This experiment has been on my bucket list for a long time and as I have been playing catch up due to computer issues as of late and decluttering at the same time I moved it to the top of the list.
What I have wanted to do is find an easy way to make washi that is very similar to washi minus the tape part and I have also wanted to see if I could wax vellum napkins. This does both.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the napkins held up well with hot wax, provided you can keep the napkin hot enough to melt the wax. That was the tricky part as napkins do not heat up as well or as fast as paper but with a little patience the napkins finally got soaked enough to appear translucent and became relatively strong for a very thin item. You would think paper and napkins were made from the same raw materials but I don’t know nor do I know why they behave so differently. Linen gets very hot as does cotton so it remains a mystery to me.
Napkins with some white in the background work best. Use one ply only; so separate your napkins.
You will need:
- Napkins (separated, one ply)
- Iron (hot and dry, no steam)
- Wax candles
- Blotting paper
- Parchment or baking paper
Place a piece of blotting paper on your surface with the one ply napkin over it. Cover with parchment to protect your iron and heat up the napkin. Once heated, you have to work faster than I was able to on the video, glide your candle over the hot surface. Any resistance and the napkin or paper is too cool, heat again. You might want to try some aluminum foil either on the bottom or top of the stack to increase the temperature.
I’ve found that paper definitely needs blotted afterward, the napkins not so much but that will depend on the type of napkin. Do both sides as the more wax you can get to be absorbed the stronger it will be….. for a napkin, that is. I have put the waxed napkins in my trimmer with no issues but whether they will hold up to a sewing machine I do not know, might depend on the type of stitch but for a pamphlet stitch I am sure it will be fine, not much different than tissue paper pages which I’ve done in the past. The waxed napkin feels beautiful, silky and pliable but all of my examples felt different after the waxing. It really does resemble the feel of washi tape.
Use as you desire, some uses:
- specimen slides
- transparent glue on
Reinforcement tips you might try:
Glue stick a single white ply to the back but you might lose some translucency.
You might try a clear matte medium on the back side of the napkin, for an envelope or a pocket it won’t matter, it will preserve transparency. You will gain strength and durability.
Just use as a transparent background by gluing to other translucent paper like tracing paper, glassine, wax paper or cereal bags which don’t have color.
Use the white ply or second ply, stamp with waterproof ink and make your own design, this is usually white so your design will show up much more.
I hope you’ll try this safer and easier technique and find more ways to use your napkins. I love using napkins but they aren’t so easy to find in my area (no Tuesday Morning here) so when I did find them I usually bought more packs than I needed so napkins have become a de-clutter item on my to-do list and I am glad I found another way to use them.
Happy paper crafting!