Monday, January 21, 2019

Stenciled and Collaged Art Cards with Beads and Fabric

Hi all, it's Gwen back with my quarterly column on using your stencils with paint and textural elements.

This month I decided to go somewhat small and a bit simpler (for me... ha!) with what I like to call an Art Card. I began making small collages on 5" x 7" playing cards a few years ago and I really love them as a format - it's big enough that you can experiment and add plenty of detail, but small enough that it doesn't take forever to complete a project.

Here's the Art Card that I made to share this month and of course there's a tutorial down below.
To make this card, I started by taking a 5" x 7" playing card (although you could obviously use any substrate with this same process) and lightly sanded it to give it some tooth, then coated the background with a layer of background paint. (Essentially colored gesso, but you could use any gesso or even craft paint for this step.)

When the base layer was dry, I coated that with a layer of crackle medium - I like the Americana Weathered Wood crackle from Decorart - it gives you a really nice wood grain pattern (it will also craze in the direction of your brush strokes - something to keep in mind as you apply it to the background.)

When the crackle medium was completely dry I added a layer of paint - I used Toffee from Seth Apter and PaperArtsy and let that dry, crackle, and generally do its thing.

While my background was drying, I went through my stash of collage papers and pulled out a few that I wanted to use - this included some blockprinted and painted collage papers (with stenciling, of course!) When the paint was dry, I tore these into strips and collaged them on with matte medium. When that was done I set the background aside.

Next, I went to work creating my focal image. I took out my Boho Birds stencil and stenciled one of the birds onto a sheet of painted collage paper using black StazOn ink. (I use this because it won't smudge on the non-porous acrylic surface.)

I took a needle and thread and a variety of blue seed beads and started stitching around the outline of my bird, adding beads here and there as I went (I didn't do a solid beaded outline, just enough to add some variety.) I love to use thread and beads as different and interesting ways to add texture to my work.

I added a few vinyl disk beads for the eye and secured them with a French knot that also doubled as the pupil.

When the beading / stitching was complete, I cut out the embellished bird and adhered it onto my background with some Tacky Glue.

I also cut a few embroidered floral elements out of some embellished fabric that I have in my stash - this is another material that I love for getting different types of texture into my work. I glued those on with the Tacky Glue and then ran my Sepia and black Archival ink pads over the surface to take away some of the brightness so they would fit better with the overall feel of the piece.

(I'm frequently asked how I adhere fabric in my collage pieces - I treat it like paper. I use glue or matte / gel medium, and the type that I use depends on how heavy or embellished the fabric is. I'll most frequently adhere it with matte medium, exactly like the rest of my collage papers. This had a lot of embroidery, however, so I went a little more heavy duty on the glue.)

I like to add a bit of shading when I include dimensional elements like this, and my favorite way to do that is with a Stabilo All pencil that I then blend out with a water brush.

With the collage part done, it was time to add some finishing touches. I used the Text and Texture Discovery stencil by Seth Apter to add a title, then outlined with a gold gel pen.

To enhance the contrast and give a bit more shading, I took some Graphite texture paste and added it around some of the dimensional elements.

While the texture paste was still wet, I sprinkled on some Rocky Road Baked Texture embossing powder - another fabulous way to add more layers of texture into your work.

I used my heat gun and melted the embossing powder while the texture paste was still wet - this is one of my favorite techniques as it bubbles the acrylic medium and adds yet more texture to your piece.

VoilĂ ! The finished Art Card!

I hope you enjoyed today's tutorial and picked up a few new ideas for bringing texture into your work - maybe even using some different supplies and materials to do it. If you try this yourself, make sure to link me up so I can see.

Until next time, happy stenciling!


  1. Love this, Gwen!!! Some great new techniques, and some wonderful reminders of old ones.

    1. Thanks so much Anne Marie! It's always fun to pull out some of the older techniques and find new ways to use them - this was a blast to put together.

  2. Thank you for the tutorial! I love this!! :)

  3. Loving all the texture and dimension. I'm wanting to work on a mixed media canvas to give as a door prize for a church banquet that incorporates a bird so I was delighted to see this. I may incorporate some of your techniques. This looks great!

    1. Thanks so much Annette! I hope you give it a try - sounds like it would really work well on your canvas. Good luck :D


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