Friday, January 19, 2024

Texture Media Mobile - by Claudia Neubacher

Servus, hi and welcome to today's share of weathered textural - easy to make - goodness! 
I was in need of some wall decoration for our guest room (which is our son's room in the first place when he stays with us in the house) and as we are living in a solid wood house surrounded by mountains, lakes, fields and forests, I wanted this home decor piece to reflect all of that. 

When I made the discs for my mobile my goal was not only to create my interpretations of all the amazing textural beauty I find on my forest walks around the house, but also try out various texture mediums and how they behave when being used with stencils. Some of these experiments turned out way better than I had expected, others showed the decreasing level of control the bulkier the texture medium got...and then there were some truly happy accidents as well of course...but let me start with the first steps.

What did I use to create my mobile?

As you can see in the picture, I've used a piece of drift wood from the lake (about 40cm/16"), sixteen die cut card stock discs in two different sizes and a collection of StencilGirl stencils that provide patterns especially apt to create intriguing (abstract) detail when using only a small section of the design. 

In this case I've used Seth Apter's Urban Insiders Square Stencil (M058) and Techno Inisiders Circle Stencil (M086), Mary Beth Shaw's Curves (S430), Scribble Roses (S525) and the smallest stencil from the StencilClub October 2016 - Mary Beth's Private Collection - set, Mary Nasser's Abstract Water surface stencil (S898) and Trish McKinney's Dune Grass mask (S659) to play with. 

I die cut my sixteen circles using the two moon background cutting dies from the Tim Holtz "Moonlight" dies set. What I especially like about these is them not being perfect circles. Instead they are a bit wonky in shape and the set provides them in two different sizes - perfect for a make that was meant to have a nature feel to it. 

I primed the different pairs with different shades and mixes of beige DecoArt Chalky Gesso, brown Vintage Effect Wash and Dark Chocolate Americana acrylic paint. I also made sure there were a lot of brush strokes visible as that adds to the textural feel of the project. 

Once these had dried my texture medium experimenting session was ready to start! Using a palette knife and the Dune Grass mask I applied Goya "Antik Effekt" paste - a paste that is meant to produce cracks - the smaller the thinner the application. 

In my case I applied it too thinly, so hardly any cracks showed. To still add some texture, I fetched my heat tool and created some bubbles (which you can see in the picture below). Not too many and not too large ones though...just a hint around some of the edges (you can even spot some very tiny cracks close to my thumb, but I really love the bubbles and how they make the surface look rough and what usually is the result of an accident by overheating not yet dry pastes or paints can also be done on purpose to save texture paste results you are not content with ;)

My further experiments included various texture pastes like DecoArt media white Crackle paste together with the Abstract Water Surface stencil...

...that tore off some of the painted base layer when I removed it and revealed the rough paper surface of the die cut circle. A very happy accident from my point of view as the result reminds me of weathered bark and I think I wouldn't have got a result like this if I had tried to create this effect on purpose. 

The DecoArt media Texture Sand Paste was of course not easy to apply through the Scribbly Roses stencil. As it wasn't possible to apply it evenly with a palette knife, I rather dabbed it on here and there and tried to remove the stencil as carefully as possible. The highly textural result though was such a reward! I love it! 

Of course - REMINDER! - I immediately put all the used stencils into a pan filled with hand warm water, so none of the pastes would dry and permanently stick to the stencils (and thus ruin them). Keeping them in the pan underwater makes cleaning afterwards a piece of cake and you can go on working on your project without having to run to the sink to clean each stencil right after use each time. 

As most pastes do bubble when you use a heat tool to speed up the drying process, I decided to let my texture discs dry naturally overnight. This way I could be sure none of the pastes would react when being heavily loaded with paint washes (which was the plan for the next day). 

I used heavily diluted DecoArt media fluid acrylic Raw Umber and a wide soft brush to apply the wash quite loosely here and there to my circles, making sure the paint would create puddles here and there. I wanted an as uneven as possible result, so I got really messy and repeated the wash step several times (as sometimes you only see how much pigment has really ended up in a spot once it has dried...often the wet spot looks a lot darker and you find you have to go in again after it has dried). 

As heat drying would cause the water-pigment-mix to float and scatter, I let everything dry naturally again. This time it took about two to three hours maybe (yes, I had really soaked my circles to the point where the paper substrate needed to be handled with care to not tear it when moving it around).

But the results were so worth the wait! And I could use the heat tool for the very final drying phase to make sure all was really dry again. 

In the meantime I had die cut the other sixteen discs from various left over scraps from previous projects to use as "back" sides. 

And I also browsed my stash for three nature material "weights" to keep the mobile's strings straight. I found three little hagstones that were just the perfect fit (just look at the texture!!!). 

To fuse the circle pairs and the mobile parts, I used rough string and Tacky Glue (as that dries really fast). 

I made sure each texture circle sat at a different height compared to the neighbouring strings to add as much natural "randomness" to my make as possible. The three strings were then simply tied to the drift wood piece and that got a cord loop as a hanging device. Done! 

Our son's/guest room really needed some piece of atmospheric decoration and I was absolutely happy with how my nature inspired mobile turned out. And of course the texture-stencilling-experimenting session was great fun, too! 

I found that the loss of control that bulkier pastes bring, gets more than outweighed by the beautiful random results that give very natural looking effects. And by going by a monochrome colour scheme I really made the textures and patterns the stars on this project. Will definitely do this again. And I hope you will give it a try, too!

Claudia xxx


  1. Claudia, wonderful! Your sharing of happy accidents was inspiring and fun, it is sort of a mad scientist discovering this or that, Yea for you!

    1. Thank you very much, Linda! Yes - the happy accidents really deserve to be embraced, don't they? xxx

  2. All the texture play and randomness is beautifully inspiring.....hmmm- I feel some serious art time coming up😉. Thank you!


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