Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Let's Get Started: Amate Paper Figures!

Sorry for my lack of posts recently, but I'm finally at a place where the "back to school crazies" have subsided.  Yeah!  I always feel such a relief when my students finish the first project of the new school year.  Our first lesson this year is a new twist on the traditional Mexican folk art known as Amate Paper Figures.  The Otomi Indians create these figures from handmade paper from the Amate tree.  The bark paper comes in different shades of tan and different thicknesses.  The paper is folded in half, shapes are carefully cut and the resulting figure is a great example of symmetry and imagination.  
I will go into more detail about the objectives and goals of the lesson in the next post, but for today I wanted to show you a new and easy method for creating faux amate paper.  

There are several ways to make a surface to imitate the look of bark paper, but most of them are somewhat time-consuming and have a significant drying time.  I needed a method that was quick, easy and used no special or unusual supplies.  Each student made two 12x18 sheets of this paper; one for this assignment and one to set aside for another assignment.  In the picture above you can see the first step.  Peel a piece of brown crayon, place a sheet of white paper over a flat piece of a cardboard box and rub the crayon in different directions over the texture of the box.  Remember that you are trying to have some areas of light, medium and dark.

Use a large soft brush to paint diluted brown paint over the entire paper.  The crayon will resist the paint and the paint will fill in the white areas.

Use a squished up piece of a dry paper towel to blot off some areas completely while you leave more paint in other areas to add to the textural effect of the different brown tones.

Here's a preview of an amate figure made by an 8th grade student in Period 1. This was cut from one half sheet of her paper which she made by using the method described in this post.  I'll be sure to post several amazing amate figures soon!


Elizabeth - Dream Painters said...

Hi Jana, I'd really like to pin this on pininterest for future planning - I hope that's ok with you. Please let me know if not at and I will remove the pin immediately.

one little deer said...

No worries! Please feel free to use anything you want provided that you link back to this blog address AND give me written credit for the idea.
I post because I want to share...but, thanks for asking for permission to pin it.
Pinterest is a great way for me to increase my pageviews!

Cheryl Hancock said...

Hi , Another quick way of creating amate paper is rubbing the white paper with the side of a wax candle, giving it a really heavy coating. Students then crush the paper to crack the wax. The paper is then flattened as best a possible. Apply brown water based dye or water colour paper. Turn over the paper and iron with a hot iron to dry. Paper is ready to use. This technique is called crayon Batik.