Since late December, I've been playing with a new (to me) art supply called Dura-Lar Wet Media Film. The best description of this product comes right from the package: it is a clear acetate that has been treated on both sides to accept water-based mediums without the beading up, chipping, and running you get with traditional acetate. The affiliate links* you see in this post will take you right to the product on Amazon but if you are shopping for this stuff elsewhere, be aware that you'll also find "Dura-Lar Clear (or Matte) Film" on the shelves. It's made by the same company (Grafix) but not the same thing. Look for "Wet Media" on the package to ensure you're getting the specially-treated acetate. Some other properties: Dura-Lar Wet Media film lays flat, doesn't tear, is heat resistant and archival. (Remember that's "archival" right out of the package. What you add to it will change that...someday I might detail my thoughts on industry use of "archival" to draw in buyers. It's a word sort of like "organic": sounds great but not always all that true.)
So what can you do with this stuff? I've been using it to create uber-layered art journal pages. I bought a couple of sheets at my local art supply store just to experiment and I fell instantly in love! You can use acrylics, watercolors, markers, stamping inks (such as Staz-On), and sumi ink right on the film without those afore-mentioned problems of beading and chipping. Be aware that since the film is not porous, it takes a bit for wet media to dry (via evaporation.) Acrylics dry pretty fast as per usual but watercolors take much longer. I typically start with a layer of watercolors, let it dry overnight, and begin the serious playing in the morning. This product also accepts collage materials quite nicely. I just use decoupage glue to adhere papers. You definitely want an adhesive that dries clear.
The pages you see here are drowning in layers! I painted, stamped, and collaged on the page itself and on the back of the Dura-Lar. When I finally got to a look I liked, I simply glued the embellished Dura-Lar into my journal with more decoupage glue. Then I added a sumi ink sketch, more painting, stamping, washi tape, and stickers to the top of the Dura-Lar.
So what if you paint or stamp onto the film and hate the results? Just wipe it clean with a baby wipe or damp cloth, make sure it is completely dry, and start again. You can even wipe off Staz-On permanent stamping ink if you don't like something you've stamped or you want to reposition an image. Remember, once the wet media is dry, it won't rub off on your fingers. It only reactivates with the application of more wetness. (Note: When you brush more wetness [such as glue] over the top of dried stuff, you need to use a gentle hand so as not to reactivate and push around what you've already placed on the film.)
You could use this product like I have to create layers on top of existing journal pages or you could embellish some Dura-Lar and tip it onto a page stub to create a whole new page. Make your own custom transparencies! There are lots of possibilities!
- Thick layers of paint will scratch off if you dig at it with a sharp object or your fingernails. I used gouache to paint my flowers and had to keep the layer pretty thin. (Gouache is famous for cracking anyway in thick applications.) It is also important to keep your layers thin so you can glue the film flat to your journal page or other substrate. Generally speaking, once dry, I found the wet media applications very durable with normal touching and rubbing. When a piece of this stuff is glued down into a journal, it isn't really going to get roughed up unless directly across from something scratchy like say a brad or eyelet. And certainly, this issue is not a problem if all your paint work is trapped between the page and the back of the film.
- You can't use colored pencils or crayons directly on this stuff, even water-activated ones. You can paint first, let that dry, and apply pencil over the dry paint. If you look close, that's how I got the shading in my flower portraits.
- Dura-Lar is also a bit more expensive than standard clear acetate. However, I find that this is a product where a little bit goes a long way and if I really want to experiment with transparent layers, the non-beading property of Dura-Lar expands the range of materials that can be used on the surface.
- Another possible downside is the "shiny-ness." I don't mind how this looks in my journal but some might. It might be possible to blunt the shiny finish with a final layer of matte medium but I haven't tried this yet. I'll do some experimenting and edit this post with my results. There is so much I look forward to trying with this product!
Well, this post is reaching epic proportions so I will close for now. However, I will update this review as I continue to play.
* I am a Amazon affiliate which means that if you click on a product link at my blog and ultimately purchase something with that link, Amazon lets a bit of change tinkle my way. Please know that I only include links to books & products I have personally read and/or tested and that I can recommend.