Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mixed media art and bookmark tutorial

front of mixed media bottle

back of bottle

top, vintage faucet handle

The bottle above is a mixed media art piece I made using paper, ink, vintage ribbon, vintage rhinestone jewelry pieces, lace, a key, gel medium, tacky glue, an old faucet handle and Varnesis bottle. 

I enjoy making mixed media art because it allows me to use all the really fun, interesting and old things I find at thrift stores, flea markets and tag sales(garage sales).

hanging heart

On this heart, I used tea stained tags(makes them look old), rusted bells, old buttons, paper flowers, birch bark(found on a walk), copy of an old wedding photo, a fabric rose, rusty key, doily pieces, and a dictionary page.

I enjoy working on 3 dimensional pieces a lot.  As I work I try lots of different things like colored or textured buttons, big or little keys, various types of papers, even birch bark.  I really like the look of birch bark but it was really difficult to get it to stay stuck down, so I won't be using it a lot. 

Mixed media can be a lot of fun, I oftentimes make a humongous mess when working on a piece because I like to find just the right parts to make the art speak to me.  Sometimes I'll start a piece and not finish it until years later, until ALL the right stuff comes together and just works beautiful, like a symphony.

Today I'll be showing you how to make mixed media bookmarks from recycled boxes and by using things you already have at home.   I started my mixed media work by experimenting with backgrounds on recycled cardboard piece that I dug out of the bin.   

1. Gather and keep things like old magazines, cereal boxes, yarn, glue, crayons, paint, stickers, packing materials like bubble wrap and different cardboard boxes.

my messy collection

2. Dissect cereal boxes, I just use plain old scissors or if I want to have uneven edges, my hands are great tools.  Make your cardboard pieces the size you want bookmarks to be!  Sometimes I just leave them rough, so I can trim them down to prettiest part.   Go with the flow, don't overthink it, this is ART, ART is F-U-N!

tissue boxes

cereal boxes cut up

box tops and bottoms, perfect size for bookmarks

3. I like to color the plain cardboard side next, with crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, whatever is nearby.  Do you like the smell of crayons?  I love that smell, it reminds me of home, childhood, family and school!  Color quick, doodle or scribble, grab favorite colors or chose ones that make you nervous.  Combine colors and see what happens...nice, not quite right or nasty, everything you try will not be a masterpiece.  But with time, practice, trial and error and experimentation, you'll discover what YOU like best. 

I heart my crayons!


cardboard scribbled with colored pencils

4. Glue paper bits, scrapbook paper, old magazine pictures, napkin, papertoweling or tissue paper, duct tape, plastic tape, old wrapping paper or phone book page to other side.  Or leave it blank, so you can remember how your bookmark started out!

glue stick, doily bits, finished bookmark

squares from inside junk mail glued onto cardboard

scrapbook paper goes onto cardboard

a teal duct tape accents this bookmark

a few of my tapes, peace one is a real favorite of mine

5. If you like a little tassle on your bookmark, then punch a hole on one end and thread some ribbon, yarn, embroidery floss or even string through the hole.

hole punched and inked bookmarks

This old mason jar holds ribbon-y-bits

ribbons from my jar

finished bookmarks

more mixed media bookmarks without tassels

6. My favorite part of making bookmarks or ART of any kind is?  Can you guess what I like doing as much as making things ?  Honestly, sharing what I make, is THE best thing!  And who doesn't like a handy-dandy homemade bookmark specially made by you?  I like bookmarks because I have LOTS of books and sometimes I read more than 1 book at a time, silly and sometimes confusing, but literally impossible without, you guessed it, BOOKMARKS!!! 

7. It's got to be said that doing mixed media art can be very messy, so make sure you clean up after yourself, otherwise you won't have any space to work next time you're feeling creative. 

Are you planning to do some mixed media artwork?  What kinds of materials would you like to use?  I hope this has inspired you to get creative and make something unique! 


  1. Excellent tute Donna! I really love the little square papers from envelopes. I never would have thought of that. Gracie would squeal if she sees the peace sign duct tape. Our AC Moore has the tape, but not that pattern. you've given me great jumping off places to work with! Thanks so much!!!

  2. This is really cool! I, too, love the insides of the envelopes. Whoda thunk? Great idea! Love all the bookmarks you made. You be a clever Sista!

  3. Did you take the Remains of the Day journal e-course? The class made me think of you because in her journals- MaryAnn uses the insides of envelopes, tape and any remains you have lying around. You would love that class. Your faucet and bottle is great! I love the smell of crayons too :) I hope you got around to making the banner.

    Sandy xox


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