Rubber cement and watercolors – another fun resist

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Thanks for all your comments yesterday! I'm feeling better today. A little less overwhelmed.

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Maia and I tried another fun watercolor resist earlier this week. With rubber cement!

I had picked up a book called Watercolor Essentials from the library. It's one of the many watercolor technique books (for adults) out there. I skimmed through it, looking for ideas that would work for kids and came across this one. It's the same idea as using masking fluid, which I've done in the past, but with rubber cement instead.

The cool thing about rubber cement is that it comes with it's own little brush! At first Maia brushed the rubber cement on the paper, but she soon noticed that it was easy to "draw" fun curlicue lines all over the paper by holding the brush in the air above and letting the rubber cement dribble down.

After creating your design on the paper, let dry, then paint over it with watercolors. We used liquid watercolors this time, but any would work. After the paint dries, you can rub the rubber cement off with your thumb. It comes off easily and leaves the pure white paper underneath.

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This is a detail of the painting above it. The rubber cement creates barriers to the paint, allowing different colors and intensities to exist side by side.

By the way, one of the not-so-cool things about rubber cement is that
it's smelly and somewhat toxic. We used it with the windows open and
fan on. If you decide to use it, I'd make sure the project is
ventilated, well-supervised, and of short duration.

Maia and I both loved this project though! The process is fun and the result is beautiful. I did a couple paintings myself alongside her.


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Comments

  1. says

    Love love love this BUT wouldn’t be able to use rubber cement with my classes bcs of the toxicity issue…if you come up with a non-toxic alternative, do tell!

  2. Maureen says

    Random question on the rubber cement (I haven’t used it before) – if I made the pattern with the rubber cement (outside or somewhere ventilated) and let it dry, would it still be pretty toxic smelling/strong if I then brought the designed paper out to my kids to paint? I’m thinking I could try this for holiday cards where I write the message and the boys paint and they’d probably get excited if they started seeing letters spout up on the page. Thanks. PS. Also, where does one buy rubber cement?

  3. char says

    Wow-these paintings are stunning!
    For something non-toxic: I found a sticky paper like clear contact paper at my local art supply store. It resists watercolor paint and comes off of the paper without harming it at all. It doesn’t allow for the painterly lines like rubber cement does, though. My son loves to cut and also loves peeling stickers, so this would be fun for kids, but maybe not with the gorgeous results here on your site… It is still fun to “layer” colors with this contact paper stuff.

  4. Amy says

    yes- Mary Ann Kohl’s Great Artist book also recommends the TriTix glue as a good rubber cement alternative. She uses it in the book for making a snow painting (paint on the snow flakes with glue, paint the scene, then rub off the mask.)
    From what I can tell, the Tritix is pretty smelly- but so is rubber cement. I guess at least it’s not toxic.
    the paintings are lovely!

  5. says

    Rubber cement is everywhere. We used to use it as kids at school even. You can get it at the drug store or maybe also grocery store or Target/Kmart type of place. I got mine at my drug store.
    And no, the rubber cement doesn’t smell after you let it dry.

  6. says

    These are beautiful! Love the colors. I bet they would look fantastic framed. I’d like to do this on something like notecards. I hope today is going more smoothly, sending a cup of tea and a smile. :)

  7. says

    I remember doing this many years ago – and in the classroom. This was back in the days when we didn’t worry over toxic items – we were just careful. Of course, now things are different and perhaps we are a bit smarter and safer because of it:-)
    Any way, I love this and the additional ideas of your followers. What a great way to create many interesting cards, paintings, and so forth at home. I will have to look for the TriTix glue too – I have never heard of that.

  8. says

    Jean,
    So many times, I find cool ideas on your blog!
    Thank you for sharing. We did the rubber cement part of the project today. Will post photos on my blog when when wrap up our project.
    Have a happy weekend,
    Colleen

  9. says

    It is so funny, now that you all mention it…I recall rubber cement being part of our regular school supplies in the classroom. We used to love peeling it off of our fingers and rolling it up into balls (kind of like boogers!). EW! But, alas, these are different times, and 3rd graders are less likely to ingest their rubber cement or bring dirty hands to mouth than my 18 month-3 year olds. I’ll be on the look-out for the tri-tix stuff too.

  10. Amy says

    after a little research- I’m wondering if tri-tix is still manufactured? I think it was made by lakeside plastics by a tri-tix division- but i can’t locate anything recent about the tri-tix division. so maybe we’re all stuck using the good ole’ toxic rubber cement?
    it’s too bad dick blick isn’t more forthcoming about why it’s not available.

  11. says

    so beautiful! i think i’d risk its smelly-toxic character, that i remember so well as a child, in a ventilated and airy area, just to give this a try. very inspirational. thank you!

  12. Jane says

    Love the watercolors, it’s my favorite median, along with collage. Love what’s been created!

  13. Marie says

    There’s something called Masking Fluid that is used with watercolor paints – you remove it with an eraser and it can be purchased at art supply stores. I have never used it myself – so I don’t know if it has a strong smell or not. My Grandmother is an artist and when I painted with her when I was young – we used rubber cement – I always thought it was so cool. :)

  14. [email protected] says

    Use Winston and Newton’s Watercolor Masking Fluid. It is non-toxic. I dip my brush in soapy water before dipping it in the masking fluid to keep my brush from getting ruined. It is a bit expensive, but you don’t need to use a lot of it for really amazing effects. Use rubber cement pick up erasers to remove the masking fluid. It is fun with pastels as well as watercolor. With pastel, be sure to spray the entire finished piece with workable fixative before you remove the masking fluid.

  15. Hannah says

    I’m still months away from having a daughter of my own, but I have been devouring your site, and this is my absolute favorite project. I’m going to make a batch of postcards using this technique. Maia’s color choices are fantastic!

  16. Shirley says

    I used this rubber cement technique with sponges and pigment ink. I put down one layer of drizzled rubber cement, after dry, applied a light coat of ink with a round sponge and repeated for several layers. Came out wonderful but I noticed that a residue of the cement remains in the paper and is now turning the “white” areas quite yellow. It will eventually break down the paper I am sure. Fortunately I digitally copied some of the papers and canuse the copies.
    Shirley

  17. Liss Dougan says

    Im wondering if this can be done with elmers glue on canvas just dont wwant to ruin a canvas to test it out :/

  18. says

    Kathy, you can use white PVA glue on fabric like a faux batik, then paint with fabric paint or inks, then throw it in the wash, which will get rid of the glue.

  19. [email protected] says

    A non toxic solution to this activity is to use Elmer’s Gel Glue. It’s blue and is very inexpensive. It works the same way and also works wonderfully when making Batik. I hope that this helps.

  20. Tasha says

    This is a really great idea and was wondering if it would work on canvas? Also is it available from art stores?