Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Help > Smudge Proofing Your Work

Smudge Proofing Your Work

Everyone knows you should never rest your hand on the paper as you draw.  It’s one of the first things you learn as an artist.  So what do you do?  Most people will simply pick up a spare piece of paper to lay across your drawing so you can rest your hand while working with minimal smudging.  I’ve always used either a spare piece of sketch paper or a piece of ordinary paper from our copier.  Yet it seems no matter what I used I would end up smudging my graphite.  This caused me to have to redo certain areas and although frustrating, I accepted it as part of the life of an artist. But what if there’s a better way?  What if there’s a product that can not only protect your drawing paper from the oils of your skin but also allow you to rest your hand without causing smudges?  Let me introduce you to a wonderful little product that can do just that, it’s called “Glassine.”
  What exactly is glassine?
Glassine is a smooth translucent paper, without tooth, which is air, grease, and water resistant. It is the best paper for protecting delicate artworks, especially pastels and charcoal sketches.  – Miami Art Exchange
I first heard about glassine last year.  I was intrigued, but didn’t have the ability to purchase any at the time.  Knowing that it’s a “waxy” type paper I thought to myself maybe regular wax paper would work the same (and also be a cheaper alternative). Let me say right here, right now, no.  No wax paper is not a good substitute for glassine.  Don’t do it.   At first it seemed fine, other than the wax paper sticking to my hand when I’d try to move it.  The problem showed it’s ugly head after I’d been working on a graphite piece for about thirty minutes.  It seems the heat of my hand resting on the wax paper sort of melted the wax.  My graphite drawing had small deposits of wax here and there wherever my hand had rested on the wax paper.  It was a pain to try and erase and remove.  I will never do that again. Some time later I heard that glassine was a bit parchment like.  Again, that got me thinking.  I have baking parchment.  It’s not nearly as waxy as wax paper, it’s nice and smooth.  Why not give it a shot?  So I did. I will say the baking parchment was more successful in that it did not melt onto my paper.  However, the disappointment came when I noticed graphite sticking to the parchment causing smudges and smears.  Check that off my list.  No baking parchment.  Just no. Finally I was able to purchase some glassine. Glassine comes in rolls as well as individual packaged sheets.  I opted for the package of 12 sheets. Can I simply say I am in heaven?   This stuff is amazing!   It does not smudge graphite OR colored pencils.  I will also be testing it out on pastels shortly.  You can see through it as well.  I won’t say it’s totally clear, but very close.  Now I’m wondering how I ever got along without it?   The best part is, since it doesn’t pick up any of the graphite or colored pencil, you can reuse it over and over again on your work.   So there you have it!  If you want to work smudge free I highly recommend picking up some glassine.  You won’t be sorry you did! Until next time, Keep Creating!  
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