Tissue Paper Collage: Exploring the Therapeutic Benefits

Creating Tissue Paper Collages

Tissue paper is a versatile and vibrant art medium that can be highly beneficial in therapy sessions. Not only does it encourage the exploration of colors and materials, but it also provides an opportunity for experimentation and a focus on the creative process. Personally, I find working with tissue paper to be a liberating experience as it pushes me to embrace abstraction and let go of specific outcomes.

Materials You Will Need

To get started with tissue paper art, you will need the following materials:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Glue (liquid adhesive preferred)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Cardstock or watercolor paper

When using glue, I recommend using a matte or gloss medium, white liquid glue like Elmer’s, or Modge Podge. Applying a final layer of medium is also recommended, unless you want certain parts of the artwork to remain soft and upright. While glue sticks can be used to hold the tissue paper, they offer a different effect.

Why Try Tissue Paper Art?

Vibrant colors and layers

One of the most appealing aspects of tissue paper art is the wide range of rich and vibrant colors available. As you layer the tissue paper, the underlying pieces shine through, resulting in visually stunning art with captivating effects.

Encourages play

Many of us remember crafting with tissue paper as children, but few continue to utilize it as a creative outlet in adulthood. Engaging in tissue paper art can evoke those joyous childhood memories and provide a much-needed opportunity to play, which is essential for personal growth, even among adults.

Cultivates creativity and experimentation

Since tissue paper is an unconventional medium, it encourages experimentation and allows for the exploration of new artistic techniques. Engaging with something novel and different requires us to step outside our artistic comfort zones, leading to increased creativity and a fresh perspective on the artistic process.

Emphasizes the process

The unpredictable nature of tissue paper art compels us to stay present in the creative process, rather than fixating on a predetermined outcome. It serves as the perfect platform to practice mindfulness, listen to our creative intuition, and adapt as we go along.

Encourages abstraction

For those naturally inclined towards representational or symbolic art, tissue paper can serve as a gateway to the world of abstraction. Embracing the abstract allows for heightened self-expression and an inner journey of self-discovery.

Inspires letting go of perfectionism

Controlling tissue paper is no easy task! Even if you carefully cut out shapes, the process can be challenging. Engaging in tissue paper art provides an excellent opportunity to practice letting go of expectations, embracing the fascinating imperfections that emerge.

Tissue Paper Art Directives

If you’re looking for specific art therapy directives to incorporate tissue paper art into your sessions, consider the following ideas:

Make a torn tissue paper collage

Encourage clients to create an open-ended tissue paper collage. Although this prompt might initially make some clients uncomfortable, it often leads to interesting, process-oriented work. Tearing the paper instead of using scissors promotes problem-solving skills, fosters acceptance of limitations, and allows for delightful serendipity.

Create a picture that represents your emotions

Begin by selecting colors that correspond to the client’s current emotions. Using tissue paper, create a collage that visually expresses these feelings. This directive provides a powerful tool for emotional exploration and expression.

Craft a tissue paper mandala

Start with a cut-out circle and employ tissue paper to construct a mandala. For recurring patterns or shapes, fold the tissue paper several times to create multiple layers, then cut out the desired shape. This directive allows for a meditative and focused artistic experience.

Explore mixed media doodling or intuitive drawing

Begin by arranging overlapping shapes of cut or torn tissue paper on the paper. Once the glue has dried, add additional artistic elements such as paint, Sharpies, or oil pastels. Consider doodling by filling different sections with lines and patterns. For an intuitive drawing, look for an initial image and embellish it to highlight and create a finished artwork.

Remember, these are just a few examples of the endless possibilities tissue paper art presents. I encourage you to experiment with different techniques and applications. For further inspiration, check out this board on Pinterest.

Share Your Experience

Have you explored tissue paper art in your own practice or therapy sessions? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. Feel free to share examples of your own tissue paper art on your Instagram, Facebook, or website. I’m excited to see your creations!

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Note: Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR is an art therapist in Austin, Texas. This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not replace professional training in art therapy, play therapy, or child and family therapy. Be sure to consult with qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice.