Fixing Tears in Paper

Fixing Tears in Paper

Tears in paper where you don't want them often feels like a ruined piece! Before you get frustrated and toss it, here's a few tips on how to fix them.

Repairing Tears

Most tears can be fixed with simple white (Elmer's) glue. Flatten the paper out on a clean, dry surface, printed side (or the side you want to create on) down. Press and wrinkled paper down and apply a flat weighted object (see my post about removing creases from paper if needed). Once flattened, apply thin layers of white glue to the back of the paper over the tear, letting them thoroughly dry between each application. You should only need about 2-3 applications.

If the tear is a significant size, after doing the above but before the last application of glue dries, apply a patch of white* tissue paper (the stuff often found in gift bags) or rice paper (the kind you blot your skin with, not eat), let that dry and then apply 1-2 more thin layers of glue over the patch and well beyond the edges. You can add more than 1 layer of tissue paper if repairing thicker paper. 

Allow everything to thoroughly dry then add a flat weighted object significantly larger than the patched area and let sit for 24hrs.

*Colored tissue paper may bleed into the paper and stain it

Repairing Holes

To repair holes, the above works well unless it's thick paper. At that point, you can follow the above instructions but you may have a "paper pot hole" as I like to call them, on the side you want to, or already had, created something on.

For these, I will take paper of the same thickness to fill it in or build up a few layers of tissue paper and glue till it's the same thickness as the surrounding paper. However, I will recommend Mod Podge for this as that's what it was designed for. After I repair it, I'll fill in the missing art or blend it in as best as possible, and then apply a thin layer of paper seal (Mod Podge Hard Coat) to the entire piece.

What not to use these methods on:

  • Copier paper
  • Construction paper (as it's loose weave will often fall apart further)
  • Glossy paper
  • Anything printed with ink older than 5 years (they will most likely run)
  • News print paper (the glue will make a stiff patch that may discolor the paper)
  • Paper older than 10 years (paper degrades over time and this may cause the paper to have a patch that you cannot apply art mediums to)
  • Canvas paper

As always, I hope this helps with your prop making and/or saving!

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