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How Do You Get Paper To Tear Where You Want It To?

Information courtesy of Sugarloaf Products, Inc

We’ve all had it happen. You have that one great, perfect color, piece of paper, you want torn edges, and woops… the paper tears just where you were hoping it wouldn’t!

Here are a few simple tricks that will help make that paper cooperate! You will get a different look depending on which trick you use.

Tear paper where you want it to1 - One of the first things that will help is to know the grain of the paper. I’m sure you’ve noticed that sometimes paper will tear in a straight, even, just where you want it to, line. Then the next time, it seems to go all jagged. That is completely due to the grain, or how the paper was manufactured.

2 - To find the grain, apply slight pressure to the edges of the paper with the palms of your hands. The paper will give easily if you are pushing with the grain. It will resist slightly if you are pushing against the grain. Try it with several pieces of paper and you will see.

3 - There are a couple of things you can do to get your paper to cooperate! Of course, you can always tear paper with a ruler. Sometimes you may want to have a tear that looks very clean and smooth. Keep this option in your bag of tricks.

4 - Most of the time, I want a tear that is a little more natural looking. If you’re tearing with the grain… no problem. If you’re trying to get a more even, but not perfect, tear against the grain… Tear along your hand.

5 - Place your hand on the paper and apply slight pressure. Tear the paper against your first finger, a little at a time. Think of your first finger as a ruler! Move your hand as needed.

6 - Another trick is to wet the paper with a pointed brush and clean water. Draw a line of water with your brush where you would like the tear to be. The thicker the paper the longer it will take to soak through the paper. When you see the water line on the back of your paper it is ready to be pulled apart.

7 - The brush and water option has several variations. If you paint a wide line and allow it to soak in only half way, then pull it apart, the effect will be more layered. If the line is very wet and is wet to the back of the paper, the look will be more controlled.

8 - Practice allows you to see how the water affects different papers and different paper weights.

9 - One last trick… when you wet your torn edge with clean water then touch dye based marker, or a brush with watercolor on it, to the edge, the water will pull the color into the edge of the paper and create a perfect deckled look.