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Using my Eco Prints and Encaustic Wax to Make a Chinese Thread Book



One of the things that I love about mixed media is that it gives you opportunities to combine many passions into one project.  Like this project that meshes my fascination with Zhen Xian Bao, (aka Chinese Thread Books), my newfound love of Eco Printing/Staining, and encaustic wax.

The making of Chinese Thread Books is an ancient folk art.  Traditionally made of paper, Thread Books were used to store string, needles, paper patterns and other loose items. The paper is cleverly folded into collapsible boxes that are then stacked and bound together in such a way so as to create hidden compartments. If you’ve never seen a Chinese Thread Book, I highly recommend that you do a search on Instagram or Pinterest.  There you’ll find examples of vintage thread books along side amazing modern day versions all crafted by extremely talented craftsmen and artists.

I’m enamored with rust and Eco Prints. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I spent most of the summer blissfully rust printing.  Well, this fall I had the opportunity to expand my repertoire as a beta tester for a soon to be released online Eco Printing Workshop taught by Jeri Bellini of Recycled Parts 4 Art.  The class was comprehensive, covering topics ranging from gathering leaves and storing them, (now I can print year round), identifying metals to print with, (the type metals in the cooker can make such a difference), and tips for printing on thin paper.  I really enjoyed meeting the other Eco Printer Beta Testers in our small group, seeing their results, and exchanging ideas. Jeri’s has plans to release the course in the spring so if your curious about Eco Printing sign up for her newsletter here and be among the first to hear about the launch.

Here’s some pics of a few of my favorite prints from the workshop.  

Even the cardboard that I used to wrap the bundles in were transformed into something organically beautiful.


Now that the class is finished I’m on a quest to find ways to incorporate all these beautiful prints into my art.  Which brings me right back around to my fascination for Chinese Thread Books.  I’ve been itching to make one.

It was finally time to stop watching Paula Beardell Krieg ‘s Chinese Thread Book tutorials on YouTube and to make one for my own. (I must have watch those videos at least 20 times....) Although I’d made sections of the book before, (you can read about my initial foray into the world of twist boxes here), I’d never actually constructed an entire book.

I made the cover with an Eco Print of Gingko leaves harvested from my brother’s tree, hydrangea blossoms, and dogwood fruit/berries.  (One of my favorite parts of Eco printing is the hunt for leaves.  I had to go all the way to a Tennessee to find my Gingko leaves.)

Then I doodled on the print with gel pens and enhanced the colors with Pitt Pens, one of my very favorite mixed media supplies.   The paper is Awagami Kozo which is an absolute joy to print on. 


I coated the print with a thin layer of encaustic wax to protect it.  The wax darkened the design a little more than I’d anticipated but I’m still happy with it. It feels wonderful to the touch. 
I waxed ten more Eco Printed Kozo papers and used them to construct the boxes that would ultimately be used as the top three layers of my book.  

The bottom box was constructed from recycled kraft paper that had been wrapped around the bundles to protect them while they were being boiled and steamed.  I just added some simple stamping, then I waxed the paper and folded it into the largest of the 11 collapsible boxes.



I can definitely see myself making another one of these, perhaps even two or 3 more.... 

Thanks for stopping by.  Until next time - Hugs, Jill


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