Making watercolour paper from local plant sources

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Watercolour paper is very important and pre-requisite to good results in watercolour painting. Its indispensability to the success of the art/painting programme in schools and colleges cannot be over-emphasized. But watercolour paper is scarce, unavailable, or expensive. This presents a grim picture of the future of watercolour painting, which is rather the handiest, quickest to be done and fastest selling of painting works. Due to its unavailability or scarcity in Ghana, most Senior Secondary Schools which offer picture- making, choose options other than watercolour work due to the problems stated above. This situation robs students of the knowledge and skills of this all important aspect of painting stifle their creativity in this field and limit their scope of choice of painting media. Yet it is possible to make watercolour paper locally from the denizens of plants in the environment, thus making it available and affordable for all who may need it especially students of art in schools and colleges in Ghana. This grim situation is what this project sought to address. Attempts were made to utilize parts of selected local plants to produce watercolour paper through experiments with them and tests of the papers produced were conducted with the watercolour medium as well as documenting the project as a first step towards solving the problem. The various experiments yielded fruitful results in most cases. It was discovered that most of the plants used were suitable for the production of watercolour paper. They produced strong, thick, textured and good light reflecting surfaces in most cases. The few that were too light to produce thick papers were good complementary material to other plants in combination papers produced. Results of the trial-testing revealed the effectiveness of most of the papers produced. Finally, it must be stated that watercolour paper can be made from most plants and sometimes the least expected plants produce the strongest and the best. The researcher does not lay claims to the finality of research in this field, this leaves room for other researchers to explore the many possibilities this area of study can unravel. This project is just a first step towards salvaging this grave situation. The potentials of these plants must be harnessed as a matter of urgency, into the production of watercolour papers locally, in Ghana.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts in Art Education, 2001