Tissue Paper

Materials: Bleeding tissue paper (we used Spectra), water color paper, spray bottle

I’ve been wanting to play with this product for a while now, and during our last trip to the Eric Carle Museum, I saw some in their bookstore (which is an absolutely fabulous place) and picked some up. And then it sat in the studio for a while as we squeezed out every last drop of summer, outside! The other day, G and I decided to experiment with the bleeding tissue paper.

I cut out some squares and spread them on the table, and then gave G half a sheet of 12×18 water color paper. She began by arranging some squares of tissue on her paper. Before she began spraying, I cleared the leftover tissue out of the area.

Then she began to spray.

And spray. The girl loves to use a spray bottle!

The colors began to run off the paper and mix in the puddles. Isn’t that pretty? As she sprayed, G commented on the colors she saw and how they were mixing. (As you can see from these pictures, if you don’t have an anything-goes art table, you probably want to do this in a shallow plastic tub or something similar, to protect your table.)

There was so much water on the paper, G decided to add some dry tissue on top of the puddles to see what would happen. Then she asked for a big sheet of paper to lay on top. I thought she wanted a big piece of tissue, so I asked what color, but she said no, she wanted the other piece of white paper–the other half of the water color paper I’d cut in half.

Carefully, we laid it on top of the wet paper and tissue.

She wanted to make a print–and I love that she both knows the process of making a print and recognizes a good opportunity to give it a try!

From the start, G had said she wanted to color on the paper once it was dry. So the next day, after it had dried and the tissue paper shook off, that’s what she did.

Our colors came out very muted. (I experimented too, on another small sheet of paper.) I’m not sure if this is because we overlapped so many colors and they all bled together, or because we used a spray bottle instead of a paintbrush, which I imagine would keep the water more in one place, or perhaps a combination. I plan to experiment with this paper some more, both with G and with the older kids. We certainly have enough of it to try all sorts of methods.

Have you used bleeding tissue paper? What did you find worked best?

7 thoughts on “Experimenting With Bleeding Tissue Paper

  1. A_W

    I’ve used bleeding art tissue from Dick Blick, with a paintbrush and water. Our results were much more color-saturated, I think because we used less water. We also covered the paper with tissue almost completely.

  2. amy

    Thanks! Part of the fun for G is the spraying–she loves using the spray bottle!–but we’ll give it a go with a wet paintbrush next time and see what happens with *way* less water. Then we can compare & contrast our experiments. :)

  3. Jamie (@handsonaswegrow)

    I just used regular tissue paper once – whatever it is we had on hand (cheap stuff). It worked on most colors, but not all. And definitely not on the patterned kind. I read somewhere after we did ours about doing it with vinegar – I wonder if it was bleed more. Or be more colorful.

    1. amy

      Interesting! I know vinegar is used as a mordant–to set the dye–although it’s kind of weak for “real” dyeing, I think. But that’s why it’s used in Easter Egg dyeing kits. I can see a bit of a science experiment coming up here… ;)

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