Mixed media is a way of making art that incorporates pretty much anything you want it to – paper, fabric, photographs, stamps, stencils, ink pads, colored pencils, markers, gelatos, watercolor, sentiments, 3D accents, jewelry bits, etc.
Which is why I found mixed media really overwhelming when I started out.
For this blog post, I’d like to show you a simple way to create a mixed media tag you can keep or give as a gift.
You’ll need minimal supplies, including the Tim Holtz Distress Ink Kit. This can be bought online, or at a local craft store (and usually works with coupons!).
And this printable. Click on the image to download the hi-res version. This is from a magazine published in 1901, so it goes great with the aged/shabby chic look we’ll create.
Here’s a photo of how my tag turned out so you can see what we’re heading towards:
Print the downloaded .jpg – you can use regular copy paper as this is just a template we’ll use to get the image onto our tag.
Make sure the image prints at 100% scale. On my Mac, I have to change the Preview settings, as my default, it wants to squeeze that image smaller.
Tape one of the #8 tags from the kit onto the page you just printed within the light gray lines – this means you are covering up the bird banner with the tag.
I used blue painter’s tape so it peels off again easily. You can use whatever tape you have, as we’re going to cover the edges with ink, so if a bit of paper rips up, it won’t show.
Print the downloaded .jpg again, this time on the tag-taped-to-paper that we just created. This gets the bird banner on our tag. If there are some imperfections, don’t worry – it works well with the vintage look we’re working on.
Remove the tag from the paper and color the tag. I used Copic markers and only colored the bird and flowers. You can color as much or as little as you wish.
Now we’re going to use each of the Distress Ink pads that came in the Tim Holtz kit to build up layers of antiquing on the tag. I start with the lightest color, Antique Linen, and use the foam pad with the stamper to add ink at the edges and in random places in the middle of the tag. You can use your finger, a Q-tip – whatever you want to get the ink on the tag.
Next, add some of the middle color, Vintage Photo.
I like a really grungy, dark look, so I added the darkest color, Walnut Stain. If you want to leave your tag less dirty, skip this step.
Also optional, add a ribbon. This was a scrap I found that matched my bird and flower colors.
You may, or may not, want to work on the back of your tag. Since I used Copic markers, there was a bit of bleed through to the back, so I’m going to cover that up using layers of the three inks. This time I did apply the ink pad directly to the tag as I didn’t care about leaving hard lines or keeping clear of a design.
Congratulations – you’ve created a mixed media tag!!!
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Now … If you want add more layers to your tag, go for it! Each person “finishes” a mixed media piece in their own way based on what supplies they have and what looks good to them.
Here’s a few more steps of how I added more layers using art supplies I had in my stash.
Tree stencil and Tim Holtz Distress Ink Peeled Paint, which is a dull, dark green.
Not fond of the position of the tree (want more of it on the tag).
So I tried again. The more you mess around with mixed media, the more you will “try again” – there are no mistakes, just the evolution of the design.
And now there’s a hard green line on the right side of the tree where I got ink off the edge of the stencil. No problem (we’re evolving, remember?) – I’ll just add additional hard lines of green at an angle and then horizontally above the top of the tree.
HINT: if you do something you’re not happy about, do it again in at least one other place, maybe two places. That way it looks intentional, instead of like a mistake.
Added some vines on the top, right corner to balance out the tree in the bottom left corner.
Tag still doesn’t feel finished. Mixed media is all about the layers, so going to add another layer, this time as a pattern over the entire tag using a stencil and Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pumice Stone, a soft gray.
While the bird could be the focal point, I decided I wanted a quote on there. Found a lovely little sticker bought who-knows-when. It’s a very clean little sticker though, so rubbed some Antique Linen and Vintage Photo on it.
Added the sticker to the tag … and felt it didn’t quite stand out enough. So I drew a line around the edges of the sticker with a Fine Tip Sharpie marker.
On the back, I added the same overall stencil pattern with Pumice Stone.
And then used Peeled Paint again to add a full tree in the middle, slightly below center.
Flipped the tag back over to the front … and the top left and bottom right edges felt empty, so added vines with Peeled Paint. Tied on the ribbon and there we go – my version of a mixed media tag, complete with artist mark and year on the back.
I really had no idea how this tag was going to turn out when I started it, which is one of the aspects I find most fun about doing mixed media art. I hope you enjoyed this project and would love to see what you created.
Heidi Berthiaume, AKA Curator Prime of Vintage Coloring, publishes adult coloring books of bygone art from the 1800s-early 20th century. She also creates designs featuring the art of contemporary illustrators as Not Very Vintage Coloring Book PDFs which can be purchased in the VC Bazaar.Heidi is a Copic Certified Designer living in N. Texas whose personal adjectives include Artist, Colorist, Author, Fan Music Video Maker, and Introvert. Vintage (and Not Very Vintage) designs are available on apparel and home accessories in her Threadless Artist Shop.