Rubber Cement Resist with Watercolors

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Watercolor Resist Art with Rubber Cement

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

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

Rubber Cement Resist with Watercolors

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INSTRUCTIONS

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.

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Art

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.

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Art 

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Art

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Art

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.

How about you? Have you tried rubber cement resist?

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Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Art

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Our Cozy Little Book and Art Corner
    December 11, 2009 at 11:01 am

    very cool will have to pick up some watercolor paper and rubber cement this weekend!

  • Reply
    branflakes
    December 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I LOVE the colors! Just beautiful!

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle
    December 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Maureen
    December 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    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?

  • Reply
    char
    December 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Amy
    December 11, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    molly
    December 11, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    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. :)

  • Reply
    Kim
    December 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    There is a non-toxic rubber cement style product available. Its called Tri-Tix Rubber Cream Glue.
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/tri-tix-rubber-cream-glue/
    Great project!! Can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply
    Deborah
    December 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    December 11, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    December 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, I know. You wouldn’t be able to use it in a class setting.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    December 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    It says item unavailable. :( I’d love to try it. If anyone knows where to buy the Tri-Tix, please let me know!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    December 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Sounds like a fun project! I just got her Great Artist book from the library and look forward to seeing all the projects in it.

  • Reply
    Colleen
    December 12, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle
    December 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    b
    December 13, 2009 at 12:12 am

    there’s an idea, use boogers instead! lol.

  • Reply
    Amy
    December 15, 2009 at 12:28 am

    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.

  • Reply
    jackie
    January 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Michelle Heffner Bright & Shining Face Painting Baltimore, MD
    April 8, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Really really cool! Thanks so much for sharing :)
    I want that on a t-shirt!

  • Reply
    jen
    April 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    i totally love this!!! we’ll have to try it… outdoors ;)

  • Reply
    jen
    April 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    we tried this yesterday and it turned out really great! we linked to your post, too.
    check it out: http://paintcutpaste.com/rubber-cement-masking/
    thanks so much for the idea!!!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    April 15, 2010 at 2:48 am

    so pretty! love the colors!

  • Reply
    Heather
    April 22, 2010 at 9:24 am

    What a wonderful project! My kids would love this one; I think we’ll try it the next time we have a rainy day!

  • Reply
    Jane
    April 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    July 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    WOW!!!

  • Reply
    Meg Duerksen
    January 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    gogeous!

  • Reply
    Meg Duerksen
    January 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    i am sure you knew what i meant….goRgeous. :)

  • Reply
    Marie
    January 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    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. :)

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    March 7, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    June 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Shirley
    August 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    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

  • Reply
    Liss Dougan
    February 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

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

  • Reply
    jackie
    April 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Wow. Beautiful result. This is going on my to do list!
    : )

  • Reply
    kathy
    June 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    any ideas how to do this on fabric?

  • Reply
    lisa mitchell
    June 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Mike
    October 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Where can I get Rubber cement and watercolors from? Any suggestions of good local stores?

    • Reply
      Betty
      June 26, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      I get my rubber cement from Office Depot in Canada & my watercolor paints from Michael’s Art Supplies. HOWEVER! I am going to try the rubber cement on watercolor paper and just use inexpensive acrylic paint from the dollar stores!

  • Reply
    Tasha
    February 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

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

  • Reply
    Laura
    April 3, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Would this work on fabric, or would the cloth absorb the rubber cement?

  • Reply
    Jules
    May 13, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Great project! I’m looking at doing this with the kids from our little schools K – 3 class. I think I’ll need an alternative to rubber cement because of the toxicity issue. I’ve used a frisket, or masking fluid, as people referred to in previous comments, and it works satisfyingly well – I’ll probably use it. It’s absurdly expensive to buy the stuff as a watercolour supply, so here’s a hot tip: they sell the same stuff in larger quantities, for a fraction of the price at ceramics supply stores, as “latex resist”.

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