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Wheat Pasting - What is it?

First, let me give you the dictionary-ish definition of what wheat pasting is:

"Wheat pasting is a popular method of street art and guerrilla marketing that involves using a simple adhesive made from wheat flour and water to affix paper-based posters or artworks onto surfaces in public spaces. This technique has been widely used by artists, activists, and advertisers alike for its low cost, ease of application, and relative durability against weather conditions. Wheat paste adheres well to walls, utility poles, and other urban fixtures, allowing for the quick and semi-permanent installation of visual messages, art, or advertisements in areas with high visibility, thereby facilitating a form of communication that can be both impactful and accessible to a broad audience."

Thanks ChatGPT.

Ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with the look of wheat pasting. I like advertising and marketing, so I think this medium just goes hand-in-hand with being drawn to creative advertising.

It wasn't until this year I decided to try it out on my own. I'm totally hooked. It's an adrenaline rush. It looks beautiful. It's quick. It's messy. It requires a lot of pre-planning, similar to the type of photography I've always practiced. It's just a rewarding thing to look at once complete.

If you want to try it, here's the wheat pasting recipe I use, which I lifted from a New York Times article by Malia Wollan:


-To cook wheat paste, use 4 parts water and 1 part flour.

-Start by boiling your water.

-In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with enough cold water to create a lump-free goo, then pour this mix into the boiling water.

-Turn the burner down low, and stir continuously for 20 minutes.

-Remove from the heat, and stir another 10 minutes.

-Wait until cooled to use.

-Print your poster on thin paper so the paste can seep through, preferably 20-pound, uncoated bond paper.

-Once on site, use a wide paintbrush to add a layer of paste just slightly larger than your image.

-Press your poster into the paste, pushing out any air pockets.

-Paint another layer over the top to seal.

Keep in mind, even though this isn't permanent like graffiti, it still isn't legal unless you get permission. If you still want to try it, I recommend doing it on an impermanent structure, like a boarded up window or temporary sidewalk panel, but if you see a sign that says "Post no bills," they're talking to you... Good luck out there!


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