HOW TO MAKE WHEATPASTE
There are lots of ways to put up posters around town – and some of them work better than others. Wheatpaste is a cheap, easy, effective, and eco-friendly way to put posters up around your neighbourhood and make sure they will stay up for a bit.
Why wheatpaste posters rather than taping or stapling posters?
Many landlords and property managers do not like to see tenants getting organized and sharing information with their neighbours, especially the Keep Your Rent message. Some will try to tear down posters before your neighbours have a chance to read them. This is easy to do with posters that are taped or stapled, but hard to do for posters that are wheatpasted. Wheatpasted posters can stay up for many months and hold up even in rainy/snowy seasons for a while.
What is wheatpaste?
Wheatpaste is a “glue” made from flour and water that you can make at home! It goes a little something like this: 1) Put 4 cups of water in a pot on the stove on medium heat, 2) add 1 cup of white flour, 3) whisk or stir with a fork until it starts to thicken up. Some people add sugar to make it extra sticky. The consistency should be something like gravy – thick enough to coat a paintbrush but runny enough to pour! For more detailed instructions with pictures (including how to make a large batch), see this tutorial here.
How do I wheatpaste posters?
Fill up old yogurt containers, or a bucket, and grab a thick paintbrush from the dollar store. You can now walk around your neighbourhood and wheatpaste posters to almost any smooth surface. Wheatpasted posters stick better to concrete, metal, glass, or plastic surfaces, rather than wood. Try to find concrete telephone poles, metal hydro boxes, glass bus shelters, etc. in high traffic areas (near high rise apartment buildings, busy intersections, bus stops, grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.). Paint a good layer of wheatpaste onto the surface, press the poster to it, and paint another layer of wheatpaste over top. You can be quite generous with the wheatpaste.
Why wheatpaste over other glues?
It costs about 10 cents to make a batch of wheatpaste, which is really cheap compared to tape or glue. It is non-toxic and easy to make at home. It is also very effective – posters put up with wheatpaste can last a year outside. That also means that as it rains and water runs into the storm drains, wheatpaste isn’t a poison to fish and other creatures.
Is it safe to wheatpaste posters around town?
According to the Supreme Court of Canada, postering is legally protected free speech under Article 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Ramsden v City of Peterborough). This includes putting up posters with wheatpaste. That said, this only covers public property (such as hydro poles, traffic/utility boxes, etc), and you could potential face mischief charges for any damage to private property you cause while postering. It will also likely anger landlords who see you putting up posters, as you’re encouraging their tenants to hang onto their rent rather than hand it over to them. In this case, it’s good to be aware of your surroundings, be polite to people you encounter, pick times when fewer people will be out and about, and go with a buddy if possible. You are a smart, capable person who can make your own decisions and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of wheatpasting 🙂