More Monsoon Papers

Monsoon papers. I first made them about four years ago, when the huge, often-violent thunderstorms swept through the Valley in summer. Towering purple or yellow thunderheads would move in, then a gust of wind with a smell of wet sidewalk, dust and creosote, followed by rain so hard it bounced on the hard ground.

Watching a storm, I wanted to catch that power, that elemental force. I ran inside, grabbed large sheets of Arches Text Wove, and put them on my aloe hedge and in the fig tree. When the rain had soaked the papers, I splashed them with ink, letting the papers in the tree drip on the ones in the aloe hedge.

As long as the storm lasted, I’d add cloud-colored inks. Purples and grays, yellows and greens, depending on the storm. Once the storm passed, I’d let the papers damp dry in place, then iron them to heat set the color.

Monsoon paper folder, made without a storm.

Monsoon season came to an end, and I missed the papers. I figured out how to make them with water from a garden hose, but as the weather got cooler, the colors reacted differently. Interesting. Today I needed to figure out how to teach making monsoon papers with garden hose water for a class I’m teaching next Spring, so I went outwith a notepad, inks and Arches Velin (the former Text Wove).

I’m partial to the brown-black-gray neutrals, so I made that sheet first. The nature of the paper and the process results in one deeply colored side and one paler side, which works particularly well if you are making accordion folders.

Folder in constellation pattern, made with Monsoon papers.

The next sheet was going to be blue-green-purple, but I wanted a more textured look, so I wadded up the paper first, creating crevices for the ink to soak into.

Two collages, in a series on pears.

The result was monsoon paper with a constellation pattern on it. Also interesting.

I folded them so they were not quite even, so if you look down the side, you can see the color depth and variation. Here are two small collages on top of the monsoon papers. I think this is going to be an interesting class!

-Quinn McDonald is a paper artist and the author of Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art, published by North Light. You can recognize her by her inky fingers.