What is Deli Paper?
In the last several years, “deli” paper become very popular with mixed media artists. It’s used for collage, art journaling, painting, gelli plate printing, and stamping. I have even printed digital images onto it for collaging into my art journal — you can read about that in this blog post.
It is a very thin, tissue-like paper, usually unwaxed or “dry” waxed — and is therefore relatively translucent. In fact, most deli paper almost completely disappears once adhered with acrylic matte medium or most glues. The paper is referred to as “deli” paper because its intended use is to wrap sandwiches, such as you would find in a delicatessen.
While “deli” paper is pretty easy to find in the U.S. (Amazon has all sorts), the word “deli” is American slang and means next to nothing in other countries. To add to the confusion, there are similar, yet different, and not as useful papers available and still, other papers called one thing in the U.S. and something else in the U.K. and Australia.
Deli Paper Characteristics
As I said above, the paper most commonly preferred for mixed media art and referred to as “deli” paper is”
- Very thin almost tissue-like
- Relatively translucent but not transparent. When dry, you can see through it a bit — but when used with acrylic matte medium or glue, it will almost disappear when adhered to a work surface of collage.
- Does not disintegrate when wet
- Sold as unwaxed or “dry waxed”
- Is sold in flat or folded sheets (either is fine)
I am definitely not an expert, and I know I can’t clear up all of the confusion around “deli” paper, but I can try to explain the different types of paper most people ask about when they can’t find something called “deli” paper.
Papers Not Suitable as a Replacement for Deli Paper
Tissue Paper — the kind you would use to wrap gifts — is very, very thin, tears very easily, and collapses on itself when it gets wet, so while there are lots of uses for it in art, it is not suitable for using with a gelli plate or adhering to a journal in collage unless you want it for texture.
Waxed Paper is very thin and coated with wax on both sides. Most commonly used in the kitchen, I use it in between pages of my art journal when I think they might stick together and it works as a paint palette, but it would not disappear in collage and is super slick, so paint probably won’t stick.
What we in the U.S. call Parchment Paper is not translucent and is made mostly of silicone — meaning it has quite a slick surface and can be heated to relatively high temperatures. That’s great for baking cookies, but not great for art unless you use it as a palette.
Deli Paper Alternatives
Again, I’m not an expert but these might work for you.
Tracing Paper is, in my opinion, a good option. It has a smooth almost parchment paper-like feel, but very good transparency. It’s available almost everywhere in pads or loose sheets.
Baking Paper, from what I understand, seems the closest equivalent to “deli” paper in the U.K. and Australia — although I have also seen it referred to as parchment paper. Confusing, right? If you live in one of these countries, or any other country for that matter — I’d love to know about your experience with baking paper.
Collage Paper — at least the product sold by Dina Wakley, is an excellent alternative, although (compared to the cost of deli paper in the U.S.) a bit expensive. It’s sold in packs of twenty sheets and is lovely to stamp and make marks on and can handle lots of paint, just as deli paper does, it virtually disappears when adhered to your surface.
I have several rolls of a similar collage tissue by Tim Holtz’s ide-ology line. It doesn’t seem to be available on Ranger’s site or Amazon, but you might get lucky and find it in a local craft store.
I hope I’ve helped even a little bit! If you have found other alternatives to deli paper, please leave a comment below.