Experiments with carbon paper

Drawing Lab Challenge #11 – how did you do?

I managed to slip off the rails somewhat and do something not quite what the challenge was asking for. I didn’t really feel like drawing something, I felt like playing with textures, so I did. I grabbed some carbon paper (of which I have a pile of since my office working sister was kind enough to give me a stack years ago and it has been sitting in the bottom of my art cupboard since) and did some experimenting.

I was interested in what kinds of marks I could make on the paper using the carbon and a variety of implements. I used the ends of pens, the edge of my plastic sharpener, a playdough tool I borrowed from my daughter, but the most interesting effect I managed came from using a meat tenderiser and a citrus zester (yes, I raided my kitchen drawers :D).

carbon paper texture

A meat tenderiser, if you haven’t seen one, is a small metal mallet with shallow spikes on the hammer face. Mine has little pyramids that come to dull points. This is what happens when I drag those points around in small circles on the carbon paper.

carbon paper textureThis is what happens when I hit the carbon paper repeatedly with the meat tenderiser. I hit in circles.

carbon paper texture

And this texture was created using the citrus zester, a small tool with five tiny cutting circles on one end. Those five little circles create four points of contact with the carbon paper, all nicely in a row. The above was created by dragging those four little points across the carbon in a shallow zig-zag.

carbon paper texture sampler

And then I played with home made circle stencils to see how I could control some of these effects.

But the biggest experiment of all this was using the meat tenderiser again with that first texture/pattern.

carbon paper scribble

I did this the same way I have been doing most of my other experiments – created the background and then looked for the art, drawing from what I could make out of the elements.

Caravel of Dreams

Caravel of Dreams, carbon paper, felt tip and gel pen on fineliner paper, approx. 250 x 200 mm.

This was fun, though I think I’ve hardly scratched the surface with the possibilities. One thing I wish is that I could do something similar in multicolour. I did a quick attempt with my watercolour pencils to create a rub down effect, but the transfer rate was very poor compared to the carbon. I might investigate different coloured carbon sheets (though they are likely to be in boring office colours if I can get any) or dig through my art cupboard and try different media….hmm, come to think of it, pastels might do the job 😀 Another experiment awaiting my play.

Anyway, this is not what the challenge called for, but it did sprout art which all I really care about. How about you? How did you go with the challenge?

(who introduced her nearly three year old daughter to carbon paper too)


2 responses to “Experiments with carbon paper”

  1. Loving your new home on the web!! Well done 🙂

  2. I’d forgotten all about the Drawing Lab until I read this, so grabbed my book and had a go. Managed to combine it with a couple of other challenges too which was rather handy! I love the thought of you bashing at carbon paper with a meat tenderiser!! Some of your pics didn’t show on my pc – the bottom two.