Paper craft project no. 70: THANKFUL mixed media collage


Nothing makes me happier than being in that moment when I’m creating a mixed media project. This one’s no different. I started working on it around 7 p.m. Sunday night.  I usually have an image in my head of what a particular mixed media artwork is going to look like before I start on it. For this one, I knew several things: (1) I wanted to incorporate the emboss resist technique; (2) I wanted an autumn-themed project; (3) I wanted to use as many media as I could — Distress inks, sprays, gelatos, alcohol inks, modeling paste; and (4) I wanted to use supplies I already have on hand.

I usually work on my mixed media projects standing up because my supplies tend to be in different places. Besides, walking between my craft table in the living room and the bedroom helps me plan my next steps — plus it clears my head. This collage took me about 5 hours to finish because I simply went with the flow — I let myself just enjoy the process without over-thinking what I was doing or censoring myself. I wanted to see where my creative mojo tonight was going to take me, so I took photos of each step I did in the process.

Be warned: this post is very long because I’m including lots of photos showing how I made this mixed media collage. If you’d like to create something similar, the photos should be able to help you do so. And feel free to use any supplies you have on hand. All supplies I used are already in my stash; I didn’t buy any new supplies for this project. For my substrate, I used a 9″x12″ 140-lb cold-pressed watercolor paper from Canson, but you can use whatever you like — cardboard, cardstock, canvas panel, wood, etc.

STEP 1: I randomly stamped a couple of leaves (JustRite) all over in tuxedo black ink (Memento).


: I cleaned the same stamps and then used Versamark watermark ink to stamp them again randomly all over.  (Well, I didn’t clean one of the stamps too well because you can see a couple in faint black ink. That’s okay, though.) I stamped a little over the inked images so there’s some overlapping. I sprinkled clear embossing powder (Zing!) and then heat embossed. (Note: I could have divided my area in 3 and then embossed in sections, but I’m too lazy and impatient so I stamped like a mad woman and did the embossing in one go.)


STEP 3: I sponged a light colored ink (old paper Distress ink) so some areas will have color.


: I sponged and blended 4 different Distress inks (mustard seed, spiced marmalade, dried marigold, and barn door) all over. Notice how the clear embossed areas resisted the inks. I love this technique!


: I randomly stamped a script stamp (Stampers Anonymous) in sienna ink (Ranger) all over the page. (This particular stamp has been put to really good use — I don’t bother cleaning it anymore since I use it a lot in my mixed media projects. I just stamp off the ink on scrap paper and toss it in the zip lock bag where I keep my go-to texture stamps.)


STEP 6: I took my vintage photo Distress ink (my favorite!) and sponged on the areas where I stamped the script to make it look like it blended into the background.


STEP 7: One of the things I love about Distress inks is that they react to water. So I spritzed a little water all over the page to create water marks and splotches.


STEP 8: I can’t go creating a mixed media project without using modeling paste! I love the stuff, and I typically use it with masks and stencils but I thought for this one, I’d use it to create a bit of texture. So with my palette knife, I applied some on the sides to create a border. Modeling paste is slow drying. I thought I could wait half an hour (silly me!), but after 5 minutes, I decided to hasten the drying process with my heat tool.


STEP 9: I LOVE gelatos (they even look yummy enough to eat!) and like modeling paste, I can’t go about creating a mixed media project without using some!  So I rubbed some gelatos, (mango, lemon, red cherry, tangerine, and black licorice) along the edges of the page and did a lot of rubbing and blending.  The gelatos over the dried modeling paste gave the edges a really nice texture.


: I crumpled 3 paper doilies, distressed them with Distress inks (wild honey, vintage photo), and spritzed a little bronze (Ranger Perfect Pearls Mists) to make them shimmer. I used my heat tool to set and dry the inks.


STEP 11: For decoupaging, Liquitex gloss gel is my favorite to use. I decoupaged the doilies onto my page. I didn’t completely decoupage them down, as I wanted the edges of the doilies to be sort of sticking out of the page.


STEP 12: I got these fall leaves from the dollar store and they’ve been in my stash for weeks. I picked several in different sizes and shades then applied a bit of modeling paste on them.


STEP 13: After about 10 minutes of drying the modeling paste on the leaves (mostly using my heat tool), I spritzed the leaves with the bronze mist again. Then I applied drops of Adirondack alcohol inks (sunset orange, sunshine yellow, watermelon) on the leaves and then dried them with the heat tool.


STEP 14: I found pieces of scrap paper and cheese cloth and stuck them on my page using gel medium. (I also sprayed some lime green Dylusion ink over the cheese cloth to give it a bit of color other than the reds and oranges.)


STEP 15: I used a glue gun to adhere the leaves.


STEP 16: I was going to use chipboard for the words “thankful” but I couldn’t find them. I did find some wooden letters (Pink Paislee) so I decided to use them instead of trying to hunt for chipboard letters. I colored them with Distress inks (barn door and walnut stain).


: I thought I’d try something I haven’t tried before — using clear embossing powder on wood. I wanted the letters to have some shine in them, like they’re varnished. So I pressed each letter on Versamark, sprinkled clear embossing powder, and then heat embossed. The letters are so shiny! (I had to re-do the letter t because I accidentally touched the embossing surface with a sticky finger.)


STEP 18: Last, I used a glue gun to adhere the letters.
There you have it — PHEW! I hope you enjoyed having a peek at how I created this mixed media collage. I’ll probably add a few more doo-dads and then mount it on a canvas if I can’t find a frame for it. Here’s another look:


I think I’ll enter this to the following:

Thanks so much for stopping by and your comments are always much, much appreciated!



11 Responses to “Paper craft project no. 70: THANKFUL mixed media collage”

  1. Gorgeous creations. Love all the texture and the colours you have acheived in your leaves. Thanks for joining us at Inkspirationa.

  2. This is lovely Shery. Beautiful fall colours.

    Thank you for joining us over at the Scribble and Scrap Challenge. Good luck.

  3. Wow! What a fantastic fall project! You used beautiful, bold colors and the texture of the leaves is just great! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Inkspirational!
    – Shauna

  4. A fantastic collage and a brilliant step-by-step.

    Thank you for joining in with the Scribble & Scrap challenge. You need to be a follower to qualify for a prize x

    • Thanks, Andree. Well, I’ve been receiving emails from S&S since the challenges started. Not sure if that’s what you meant by being a follower of the blog.

  5. Hi Shery, thank you so much for sharing the steps of how you did this!! I’d like to try something like this but I find it really overwhelming -this really gave me some ideas. You are a star!

    • Hi, Nonni! Glad my little project gave you some ideas. Would love to see what you come up! I was pretty much intimidated by mixed media (I still am), but I’ve found that just letting myself have fun with my supplies and the process and not worrying if I’m doing things right helps a lot! Facing a blank canvas is very much like facing a blank piece of paper (or document). I get writer’s block every now and then in my line of work, and the best way to overcome it is to just write (and edit later). So I use the same strategy when I’ve got a blank canvas — I just start. I can always cover up something I don’t like with good old gesso :-)

  6. wow Shery, what an amazing project. The time to do this was well worth it. Ilove the rich colours and different textures. Truly creative. Thanks for joining us at Inkspirational x


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