Learn the Basics of Mixed Media

by Kassy Tousignant

Learn the Beginning Basics of Mixed Media

The world of mixed media has exploded over the last several years. I have to admit, I have caught the bug and there’s no turning back. Have you seen an altered 3-D object or canvas with many textural elements and just wondered how the artist created it? I am always trying to pick things apart and figure out how they are made. I love the challenge of reproducing a cool effect or technique and even more, I love when unexpected results lead to something better than I couldn’t have imagined.

There are many different tools and supplies to use in this area of artistic expression. It can get overwhelming especially if you are just starting out. I’m going to break it down for you and give you a list of supplies to get started and maybe a few tried and true techniques to help your imagination take off!

Let’s break down some basic elements of Mixed Media!

Surfaces

First, you need a substrate, which is the surface on which you are going to create. It can be paper, wood, fabric, metal or canvas. Here I have a paper tag and a canvas board. There are no limits on what type of substrate you can work on—the only limit is your imagination.

Gesso

If you have a cool idea for a mixed media project, it is helpful to gesso your substrate. Gesso generally comes in clear, white or black and is used to prime the surface. It is not acrylic paint. Gesso prepares your surface so that when you spray, paint, or stamp on it later, all pigments will behave the same way every time. When you are working on different surfaces like paper, fabric, glass, chipboard, metal, resin, the best way to ensure your pigments are going to behave the way you expect is to cover everything with a layer of gesso first. It presents a neutral ground and you will have much better results.

Gesso applied to a canvas with a flat tipped brush.

Coat your surface with a nice layer of gesso to prepare it for texture and pigment. Don’t forget to let it dry before moving on.

Texture Paste

Copper metallic creative medium and shimmer creative medium with palette knives.

Texture is a wonderful aspect of creating mixed media art. Texture allows the viewer’s eye to wander to all the fine details of the project. To create texture, you will need a type of texture paste and a palette knife. To make structured texture elements, you’ll also need a stencil or two. For each of these 3 items, there is a considerable amount of variation of product to chose from. Let’s start with texture paste. I’ll break them up into two broader categories. There is a gel, which comes in different finishes (glossy, semi-gloss, matte) and thicknesses. Imagine makes a great gel paste called Creative Medium. It comes in different metallic colors, iridescent colors, and clear. Gels that have a gloss finish tend to resist pigments when dried on a surface. This can be useful when the shiny resist effect is desired. Then there is modeling paste. These tend to be good as a strong adhesive for heavier objects. It is opaque and less flexible than gel. To spread these pastes, you need some palette knives. They come in different shapes and they are usually either plastic or metal. Both types of palette knives work well and it mainly comes down to a preference of the artist and the type of stencil you are working with.

Scoop some of the texture paste, in this case Creative Medium, out of it’s container with a palette knife. Spread it over the stencil on to your surface ike you are icing a cake. You don’t need to cover your entire surface or use the entire stencil, just spread it where you want it. Lift off the stencil and let dry before moving forward.

Pigments

Finally, you get to add color! You have prepped your substrate and now it is ready to receive the colors and inks to create a theme and mood. Whether it is paint or ink, the pigments and colorants come in all types of mediums such as water-based, solvent-based or oil-based. Tsukineko and Imagine offer a variety of inks that work wonderfully with mixed media art. Imagine has Fireworks and Walnut ink sprays, irRESISTible colored texture sprays, and Pico embellishers. Tsukineko’s All-Purpose Ink is a rich dense pigment ink that can be used as a wonderful colorant. Depending on what you are creating and what effect you are trying to achieve there are many colorants to get your desired effect.

Now that your surface is prepped and textured, you get to add color—my favorite part. Have fun!

Check out more of Kassy’s awesome mixed media projects on YouTube!

 

The Elements of Design for Crafters

by Melissa Andrew

See what design elements make a cardmaking project pop!

There are simple principals papercrafters and mixed media artists can follow to create gorgeous designs. If you think about the cards, scrapbook layouts, and canvases that you love, what are the defining elements? In the crafting industry, you hear words and phrases like “clean and simple, monochromatic and layered” which refers to a style or technique. But, the simple fact is that the creations you feel the most attracted to have one thing in common–good design.

See what design elements make a project pop!

Color

Whether it’s a bright and bold piece or a soft and subtle piece, color can either draw you in or send you flying. Let’s start with the color wheel. A color wheel itself is quite appealing and often in papercrafting, you see the use of rainbows as a part of the concept. But let’s talk about colors that can be put together to really entice your audience to want more.

Some of my favorite crafters use these complimentary colors so beautifully that it’s hard to look away. Complimentary colors are those opposite of each other on the color wheel. Card designs with blue and orange, red and green or purple and yellow paper colors or matching inks tend to stand out. When applying color theory to your project, remember not to think of these colors in a rigid way. Blue can have many hues and saturation such as turquoise, sky blue, and teal so the compliment is not a static orange but a coral, light orange, or yellow-orange. There are many tools and color charts to help you explore color theory. See the links below for Imagine’s article on the subject.

Texture

The human eye is amazing. We can naturally pick up details that are difficult to explain. Often in mixed media, the main goal is to create texture and detail to allow the eye to get lost in the magic of wandering around the design. You begin with a plain flat canvas and you add various elements to create patterns of smooth and rough or raised and flat. Another point of interest with texture is the desire to reach out and touch an element on a piece of artwork. In the image above the “you” die cut has a layer of Creative Medium in Shimmer to give a shiny texture from the rest of the card. There are a number of products that help achieve texture in card making or scrapbooking. A few of my favorite are Creative Medium, irRESISTible and even the use of fabrics on a card or scrapbook page. If you are curious about the photo above then see the full tutorial.

Shape and Form

Shape and form can go hand in hand when it comes to making a craft or a piece of art. Whether it is a square, star, heart, circle, or diamond, the shape is clear to identify and the list of possibilities is endless. Form has to do with dimension which can be another rabbit hole to explore. In paper crafting, shading an image, adding foam tape to a layer, or making a pop-up gives a project a 2D or 3D effect. Together, shape and form can change the whole appearance of a card and make it more visually appealing. In the photo above, the card has three layers–the hearts and sequins on the top, the pink linen layer has the large circles cut out in the middle, and “too sweet” sentiment and heart-shapes stamped on the base working in harmony to maximize visual interest.

Line and Space

When you hear people who design for a living speak about “line” they typically mean the addition of lines to add framing, cohesion or emotion. In card making, you often see people adding layers of paper. Layering can add little boxes to a design or layout that is an effective way to make a sentiment more noticeable. Or you might see hand-drawn doodles or stitching that has the same effect. Even a simple ribbon on a card can add a subtle line that says I’m finished, clean and organized. This line creates …. space! Space can be an important aspect as it really sets up the whole design. If too many elements are spaced oddly on a card the eye will not know where to focus. A quick and easy rule to remember is odd numbers tend to look better. If you’d like to add bling, try doing so in sets of three. This can often bring balance to your space.

Resources

Understanding these basic principals and using them to create a beautiful card, layout or canvas can help you love your artwork even more. These rules aren’t meant to constrain an artist but are intended to give you a place to start and to give you confidence. Try to keep the few principals in mind when creating and watch your creations be transformed.

Color Theory

What Ink Should I Use

Cutting Tools

Embossing Basics

Helpful Tips and Tricks: How to Take Amazing Photos of Craft Projects

by Martha Lucia Gomez

Helpful Tips and Tricks: How to Take Amazing Photos of Craft Projects

With the ever-growing popularity of social media platforms, particularly Instagram, crafters have been talking about how to take better photos of our projects. Since not all of us are professional photographers, and we don’t all have “the perfect tools”, I would like to talk about how to take great photos of your work without having to be a pro-photographer.

Style your photos creatively

These are important elements to focus on when taking a photo of a project:

  • the backdrop or background
  • main focus – which is always your project
  • props or supporting elements to make the focus shine
  • the camera

Backgrounds

With clear and simple photos you need to have a neutral base or background, like white, grey, ecru, cream or even brown tones like wood. Since most of us don’t have professional lighting, set your background up where it is in natural light, and make sure it is a large enough base to place your card or project. Try using dark colors in the background to help the project colors pop.

You can set up your background so that your project can be laid flat or standing up. I find that I can capture more details by taking photos of my cards flat on a surface with the camera located directly above it. Also, if you have a small space to take your photos, this option is perfect because it requires less space and can make it easier to incorporate other elements.

With flat photos, remember your backdrop is the most important part. If you are creative you don’t need to buy expensive elements, you can use everyday household items and surfaces as the background. The most important thing is to keep in mind the colors and textures. A brightly colored element next to your project can round out the scene and support the focal point, but being able to use it as the background will be trickier, tho can work on occasion.

You can use wood surfaces, floor boards, ceramic tiles or designer textured papers, as well as other supplies to add some depth to the photos. You can also use elements like designed plates, which can be easily found in home decor stores. My favorite is HomeGoods because I can buy just one plate, placemat or napkin. Neutral colored fat quarters found at the fabric store is another cheap option.

Supplies or Photo Props

With staging photos, it is nice to add a few elements alongside your card or project—but these cannot compete with the main focus object i.e. your crafting project. You can use many items as photo props. I use a lot of flowers and greenery, my favorites are made of silicone because the fabric flowers don’t look real to me. But definitely, my favorites photo props are the craft supplies. Supplies like inks, stamps, stencils, color pencils or markers, and die cuts are perfect elements to support your project. Extra embellishments like buttons, sequins, washi tape and twines are also great, but always be careful with the color combinations. My suggestion is to start with the neutral items first that won’t compete with your project. If you still aren’t finding what you like, just look around your home and you might find gorgeous elements that you can borrow for a few minutes as part of your photo.

Camera

With today’s technology, you really don’t need to have a professional camera. Cell phones like the iPhone or Samsung make it possible to take amazing photos. To make them work best, use natural light source and keep an eye out for any shadows across your photo. Also, think about a good angle to take the photo. Always start by making your lens parallel to the project front, and then play with the angle from there. My last helpful hint is very simple but important: always clean the lens of your camera or phone before taking the photos. Because we touch our phones so often it is easy for the lens to become dirty.

I hope you found these tips useful. Just remember to stay open to learning new ideas and most importantly have fun! Thank you for stopping by the Imagine blog and don’t forget to share!

See What Craft Supplies Our Artists Recommend for Weddings

See What Craft Supplies Our Artists Recommend for Weddings

There are so many kinds of craft projects that would successfully create a DIY wedding. We see all sorts of fabulous ideas on Pinterest and highlights from crafter’s blogs that blow our minds. We decided to ask our Artists in Residence (and some members of the Imagine team) to recommend their favorite Tsukineko or Imagine products to use in wedding cardmaking and crafting. Here is what they had to say!

Product Recommendations

3 Votes for Delicata!

Steph Ackerman

I recommend Delicata in Celestial Copper and Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Clear. This metallic pigment ink creates a beautiful effect on vellum. For further detail add a touch of color with Memento Markers to coordinate with the colors of the bridal party. The full-size inkpad should be enough to create a large number of cards and this ink has an inker available. So if you are creating more than usual then purchase the inker with the large inkpad.

Nadine Carlier

Delicata in White Shimmer and Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Iridescent on black cardstock is a great combo. For a video tutorial, I created this gorgeous black and white themed wedding invitation card. If you need the extra shimmery wedding then spray some Sheer Shimmer Spritz Sparkle. Watch Nadine’s video.

Jowilna Nolte

I recommend using All-Purpose Ink Pale Mint Green and Delicata in White Shimmer on top, all on a pearly cardstock. One lovely stamping technique I recommend for making an invitation would be to use a layered stamp set like you would find in the Altenew collection.

Shop Delicata

 

3 Votes for Embossing Powders!

Jennifer Vanderbeek

Gold and silver embossing powder is the best way to bring a touch of elegance. If you don’t have time to DIY it all, a touch of gold or silver embossing on your paper goods can elevate purchased items with a bit of pizazz.

Melissa Andrew

I really love Imagine’s Embossing Powders on vellum. I love a beautiful soft look for weddings and a gorgeous embossing powder on or under vellum is simple yet stunning. The beautiful colors, gold or silver, are the perfect colors to represent long-lasting love. They seem to compliment any colors a bride would choose. VersaMark ink is a great ink for embossing because of it’s tacky qualities. 

Arjita Sepaha Singh 

For an Indian wedding, perspective red is the color! Red is considered auspicious and adding Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Gold will be like a match made in heaven.

Shop Embossing

2 Votes for Creative Medium!

Kyriakos Pachadiroglou

I recommend Creative Medium in any of the Iridescent colors as a great way to create backgrounds that are not visible at first sight, giving an elegant and festive style with a distinctive glamour.

Martha Lucia Gomez

I enjoy Creative Medium in Clear and created a floral design using a watercolor technique with Fireworks Shimmery Craft Spray and Memento dye inks. See the full tutorial for this card. 

Shop Creative Medium

2 Votes for Sheer Shimmer Spritz!

Roni Johnson

For wedding projects, there’s nothing I like more than Sheer Shimmer Spray to add a touch of elegance, sparkle, and shine. It comes in 6 different colors, perfect to match any theme the bride and groom have chosen. Sheer Shimmer Spray can make plain white sparkle and they make colored backgrounds really pop! 

Marcie McCabe

My recommendation is Sheer Shimmer Spray in Sparkle and Fireworks Craft Spray in the colors of the wedding party. 

Shop Sheer Shimmer Spray

 

1 Vote for Fireworks Sprays

Iris Rodriguez

I recommend Fireworks Shimmery Craft Sprays for crafting in wedding decor. It can be hard to match the right colors for wedding decor. Since Fireworks is available in 24 colors and is a dye-based ink, you can choose one of the colors or blend colors to make the desired color. For example, to make a simple cork place card holder (in photo above), add a paper flower embellishment and color it with Fireworks! It’s elegant, inexpensive and personal. To make a zero waste wedding, make a wreath by attaching all remaining cork place card holders and flowers to a frame.

Shop Fireworks!

2 Votes for VersaFine Clair

Kassandra Tousignant

I recommend a delicate floral background stamp on paper with Sheer Shimmer Spray in Sparkle. In the photo above, I layered the paper with an acrylic sheet on top stamped with VersaFine Clair inked “It’s Your Special Day” sentiment. 

 Amanda Harryman

For those who don’t want to emboss, but want a touch of that elegant look, I would recommend Delicata in Golden Glitz or Silvery Shimmer depending on colors or preferences. I can also say that I would recommend VersaFine Clair in Nocturne, or other wedding colors, to use for the return address stamp on invitations since it will stamp the details clearly, and be smudge-proof quickly.

Shop VersaFine Clair

How to Make Wedding Flowers from Coffee Filters

by Jennifer Vanderbeek

How to Make Wedding Flowers from Coffee Filters pink roses

Flowers are one of the most expensive parts of weddings and yet it’s difficult to picture a modern wedding without copious amounts of them. When I got married I had far more time than money (we had a two-year engagement) so I used that time to craft all the paper goods, decorations including the flowers and even part of my wedding dress. In this video, I’ll show you how to make four types of flowers out of coffee filters that I’ve dyed with Fireworks Craft Spray and Walnut Ink, making them completely customizable to your wedding, shower, or party theme, as well as how to turn them into boutonnieres and small bouquets.

 

Supplies

Imagine
Other
  • Coffee Filters
  • Clover – Water Spritzer
  • Darice – Heat Tool
  • Fiskars – Scissors
  • Floral Wire
  • Floral Tape
  • Ribbon

How Did You Get Interested in Papercrafting?

by Amanda Harryman

Four handmade invitations for a baby boy baby shower or sprinkle featuring a fox image from Lawn Fawn..

The Beginner

I know so many started when they were kids, but in my family, we mostly did crafts of the fabric and yarn varieties. Years ago when my BFF (who happens to be my cousin) was planning her wedding, she decided we should make the invites. She was lucky enough to have a co-worker and friend who was able to induct us into the world and showed us some basics that made our first foray into papercrafting a success! I wasn’t able to find an image of that first invite, but my BFF and I continue to papercraft together, often in the form of invitations and programs for happy events.

Best thing about your best friend being your cousin is you have a BFF for life!

Baby Sprinkle

The next happy event is a “sprinkle” for my BFFs second bundle of joy. What’s a sprinkle you ask? It’s what you throw when you don’t really need all the gifts from a shower, but you want to celebrate the arrival of your child anyway! This will be our first invitation project after I started work here at Imagine. It was so exciting to know the best inks to use and to have learned so many fun techniques from all our Artists in Residence! Speaking of our artists—I must have been thinking about this project when we decided to challenge our Artists in Residence this month with “multiples of”. My favorite part of challenging artists…they never do what you think they will do! From Kassy’s Bear Hugs card where she stamped the same image multiple times for a fun tone-on-tone card, to Jennifer Vanderbeek’s stunning example of generation stamping with VersaFine Clair. (Oh man, do I wish I had some VersaFine Clair when I was making my multiple invitations!) I love to see everyone’s take on a few simple words.

Back to the Invites

My cousin knew she wanted a little fox image for the invite and of course, she found an adorable fox from Lawn Fawn. We set a date for planning them out and I found these pre-cut non-traditional card bases I had bought years ago from a store that no longer exists that I thought I would offer up as an idea even though I knew I didn’t have enough for all the invitations we would make. (For anyone in the PNW – how much do you miss The Paper Zone?!) Let’s be honest – these card bases were probably at least a decade old. My BFF shows up with her ideas and she presents an identical set of card bases, bought at the same place at the same time as me, but in blue. We were one big circle punch away from what we think was a pretty cute design in the end.

I used my trusty VersaFine Onyx Black for the fox image and watercolored in with Memento ink. I did all my other stamping in StazOn, because when you are making a bunch of invitations, you don’t want to worry about smudging when you stack them up. StazOn’s quick dry time was perfect. I tried my hand at some lettering with my Memento Markers. I’ll admit some were more successful than others! But now it’s time to have a fun afternoon celebrating and then wait for the big day when we welcome Jakob into this world.

Please do tell us the story of how you fell in love with taking paper, ink and a few other supplies and turning it into something to treasure!

Comment Below!