Allison on green paper

Connecting Lettering with Patterns

I love playing with letters. They are so easy to transform with the addition of lines, shapes, and color. Even imperfectly formed letters become artful with a few extra strokes of a pen or brush.

Every month I am inspired to add to my lettering repertoire with ideas and techniques for drawing and altering letters to make them uniquely mine. You will be, too! In the May Lettering Lesson, mixed-media and lettering artist Kari McKnight Holbrook shows how to create connections in hand-drawn words to use in titles, emphasize a key word, give a short phrase more punch, or even to “rescue” imperfectly formed lettering.

Learn some creative ways to connect the letters in words for artful results.
Learn some creative ways to connect the letters in words for artful results.

Though it may look time consuming, adding one simple line or shape at a time makes the finished word quite impressive. When I saw this Lesson, one of the first things I thought of was a label. A single word like tea becomes the star of the pantry on a customized label. Using a variety of lines and dots and a few simple shapes, these three little letters really stand out. I wrote the word tea in swirly letters, thickened the letters in several areas, and enhanced the swirls. Kari showed different ways to connect the letters with lines, and I chose to use lines in only one direction. I enjoy the simplicity of them. I then added long lines along the curves of the letters and some dots. I liked the look of the dots, so I added more at the top and bottom of the letters. I thickened and colored in the lines and dots inside the letters for a different effect. Kari talked about the importance of doing the same thing to all of the letters so they look cohesive, so I made sure each letter got the same lines and dots. In no time at all, I had a fancy label!

tea written on paper
Simple lines and dots connect these letters, literally and artistically.

One of my all-time favorite things is adding decorative lettering on the envelope of a celebratory card for family and friends. The letters can be simple or fancy, and it’s up to you how far you take them. I chose to connect the letters I created with pattern, using uneven lines in two directions. Notice that the lines are not perfectly spaced, nor are they all straight. As Kari noted, that adds to the charm. I added a few dots randomly around the name, and then decided to add some stars because Allison is a star! This envelope took me about five minutes to complete.

Allison on green paper
Make a celebratory card even more special with decorative lettering.

Lettering is one of my favorite activities. Learning new ways to enhance the letters makes it even more fun. Once you start adding some extras to your letters, you’ll be hooked. I know I was!

Enjoy!
Barbara

Technique Tuesdays: Woven Wall Hanging with Rachel Denbow

Summertime is just around the corner – and the start of a new season is always a great time to spruce up your home with a new piece of décor! In this project tutorial from our March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Rachel Denbow shows you how to create a woven wall hanging that is fun and one-of-a-kind. With weaving and home décor both hot topics in mixed media right now, this wall hanging is a perfect way to dabble in both of those worlds at the same time. Rachel made her beautiful wall hanging using a few nontraditional items, such as dyed feathers and dried Billy Ball flowers, as well as wool and acrylic yarns and a cotton warp. Grab a simple frame loom and some mixed-media items to get busy creating your own.

Rachel Denbow’s woven wall hanging mixes color and texture.

Mixed-Media Wall Hanging by Rachel Denbow

Materials:

  • Yarn
    • Cotton, 22 yards (I used ecru cotton yarn.)
    • Wool, worsted weight, 120 yards for each of 2 colors (I used light pink and mustard.)
    • Wool/acrylic blend, worsted weight, 120 yards (I used peach.)
  • Frame loom, 13″ x 18″ (Available at smileandwave.bigcartel.com.)
  • Scissors
  • Cardstock, 2″ x 13″
  • Needle: 6″ long weaving or 3″ long tapestry
  • Weaving comb or kitchen fork
  • Weaving sword, 13″, or ruler
  • Feather trim, 1 yard (I used peach feather trim.)
  • Dried Craspedia (also known as Billy Balls)
  • Wooden dowel or similar, 12″
  • Optional:
    • Handsaw, for trimming
    • Wooden dowel

NOTE: When gathering your supplies, consider how you could incorporate other items in your weaving. If you love natural supplies, add a few wooden beads or short pieces of copper tubing onto each warp row as you warp your loom. Weave jewelry wire or strips of natural cotton fabric through your warp rows to add contrast. Experiment with stitching beads, shells, or cut pieces of acrylic and wood onto a section of plain weave as embellishments.

How to Make It:

1. Tie a double-knotted loop with the cotton yarn and place it over the 8th peg (from the left) on the bottom of the loom. Wrap it up and over the 9th peg (from the left) on the top of the loom and back down and under the 10th peg on the bottom of your loom, the 11th peg on the top, etc. Continue wrapping the warp until you end with another looped double-knot on the 28th peg (from the left) on the bottom of the loom. Each vertical line on your loom is called a warp row. You should have 20 of these. (FIGURE 1) Trim the tails off the double-knot loops.

NOTE: There should be enough tension so that you can press down about 1″ or so on each warp, but not so loose that the yarn can easily pull off the pegs.

2. Starting from the left, weave the cardstock under the first warp row, over the second warp row, under the third, and so on, until you have it woven all the way across.  (FIGURE 1) This acts as a placeholder, so there is room to tie off the bottom warp rows when you take the wall hanging off of the loom.

FIGURE 1

3. Thread the 6″ weaving needle or tapestry needle with about 5′ of cotton yarn. The rows you weave with this yarn are the weft rows.

4. Starting from either side of the loom, weave the yarn opposite of how you wove the placeholder. Make sure you leave an 8″–12″ tail of yarn from the eye of the needle, so that it doesn’t pull out of the needle while you’re weaving. Since my placeholder was woven over the outer warp row on the right side (where I started), I wove under the outer warp, over the second, under the third, etc., leaving a 4″ tail where I started. Create an arch with the yarn as you pull it through. With the comb, bat the weft row down in the center of the arch, so that it’s flush with the placeholder, and then bat it down every 2″ or so to create little waves.

5. Continue to bat the entire weft row down so that it’s flush with the placeholder. This is called plain weave. Weave 6 weft rows and then wrap the yarn around the outer warp row, like you’re starting the 7th weft row, and tuck in the tail between the 2nd and 3rd warp rows to hide it. The plain weave will serve as the foundation of this wall hanging. (FIGURE 2)

FIGURE 2

6. Weave the weaving sword through the warp rows and stand the sword upright to separate the warp rows. This is called a shed. Cut the feather trim so that it’s about 1/2″ wider than the width of the warp, and slide the trim through the shed. Flatten the weaving sword, move it up to the top of the loom, and then pull the feathers up between the warp rows. (FIGURE 3) Slide the entire piece down on the warp so that the satin trim is resting on top of the plain weave from the last step.

TIP: For a fuller effect, repeat the same process: Bring the weaving sword back down, stand it up to create a shed, add in another length of feathers, and slide the feathers down again.

FIGURE 3

7. Thread a needle with about 6′ of yarn in your first color, having the 2 ends meet. I used light pink yarn. This will give you 2 strands of yarn to weave through at the same time. Create a plain weave just over the front of the satin on the feathers to lock the feathers in place. (FIGURE 4) Weave 4 weft rows.

FIGURE 4

8. Cut seven 10′ strands of the same yarn and gather them in a bundle. Tuck 1 end of the bundle down between the first and second warp rows on the right side of the loom, and wrap the bundle to the right so that it wraps around the outer warp row and comes back up between the first and second warp rows. Next, wrap the bundle to the left, so that it wraps over and around the second warp row, and then wrap over and around the third warp row. Continue loosely wrapping over the top of each warp row until you get to the opposite side of the loom. (FIGURE 5) This is called soumak weaving. Continue wrapping the strands around each warp row and then gently press the entire row down so that it is flush with the weft row below it. Using a single strand of the same color yarn, add 2 rows of plain weave, and bat down tightly to lock in the soumak.

FIGURE 5

9. Weave in 2 more rows of loosely woven soumak, adding 2 rows of plain weave in between each row. Change yarn color, and add 5 rows of soumak with 2 rows of plain weave in between each row of soumak. I switched to peach. (FIGURE 6) If you run out of yarn halfway through a weft row, end with 3″ of yarn on the back side of the loom, tucked between 2 warp rows. Cut another length and start weaving from the back side of the loom, continuing where you left off with the last strand. Make sure you leave a 3″ length at your starting place so the yarn doesn’t pull out. There is no need to tie a knot, as the next weft row will lock these yarns in place.

FIGURE 6

10. Add in 12 rows of loose plain weave, using a third color of yarn. I used mustard. Tuck the Billy Balls in from opposite sides and weave the stems through the warp. (FIGURE 7)

FIGURE 7

11. Add 12 more rows of loose plain weave. Then, gently pull the warp rows off the top of the loom, 2 at a time. Tie the 2 attached warp rows gently into an overhand knot, so that the knot is flush with the last row of plain weave. (FIGURE 8) Cut the loose ends at the loops, where the 2 warp rows met at the top of the loom. Using the embroidery needle, stitch each loose end down the back side of the woven piece by stitching down through 4 weft rows. This will tuck in the loose ends without disturbing the pattern on the front of your weaving.

FIGURE 8

12. Stitch another 4′ length of cotton yarn under each of the knots at the top and loop them around the dowel. (SEE OPENING IMAGE.) You can clean up the back side of the wall hanging by tying pairs of loose ends in gentle knots and trimming the ends.

13. Add a cotton yarn hanger and you’re ready to display your mixed-media work of art.

There you have it – your mixed-media woven wall hanging is complete! Be sure to also check out Cloth Paper Scissors editorial director Jeannine Stein’s Studio Saturdays: Mixed-Media Weaving post to see her take on this fun project. We also invited you, our readers, to create your own mixed-media weaving projects for a special challenge – check out the finalists here!


Rachel Denbow – author of the book DIY WOVEN ART: INSPIRATION AND INSTRUCTION FOR HANDMADE WALL HANGINGS, RUGS, PILLOWS AND MORE! – has been a creative skills teacher for more than 10 years. She has authored more than a dozen e-courses, contributes DIY projects for the blog A Beautiful Mess, and supplies weavers with looms, tools, and project kits through her shop. To learn more about Rachel, visit smileandwave.bigcartel.com.


Ready for more? Find this mixed-media woven wall hanging project and more in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Print and digital copies are available to purchase in our online shop.

March/April 2017

Adventures in Artist Trading Cards

In my new book, Artful Adventures in Mixed Media, I show different ways that observations and experiences can be turned into works of art.

Wherever I go, one of the things I am always on the lookout for is texture. When I was in Chile last year I went to Valparaíso, a city that is famous for its colorful houses, many of them clustered on hillsides around the city. Some of them are built out of corrugated metal and other found materials. I took dozens of photos, including many close-ups, finding an exciting synergy between the colors, materials, shapes, and surfaces. The peeling paint, the rust—it was all so interesting. I knew I would use the visual memory and the images stored on my camera in my work at some point. I’ll demonstrate how to make artist trading cards, using my images as inspiration.

Artist trading card inspiration
My inspiration for these artist trading cards came from my trip to Valparaiso, Chile, where I discovered great texture and color.

Materials:

  • Artist Trading Cards (I used ones made out of wood. Artist trading cards are 2 ½” x 3 ½”.)
  • Acrylic Paint (I used raw sienna, green, and titanium white.)
  • Rust finish paint (I used FolkArt Painted Finishes in Light Rust and Dark Rust.)
  • Paintbrush
  • Lip Balm or petroleum jelly
  • Heat tool
  • Rag
  • Water
  • Archival ink pad (I used black.)
  • Rubber stamps (I used stamps from sets 1 and 2 of my Stroll Through the Hood stamps for RubberMoon Art Stamps.)
  • Fude pen (I used black)

Optional:

  • Craft sand
  • To replicate the look of the photo above as a background for some wooden artist trading cards, I painted the wood rectangles with raw sienna acrylic paint.
Base layer of paint applied to wooden artist trading cards
A base layer of acrylic paint was applied to ATC-sized wood pieces.

To add texture and bring in a variety of rusty hues, I dabbed on two rust-effect paint finishes; each includes include flakes that add texture to my ATCs. You can achieve the same look by adding some sand to burnt sienna paint for the second layer.

Rust effect paint on an artist trading card
Rust effect paint gives these artist trading cards great texture and depth.

After the paint dried I added some clear lip balm randomly to a few small areas of the ATC. You can also use petroleum jelly or anything that is very waxy. These randomly placed sections act as a resist and help create the look of aged and peeling paint.

Lip balm resist effect
Waxy lip balm produces a resist effect when used with acrylic paint.

Next, I painted the entire ATC with green acrylic paint, carefully dabbing it over the lip balm to ensure that the balm didn’t spread.

Another layer of paint is applied to the ATC
Another layer of paint is applied to the ATC.

I dried the green paint with a heat tool, heating it until the paint bubbled and seeped between the brushstrokes.

Applying heat to acrylic paint on artist trading cards
Heating the acrylic paint adds to the texture on the artist trading cards.

Then I used a damp rag to remove all of the remaining lip balm. This is very important! Make sure none is left.

Removing the resist to reveal paint layer
Removing the resist with a damp rag reveals the paint layer underneath.

To finish my ATCs I used archival ink to stamp over the background with my Stroll Through the Hood stamps.

Stamping on artist trading cards
Stamp images over the artist trading cards for yet another intriguing layer.

I also added some white paint and handwritten numbers.

Adding paint and numbers to ATCs
A bit of white brightens the cards.

I love that the ATCs were directly inspired by my trip to Valparaíso, and how the photos led me to create the texture effects.

Series of artist trading cards
It’s easy to create a series of artist trading cards using this technique.

Inspiration for artful adventures is everywhere. Adventures can begin with a single photo, a memory, a quick sketch, and so much more, and all are explored in my book. I hope you’ll join me for many, many artful adventures!

Hurry and order Nathalie’s new book today, and start on your own creative explorations!

Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach
Discover how to find and use inspiration for your artwork in Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach.

Studio Saturdays: A New Take on Photo Transfers

An image transfer is an image transfer is an image transfer, right? Nope. Not only are no two image transfers the same, but artists are always coming up with new ways to render transferred images and turn them into art. Case in point: the May 2017 Art Lesson, Layering with Photo Transfers. The techniques are nothing short of transformational—no pun intended. This one? It’s a keeper.

Katie Blaine is the artist responsible for this month’s lesson, and when I discovered her work I felt an immediate connection with it, and knew you would love it too. I didn’t even know photo transfers were part of her repertoire until she told me, and I thought her use of both visual and physical texture would be perfect for the Texture Adventure theme for this year’s Art Lessons. I know I’ve said this before, but I have a much deeper appreciation of Katie’s brilliant artistry after trying her techniques. I want to shout from the rooftops that this is so much fun, so creative, and so satisfying!

 

Okay, here we go. This technique is based on doing photo transfers two ways: one with gesso, and the other with heavy gel medium. I’ve done plenty of gel medium transfers before, but never one with gesso, so that intrigued me. Also, the way Katie layers her images, then enhances them with mixed media, totally takes things to another level.

To create this piece, I first chose some images. Katie loves urban landscapes and uses them often in her work. But her techniques will work with any images, so you’re not limited to urban grunge. However, this project will get you thinking about your images and how they’ll be layered, and I like that thoughtful component to it. Katie says the process is “a creative way to play with opacity and transparency in your artwork to create interest and visual texture.” I started with several images, some of buildings and some of nature, thinking I’d combine the two. I printed them out on regular copy paper on an inkjet printer—inkjet is key for this project. These photo transfers won’t work with laser prints.

Photo transfer images
I started with very different images for the photo transfers–hard-edged buildings and softer, rounded natural items.

For a substrate, Katie recommends using a canvas panel, which is easily found and fairly inexpensive. To kick off the physical texture portion of this project, I spread some light molding paste from top to bottom. Light molding paste dries more quickly than heavy modeling paste, but it still gives you those great highs and lows on your surface. I had some bumpiness on the edges of my canvas from the molding paste and sanded that off when the canvas was dry. Also, it’s not a bad idea to prep more than one canvas—I liked having one that I could experiment with, since this was my first time trying these techniques together.

Practice canvas for photo transfers
Prep a couple of canvases for your photo transfer artwork, and use one as a practice canvas.

Next, I painted the canvas a turquoise-y teal with a little pale yellow thrown in. Keep it simple with one or two colors, and choose shades that will complement your images.

Painted canvas for photo transfers
Brush the canvas with acrylic paint in shades that complement your images.

I spent a decent amount of time thinking about how my images would be layered for the photo transfers. The gesso transfer produces an opaque image, while the gel medium transfer produces a translucent image. With the gel medium transfer, anything in the image that is white or very light will become transparent. Those details informed where I placed my images, and which would be transferred first. Also, remember that images will be backward on the canvas once they’re transferred, so you may want to flop them before printing. Or, like Katie, you may want to use backward text and images to enhance your artwork.

I transferred the flower and tree images first using the gesso transfer. After spreading gesso on the front of the image, I applied it gesso-side-down to the canvas and pressed it with a spreader. After a couple of minutes I lifted one corner of the paper and saw the image on the canvas, so I kept going, peeling off the rest of the paper. Katie has great tips in the lesson for doing this successfully. Remember–part of the charm of image transfers is that they have imperfections. I used the gesso transfer technique with the tree on the right-hand side.

Peeling back paper for photo transfer
The image is revealed after transferring and peeling back the paper.

The gel photo transfers are done pretty much the same way, but whatever is under the transfer will peek through, offering lots of exciting layering.

Gesso and gel medium photo transfers
You can see how different the photo transfers look–gesso on top, gel medium below.

But this is not the end of our texture adventures with photo transfers. Now is your opportunity to add your artistry. You can enhance, add to, change up, saturate, de-saturate, and alter your images using mixed media. Paint over any gesso that squeezed out from the image transfer. Emphasize or extend lines with a charcoal pencil. Create highlights with oil pastels.

I started with chalk pastels, smudging two shades of blue around the tree to extend and enhance the sky, and some greens around the flower. With a Stabilo All pencil I accentuated some of the architectural lines, then used a damp brush on top. From here it was pure pleasure, going back and forth between the pastels and the pencils, creating highlights and lowlights, and using the texture on the canvas to my advantage. Having that second canvas was super handy for trying out supplies.

Enhancing photo transfers with mixed media
Enhance your images with mixed media, such as pastels, pencils, and gel pens.

To add some interest to the middle of the piece, which seemed a little barren, I stamped some text with beige paint, then sanded it back a bit. Make sure to check the lesson for lots more tips and tricks for this part of the technique, and to see more of Katie’s amazing artwork.

Mixed-media photo transfer
I bet you have some incredible photos that would work great with this technique!

What I especially like about Katie’s process is that when you look at the finished piece, you’re not sure if it’s a drawing, or a photo—or both. You keep the viewer interested in and intrigued by your work. And that’s a very good thing.

There is one more thing about this lesson I love—you can download it today for only $3.99! Each of our lessons comes with a companion video, so you can see the artists working in real time. Go make this!

What, you’re only getting the one lesson? We have so many more great projects and techniques for you in the North Light Shop. Take a look!

Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons Volume 5: Layering With Photo Transfers by Katie Blaine
Get all the details for making this fantastic project in Art Lessons Volume 5: Layering With Photo Transfers by Katie Blaine
Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons Volume 4: Real and Implied Texture
Want more texture adventures? Check out Art Lessons Volume 4: Real and Implied Texture by Sandra Duran Wilson.
Texture Techniques for Abstract Art: 15 Lessons video with Jodi Ohl
Learn how to create texture in gorgeous abstract art with Jodi Ohl in the video Texture Techniques for Abstract Art: 15 Lessons.
Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons Volume 10: Image Transfers by Darlene Olivia McElroy
Get tons of techniques for making a variety of photo transfers in Art Lessons Volume 10: Image Transfers by Darlene Olivia McElroy.
Preparing cards in advance makes it easy to start your creative exercise whenever you need inspiration.

A Fun Creative Exercise That Works

When was the last time you wanted to make something, but inspiration was as scarce as clean underwear on laundry day? For me, it’s too often to admit. I want to work in my art journal, or practice lettering, but I just can’t. Get. Going. Lucky for you and me, the Jumpstart feature in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is our creative salvation.

The article, “Find Your Mojo with Craft-Overs,” is a brilliant and really fun way to get the gears turning. Susana Magenheimer, who wrote the article, is just like us—sometimes her mojo says buh-bye, leading her to develop a go-to technique for firing up the engine: doodling images over random swipes of paint on an index card. Who knew? Apparently she did. Susana writes, “Going through the process of doodling images from paint smears opens my mind and helps me see images that are intriguing. I can then take inspiration from those images and recreate them in one of my art journaling or mixed-media projects.”

From leftover acrylic paint, great things can come!
From leftover acrylic paint, great things can come!

I waited to try this creative exercise until I had the trifecta of wanting to do something artistic, not knowing what to do or where to start, and lacking confidence to dive into a big project. At least I had done my homework—the last time I used acrylic paint and watercolor, I had some index cards nearby, and used them to wipe up the leftover paint on my surfaces.

While some acrylic paint was still wet on my nonstick craft mat, I dragged a few index cards through the swatches of color. Susana recommends trying not to use more than three colors to avoid making mud, and to be able to see shapes more clearly. As I swiped the cards through the paint, it dawned on me how efficient this was—I always think it’s wasteful to have leftover paint on my mat, and now I know what to do with it!

Don’t toss that extra paint left on your craft mat—turn it into a project for a creative exercise.
Don’t toss that extra paint left on your craft mat—turn it into a project for a creative exercise.

As the paint began to dry on the mat, I lightly wet areas with a mister to activate it again.

Reactivate leftover paint by misting it with water.
Reactivate leftover paint by misting it with water.

Here are a few of the cards that I liked and thought would be great for doodling:

Preparing cards in advance makes it easy to start your creative exercise whenever you need inspiration.
Preparing cards in advance makes it easy to start your creative exercise whenever you need inspiration.

And here are a few I was meh about:

Don’t toss less-than-perfect cards; think of ways to reuse them.
Don’t toss less-than-perfect cards; think of ways to reuse them.

While working with watercolor paint and spray inks, I had a bunch of color left over in my tray. Out came the cards, and this is what I got:

Leftover watercolor and spray ink makes great inspiration for doodles, too.
Leftover watercolor and spray ink makes great inspiration for doodles, too.

I also grabbed a sketchbook and pressed a couple of pages into the extra paint and ink:

Use this creative exercise with art journal pages, too.
Use this creative exercise with art journal pages, too.

In a couple of days the perfect storm arrived, and I got down to business. I pulled out one of the acrylic paint cards, a Sakura Pigma Micron 01 black pen, and started looking for basic shapes. The first thing I saw was a heart, so I outlined it, then drew some lines inside. I saw two more heart shapes, and outlined and doodled those as well. Before I knew it, I was engrossed in my little 3″ x 5″ artwork, searching for images as if this were a Rorschach test. I saw a wing, then a bird, then another bird. I doodled in areas that didn’t look like anything in particular, creating a variety of patterns. I used a white gel pen in some of the darker areas.

Creating these doodles loosened me up and revived my creativity.
Creating these doodles loosened me up and revived my creativity.

This creative exercise was lifting my fog! I chose another card, a watercolor/ink one this time. Turning the card to see if any designs leaped out, I saw a weird creature with a tail, and created a quirky face, hair, and some patterns. I outlined a few other amorphous shapes and doodled in those (borrowing a great pattern from Susana), then drew a light border around the card. What I loved about this warm-up was that there was no pressure to turn out anything fantastic—these were just index cards, after all. If I hated them, I could toss them with no guilt. More important, this was fun. I wasn’t doing a sketch in preparation for a drawing, or designing the cover of a book. It was just play, pure and simple.

What you see in the painted shapes will be unique to you—and that’s what makes this creative exercise so fun.
What you see in the painted shapes will be unique to you—and that’s what makes this creative exercise so fun.

I decided to give the so-so index cards, which didn’t inspire any doodles, some attention. I stenciled one or two layers over the color, and thought they’d work well as collage fodder or tip-ins, or pages in a book.

Turn your so-so paint swatch cards into something special with stamps and stencils, and use them in another project.
Turn your so-so paint swatch cards into something special with stamps and stencils, and use them in another project.

Feeling as if I had just done a great warm-up at the gym, I was now ready to tackle something meatier. Ideas were flowing, I suddenly had energy, and I started gathering supplies for a bigger project.

Try this creative exercise the next time your creativity needs a jumpstart, and see what happens. I bet it will be something fantastic.
Jeannine

See Susana’s complete article in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, where you’ll find lots more to kickstart your creativity. If you need extra inspiration, explore these products from the North Light Shop!

Discover how to make the ordinary extraordinary
Discover how to make the ordinary extraordinary in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
YearOfInspirationKit-
The Mixed Media Year of Inspiration Collection includes ideas, projects, techniques, and more to keep you inspired.
InspirationalJournals
Joanne Sharpe has ideas galore for creating journals you can use as artistic inspiration in her video, Joanne Sharpe’s Inspirational Art Journals.

Technique Tuesdays: Reverse Applique Pillow with Betz White

What do you get when you combine felt, hand and machine stitching, fabric piecing, and sari yarn on one fun pillow project? A vibrant accent piece that is sure to brighten any room! In this project tutorial from our March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, designer Betz White will show you how to use reverse applique to create this stunning layered fabric mixed-media pillow with texture, depth and dimension. Because felt can be cut without fraying, you’ll stitch first, then trim away intricate details. Embellish your pillow further using embroidery stitches and colorful silk sari yarn. Finish it off with playful tassels, and this simply constructed pillow will be a colorful mixed-media accent you can proudly display in your home.

reverse-applique-betz-white
Betz White’s reverse applique mixed media pillow. Step-out photos by Betz White and Jenn Guneratne

A Layered, Textured Pillow by Betz White

Materials List:

  • Quilting cotton, nine 2½” x 12″ strips in gradient colors for background
  • Fabric shears
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing surface
  • Thread, a variety of colors
  • Felt
    – 12″x 18″ piece for the pillow front (I used green.)
    – Two 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow back (I used blue.)
    – TIP: For best results, use a wool-blend felt, which is durable, less expensive than 100% wool, and comes in lots of great colors.
  • Quilter’s basting pins or straight pins
  • Disappearing ink pen or chalk liner (I used a Clover® Pen Style Chaco Liner.)
  • Ruler
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Silk sari yarn, approximately 22 yards
    – NOTE: Silk sari yarn is brightly colored yarn made from silk sari remnants in India. Each yarn is unique due to the mix of colored fabric scraps and the uneven yarn thickness.
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Pillow form, 12″ x 16″
  • Cardboard, 5″ long x 2″ wide
  • Heavy-duty thread

How to Make It:

1. Arrange the fabric strips long-sides together in the order desired. Place the first 2 strips right sides together and sew 1 side with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam open. Sew a third strip to the second in the same manner. Repeat until all 9 strips have been sewn and pressed. Your pieced background should be approximately 18″ wide and 12″ high. (FIGURE 1)

TIP: For the fabric background, use 2½” pre-cut quilting cotton strips or leftover scraps from other projects.

reverse-appliqué-betz-white
FIGURE 1

2. Layer the 12″ x 18″ felt on top of the right side of the pieced background and pin baste with quilter’s basting pins or straight pins spaced every few inches. Mark vertical lines every 2″ or so with a ruler along the 18″ width with a disappearing ink pen or chalk liner. These will be your stitching guides.

3. With contrasting thread, machine stitch wavy lines vertically across the felt, using the marked lines as a general guide, removing the pins as needed. Stitch multiple times, offsetting the lines and allowing them to crisscross each other. Change thread colors and experiment, adding more stitched lines. (FIGURE 2)

TIP: Make sure you leave enough open shapes between the stitched lines to cut out in the next step.

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FIGURE 2

4. Poke the tip of a blade of sharp embroidery scissors into just the felt layer of a stitched shape. Carefully trim away the felt shape, 2mm inside the stitched line, leaving the sewn fabric beneath the felt intact. Repeat, cutting away shapes randomly, exposing the background fabric as desired. (FIGURE 3)

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FIGURE 3

5. Embellish the curves with silk sari yarn by couching it along some of the stitched lines. Cut a 14″–15″ strand of yarn, lay it onto the felt, and pin it in place. Thread a needle with embroidery floss, and use a couching stitch to secure the yarn to the felt surface. Repeat several times across the pillow front. (FIGURE 4)

NOTE: A couching stitch captures fibers and allows them to curve and form shapes. After pinning the sari yarn in place, knot the embroidery thread, take the needle through the front from the back, and tack the fiber in place with a tiny stitch. Bring the needle up again a little bit away from the first stitch, and tack the fiber in place again. Repeat until the entire fiber is attached.

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FIGURE 4

6. Add even more detail with embroidered accents. Thread a needle with contrasting embroidery floss, then stitch around some of the cutouts, using a blanket stitch. (FIGURE 5) Continue to add hand-stitched details as desired. Square up the finished pillow front as needed.

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FIGURE 5

7. To create the envelope pillow back, fold over and sew a 1/2″ hem on one side of each of the pillow back pieces. With the pillow front right-side up, layer the pillow back pieces right sides down, with the hemmed edges overlapping approximately 6″. (FIGURE 6) Pin around the perimeter with straight pins, then sew the front to the back with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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FIGURE 6

8. Clip the seam allowances at the corners, cutting points in the seam allowance at a 45-degree angle. (FIGURE 8) Turn the pillow cover right-side out through the envelope opening. Work out the seams, finger pressing the seams flat, and press the pillow with a warm iron from the back of the pillow. Insert the pillow form through the opening and fluff to distribute the form. (FIGURE 7)

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FIGURE 7
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FIGURE 8

9. Create tassels by wrapping sari yarn 12–15 times around the 5″ piece of cardboard. With a needle and heavy-duty thread, push the needle under the yarn at the top edge of the cardboard. Wrap the thread around the yarn a few times, and then tightly knot the thread, leaving long thread tails.

10. Slide a scissor blade under the yarn at the bottom edge of the cardboard and cut the yarn. Remove the cardboard, keeping the yarn closely bundled. Take an 8″ length of yarn and wrap it repeatedly around the bundle, about 1″ from the top. Double knot the end of the yarn and trim. Repeat to create 3 more tassels.

11. Attach the tassels at each corner of the pillow using the thread tails. (FIGURE 9) Thread a needle with a thread tail and pull it through the corner seam of the pillow. Repeat with the second tail. Double knot the ends of the thread tails together and trim.

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FIGURE 9

That’s all there is to it — your new mixed media pillow with reverse applique is ready to show off to the world! Be sure to also check out Cloth Paper Scissors editorial director Jeannine Stein’s Studio Saturdays: Layered Fabric post to see how she used this technique to create a new case for her sketchbook and supplies.


Betz White has built a career on thoughtful design, skilled craftsmanship, and a focus on earth-friendly materials. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, with a degree in fashion design, and is a former children’s wear designer. She is the author of WARM FUZZIES, SEWING GREEN, and PRESENT PERFECT: 25 GIFTS TO SEW & BESTOW. Betz has been featured on Martha Stewart’s television show and on numerous craft podcasts. Betz’s bold aesthetic, combined with her education in apparel design, results in a unique offering of patterns and projects for the modern sewer.

To learn more about Betz, visit betzwhite.com. Be sure to also check out our Studio Spotlight in the March/April 2017 issue for an inside look at Betz’ vibrant home studio, aka “her happy place!”


Ready for more? Find this reverse applique mixed media pillow project and more in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Print and digital copies are available to purchase in our online shop.

March/April 2017
Mati showcases an elephant in this soul animal painting. What animals are you typically drawn to?

Creating Paintings from the Heart

Have you ever felt that what’s in your heart and head is just not translating to the canvas or page? Painting the Sacred Within: Art Techniques to Express Your Authentic Inner Voice by Faith Evans-Sills and Mati Rose McDonough will help you find and express your inner spirit so that you create art with the meaning you desire.

Painting the Sacred Within
Painting the Sacred Within: Art Techniques to Express Your Authentic Inner Voice by Faith Evans-Sills and Mati Rose McDonough

The authors invite readers to approach their art making as more than just the act of painting (or collage, assemblage, etc.), to look inside themselves and realize what’s important to them. We all know this, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Readers are encouraged to settle in and listen to their muse before putting brush to canvas. This may mean creating new practices that get you in the right mindset, such as listening to music or journaling, and approaching your creative time in new ways. The goal is to get comfortable and relaxed. I like the Watercolor Warm-up that Faith demos as a means to stay “fired up” to paint, using color and simple shapes. Combining the inspiration of rocks collected on a beach walk with pale colors resulted in a piece that captured that moment in time for her.

Faith relives a moment in color and shape after a walk on the beach.
Faith relives a moment in color and shape after a walk on the beach.

Faith and Mati tell readers how they came to work together and a lot about their own journeys, techniques, and methods. I like that much of what they share is relatable, such as making time to really see what surrounds you, tailoring your creative space to meet your needs, etc.

Mandalas are very popular right now, and Faith and Mati present creating a personal mandala as another way to tap into your thoughts and feelings, energizing your creativity and painting from the heart.

Creating your personal mandala helps you reflect and focus on what’s important to you.
Creating your personal mandala helps you reflect and focus on what’s important to you.

Readers are encouraged to “paint what they need to paint.” Rather than worrying about what others may think about the symbols or elements that appear and reappear in your artwork, applaud the personal meaning and spirit these things bring to the piece. Painting from the heart is when you are your true self. This really made me think about different artists I admire and the elements that are present in much of their art. It also made me wonder about the things that I tend to draw and doodle again and again . . .

Mati showcases an elephant in this soul animal painting. What animals are you typically drawn to?
Mati showcases an elephant in this soul animal painting. What animals are you typically drawn to?

I love that readers are encouraged to celebrate themselves and their art, to tap into their memories, and paint from the heart to create work that tells their stories. Painting the Sacred Within will help you look within, discover what helps you create, and bring your self into your art in new ways.

Enjoy the journey.
Barbara

Explore your own copy of Painting the Sacred Within: Art Techniques to Express Your Authentic Inner Voice today!

Painting the Sacred Within
Painting the Sacred Within: Art Techniques to Express Your Authentic Inner Voice by Faith Evans-Sills and Mati Rose McDonough

Studio Saturdays: Turn Your Art Journal into Home Decor

I love working in my art journal, and even though I share favorite pages with friends and on social media, most of the artwork never sees the light of day. So when I saw how mixed-media artist Kim Dellow had turned an art journal spread into a pillow, I just about fell over. How brilliant is that, bringing your artwork to life in such a unique way? I knew I had to try it for myself—and the results were amazing.

I asked Kim to write about her techniques for Cloth Paper Scissors, and—voila—her article is in the May/June 2017 issue! “Artful Home Décor” features her incredible process for taking artwork and using a print-on-demand service to make it into a pillow, then incorporating handmade touches to add color, dimension, and texture. Her ideas inspired me to take one of my art journal pages and see what else it could become.

I started with an art journal page that I thought would be a good candidate for a pillow; it had wonderful pops of color and a lot of visual texture I could build on.

Art journal page as inspiration for a pillow
Who knew an art journal page could be used to make a pillow? Not me, until I saw Kim Dellow’s artwork, featured in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

Instead of uploading it to a POD service, I decided to do an inkjet print onto a sheet of Ranger’s Sticky-Back Canvas in white (the sheets are 8 ½” x 11″). Kim’s article includes tons of great tips on working with POD sites, plus helpful information for using photo-editing software to alter your art journal page if you choose.

Art journal page transfered to sticky-back canvas
I thought this art journal page, transferred here to a canvas sheet, would be perfect for a home decor item.

I trimmed the printed sheet and cut a piece of yellow fabric to size, creating a bit of a border and allowing the yellow in the design to pop. I frayed the edges a bit to add more texture. Bonus tip: To make sure the fabric doesn’t fray too much, machine stitch a line of straight stitches close to the edge of the piece. The art journal sheet was sewn to the yellow fabric, again with a straight stitch. Both pieces would eventually be sewn on top of a pillow sham, which I made out of a heavy brushed cotton duck.

Layers for art journal page pillow
The layers for the pillow include cotton duck for the sham, some bright yellow fabric, and the printed art journal page.

The most fun part of this project was incorporating extra touches into the journal artwork. Kim has fantastic, easy ideas for adding fabric, paint, and textured layers, which you must check out. I outlined a couple of the vines and leaves with machine stitches—but think what you could do with free-motion stitching.

Sewing fabric layers for an art journal pillow
I used my sewing machine for decorative stitching and to sew the fabric layers together.

I then added some hand embroidery stitches (satin stitch and French knots) in a few areas.

Adding embellishments to an art journal page pillow
I built up the embellishments, starting with stitching, adding embroidery, and then beads.

Small beads were also sewn on in a few spots. The effect is so cool—the stitching and embellishments add interest and really bring the art journal page to life.

Sewing beads to an art journal page pillow
Small beads were sewn onto the art journal page design, adding extra visual interest.

I made an envelope closure for the pillow sham, overlapping two pieces about 4″. Everything was sewn with right sides together, and the corners were clipped.

Envelope closure for a pillow sham
I created an envelope closure for the pillow sham.

To think that my art journal page can have a second—or third—life, thanks to technology and my creativity, is a pretty great thing. I printed the page on canvas again, and I think I might sew a tote bag or make some fabric tags. Ah, the possibilities.

This project is too great not to try. The full instructions are in the May/June issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, which is all about making the ordinary extraordinary. You’ll find even more clever ideas in these great resources from The North Light Shop!

May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
Learn how to turn your favorite art journal page into a pillow in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
Art Journaling Exercises video with Rae Missigman
Get great ideas and prompts for exciting art journal pages in the new video from Rae Missigman, Art Journaling Exercises.
Art Journal Jam video with Jodi Ohl
Get the party started with the Art Journal Jam video with Jodi Ohl, and discover great techniques for unique art journal pages.
Art Journal Primer eMagazine
The Art Journal Primer eMagazine shows you creative ways to work with all kinds of media to create stunning art journal pages.
Rae Missigman's Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit

Mark Making with Printing Plates

Rae Missigman has a new kit, and it’s perfect for all your mixed-media creations! Rae Missigman’s Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit includes her four new videos, four Art Lessons, plus her Boxy Blooms Stamp Set and three of her stencils from StencilGirl Products! Here’s Rae to tell you about a fun technique for printing and creating unique marks.

I think of creating as something akin to a craving. There are days that I just cannot get enough of it. I think that mark making is a big part of what satisfies that craving. Mark making is mostly producing a series of repetitive marks or shapes, but no matter how often I re-create those same marks, I find myself counting along. In a rhythmic trance, I put pen or brush to paper. This is a soothing process for me, and a big part of what makes it a comforting and rewarding task.

As a mark maker I love to experiment with tools and techniques in the studio. I’m a big fan of breaking the rules and using what I have, always exploring and pushing my tools to do new or interesting things. Gel printing plates are one of my favorite go-to tools. With this tool I am able to get lots of color down quickly, stumble upon mysterious marks and color patterns, and fill loads of blank pages and canvases—all the while satisfying that craving to create.

Because I like to mix and match my tools and see what they can do, I found that I love stamping on the printing plate.

For this technique, load your plate with acrylic paint and brayer the plate to mix the colors. Next, choose a favorite stamp (I used a flower from my Boxy Blooms™ stamp set) and gently press it into the paint. Repeat, moving the stamp around the plate.

Using analogous colors of acrylic paint onto a round gel plate guarantees you won’t get mud.
Using analogous colors of acrylic paint onto a round gel plate guarantees you won’t get mud.

Press a sheet of paper onto the plate, pull the print, and discover all the interesting color and pattern combinations.

You’ll always get surprising results when mark making with a gel plate.
You’ll always get surprising results when mark making with a gel plate.

Lastly, before the paint dries, stamp directly onto the page or canvas with the same stamp you just used to create ghost-like images. I love all the random effects I can achieve this way.

Create more mark making with the stamp and leftover paint.
Create more mark making with the stamp and leftover paint.

I used this tiny print to create a mixed-media card. I filled in the white space with paint, using my favorite One Brush Wonder technique (you’ll find that in my One Brush Wonder video). I also sewed on a piece of painted collage paper and hand-dyed ribbon, and finished off the card with a few journaled words. The details are in the marks, so remember to make your own! Now you have a lovely card to share with a friend.

Here I used the printed paper to adorn a unique card that I further embellished with more mark making.
Here I used the printed paper to adorn a unique card that I further embellished with more mark making.

—Rae

There is no limit to what you can do if you experiment with your supplies. Dig in and really get to know them, and along the way you might just discover something unique about yourself in your mark making!

Rae Missigman's Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit
Rae Missigman’s Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit includes four videos, four Art Lessons, plus Rae’s stamps and stencils.
These are the materials I received for the art collaboration. How do they inspire you?

Watercolor Wonder: On Questions and Art Collaboration

“Art, to me, is a question. It should never be an answer.” – Marilyn Manson

There are many ways to begin a project. A powerful one is to begin with an inquiry, then commit to an act of creative exploration. To explore familiar materials in new ways. This is what this blog series, Watercolor Wonder, is all about.

I find it’s also helpful to have a clear idea about what drives and excites you about making art, then work to keep those values in mind as you begin. This, too, begins with a question: When I am making, what is important to me?

I have asked this question many times. The projects below were driven by my guiding values as an artist: creativity, connection, community, and collaboration.

An art collaboration inspired these two mixed-media artworks.
An art collaboration inspired these two mixed-media artworks.

Recently, while corresponding with Tonia Jenny, Senior Editor of North Light Mixed Media, she mentioned it would be fun to collaborate on some projects. The question arose: What might that might look like? As artists living on opposite sides of the country who work in various manners, connecting for an art collaboration could have its challenges. But there are a number of common interests and soulful intersects in our work, so we decided to proceed. We decided to start by sending each other one piece of paper and cloth to work on, and a word to inspire our creativity.

A week later I received a package from Tonia with a piece of canvas with a perfect circle cut out, a piece of watercolor paper painted with what immediately reminded me of the moon, a used tea bag, a piece of gold foil paper, and a single word: gardenia.

These are the materials I received for the art collaboration. How do they inspire you?
These are the materials I received for the art collaboration. How do they inspire you?

As I spread the items out on a table I found myself thinking, I wonder what I’m going to do with these? As I write this column, I wonder if you might reach out to a creative kindred spirit and start a similar art collaboration.

Below are my rules I set out for the projects. When creating them, my thinking was that the beauty in creativity, collaboration, and community is that you can give the same materials and guidelines to 100 different people and get 100 different pieces of art. What would happen if I created two pieces, following the same guidelines? How would they differ?

  • All materials sent from my collaborator, Tonia, must be used.
  • For both pieces, have the inspiration word “gardenia” be the focal point, and have a sketch I did of a gardenia serve as my starting point.
  • Explore a similar watercolor palette for both pieces.

Here is how I created one piece.

Project One: Mixed Media on Paper—Moonlight Gardenia

The first piece I produced from the art collaboration was “Moonlight Gardenia,” done on watercolor paper.
The first piece I produced from the art collaboration was “Moonlight Gardenia,” done on watercolor paper.

Materials:

• Watercolor paper with a painted circle (sent by Tonia)
• Gold foil paper (sent by Tonia)
• Used tea bag (sent by Tonia)
• Watercolor paint (I used Winsor & Newton’s Oxide of Chromium)
• Watercolor brush, size 08 round
• Sketched gardenia image
• Pencil
• Glue or matte medium (I used Liquitex Ultra Matte Medium)
• Acrylic paint pens in gold and black
• Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, 08 nib

Cogger4--CROP-800

Upon looking at the piece of watercolor paper I received in my art collaboration packet, I immediately thought of a full moon. As I began transferring my gardenia sketch to the paper, I allowed it to be a driving force in selecting dark colors for my palette and in placing the gardenia sketch.

The materials received from the art collaboration inspired a dark color palette for my artwork.
The materials received from the art collaboration inspired a dark color palette for my artwork.

After sketching the gardenia, I wet the tea bags and placed them on the drawing to stain the flower petals. Using the tea bags as a subtle stain allowed a contrast between the warm white of the flower and the cool white of the moon. Continuing with the idea of a moonlit gardenia, I painted a flat wash of Oxide of Chromium watercolor over the rest of the page.

Tea bag stains were used to add subtle color to the gardenia.
Tea bag stains were used to add subtle color to the gardenia.

I began playing with shapes and placement with the gold foil paper and the slip of paper with the word “gardenia,” until I achieved something I liked. I then glued the pieces down with matte medium.

The foil paper was cut into shapes and glued down.
The foil paper was cut into shapes and glued down.

Returning to the image of the gardenia and my concept of a moonlit garden, I repeated the flower, filling the background space, and used black and gold paint pens to outline elements and bring the whole piece together.

The gardenia image was repeated in black and gold paint pens.
The gardenia image was repeated in black and gold paint pens.

Project Two: Mixed Media on Canvas—Gardenia

The second art collaboration piece, “Gardenia,” incorporated a pre-cut and stitched canvas.
The second art collaboration piece, “Gardenia,” incorporated a pre-cut and stitched canvas.

Materials:

  • Pre-cut and stitched canvas (sent by Tonia)
  • Gold foil paper (sent by Tonia)
  • Scrap of paper with word “gardenia” on it (sent by Tonia)
  • Glue or matte medium (I used Liquitex Ultra Matte Medium)
  • Watercolor paint (I used Winsor & Newton’s Oxide of Chromium, Holbein’s Cadmium Yellow Light, and Sennelier’s Payne’s Grey.)
  • Watercolor brush, size 08 round
  • Black marker
  • White sewing thread
  • Sewing machine

Cogger10--CROP-800

The canvas piece that Tonia sent for the art collaboration was a bigger challenge for me. I wondered if I could paint on it successfully with watercolor, and how I could incorporate a gardenia with the pre-cut hole. I decided to turn to my interest in symbolism, and investigated what exactly gardenias convey. This flower symbolizes love, purity, and refinement. In Victorian times they were symbolic of a secret or unknown love. As soon as I read the “secret” and “unknown” part, it was clear the hole could be part of the flower itself—a symbol of love, with the missing portion representing the unknown.

This canvas piece was a challenge at first, but I soon discovered a way to integrate it.
This canvas piece was a challenge at first, but I soon discovered a way to integrate it.

Using the same image of the gardenia from Moonlit Garden, I transferred it to the canvas. I made certain to place it over the cutout, since that was important to the story I wanted this piece to tell.

Fully loading my brush with a dark wash, I painted the leaves a varying mix of Oxide of Chromium and Cadmium Yellow Light, and a background of Payne’s Grey. Once the watercolor dried I ran the fabric under the faucet, creating a subtle modulation to the fields of color.

The same gardenia sketch from the first art collaboration piece was also used for the second one.
The same gardenia sketch from the first art collaboration piece was also used for the second one.

Thinking of the line work in the earlier piece, I pulled out my sewing machine and created similar outlines in a different way. I chose white thread, taking into consideration a gardenia’s white color, and the high contrast against the rest of the canvas. After stitching a bit of the flower, I craved higher contrast there as well. I outlined each petal in black marker, then stitched on top of it.

Outlines were created with stitches done in white thread to create contrast.
Outlines were created with stitches done in white thread to create contrast.

After stitching the flower, I realized I still had some gold foil scraps and the scrap of paper with the word “gardenia.” I placed these pieces on the canvas to create balance and contrast, then glued and stitched them in to place.

The second art collaboration piece also included foil paper scraps, plus the word “gardenia” written on paper.
The second art collaboration piece also included foil paper scraps, plus the word “gardenia” written on paper.

At the beginning of this art collaboration project, I wondered what I would do with the selection of materials sent to me by Tonia. I didn’t have an end piece in mind as much as I had an inquiry, a set of materials, values, and some personal rules for the project. Setting up guidelines for the process permitted an insightful, creative exploration that allowed me to touch on many of the values I have for the artistic process. How would you set up a similar exploration for yourself? What might come of it?

Cassia Cogger’s new book, Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media, is filled with ideas and techniques for making mandalas and more, and for finding meaning in your artwork. Get your copy today in the North Light Shop!

Find your authentic voice in your artwork in the new book Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media by Cassia Cogger.
Find your authentic voice in your artwork in the new book Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media by Cassia Cogger.