Wednesday, July 20, 2011

TerraSkin Review and Paper Flower Gift Topper

Recently I received an intriguing email from MitzArt, the Canadian and U.S. supplier of an art sheet, TerraSkin. Not paper in the true sense of the word, TerraSkin is a high quality and environmentally friendly alternative composed primarily of calcium carbonate, as well as a very small amount of polyethylene that acts as a binder. Unlike typical paper, copious amounts of water and chlorine bleach, not to mention trees, are not required to make TerraSkin.

Terraskin sketch pad

TerraSkin sketchpad

The list of potential uses for TerraSkin is practically limitless - shopping bags, cartons, signs, cards, books, and labels - but I was most interested in seeing how it would perform as an art supply. Mitz sent me a variety of products to try - art sheets, a sketchpad, notepad, and sample squares in various weights. These range from a very thin sheet, which works perfectly for origami, to heavy art sheets. Actually, all TerraSkin feels heavier than one might expect... I don't mean thick to touch, but actual weight in the hand. No surprise there - we are talking crushed stone, after all!


Smooth to the touch, waterproof, and non-yellowing, I found that TerraSkin takes paint and ink beautifully. Less product is required and both dry quickly. The large art sheets don't need to be prepared beforehand with gesso in order to accept paint. Acrylics, charcoal, pen, pencil - all good. When using it for origami, I would recommend a bone folder to ensure folds stay crisp... make sure the folder is synthetic, not metal, to avoid marks. TerraSkin can even be shaped with gentle, hot heat from a blow dryer.

Terraskin white soufflé flower

natural TerraSkin soufflé flower

When I saw a tutorial for a lace cuff bracelet on Ucreate.com, I was excited to make the folded flower that adorned it by using TerraSkin instead of fabric. (And finally, the perfect home for a couple of favorite buttons I'd been saving, yay!)

Terraskin white soufflé flower

Here I applied Color Gelatos to TerraSkin. Gelatos are a type of crayon that can be applied to a surface as is, or transformed into watercolor paint with a wet brush.

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watercoloring with Gelatos on TerraSkin

The red and pink mixed and dried beautifully to give an intentional marbled effect on the snowy white TerraSkin. I worked the brush quite firmly to see how well TerraSkin's surface would hold up, and found there was no adverse effect - it still looked perfectly crisp and fresh, even after being painted on both sides. I chose to make the color darker on top and a lighter pink for the inner "petals".

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watercolor TerraSkin soufflé flower

A bonus was that I was able to rub off the faint pencil marks I'd made when tracing the circles, while painting with the brush. (A punch would have come in handy instead of cutting out the circles by hand.)

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Perhaps you've heard the buzz about mineral makeup. I have to say I've found that it pretty much lives up to the media hype. So... did I also like mineral paper?

The answer is yes, but I must add a few qualifications that pertain to quilling. Because TerraSkin relaxes after being rolled - for example, in a mailing tube or backpack - which is a very good thing, this also means a quilled coil doesn't hold an especially tight center. Of course, it's not always a problem depending on the look you want.



TerraSkin quilled coil

On the other hand, strips of TerraSkin work perfectly for alternate side looping, as with this asymmetric heart I made to decorate a wedding place card.

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TerraSkin heart

Because TerraSkin contains no cellulose fiber, it has no grain; consequently it doesn't tear easily. Most often this is a benefit. As a quiller though, when rolling tight coils or joining two strips together, I like to tear the ends. TerraSkin stretches a bit before allowing itself to be pulled apart. I will say that cutting strips with my paper cutter was a joy... TerraSkin slices like butter, baby! The blade glided easily and silently, and the cuts were very smooth. It also works beautifully for die cutting.

waterproof!

Does TerraSkin hold up over time? Similar to tree or fiber paper, it must be exposed to heat, ultraviolet (sunlight) and humidity (rain) to degrade, and as with tree paper, it takes three to six months under those conditions to be destroyed. When protected from Mother Nature, TerraSkin is inert and stable. A UV-resistant version is in development for outdoor use. Can it be recycled? Yes, or left to degrade naturally.

You can find even more information and a video at TerraSkin.com, but Mitz is the only supplier of the art sheet, which can be found in stores across Canada. Mitz is currently introducing TerraSkin art products to the U.S market. They have a MitzRocks Etsy shop if you don't want to wait for your favorite retailer to stock it. By the way, TerraSkin is only available in white for now, but any color is possible if demand warrants it. The vibrant sketch pad cover, for example, was printed with eco-veggie ink.

Welcome to the new stone age! Do you think TerraSkin is something you would use for your art?

18 comments:

  1. wow Ann...this product sounds fantastic (and Canadian too whoo hooo). And what a great post too...so informative but very easy to understand.

    I am going to get some of this paper....at my local art store (yes they have it)

    I'll let you know how it goes
    Cheryl

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  2. Thanks for this, Ann. I know a number of artists who will be interested to know about TerraSkin.

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  3. What a great post this is . It is upcycling in such a beautiful way. I am so happy to see your coil and quilling with these strips. Quilling with terraskin would be so much more durable. Your fabric flower looks so elegant.Water proof, non yellowing -sounds like a wonder product.

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  4. It sounds like a very interesting product. I'll have to keep my eye out for it to appear in the U.S. I would love to give it a try

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  5. I said I would be over from Flickr, that flower on the box is amazing and I like our blob.xxx Pam Knowles

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  6. Your pieces look so beautiful.
    I would LOVE to try that medium. I wonder if it will ever come to Australia!

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  7. Thanks, Anne, for a very useful review. You were so thorough! And your flower is lovely. Keep up the good work.
    Karren

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  8. My goodness, that stuff looks so cool! I love, love, love that quilled heart on the place card!

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  9. Ann...it turns out that the shop close to me doesn't have the Terraskin but one on Vancouver Island does so next time I venture over on the ferry I will get some.

    Just thought I would let you know I couldn't get any.

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  10. Thanks for your comments and enthusiasm about TerraSkin, everyone. I had such a great time making the projects with it.

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  11. Hi Ann...what a gorgeous blog and beautiful things that you have created! Would love for you to link into artseebloggers.com where you could inspire others!

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  12. Thanks Geri, I'm impressed by your site and just added a couple of links.

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  13. wow! so cool! i've never heard of this, i'm so intrigued. i love how the flowers turned out, the buttons are perfect!

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  14. I will need to try this. I'm intrigued!

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  15. how can one get samples? can this be made into shopping bags?

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  16. Caron, check out the Where link on the MitzArt website. Yes, TerraSkin can be made into shopping bags. I read that the gift shop at MoMA uses them.

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  17. I teach a watercolor class in pasadena, ca. I'd love to have samples of the watercolor weight paper for my adult portrait painters to try. Would it be possible to receive 16 sheets of terraskin (we normally use quarter sheets of 140# arches w/c paper.....that is 11" x 15" u.s. measurement. I'd love to try it with this group. I have a painting friend in new jersey who alerted me to the product. She uses very watered down acrylics on it and loves its performance. Would love to hear from you.
    Polsby@yahoo.com

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