The Slippery Surface of Yupo

Yupo® is a polypropylene synthetic paper. It has a smooth white surface, is semi-opaque, and makes a very interesting sheet for watercolor, ink and acrylics.

There are pros and cons. Because it is non-absorbent (read: waterproof), whatever you use on it has to dry by evaporation into the air (instead of absorbing into the fiber).

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In the photo above, you can see the light reflecting on a piece of wet Yupo®. Look closely, and you’ll see that only the top 2/3 of the page is wet. If you leave the page flat, the water doesn’t drift.

Color skates along the surface, and blending goes a long way. You’ll probably need less acrylic, ink, or watercolor.

Acrylic paint: sap green, blue, fine gold on Yupo.

Acrylic paint: sap green, blue, fine gold monoprinted on Yupo.

Because I’m a designer for Niji art products, I decided to give Splash Inks a try on Yupo®.

Splash Inks on Yupo®

Splash Inks on Yupo®

First, I tried simply putting the inks on the surface, spritzing it with water and tilting it. Interesting effect. When the inks dry, they cannot be scrubbed off with a paper towel and water. They will lift off with a paper towel and alcohol and some scrubbing, but a faint image will remain. Makes a nice ghost print.

niji9But I wanted to create an abstracted image, so I put down a blue wash on the top of the page, and an orange-brown wash on the bottom. I allowed it to dry thoroughly–about an hour in Phoenix. Then I dropped Splash black ink (two drops, about an inch apart) on the page, and used a straw to create a tree trunk. I blue the drops up until I had interesting lines, then used a coffee-stirrer-size straw to blow across the lines and create offshoots. (For more detailed instructions and photos, read the tutorial on Splash Inks on Yupo)

tree3I then mixed up some bright orange ink (I free-mix, but there are instructions for colors with the inks), and using a stiffer glue brush, pounced the brush on the surface, creating the illusion of autumn leaves. And the tree was done.

Full instructions for this tree and two more are on the Niji blog for January 3, 2014.

—Quinn McDonald is delighted to have been invited as a guest instructor at the Minneapolis Book Arts Center this April. She will be teaching Mind Over Chatter, a journaling class with Gelli plates.

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8 thoughts on “The Slippery Surface of Yupo

    • Alcohol inks were designed to use with slick surfaces like Yupo.You can get great results. Copic markers work really well with it, too. I, of course, had to fiddle with paints that were NOT designed to be used with it.

      • There are several hydrophobic coatings available, and they have some pretty interesting uses. If water can’t stick, then neither can bacteria, so a hydrophobic surface stays sterile — even if something contaminated touches it. Also I suspect it won’t be long until portable electronics are waterproof by default.

          • It looks like virus binding depends (also?) on pH and surface charge, and it looks like it has something to do with the size of the molecules involved. But if a virus is in solution, it probably wouldn’t stick, I think. However, the different hydrophobic (and, of course superhydrophobic) compounds work in fairly different ways, so results will probably vary. The product in the video, by the way, is probably not the most effective of all; I’ve seen some so-so reviews. But I’d like to try it anyway.

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