Paper cutting with Tyvek

As I mentioned in this post, I’m working on creating a portrait of someone using painted sheets of Tyvek. 

Have I done a paper cut using Tyvek before? Nope. Do I have a deadline that is forcing me to get really good at it ASAP? Yep.

I decided to do a test run before I started working on the actual piece. My biggest concern was how I was going to mount the piece once it was finished. I did some research by consulting my copy of Cut Up This Book! by Emily Hogarth.

She offers several suggestions for selecting the right adhesive for your project, including glue sticks, double-sided tape, and spray adhesive. I knew that my piece was going to have many teeny cuts so glue stick and tape wouldn’t fit the bill. And spray adhesive is just too darn icky.

I settled on using something that I already had in the studio – CODA cold-mount double release adhesive. It’s basically like a big sheet of pH neutral, double-sided tape. I was first introduced to the product by book artist Randi Parkhurst at the Focus on Book Arts conference.

I started by removing the paper release liner on one side of the CODA sheet. I placed a piece of Tyvek on the adhesive and rubbed it down with a bone folder. Lastly, I trimmed off the excess.

Because the release liners on the adhesive sheets are full-size, I decided to lightly score the back of my piece with an X-Acto knife (not cutting the Tyvek) – I wanted to be able to remove the liner in smaller pieces when dealing with the more delicately-cut pieces of Tyvek.

White Tyvek with double-sided adhesive sheet mounted on the back

I decided to test my ability on the text part of my design. I printed it out and taped it to the Tyvek. Then I cut through all of the layers – paper template, Tyvek, and adhesive sheet. As long as the blade was sharp (changed often), I had little difficulty getting through the layers.

One of the benefits of using the CODA adhesive sheets was that they stiffened and stabilized the Tyvek, making it much easier to cut. 

Cutting letters into Tyvek through paper template

When I finished my first word, I removed the template. I was more or less satisfied with the results (cleaner corners, please).

White Tyvek with the word price cut into it

I removed the liner from the back of the Tyvek and adhered it to a dark piece of paper. It looked pretty good!

White Tyvek with the word price cut into it, mounted on grey paper

So this is the way I’m going to work on my portrait. Hopefully, the smaller details will render well.

Stay tuned for a post about the final piece!

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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