Dry Mounting Paper

Mounting specialty papers like watercolor paper, paper intended for dry media such as colored pencils or pastels and decorative paper like that designed for scrapbooking on a firm substrate opens the door to all sorts of creative possibilities.   The paper can be mounted either before or after painting.  The dry mount process described is suitable for mounting paper to any hard surfaces.

Supplies needed for the Dry-Mount Process

  • Surface  This demonstration shows Omni Artboard.  I also use this method for mounting paper to our  Masonite surfaces.
  • Watercolor paper or Decorative Paper cut slig
    htly larger than the surface to which it will be applied.
    RB Gilded Stenciling & Stamping Adhesive -  PH Neutral (better than acid-free)
    Small (2") dense foam roller*  You can use a larger roller but it will absorb more adhesive.  Available at any hardware store.
  • Rubber Brayer optional
  • Sharp Craft Knife & Cutting Mat


Make sure the surface is clean and dry.  Use the 2" roller* to coat the surface with RB Gilded Stenciling & Stamping Adhesive.  Make sure the coverage is complete and extends to all edges.  Place the roller in plastic wrap to hold it. Allow the adhesive to dry.  It will turn clear and be tacky to touch.  

Apply a coat of adhesive to the back of the paper surface as well and allow it to dry.  You can either clean the roller or discard it or make the most of it and find other things that you want to prepare  and coat those while you have an adhesive-filled roller at hand.

When the adhesive is dry hold the paper over (not touching) the exposed adhesive.  Begin in the center and smooth the paper onto the surface working toward the edges.  I use a rubber brayer because I already have those among my art supplies.  If you do not have one you can protect the paper with parchment or tracing paper and use a gift card to smooth the art paper toward the edges.  If using the brayer, apply firm pressure to make sure the paper bonds.  If using a card apply moderate pressure so that you do not damage the paper by scraping.

Creating a Clean Edge

Once the paper is adhered place the surface face down on a cutting mat.  Run the cutter or sharp craft knife along the edge of the surface so that the paper is trimmed flush with the edge.  The colored pencil design by Janelle Johnson, shown at left,   shows this method of adhering paper to a pair of arched panels.  A second example using the clean edge treatment is shown at right.  This design is also colored pencil by Janelle Johnson.  It is titled "Order in the Universe" and is mounted on ourOmni Artboard XL Lace Tile Surface.

Creating a Deckle Edge
To create a deckled edge you need to ear the paper.  Special rulers or templates are available for this but I typically use my fingers as a guide.  The paper may be torn before applying the adhesive or after mounting.

The finished watercolor paintings shown at the top of the page were mounted on Omni Artboard tiles after completion.  The excess paper was then torn away along the perimeter of the tile.

With the mounted paper face up, find the edge of the hard surface with your fingers.  Place you fingers along the edge to keep the paper from tearing too far into the painting.  Pull up on the paper that is being removed to expose a white edge.  A deckle edge mimics the irregular edge of handmade paper and is not straight.  Guide the tear with your fingers to produce the uneven edge.

Suggested uses for the dry-mount method

  • The dry-mount method lends itself to projects that will not get wet if the painting is not sealed or offered any protection.  Certain types of paintings or projects can be sealed for further protection.
  • Surfaces that may be harmed by moisture such as cardboard, matboard or paper work well as hard substrates.
  • Decorative mats can be created by dry-mounting paper to the front before cutting the mat.
  • Repurpose a sturdy box with nice form but marred by a logo or product text.  Don't you hate to throw those cute boxes away?
  • Cover books so they can be repurposed or use as a decorating element in your home.