Flour Paste Resist

I have been trying out another resist technique recently, using flour paste as the resist medium. There is information available in books about this idea but detailed below is my method, which differs in some ways from the versions I have read about. I remember doing something like this as a primary school teacher when we ‘painted’ the flour paste onto a background and I certainly recall my Mum making me a flour and water glue when I was little, which really did stick paper to paper, even if it did make everything rather stiff!

For this example I am using a commercial stencil, one that I use a lot – pebbles. I’ve laid it onto some orange cotton sheeting – I think cotton, calico or any fairly robust fabric would be good for this technique.


I mixed up some flour and water paste in a bowl, beating hard to remove the lumps! I have read that the consistency should be like pancake batter but mine was quite a lot thicker – I wanted to spread it on, rather than have something runny which would drip off the stencil or soak right into the fabric. Beware, the photo below looks a real mess!


Peel off the stencil carefully and leave the flour paste to dry completely. This will probably take until the next day, even if you leave it in the sun to dry. It is really important that you let it dry fully as you will need to scrunch the fabric up and crack all the flour areas – in this case the pebbles.


When you have cracked your fabric thoroughly, paint it with brusho or dye, whichever you prefer or have prepared. Lay the piece on a piece of waterproof cloth or plastic while you do this and don’t worry if the dye ‘bleeds’ into the paste areas.




The piece now needs to dry again, preferably on the washing line as it may drip! Here are some other pieces I experimented with at the same time – pick the right day and they dry really quickly outside.


When dry here is my unorthodox way of removing the dried flower paste! Having tried picking the paste off with my finger nail (time-consuming and hard on the thumb nail!) and also washing the fabric in warm water (I lost clarity in my resist areas) I decided that scraping was the best way forward. In the picture you can see the fabric laid on a firm, flat board, being agitated with a sharp wallpaper scraper. This gets off all the dry matter quite quickly, although it does make a mess.


Below is the finished cloth, ready for ironing. I really like the effect, particularly for pebbles and I can see the potential to develop the idea. I also got some good results from simply laying strips of torn masking tape across the fabric before smothering with the flour paste. Another plus is that this is a cheap technique, all items ready to hand and no need to fret about getting it wrong!

flour paste pebbles.jpg





2 thoughts on “Flour Paste Resist

  1. Elaine,
    Love this technique. It is a shame you didn’t show us the finished piece on Monday. You are very clever!


    1. Sometimes the simple techniques are really effective. I have in mind (one day!) to make a very long, thin piece – something on a roll – to represent the SW Coastal Path. It will probably be either sixty three inches or sixty three centimetres long, so I have one small unit representing the six hundred and thirty miles. I thought that this flour paste resist technique would make a super backcloth to the entire piece – the crackled effect being great for pebbles, rocks, seaweed and shells.


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