Studio Saturdays: Mixed-Media Technique Roundup

If you’re a regular visitor to ArtistsNetwork.com, you probably know that on Saturdays I share a quick step-by-step mixed-media technique and project with you. The series is called Studio Saturdays, and it began earlier this year as a fun way to help you kick off your weekend, sort of an incentive to flex those creative muscles. The posts started on the Cloth Paper Scissors blog, but recently moved here on ArtistsNetwork.com; if you missed any of the earlier posts, here is a mixed-media technique roundup of some of my favorites, with links. If there’s a project or technique you’d like to see featured, please leave it in the comments.

I’ve also done a couple of special Studio Saturdays, called Create Alongs, which are multi-part posts you can follow along with as I make a more involved project. We have another one coming up in a couple of weeks that I think you’ll like, so stay tuned!

Thank you for joining me and for being part of our weekend, and be sure to stop by next Saturday when I’ll have another project to help jump start your weekend.

Recycled mixed-media art: This miniature dress is one of my favorites. I made it out of stuff I had around the house—that’s always a fun challenge with a big payoff, and makes me feel like a Project Runway contestant. I used a rubber rug mat for the skirt, painting it with acrylic paint and using brads for buttons. The top is made from a vintage map (and it has darts!), the belt buckle is a watch part, and the overskirt is wrinkled up antique book pages.

Recycled mixed-media dress

This dress was made from things around my house and my stash of vintage found objects.

Using recycled materials forces you to see things in new ways and to think about how you can transform them. I discovered that a book spine makes a great belt, and cigar box labels can trim a blouse beautifully. Before you discard something, look at it carefully and see if you can give it another life. You can find this post here.

Recycled mixed-media dress

The blouse was created from a vintage map and cigar label, and the belt from a book spine and watch part.

Stitching on paper: Stitch is an integral part of mixed-media art, with artists adding hand and machine stitching in interesting ways to collage, art quilts, books, journal pages, and more. In this post I show how to add hand stitching to watercolor paper, and it’s one of my favorite techniques for a number of reasons: Stitching is an easy way to add color, texture, and dimension; the variety of threads and fibers offers lots to work with; and the stitches are both functional and decorative.

Stitched postcards

Embroidery thread and paper combine for a pop of texture and color.

For these postcards I created a colorful, abstract background, added a vintage photo, then sewed away, using basic stitches like a running stitch, French knots, and the lazy daisy. Even if you’ve never threaded a needle, try starting with something simple, like a running stitch—even a few rows of that can add that special element an artwork needs. Get the instructions for these colorful postcards here.

French knot stitches on paper

If you can create French knots on fabric, you can create them on paper as well!

Create Along travel journal: It’s no secret that I have a deep and abiding passion for making handmade books, so this three-part Create Along series on making a travel journal was especially wonderful. The project was based on Dea Fischer’s fantastic wrap-around travel journal with pockets in the September/October issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

Mixed-media technique for decorating travel journal covers

The covers of this travel journal can be decorated with almost any mixed-media technique.

I started by talking about tools and materials, then showed a few ways to decorate the Kraft•Tex covers using a variety of techniques, such as stenciling, doodling, and using image transfers. Finally, two binding variations were shown. I’ve since made more of these—they’re quite addictive and make great gifts. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Handmade wrap-around travel journal

Stash your supplies in the handy pockets and you’re ready to create art anywhere with this travel journal.

Mixed-media jewelry: Making jewelry is not just creative, it’s practical as well—you’re rewarded for your efforts with a great piece of wearable art. Creating necklaces, bracelets, and earrings is also a great excuse to use up scraps and interesting found objects, like tintypes, game pieces, and hardware bitsl. For this project I created a necklace, using collage and resin techniques for the pendant, and wire wrapping for the chain.

Mixed-media necklace

Creating mixed-media jewelry allows you to incorporate your favorite techniques, such as collage, painting, and assemblage.

I incorporated old book text and a vintage stamp for the pendant, and sari yarn and vintage buttons to give the chain a funky feel. Whatever your aesthetic—retro, vintage, modern, Bohemian—you can create jewelry perfectly suited to you and your wardrobe. No special skills are required to make basic pieces; usually a standard set of jewelry pliers and wire cutters are all you need to get started. Learn about this project here, and use any favorite mixed-media technique to create a one-of-a-kind piece.

Collaged pendant

The pendant was collaged, using vintage papers, and covered with resin.

Perfectly imperfect hand lettering: I’m no expert at hand lettering; in fact, I explained in this post that I’m a calligraphy workshop dropout, easily the worst student in every class I took. But I learned to embrace the funky side of hand lettering, and I’ve never looked back. I’m all about wonky spacing, wobbly lines, and crooked curves, because it looks like my artwork, and no one else’s.

Hand lettered recipe

Writing down recipes or food memories is a great way to practice hand lettering.

My favorite place to incorporate hand lettering is in my food journal, which includes recipes, food memories, and restaurant notes. Lots of words means plenty of opportunities for lettering, and I used my favorite guacamole recipe to show how easy it is to use a variety of mediums (pens, markers, and watercolor) to get great results. I look for lettering examples and techniques everywhere, especially our Lettering Lessons downloads, and then put my spin on things. Write up your favorite recipe or food memory in your art journal, using the tips here, and practice your lettering every day. I guarantee you’ll fall in love and embrace the wonkiness.

Hand lettering with watercolor

Adding color to hand lettering can spice it up.

To find more Studio Saturdays posts on ClothPaperScissors.com click here, and to read the most recent ones on ArtistsNetwork.com, click here. I hope your holidays are wonderful, and I’ll see you next week!

P.S. Here’s an outtake from one of my shoots, featuring my photobombing cat, Lola. She’s always had great fashion sense.

Cat photobomb!

Someone is ready for her closeup.

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