Ling’s Top Tip – Save all your paper

Photograph of origami cubes, made with found paper.

There is paper everywhere, waiting for you to use it. From junk mail and pizza leaflets, to catalogues, bank statements and old magazines, to newspapers and delivery inserts, there is plenty of paper, everywhere.

Photograph of junk mail, newspaper and magazine.

At many printmaking studios, members bring in their paper to use and share. It’s free, and it gives you something to read when you’re waiting for your screen or plate to dry.

Photograph of newspaper cut into paper stencils for monoprinting.

I use it to make stencils for monoprinting. Magazines and newspapers use thin paper stock, perfect for cutting with a scalpel or scissors. Stack several sheets together to make multiple stencils, rather than cutting one at a time. I use masking tape to hold my stack together.

Photograph showing how to clean a lino block with an old magazine.

Free paper is also great for cleaning up after printing. This lino block is taped to a cutting mat, and cannot be moved. I slide it between sheets of a magazine and press down, to take off as much ink as I can, before wiping the block clean with a cloth.

Photograph of twelve sonobe origami units.

My favourite thing to do with free paper, however, is to fold it. Mock up a book, test a design for packaging, or do what I do: cut it into squares and make some origami! This unit origami pattern is simple, but you can create complex shapes just by making more of the same unit, and slotting it together.

I learn a lot about paper when I do this. Bank statements come on a thicker, rigid stock, which is harder to fold, but provides better structure. Magazines are easy to fold, but the results are a bit floppy – technical term! The inexpensive paper stock is very sensitive to moisture, and damages quickly.

Photograph of a twelve-unit origami fold.
12-unit fold, with found paper.

To make a cube, you will need six squares of paper.
To make the 12-unit fold, you will need twelve squares of paper. Good luck!

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