What is Sumi Rice Paper?
The term rice paper is really a misnomer, the paper has nothing to do with rice. It would be more accurate to call it Calligraphy or Sumi Paper. Traditionally used to practice calligraphy lettering and sumi-e painting strokes, this is a lightweight, thin yet durable paper.
I buy Sumi Rice Paper by the roll and cut it with a paper trimmer to 8.5 inches so it will fit through my printer. It is also available in sheets but as they are 9″ x 12″ they will still need to be cut down to go through a standard printer.
Sumi Rice Paper & Photo Encaustic Collage
You may be familiar with the Encaustic Photo Transfer method in which the photograph’s ink is transferred onto the wax and the paper is removed with water. With this method, the transferred ink is fragile, you need to be careful when fusing not to break up and disperse the ink.
Let me introduce you to a different photo encaustic method, collaging with Sumi Rice Paper. When fused into wax the edges of the paper will become transparent and disappear, the paper will still be there, but only the printed image will show. This photo encaustic method creates a strong image.
- Begin by printing a photograph on the Sumi Rice Paper,
- Then position the image on your encaustic surface. It’s important to realize that the paper will become transparent. This means the colours and marks below the image will show through.
- Lay a piece of wax paper or parchment paper down and, working from the centre outwards, burnish with a bone burnisher or other tool to remove air bubbles. I haven’t always done this but I will in the future as my last piece had a problem with an air bubble.
- Use an iron to collage the image into the wax. The iron pushes the paper down into the wax as it fuses.
The iron I’m using in the video below is a ski board iron, an encaustic iron works well too.
Printing on Sumi Rice Paper
My printer model has a manual feed bypass slot that allows me to feed a single sheet of paper through, instead of using the paper tray. This works really well—I don’t need a carrier sheet (my printer is old, it is an HP LaserJetPro MFP M277dw). Every printer is different. Some printers have a rear bypass slot, check your owner’s manual.
If you need to put the paper through the paper tray, you will need to cut the paper and either iron it or weight it for a time under books to remove the tendency to roll. And then use a carrier sheet to help it go through the printer without jamming.
To be clear, a carrier sheet is just a sheet of regular printer paper that is used to help carry the Sumi paper through the printer. I recommend using a temporary adhesive to attach the Sumi rice paper to the carrier sheet. Such as
- Scotch Repositionable Glue Stick
- Easy Tack Repositionable Adhesive Spray – a little stinky so do it outside or with your ventilation turned on
- Strong tape will also work.
If you are not able to make this work in your own printer, Claire O’Neill offers a Tissue Paper Printing Service.
Encaustic Painting Tips
- In addition to photographs, you can print text or other ephemera imagery onto the rice paper.
- It’s possible to layer rice paper images on top of one another using wax.
- Remember that colours and marks below the paper will show through, so pay attention to what’s beneath.
- Another beautiful thing about this transparent paper is that prints can be used face up or face down. You don’t need to print your image in reverse as you would for a photo transfer.
- You don’t need to limit yourself to the size of your printer, you can print large images on multiple sheets of paper and piece them together.
I invite you to visit my website to view more photo encaustic paintings.
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- How To Use Sumi Rice Paper For Photo Encaustic - June 3, 2022
- How to Create Encaustic Vessels with Creative Paperclay - May 21, 2022
- Comparing Irons for Encaustic Painting - November 10, 2021
- How to print a large image onto multiple pages - June 12, 2021
- Artist Conversation with Andrea Bird - May 23, 2021