CREATE New Jersey 2014: Composition for Collage
The Weekend Five: Julie & Nathalie do New Jersey

Art Journal Every Day: Making Art Papers with Citra Solv

ArtJournalEveryDayLogo-150If you're new to Art Journal Every Day, there is a short introduction here.  All of the previous posts can be found archived here.  There is a flickr group for sharing right here.  Remember, it's just ten minutes of nourishing your creative self every day!  No need to finish anything or even like it.  If you've done some art journaling this week and you've blogged about it, or put it on flickr, please leave a link in the linky list at the end of this post.  Thanks!

As you know, I am always looking for new techniques and ideas to experiment with in my art journal.  I was doing some serious googling on Citra Solv prints and I kept coming across Kayann Ausherman's fabulous blog.  She has loads of tutorials and ideas and information about Citra Solv.  As soon as I saw the I *heart* Balzer Designs button on her blog, it gave me the courage to beg and plead with her to do a guest tutorial on Citra Solv because I just knew you would all be as blown away by it as I am!  She very kindly agreed!  So, without further ado, here is Kayann's fantastic, comprehensive, and oh-so-inspiring guide to making art paper with Citra Solv & National Geographic Magazines!  (I can't wait to add some to my art journal!!!)

Making Art Papers with Citra Solv
and National Geographic Magazines

One of my favorite mixed media techniques is using Citra Solv concentrated cleaner to alter the pages of National Geographic magazines, creating lovely and unique papers to use in a variety of art projects. 

I especially love using my papers in mixed media collage to create a very unique look.  Each paper is absolutely one of a kind!

Altering National Geographic pages with Citra Solv concentrate is quick and easy to do, requires very few supplies, and produces impressive results.

Materials needed:

  • National Geographic magazines – I prefer issues from after the year 2000.  The highly pigmented ink, printed on the clay coated pages, make this magazine uniquely suited for this process.
  • Citra Solv concentrated cleanermust be the concentrate!
  • Spray bottle, although you can simply hold a finger over the opening and “shake” the Citra Solv onto the page.
  • Table covering and rubber gloves – this is messy business!
  • Disposable 9 x 13 aluminum pan
  • Cotton swabs, rags or paper towels, stencils - depending on the special effects you choose to do.
  • Matte, workable, spray fixative

Before starting, remove the cover, and the advertising pages at the front and back of the magazine.  These have a different ink and will not dissolve nicely, so no need to waste your Citra Solv on them!  With the remaining center section of the magazine, generously spray Citra Solv between each of the pages. Close the magazine, and set aside for about 5 minutes.  I like to place it in a disposable cake pan to contain the inky mess that will begin to ooze out from between the pages. 

After about 5 minutes, check a few of the pages to see if the ink has started to dissolve yet.  If not, just let it sit for awhile longer. It may take as much as 20 or 30 minutes before the ink begins to dissolve, depending on the temperature and humidity of your area.  If you wait too long, the Citra Solv will begin to dry and the pages will stick together.  If you do it too soon, the pages will remain unaltered.  There is nothing precise here, just checking and waiting.

Once the pages start to “go”, you will want to work fairly quickly, removing the pages and laying them out to dry.  Even better, hang them on a line with clothespins. 

I love this step, feeling like a kid opening a stack of Christmas presents, squealing with delight over the wonderful papers that emerge!  Since the binding has also begun to dissolve, it is very easy to peel the pages out cleanly.  Do not stack the pages until they are thoroughly dry.

At this point, you can leave your lovely papers as they are, or, you can alter them even further using a variety of techniques that take ink off, or add paint and other mediums on.

My favorite technique for removing ink is to use a stencil as a mask over the page, wiping the exposed parts with a Citra Solv doused rag or paper towel.  These stencils from The Crafters Workshop have large designs that work perfectly!

Another method is to use a cotton swab saturated with Citra Solv like you would a paint brush in reverse. You can remove more of the ink from select areas, enhance images, or completely “erase” the ink from some areas, and effectively manipulate the ink in order to transform part of the remaining image, or create a totally new one.

Once you are done with the altering process, I recommend spraying your page with a workable matte fixative before using in your artwork to stabilize the ink and reduce smudging.

That should get you started, hope you have loads of fun!

Online sources to order Citra Solv:

Here is this week's linky list:

11Kayann Ausherman is a mixed media artist living in rural Kansas.  Her business, From Victory Road, specializes in using repurposed items in a wide variety of creative ways.  She started using Citra Solv in her artwork about four years ago and her love of the unique art form has shaped much of her work.  Currently she is teaching art journaling and Citra Solv classes, selling her creations at local shops and shows, and illustrating a children’s book. To learn more about her and her work, visit or her etsy shop at . Contact her at [email protected].