Quietfire Design's
Techniques Gallery

Tearing Unryu *
©2008 Suzanne Cannon

*links go to www.quietfiredesign.ca

This article first appeared in the December 2004 byhand Newsletter

Unryu is one of the delightful mulberry papers sometimes referred to as "Cloud Dragon Paper". It is made by adding long swirling fibers to a basic kozo pulp. These lightweight papers are translucent and very strong and are a favorite among collage artists. It is excellent for gift wrapping, embellishing cards, scrapbooking and more!

If you have stamped an image on unryu and you don't need a specific shape, just tear around the image. Make sure you protect the piece by holding your thumb firmly over the image. The tearing can be quite unpredictable! If you want to tear a certain shape, then it's a good idea to wet the edges where you wish to tear. Wetting the edges makes tearing easier but if it gets out of control, your stamped image might be compromised. Here is how I did the decoration for the watermelon journal.

Draw your design out on a piece of acetate or a transparency. Cut out the transparency.

Place the transparency under the unryu, preferably on a light table, or a white sheet of paper, so that you can see the shape of your pattern.

Use a pointed brush (or a waterbrush) that holds a fair bit of water and draw the outline of your shape. Make sure you don't soak the whole area!

Place your hands on both sides of the wet line and pull gently. The paper will come apart leaving a lovely fibery edge. Different handmade papers will leave different edges. It's the long fibres in the paper that make this one special.

Wet and tear out all the pieces you need for your design and check they will fit where you want them.

This watermelon just needed some seeds which I drew in with a felt marker.


This technique works well if you want a straight edge. Just line your ruler up and run your brush full of water along the edge of the ruler. Not enough water and the paper won't tear where you want it to and too much water will produce the same results!

Practice makes perfect!

Glue the unryu pieces in place with a gluestick. Try not to get any of those fabulous fibres curled under (unless you want them that way!).

Place a guard sheet over top of the glued down unryu and run a brayer over the top to insure a good bond.



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