Acrylic Works 4

Acrylic Painting: Captivating Color that Inspires

As a mixed-media artist, no doubt acrylic painting is a considerable part of your technique arsenal. Whether you use it to add ribbons of vivid shades to art journal pages, soft background washes to collage, or fanciful neon details to hand-painted letters, it’s your go-to color medium.

Have you ever thought of what acrylic paint is truly capable of? Of how the range of hues can be mixed and applied to get mind-blowing results? Take a stroll through the new book, AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color, and you’ll see. Come on, I’ll show you.

Acrylic Works 4
AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color showcases amazing use of color in acrylic paintings.

This superbly printed hardcover book showcases the work of more than 100 artists who use color as their inspiration and as a way to tell their stories. Color, as editor Jamie Markle points out, “can evoke emotion, express a mood or inspire the viewer.” Acrylic painters, he adds, “have used every type of palette from the traditional to the modern; the range of possibilities is hampered only by the artist’s imagination.” Artists share insights on their techniques, processes, and inspirations, which adds so much to the experience.

Looking through the book, the acrylic painting below, “Every Moment,” stopped me in my tracks. This piece by Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone, taken from a photo, beautifully captures the hues of a dramatic sunset over a bucolic landscape. The artist’s use of color here is not accidental: “the oranges of the cloud formations in this piece are much more vivid than they appeared in the photograph,” he writes. “They are also surrounded by blues, their color complement (or opposite), to give more drama and impact to the painting.” He adds that he paints with acrylics because his process is largely intuitive, and he likes to make changes while working: “The quick drying time of acrylics allows those changes in composition and color to be made within minutes of one another.”

“Every Moment” by Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone, acrylic on canvas, 30″ × 48″, from AcrylicWorks 4.

The versatility of acrylic painting techniques and color palettes shines in “Deliberation” by Ai Di Lin, featured in the Portraits and People chapter. The combination of color and brushstrokes, and abstract and realistic styles, are used so impeccably to convey a narrative. Lin writes, “ ‘Deliberation’ captures my father in a scene of his everyday life. … I use the muted color palette to convey his state of mind that he is constantly worried about us. … I worked back and forth between abstraction and realism to show that we struggle between rationality and irrationality. This piece is a journey for me to understand him and to be grateful for the love he has given us.”

[Photo: Lin.jpg]
[Caption: “Deliberation” by Ai Di Lin, acrylic with oil on canvas, 30″ × 30″, from AcrylicWorks 4.]

If you had any doubts about the breadth of acrylic painting styles, check out the painting below, titled “Flaming Parrot,” by Mark Pytlos. Yes, that’s acrylic, done with an airbrush. Here’s what the artist said about his technique: “I often use airbrush while painting with acrylics for the softness and ability to smoothly blend colors right on the surface. Since acrylic is a fast drying medium, it allows me to use multiple layers in a short period of time.” Pytlos says he likes mixing his own colors, and thinks about what colors can express to the viewer. He incorporated earthy colors for the veins in the petals, and also for some of the inner forms. A black hue was used for the background, plus some touches of mauve “to convey the mood and bring out the vibrancy of the primary colors in this unique tulip.”

“Flaming Parrot” by Mark Pytlos, acrylic on cotton canvas, 24″ × 36″, from AcrylicWorks 4.

The next acrylic painting, “Naxos” by Rhonda Doré, stands out for its beautiful collage elements, and its visual and physical texture achieved with gorgeous layering of color. Doré says that when it comes to choosing colors for a piece, “sometimes only phthalo will do. I like luscious, heavy body acrylics, and I work in many layers, so acrylic is my go-to medium.”

“Naxos” by Rhonda Doré, acrylic and collage on wood panel, 48″ × 24″, from AcrylicWorks 4.

Doesn’t the phthalo in this artwork glow? I cannot stop staring at this piece and all of its components, and it’s motivating me to experiment with color layering techniques.

There’s so much more in AcrylicWorks 4 that you will love looking at and reading. This is a book you’ll open again and again. Add it to your library and see how your acrylic painting improves!


Be sure to purchase your copy of AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color: The Best of Acrylic Painting By Jamie Markle, Editor today!

Acrylic Works 4
AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color
Nancy Reyner's Perfect Paintings Collection will take your artwork from good to great, and you’ll love the process.

Create Perfect Paintings and Become a Better Artist

You’re humming along in your mixed-media practice, when suddenly—boom!—you hit a wall. The artwork you used to love suddenly looks like it’s had the life sucked out of it. And you don’t know why. You feel like giving up. Don’t.

We have what you need, and trust me—you need this in your life. Nancy Reyner’s Perfect Paintings Collection will yank you out of your creative doldrums and reboot your artistic mojo like you’ve never seen. Nancy understands the roadblocks we sometimes face, and she’ll help you navigate around them so that your work can progress, making you a better artist. You’ll learn how to step out of subjective mode and into objective mode, so you can analyze your work with a good critical eye and create art you love again.

Nancy Reyner's <em><a href="" target="_blank">Perfect Paintings Collection</a></em> will take your artwork from good to great, and you’ll love the process.
Nancy Reyner’s Perfect Paintings Collection will take your artwork from good to great, and you’ll love the process.

This kit includes Nancy’s new book, Create Perfect Paintings: An Artist’s Guide to Visual Thinking, plus three new videos: Nancy Reyner’s Creative Color, Nancy Reyner’s Perfect Color Mixing, and Nancy Reyner’s Perfect Painting Solutions. Seeing her techniques on video in real time is a real bonus.

Create Perfect Paintings provides endless light bulb moments for learning what makes artwork successful.
Create Perfect Paintings provides endless light bulb moments for learning what makes artwork successful.

One of my favorite sayings is “Progress, not perfection.” I make art because I’m passionate about it, I love the way it makes me feel, and it adds so much to my life. I’m never about perfection, but I am about improving and reaching my creative potential. When I think about it, I’m striving to make my artwork as perfect as it can be, and I’m guessing you feel the same way. Nancy’s book will take you there, and the process is joyous. I had so many light bulb moments reading her book and watching the videos that I felt like my brain was lit up like the Times Square mirror ball on New Year’s Eve. Nancy perfectly articulates things you know intuitively, so they immediately make sense, and they can be applied to a variety of mediums.

This kit is all about approaching your artwork in new ways, helping you find fresh pathways to creating art you’ll love.
This kit is all about approaching your artwork in new ways, helping you find fresh pathways to creating art you’ll love.

Case in point: The 80:20 rule. Successful painting, she says, relies on pairs of opposites: light and dark, bright and dull, space and form. If a painting has a lot of red in it, but no green (the opposite color on the color wheel), your eyes will start looking for green somewhere else, and wander away from that artwork. So both elements need to be there, but not in equal amounts—that creates low visual tension. Booorrring. Unequal ratios are the way to go, hence the 80:20 rule.

By learning how to critique your own work you’ll stumble less, and create more.
By learning how to critique your own work you’ll stumble less, and create more.

You’ve heard how artists can be their own worst critics? Nancy will turn you into your own best critic, by walking you through how to evaluate your artwork so you can improve it. The process is enlightening and freeing. And she gives you all the tools to make it happen, both in the book and the videos: how to mix colors, how to use color effectively, how to hold a viewer’s interest, and how to make your authenticity shine in your work.

Smart techniques for color mixing put you in control of your artwork
Smart techniques for color mixing put you in control of your artwork

I can’t imagine where else you would find this information and guidance all in one place. You’ll love Nancy’s approachable techniques and ideas, and you’ll go back to them again and again—because they work. This fantastic kit is available two ways: as a physical kit, with a hardcover copy of Create Perfect Paintings, plus three DVDs; and as an all-digital kit, which can be downloaded today, as in right now. Click on either link and watch a video with Nancy, who will tell you more about these exciting resources. Whichever kit you choose, this gift you’re giving yourself is well deserved.

Happy creating!

Create your very own perfect paintings today!

Digital Kit
Purchase the Digital Kit!
 Physical Kit!
Purchase the Physical Kit!
Make Waves with Leather and Metal By Melissa Cable

Technique Tuesday: Make Waves with this Leather and Metal Bracelet

Leather has been popping up in mixed-media jewelry everywhere, from wrap bracelets to custom jewelry. This leather bracelet was inspired by a particular product, a stretch jewelry cord called Fashion Stretch from Beadsmith®. Combine this wondrous chord with supple leather and voila, a wave effect you will absolutely love. This technique might not be one you’ve explored before, but the results are something fun and different. Let this project get you on the road to exploring your own jewelry masterpieces!

Make Waves with Leather and Metal By Melissa Cable (Cloth Paper Scissors January/February 2017 page 30)
Make Waves with Leather and Metal By Melissa Cable (Cloth Paper Scissors January/February 2017 page 30)

Learn how to create this beauty, then be sure to check out the January/February 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors for more projects and techniques for your mixed-media life.

Make Waves with Leather and Metal by Melissa Cable

(See bottom of post for materials list. Step-out photos by Melissa Cable.)

Create the components

1. Cut the ending leather into two 2¼” x 1½” strips, and round 1 end of each strip with leather shears or a rotary cutter and mat. Cut two ¾” x 1½” strips from the same ending leather.

2. Place the leather face down on your work surface. Lay a 1⁄8″-wide line of leather glue on 1 long edge of each of the ¾” x 1½” strips. Glue the small strips to the large strips, lining up the long unglued edges. (FIGURE 1)

Step 1 - cut the leater into strips

3. Texturize the metal washer. I added texture to the back of the washer, using the flaring tool as a metal stamp, striking it with a hammer on both a steel bench block and the leather cutting surface. Cover the front of the washer with 2 layers of painter’s tape.

NOTE: The point tip on the flaring tool produces dots when used on a bench block and concave recesses when used on a poly cutting surface, so when the metal is flipped over to the front side it has texture of varying heights.

4. Center the washer front side down over a dapping block impression that is larger than the inner diameter of the washer. Center a dapping punch on the washer, and strike the punch with a hammer to flare the interior of the washer. You may need to use a nylon hammer to flatten the surface of the metal around the flare. (FIGURE 2) Remove the tape.


NOTE: When you flare the interior of the washer, depending on how hard the metal is, sometimes the whole washer will be slightly domed. The final product looks neater if the flat portion around the flared interior stays flat and is not “dimpled” down by the rivets in the later steps.

5. Using the dapping block, create a dome on the metal disc. Set the washer on top of the dome to make sure it sits flat. (FIGURE 3) Make sure the dome is secure under the washer and cannot fall out.


6. Spray the dome with spray glue, and place a piece of unstretched Fashion Stretch over it, leaving a little excess fabric around the dome.


1. Align the washer on a leather ending. Pierce a 1⁄8″ hole in the leather at the center of the washer with a 1⁄8″ leather hole punch. Set the washer aside. Working from the front of the leather, place a snap back post through the hole and a snap receiver (socket) on the post from the back. Set the snap with a snap setter and a flat block.

NOTE: Snap setters usually come with a setting block. In this case only, a bench block can be used if you don’t have a setting block. Normally, the rounded head of the snap requires the concave side of the setting block.

2. Place the endings on top of each other with the washer on top, and press on the snap to mark the location of the snap stud. Pierce a 1⁄8″ hole at that mark. Place a back post in the hole from the back and a stud over the post from the front. Use the snap setter and block to set the snap. (FIGURE 5)


3. Pierce six 1⁄8″ holes evenly around the metal frame 1⁄8″ from the edge with the 1⁄8″ metal hole punch. Align the washer over the snap and mark corresponding holes in the leather. Set the washer aside.

4. Pierce a hole at each mark on the leather with the 3/32″ leather hole punch. Reposition the washer and set a 4mm cap rivet in the outermost hole, placing the post in the hole from the back. Put the cap on the post, and use a rivet setter to secure the cap.

5. Center the dome under the washer and trim the fabric as needed. Set a cap rivet in the hole across from the first rivet
and continue setting rivets in opposing pairs until all 6 of them are set. (FIGURE 6)


6. Mark 3 evenly spaced rows made up of dots spaced ¾” apart on the back of the base leather.

7. Pierce each dot, except the first and last dot in each row, with a 3⁄16″ leather punch.

8. Cut three 6″ pieces of jewelry cord. Grab each end and pull. This will cause the cord to stretch and roll.

9. Weave the rolled cords through the holes, starting with the bottom row and alternating the weaving pattern for each
row. (FIGURE 7)


10. Pull the cords and push the leather to get the desired ripple effect. The ends of the cord should be equal in length to ensure even tension. Place the base pieces in the endings to check the length; trim the leather as necessary. Trim the cords even with the leather.

11. Taper the last ½” on both ends of the base, and distress the leather with sandpaper. This helps the glue adhere better. Use a sewing punch to pierce holes along the edge, and sew the cords to the base, using these holes. Keep the cords as wide and flat as possible at the ends. (FIGURE 8)


12. Open a leather ending and apply glue to the inside. Lay the end of the base into the ending piece and press the pieces together for 30 seconds. Secure the edges of the ending pieces with binder clips and allow the glue to dry. 13 Once dry, punch 3 evenly spaced 1⁄8″ holes through the endings, and set the 6mm cap rivets into the holes. (FIGURE 9)


Materials List
Materials List for Make Waves with Leather and Metal

Melissa Cable is the founder of the Create Recklessly line of leather tools and supplies. She is the author of BEAUTIFUL LEATHER JEWELRY and METAL JEWELRY IN BLOOM and is a regular contributor to STEP BY STEP WIRE magazine.

Ready for more? Check out January/February 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors for the original version of this project and so much more. Or grab it instantly with the digital version.


A Story Circle is a wonderful way to tell a story, whether that rendering is abstract or realistic.

Personal Mandalas Watercolor Kit

I’m so excited to tell you about a new mixed-media art bundle that’s going to change your life. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the Personal Mandalas Watercolor Kit is special, and let me tell you why.

The centerpiece of this kit is the new book Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media by Cassia Cogger. I’ve made mandalas in a variety of media, and I love creating them. But this book blew me away with its approach to the art of mandalas, and the symbolism of circles. Cassia had me at the second sentence: “Does it sometimes seem like life swirls around you, leaving you feeling increasingly lost and slightly disconnected? As if you’re not fully or even partially expressed? What if you could be? You can!”

Creating Personal Mandalas offers more than techniques and projects; it will help you focus think in creatively unique ways.
Creating Personal Mandalas offers more than techniques and projects; it will help you focus think in creatively unique ways.

While making art usually helps center me and get me in the zone, I sometimes become so caught up in the daily marathon of life—as we all do—that when I do find time to create, I sometimes don’t feel focused or connected. Her words spoke to me, and I read on: “This process is about so much more than just making a pretty picture. It is about connecting with a deeper part of yourself and working toward fuller self-expression. It is about experience and journey, not outcome. It is about reconnecting to your voice, exploring your own unique forms of creative expression and relaxing your spirit.”

The book delves into materials (with an emphasis on watercolor and water media) and elements of design such as line, shape, form, value texture, contrast, and pattern. The exercises and projects are for all levels, and Cassia encourages you to explore as far as you want to go.

Learning about design principals such as value, texture, and contrast will help enhance your artwork.
Learning about design principals such as value, texture, and contrast will help enhance your artwork.

Among the projects that appeal to me is the lotus mandala. “The lotus symbolizes enlightenment,” she says, “the rising up from the muck and the mud to blossom into something beautiful.” Can’t we all relate to that?

The project is a charted mandala, but just think of all the ways you can interpret the idea of blossoming—with watercolor, as shown, or collage, or even stitch.

While creating a lotus, think about its symbolism, and consider what you’d like to rise above.
While creating a lotus, think about its symbolism, and consider what you’d like to rise above.

A favorite chapter is The Circle as a Story Slice. “Just as the slice of a tree trunk captures and shares the history of time, I love the idea that we can create circular artworks that do the same,” Cassia says. “Even more exciting than the capturing of the life history of something is the possibility of using the circle like a magnifying lens or a two-dimensional snow globe where we are able to capture a static scene to celebrate, commemorate or explore a moment.”

A Story Circle is a wonderful way to tell a story, whether that rendering is abstract or realistic.
A Story Circle is a wonderful way to tell a story, whether that rendering is abstract or realistic.

I believe we should tell stories through our art. As I read that Story Circles are a way to document, discover, and process an experience, I was nodding my head. I love the idea of using a circle as a form to share an experience, whether it’s expressed abstractly or realistically. This got my creative wheels in high gear.

Creating Personal Mandalas is the kind of book you’ll pick up again and again, and always find something artistically challenging that will help you focus and create with joy. And to give that creativity a little boost, this kit also includes a 12-color Watercolor Confections palette from Prima Marketing Inc. in Pastel Dreams. I have one of these, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The sturdy metal palette is small enough to fit in a travel case, so you can take it with you and paint anywhere. The half-pan colors are rich and beautiful, and you can mix colors right in the container.

This kit is available only while supplies last, so I recommend following your instincts and getting it now, because at $34.99 this is quite the deal. Make this a gift to yourself, and take the book and the palette with you on your summer adventures. I can’t think of any better way to enjoy the season ahead.


Don’t wait! Purchase your Mandalas Kit today!

Mandalas Kit Cover
Mandalas Kit Cover
Figure 6


Collage Stories: Inspired by Vintage Catalog Cards by Jane LaFazio

Years ago, when I was working as a teaching artist in a nearby elementary school, the library was clearing out books. Rather than grabbing the books, I took all the book registration cards. I love the consistent size and vintage look, and I knew I could use them in my artwork.

Recently, in the process of cleaning out my studio, I rediscovered the collection of library cards. Finding them was the perfect excuse to stop cleaning and start making something. This is a great project for a beginning-of-the-year studio cleanup.

Sharon White Photography
Artwork by Jane LaFazio. Photo by Sharon White Photography.

The Hundred Dresses


Library book registration cards (or facsimile)
Collage papers: dressmaking tissue, maps, old receipts, used tea bag paper, mono-printed papers, etc.
Fabric scraps
Substrate (I used an 11″ x 7″ sheet of watercolor paper.)
Glue stick
Sewing machine with free-motion capabilities
Thread (I used thread in a contrasting color.)
Embellishments (I used lace.)
Stamp-carving block and tools
Paint (I used acrylic paint.)
Cosmetic wedges

1. Select a book title from one of the library cards, one that appeals to you or implies a theme, or a visual jumping-off point. It does not have to be a literal interpretation.

2. Decide on a color story, and gather bits and bobs, scraps of papers, and fabric from your studio that fit within that scheme. (FIGURE 1)

NOTE: Based on the title, THE HUNDRED DRESSES, I gathered mono-printed and plain dress-pattern tissue, and added thread samples to the mix to further illustrate the title.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Photo by Jane LaFazio

3. Sketch a symbol or shape on cardstock that represents the chosen title, and cut it out to use as a template. I drew and cut a dress.

4. Trace the template on several different papers and fabrics, using an assortment of your scraps. I included some bits of quilted cloth. (FIGURE 2)

Figure 2
Figure 2. Photo by Jane LaFazio

5. Cut out each traced piece and place them on the substrate. Play with the arrangement, balancing the color and weight of each item on your page.

6. Once you’re pleased with the arrangement, lightly adhere each piece to the substrate with a glue stick. Let dry, and then machine stitch each one. I outlined each dress, using a thread color that coordinated with my color scheme. (FIGURE 3)

Figure 3
Figure 3. Photo by Jane LaFazio

TIP: Leave the thread tails hanging to add texture and movement to the piece.

7. Trace your template onto the library card, and add embellishments as desired. I added lace to the hem of the dress.

8. Place the card on a piece of collage paper, and stitch around the traced image, stitching through the card and tissue to attach the embellishment(s). I used mono-printed dress pattern tissue for this because I wanted to frame the card with color.

9. Using the same template, cut out another form from a different paper. I used tea bag paper. Add the new form to the library card with a glue stick, using the stitched lines as a guide.

10. Stamp over some of your pieces. I used my dress template to carve a stamp, and stamped over a few of the collaged dresses with paint. (FIGURE 5)

Left: Figure 5. Right: Figure 7.
Left: Figure 5. Right: Figure 7. Photo by Jane LaFazio

11. Add some color and texture. I used pale turquoise paint and a cosmetic wedge to stencil some birds and flowers. (FIGURE 6) I also added some free-motion stitched flowers and leaves with turquoise thread to continue the color scheme. (FIGURE 7)

Figure 6
Figure 6. Photo by Jane LaFazio

TIP: Practice free-motion stitching on watercolor paper before committing to it on your artwork.

12. Stamp the current date on the library card, and sign your name. (FIGURE 6)

Since this little art-making exercise was meant to be fun, and relatively quick, I set some rules for myself.

  1. Start with the title of the book on the library card as inspiration.
  2. Select a color scheme.
  3. Keep it simple. Use what you already have in your studio.
  4. Use a substrate in a consistent size to create a series.

I love making collages. They are serendipitous and forgiving. And, if you’re like me, you have a collection of lovely papers and scraps of fabric that are just waiting to be put together in a small collage.


Jane LaFazio, a full-time artist since 1998, truly believes she is living the life she was meant to live. She has cultivated a wide range of skills as a painter, mixed-media and quilt artist, art teacher, and blogger. She teaches workshops online and at art retreats internationally. See how Jane created “The Colony of Rhode Island,” another piece inspired by her vintage library cards.

Find this, and other great features in Cloth Paper Scissors January/February 2017.


Studio Saturdays: Tea Bag Art

Suddenly, I’m seeing tea bag art everywhere. My interest was piqued with Irene Rafael’s fantastic article in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine on painting portraits on tea bags. Yes. Portraits. On tea bags. If you haven’t seen it, go grab the issue now. Or download it.

Irene’s miniature paintings on little square tea bags are stunning, her techniques are so fun, and you’ll love reading the story of how she came to paint them. What is it about tea bag art that makes a mixed-media artist’s heart go pitter-pat? The size? The fact that they’re accessible? That it’s recycled art? That they’re so twee? Probably all of those, but discovering this artwork compelled me to see what I could do with a tea bag.

tea bag art

Full disclosure: I’m not enough of a tea drinker to start saving tea bags to use for tea bag art art, so I steeped a bunch. English Breakfast, peppermint/chamomile, and passion tea bags got a nice bath in boiling water until the bags took on lots of color. That passion tea—yowza. Deep pink for days. Instead of discarding the tea water when I was done, I used it to stain various book pages and tags. You can also use it to dye fabric.

Here are some stained book pages; I wrinkled them up before soaking them, but you can also lay them flat. They smell fantastic, even when dry.

Tea-dyed paper for tea bag art
Don’t throw your tea water away! Use it to color paper and fabric to use in tea bag art.

And here are a few tags; the first was steeped in English Breakfast tea, the second in passion tea, and the third in a combination of the two. You’re probably wondering why the second tag turned blue—pH levels, my friends. Those chemistry classes do come in handy.

Tea-stained tags for tea bag art
These tags were soaked in various types of tea, each producing a different color.

Here are the tea bags, cleaned and flattened. As you can see, each bag stained differently. If the passion tea bags were leaning against another type of paper, they turned a little blue. Aren’t they all lovely?

Cleaned tea bags
There’s always a surprise when you clean and open a tea bag; how would you use these for tea bag art?

By the way, I highly recommend that you wait until you tea bags are completely dry before emptying them out, otherwise you’ll be knee-deep in a nice, big, wet tea mess. If you’re worried about staining your hands, by all means wear gloves. Take it from me.

I tried a few tea bag art experiments with stamping and printing. Below, left, an image transfer with a Chartpak AD marker, using a Graphics Fairy image. Top right, a bag decorated with Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz stamps, and bottom right, white paint with a StencilGirl Products stencil designed by Carolyn Dube.

Tea bag art with image transfers, stamping, and stenciling
Image transfers, stamping, and stenciling can all be done on tea bags.

You can print digital images on tea bags, too; tape a flat tea bag to a sheet of copy paper and run it through your inkjet printer, or iron bags onto freezer paper. The images below are from the Graphics Fairy again, one in color, and one in black and white. Gorgeous.

Digital printing on tea bags
Detailed images render beautifully in digital prints on tea bags.

I stuck some damp teabags in one of my art journals, a technique I learned from Jennifer Coyne Qudeen’s column “Rust Marks” in the November/December 2015 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Here’s how the pages looked when dry:

Tea bag marks in an art journal
Surprise, surprise: tea bags stuck in an art journal yield serendipity.

The tea bag shapes reminded me of houses, so that’s what I went with:

Tea bag art journal pages
The stains left over from tea bags inspired these tea bag art journal pages.

I also did a quick tea bag art collage, using the bird image. After adhering the image to heavyweight Khadi paper with gel medium, I added other bits: printed book text, a scrap of passion tea-stained music paper, and the spine of an old book. Stitching was added with embroidery thread.

Tea bag art collage
The printed bird image was used for this tea bag art collage, along with a scrap of tea-stained paper.

I made more tea bag art by painting on some square tea bags and a passion tea bag. As Irene suggests in her article, I brushed them first with gesso to give myself a good ground to work on. Notice the blue tinted gesso on the pink paper? I added no color to it.

Tea bags brushed with gesso for painting
Some tea bags were brushed with gesso to provide a ground for painting.

For the square bags, I created abstract designs with a limited color palette, using acrylic paint and watercolor pencils.

Tea bag art with acrylic paint
Another interpretation of tea bag art: painted with acrylics and watercolor pencil.

On the pink paper, I painted—what else—a teacup, also using acrylic paint and watercolor pencils. All of this was done with one batch of tea bags, and I still have lots left over. Imagine the possibilities…

Tea bag art with acrylic paint and watercolor pencil
Another painted tea bag using acrylic paint and watercolor pencil.

While you’re pouring yourself a nice cup of tea, check out these resources and immerse yourself in tea bag art!

Tea bag art featured in March/April 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
See how Irene Rafael paints portraits on tea bags in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!
Eco Colour by India Flint
Learn how to use leaves, roots, and flowers as dyes in Eco Colour by India Flint.
Tea bag art in the July/August 2015 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
In “Layering the Unexpected” in the July/August 2015 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, see how Kim Owen prints on tea bags for collage.
Book plus Art

BOOK + ART by Dorothy Simpson Krause: A Glimpse Inside

Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause is a fantastic introduction to book art, a blend of design, function, and communication that offers artists a unique way to express themselves. Learn how to make books by hand, discover the best tools and materials, and get ideas for compelling content. No matter what your skill level, you’ll find inspiration for making an array of fascinating books, boxes, and more.


Format for Artistic Expression
Tools and Materials
Surfaces, Images and Words
Blank Books and Altered Books
Single-Fold, Bi-Fold and Books Folded From One Sheet
Accordion Books and Scrolls
Perfect Bindings, Drumleaf Bindings and Board Books
Side-Sewn, Single−Signature and Multiple-Signature Books
Covers, Boxes and Unbound Collections
About the Author

Also Included

  • Recipes
  • Helpful Hints
  • Creative Explorations (expanding on an original idea)
  • Multiple images and diagrams on each page
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Resources
  • Recommended Books
Book plus Art
Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause

An Excerpt: “What Is an Artist Book?”

We generally think of books as those things that sit on bookshelves with pages, covers, words and images. But books may vary considerably from that description. A book can be loosely defined as an original work of art that provides links and meeting points between art disciplines in a book-like format. Although a book can be enormous or tiny and made from almost any material imaginable, most are made to be held, opened and closed, and, perhaps, viewed in a sequential manner. Most are intimate, requiring a degree of attention and contemplation to experience the condensed emotion or observation they contain.

What makes a book interesting is the relationship between the content and form, and how it functions to entice and engage. Although I began my involvement with making books by purchasing plain blank books that could be personalized, I now prefer to make my own. It allows me to choose the size, paper (or other surface), binding style and cover material that will work together to enhance the concepts presented by the images and words— concepts chosen from subject matter ranging from the personal to the political, the sacred to the mundane.

Book plus Art
Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause

In Book + Art, we’ll be referring to the individual parts of a book—covers, endpapers, book block and so on. We’ll look at the basics—surfaces, images and words. Then we’ll look at altering pre-made books and a variety of ways to make simple and elegant book structures to house your images and words.

Because this book is, of necessity and by design, limited in scope, you may want to explore particular threads in depth. One of the best sources of information on educational opportunities, professional organizations, tutorials, reference materials and galleries is The Book Arts Web Maintained since 1994 by Peter Verheyen, it is also the home of Book_Arts-L, an active electronic meeting place, and The Bonefolder, an e-journal for the bookbinder and artist. Look in the Resources section at the back of this book for other suggestions.

Dorothy Simpson Krause is a painter, collage artist and printmaker who incorporates digital mixed media into her art. Her work is exhibited regularly in galleries and museums and featured in numerous current periodicals and books.

Book + Art C over
Be sure to get your copy of Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause today!
Jump Start by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Jumpstart: Design Stamp Wear

For the “Jumpstart” column in January/February 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors, we asked Julie Fei-Fan Balzer to show us how to create wearable artwork using foam stamps. Here’s Julie:

DESIGN, STAMP, WEAR by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

I take great pleasure in making art that I can wear. Perhaps it’s the show-off inside of me, but I love it when someone compliments my bag, my shirt, or my jewelry and I can say, “Thanks, I made it!”

ArtFoamies are one of my favorite tools because of how well they work with paint. Unlike rubber or silicone stamps, they hold a lot of paint and aren’t damaged by paint drying on them. Also, because they are so large, it’s easy to create multi-colored prints, using more than one color of paint at a time.

Jump Start by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
Jumpstart by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer


Freezer paper
Permanent marker
Scissors and/or craft knife and cutting mat
Iron and ironing board
Cardboard, to fit inside the shirt and larger than the design you plan to paint
Fabric paint, a variety of colors, including white or another light color
Balzer Designs ArtFoamies foam stamps TIP: Foam stamps are the best stamps for using with paint and, in my opinion, paint is the best product to use when stamping on fabric.
Inking palette




    1. Draw a simple design on the non-waxy side of a piece of freezer paper with a permanent marker, leaving plenty of blank space around the design. (FIGURE 1) TIP: I think it’s easiest to work with a shape that is simply an outline with no inside pieces (such as the inside circle of the letter “o”) to worry about.

Figure 1
Figure 1
    1. Cut out the design, using either scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat. If you’re working with a very large piece of freezer paper, like I did, I find it helpful to tape the freezer paper to the cutting mat so that it doesn’t move while I cut it.

    1. Lay the freezer paper stencil onto the t-shirt front, waxy-side down. Once it’s placed exactly as you want it, use an iron on the cotton setting to temporarily set the freezer paper to the shirt. (FIGURE 2)

Figure 2
Figure 2
    1. Place the cardboard inside the t-shirt to prevent the paint from leaking through. Paint the entire area inside the stencil with a brush. (FIGURE 3) NOTE: It’s important to use fabric paint so that the t-shirt remains supple. Regular acrylic paint will permanently stiffen the t-shirt. Acrylic paint can be used for this, but fabric medium must be added to it, so the hand of the fabric is not changed.

Figure 3
Figure 3
    1. Roll fabric paint onto the inking palette with a brayer, and then use the brayer to apply the paint to the stamps. Use less paint for a more perfect print and more paint for a less perfect print. I do both. My goal is to make these stamps as easy to use as possible with as few rules as possible.

    1. Stamp over the painted area in multiple layers. (FIGURE 4) If you wait for the paint to dry between layers, the colors will be crisper. If you don’t wait, the layers will blend a bit. There isn’t a right or wrong here; it’s a matter of personal preference.

Figure 4
Figure 4
    1. Randomly and lightly apply white or another light color to a few areas of the design. (FIGURE 5) Let dry.

Figure 5
Figure 5
    1. Add another layer, or three, of stamping until you’re satisfied with your design. TIP: If you feel that you’ve gone too far (which I think is impossible because exuberant pattern and color is delightful), you can always repeat steps 7 and 8 until you feel the balance is right. However, I encourage you to let go of constraint and self-judgment and simply have fun creating and making a colorful mess. The genius of creating inside the freezer paper stencil is that whatever you make will look beautiful once you remove the stencil.

    1. Carefully remove the freezer paper stencil. Allow the paint to dry. NOTE: You do not need to wait for the paint to dry to remove the stencil, though you can wait if you like.

    1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heat setting the dry fabric paint, so that it’s washable and permanent.

This technique is perfect for any fabric project—a t-shirt, skirt, baby onesie, a tote bag, or even home décor items, such as placemats or a table runner. Even better, it’s incredibly easy to do, and the finished result looks polished and professional. I hope you’ll give this technique a try and wear your art proudly.

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer is an artist, author, blogger, teacher, podcaster, product designer, and the host of ”Make It Artsy“on PBS.

Get the entire issue of Cloth Paper Scissors January/February 2017!

cover CPS JF 2017


Small Weaving

Wax paper, embroidery floss, wood & glass beads, nylon thread, silk

I used a wooden frame to wind the warp–with the nylon thread.  I created woven strips on the warp with plain weave.  To join the strips, after weaving was completed, I used embroidery floss and green wood beads.  To finish I wrapped 4 warp threads with nylon thread and supplemented the 2 ends with green glass beads.

Use a frame for a simple plain weave fabric.  I wove with a large plastic yarn needle.