Rice-paper luminaries are easy to make using Nori Paste as a decoupage medium.
by Tina Manzer

Birds of a Feather

Both fine artists and crafters appreciate a store’s deep selection of glues & adhesives. Products that stick things together comprise a quintessential crossover category and a bread-and-butter aisle at that. 

There’s a paste/spray/dot/squirt option for every conceivable use today. Creative consumers could easily fill up their toolboxes with adhesives alone. Then again there are some that are so versatile, so very basic, that they are must-haves in every bag of tricks. Japanese starch paste or “nori paste” is one of them. A slow-drying, acid-free and archival adhesive, nori paste is also natural, safe and vegan.

“This remarkable paste has been used for centuries for a wide variety of paper crafts, and as glue for joints in woodworking. For woodblock printing, it became a proven dispersing agent – nori paste helps spread the ink evenly by giving it body,” explains artist, author and instructor Karen Elaine Parsons, the veteran in-house product expert at Yasutomo. “Today, our customers use the Yasutomo brand of Nori Paste in a wide range of applications – as a medium to bind powdered pigments, for instance, and to wet-mount their works on paper to hard substrates. It’s a good adhesive to always have on hand. Our brand includes a small amount of preservative so it can be stored without refrigeration.”

The paste works best on fabric and paper, she says, and is often used in bookbinding. It’s especially effective with rice paper, thin and absorbent tissue papers, and for bonding together thin, heavily fibered papers. In the end, the work is reversible with water. 

“Nori Paste is excellent for collage and for mounting prints,” she adds. “It boasts an extended open time – one of its really popular characteristics – which allows users to reposition delicate papers without the risk of tearing them. Mixing Nori Past with a little water and PVC glue creates an even longer working time and a stronger bond.”

Quilters use Nori Paste to baste together quilt blocks and fabric pieces for appliqué before they start stitching. They like it because it easily washes out of fabrics and leaves no residue. For embroidery, especially for gold work and “Bunka” from Japan, Nori Paste is applied to the back of the work to keep threads in place. (Bunka embroidery, a punch needle technique, uses rayon threads to create very detailed pictures that some say resemble oil paintings. Kits were very popular right after World War II and are still available today.) 

“A great way to demo Nori Paste is to create an in-store collage station with a variety of small bits of cut or torn paper and fabrics, and a hard substrate such as masonite or cardboard,”  recommends Karen Elaine. “For a make-and take, use small Ampersand panels. No other tools are needed – the paste can be applied straight out of the jar with fingers or a stiff brush, and it washes off very easily even after it dries.” 

Yasutomo has been an innovator in the art supply industry for more than 65 years. It brings high-quality Asian art supplies to market, include origami and writing instruments. See their ad on page 17.

Film Festival

In the hands of imaginative people, vinyl and film created for the traffic and sign industries can turn into unique works of art. At least that’s the method behind the creative madness at American Traffic Safety Materials (ATSM), a Florida-based company that has had great success with those industrial applications. Recently, it expanded with a new subsidiary called ATSM Craft and found that innovative crafters are delighted to put its vinyl and film products to artistic uses.  

Since 1980, the company has manufactured, coated and converted high quality cast vinyl films, cost effective calendered vinyl films, and metalized and other specialty films that have everyday uses.  

ATSM Craft’s brightly-hued products come in opalescent and ultra-metallic versions. Some provide a chalkboard or chrome finish, or even etched glass and “glittery” looks. Transparent colored film can be applied to almost any glass or clear plastic surface, and transparent glitter film applied to a window creates a unique environment of light, space and visual effects. As the company states on atsmcraft.com, “We have more glitter, shimmer, shine, and gloss than any other vendor in the Southeast, probably maybe even the country.”   

All of the films work well with craft cutting machines to produce decals and art in many shapes and sizes. Most can also be printed using solvent digital printers, screen printing inks, and thermal transfer printers.  

For artistic and craft purposes, the company offers 102 films and four different pre-mask products. Its slogan, “Happiness is Handmade” drives ATSM Craft’s product choices, including its color palette, color appeal, sparkle, shine, and overall usefulness in creative projects.  

For more information, visit atsmcraft.com

What They Saw in the Inkblots

In our last issue we discussed The100-day Challenge, and next up is the very popular Inktober, a month-long opportunity to create one artwork in ink each day and share it on social media.  

To demonstrate the significance of social media analytics to brand marketing insight, global listening company Synthesio collected key data at the close of Inktober and issued a report with commentary on how the information could best be used. “Like art itself, Inktober is a global movement that transcends language and cultural barriers,” it begins. “Our Twitter heat map found that Inktober is most talked-about in the United States and Europe, yet is also present in South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.”

Based on an analysis of the languages used in Inktober’s online content, the company discovered that English was used most often by challenge participants, but social media posts also appeared in Spanish, Somali, Portuguese, and French. “This seemingly simple information gives crucial insight into the location and language preferences of those interested in ink, paper, paint, and even digital art software and tools,” says the report. 

Two-thirds (67 percent) of social media users who talked about Inktober were female, and Synthesio discovered that the challenge is most popular among 18-to-24-year-olds followed by 25-to-34-year-olds. In other words, if you want to reach younger adults, Inktober is a useful vehicle, but not so much if you want to reach retirees. 

More than three-quarters of online conversations about Inktober happen on Instagram. Twitter is the next most popular platform, followed by a small percentage on forums and Reddit.

Next, Synthesio crunched data to discover the top Inktober influencers on Instagram and on Twitter. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt participated in Inktober while simultaneously promoting his creative platform, Hit Record. “Companies can similarly adopt this strategy and take advantage of community-wide movements that are relevant to their industry,” notes the report.

Did participants keep up with the challenge? Signals, the company’s trend-detection software, found a 70-percent decrease in Inktober mentions between early and mid-October. “If a company wants to develop an Inktober marketing campaign, we advise that it begin during the first week of the challenge, when participation and volume are highest.”

One analysis considered Inktober together with Moleskine, the Italian manufacturer of high-quality sketchbooks and notebooks. “After an artist shared an ink drawing in his Moleskine notebook, other Reddit users quickly inquired about the quality of the paper. The artist responded with knowledgeable information, including his observation that there was no bleeding through, but there was ghosting.”

He also recommended Moleskine’s Art Plus and mentioned that Jake Parker, Inktober’s creator, uses a Moleskine Cahier. “This not only provides valuable insight for the development of future products, it indicates that Moleskine products are already well-loved by the art community. 

This kind of back-and-forth about the paper, pens or art materials always occurs during the sharing of Inktober drawings. “Companies shouldn’t underestimate the trust developed within online communities and how it affects consumer behavior. Recommendations, warnings, and tips are taken seriously.” 

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