Get Inspiration for Handmade Gifts

One of the reasons we here at Cloth Paper Scissors love the holidays so much is that our creativity goes on overdrive as we make handmade gifts for friends and family, create mixed-media cards, and decorate with unique ornaments and trimmings. When we’re looking for inspiration, we turn to the same resources you do: special holiday issues of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine!

We have fantastic holiday issues loaded with tons of evergreen ideas and techniques, and they’re only a click away. Grab your supplies and make beautiful paper garlands, ornaments fashioned from recycled books, plus gift bags, jewelry, and more! Managing editor Barbara Delaney and I chose a couple of our favorite articles and had so much fun making holiday-themed projects that we can’t wait to share with you. First up is Barb!

handmade gifts
The best inspiration and ideas for handmade gifts can be found in special issues of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine! We were inspired to make a gift portfolio and textile art cards from articles in issues of Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts magazines.

In the Holiday 2011/2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts, Ro Bruhn’s article Festive Fabric Cards shows how to make fabric collage cards using textile and fiber scraps. I decided this was a great time to make some for some of the handmade gifts I have planned.

After looking through my stash for colorful fabrics, I grabbed some coordinating buttons and ribbons to add dimension and texture.

I love the bright pink collection, but I couldn’t overlook my favorite combo of black and white with a dash of red.

I auditioned several layering patterns before finally settling on a nice selection of fabric, lace, ribbon, and buttons.

A variety of shapes and patterns adds interest to these colorful cards, and will make great handmade gifts.

To start, I sewed a button on top of the layers to hold them all together. I placed the pile on the cardstock, and, holding it in place, I stitched through the same button to hold it on the card. I added more buttons and a variety of stitches: A simple running stitch holds the larger pieces in place, and Xs and French knots add design and also help to hold the fabrics in place.

I enjoyed making these cards so much, I had to make another . . . and then another. Make a coordinated group of three to four, tie them with a ribbon, and you have great handmade gifts for special people on your list. If the stitching showing inside the card bothers you, cover it with decorative paper or more fabric, and you’re good to go.

These fabric collage cards allow you to add as much or as little as you like.

Jeannine here—I was inspired by Jennifer Francis Bitto’s article Gift-Giving Ensembles: Inspired by the People You Love, in the Holiday 2010/2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts. I immediately connected with her love of bringing together loved ones’ favorite things to create handmade gifts, and presenting them in a special way. She created a dinner party box for an avid cookbook reader, a paper lover’s portfolio for a fan of ephemera, and a stationery folder to encourage correspondence. I have a friend who recently got hooked on making handmade books, and I’m giving her a handmade portfolio filled with fun bookmaking stuff, such as ephemera, waxed linen thread, and fabric.

You can certainly use a ready-made portfolio, but I wanted to personalize mine. For the portfolio itself I used a large piece of 140-pound watercolor paper. I created a template so the finished piece would be 8 ½” x 11″, with a ¼”-inch thick spine, and slanted, gusseted pockets. To decorate it, I randomly applied light shades of spring green and turquoise acrylic paint with a gift card. Dots of bright yellow paint were applied to the paper, and I brayered over them in different directions, which produced a pattern of ovals.

With watercolor paper as a substrate, you can apply any wet color media, such as acrylic paint, watercolor, ink, or markers.

My friend loves Matisse, so I used the Cutouts Inspired by Matisse stencil by Carolyn Dube for StencilGirl Products to create more patterns. Deeper values of the same shades of paint were applied with a cosmetic wedge all over the paper and pockets. As a final touch, I thinned Payne’s Gray paint with water, then splattered it all over with a wide bristle brush.

Designing the portfolio yourself allows you to personalize it with the recipient’s favorite colors and motifs.

When the portfolio was dry I folded in the pocket tabs, and before gluing them down I slipped in a piece of ribbon on both sides, for a closure. To make the portfolio look more like a book, I glued a piece of handmade paper to the spine.

Portfolios make great handmade gifts because they can be used again and again.

Making gifts look special is important to me, so I used glassine bags to hold the various elements. I stamped the bags first with permanent ink and set the ink with a heat tool.

Make handmade gifts special by including special touches such as decorated papers, bags, and envelopes.

I think my friend is going to love this gift! I hope she has fun opening every little bag and thinking about how to use the contents. A portfolio is a great idea for holding handmade cards, stickers, a few small handmade notebooks, or vintage bookplates.

handmade gifts
How could you personalize this portfolio for someone in your life?

We hope you have fun making your handmade gifts special! Be sure to get all of our holiday issues, so you have plenty of projects to choose from. Have a wonderful handmade holiday!

If you’re like us, you can’t get enough inspiration and ideas for holiday handmade gifts. In this blog post, learn how to make festive tags using paper clay!

Discover how to make beautiful holiday décor, one-of-a-kind journals, unique stocking stuffers, and more in the Holiday 2010/2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts.
Making handmade gifts this year? The Holiday 2011/2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts has all the instructions to make tree skirts, ornaments, tote bags, journals, and much more.
Paper Holiday is filled with everything you need to create gorgeous mixed-media handmade gifts, with hand-picked articles from past issues of Cloth Paper Scissors, Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts, I Heart Paper, and Pages.

Make These Polymer Clay Ornaments!

‘Tis the season for all things holiday, including decorations. If you love unique ornaments, especially ones that are personalized, I have such a great project for you! I just finished making painted polymer clay ornaments that are featured in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, and they’re so fantastic—luminous and textured and gorgeous. You have to make these for the holidays, keeping some and giving some as gifts. They are truly magical.

Doreen Kassel’s article “Heartfelt Holiday Ornaments” was the inspiration for these pieces. Doreen’s ornaments immediately captured my attention not only because of their beauty, but also what she uses to color them—oil paint. Who knew that oil paint and polymer clay were a match made in heaven? Doreen’s secret to making the color so brilliant and saturated has to do with how she layers the paints, which is the coolest technique.

The process starts with white polymer clay and clear glass ornaments—don’t use plastic or they’ll melt when you bake the clay. I conditioned the clay and rolled it out to about 1/16”, then applied it to the ornament. Doreen has a great technique for patching the clay onto the glass, which is super simple and results in a smoother, more even layer.

Rolled out clay for polymer clay ornaments
For these polymer clay ornaments you can roll the clay out by hand, or use a clay roller.

When the ornament is covered, look for items that will make interesting texture in the clay, like rubber stamps, mark-making tools, mesh bags, leaves—you can get really creative with stuff you have around your house.

Texture tools for polymer clay
Texture tools can include stamps, clay tools, plastic needlepoint canvas, and various brushes.

I used, from left to right, a cat brush, a wood-mounted rubber stamp, a cling-mounted rubber stamp, and a silicone clay shaping tool (I later added divots to the last ornament with a clay tool). And yes, that is an actual cat brush. Those little bristles make great marks in clay—just make sure yours is clean and free of Fluffy’s fur, which could stick to the clay.

Texture effects on polymer clay ornaments
Texture tools provide a variety of patterns; try several for different effects on polymer clay ornaments.

Creating texture is an important part of what makes these ornaments so intriguing. Texture is not essential for the base layer, but it will add so much dimension and interest to your piece.

For the focal design, I created familiar motifs: Christmas trees, leaves and berries, poinsettias, and hearts. You can cut designs with clay cutters (canapé cutters also work), or by hand; the latter lends a great rustic look. I also stamped some words with rubber stamps, then cut them out and applied them to the ornaments as well.

Creating clay embellishments is your opportunity to personalize the polymer clay ornaments by including the recipient’s name or monogram, or featuring a special design that’s meaningful to them, incorporating their favorite colors—there are so many ways to make these unique. Apply the embellishments by pressing them gently onto the base clay layer—that’s all it takes to make them stick.

Bake according to the clay manufacturer’s instructions. I baked mine in a designated toaster oven, and since the ornaments were a little large, I watched and rotated them to make sure they didn’t burn.

When the ornaments are cool, it’s time to add color. Doreen’s fantastic technique starts with a base layer of burnt umber mixed with an oil paint thinner. Make sure you read the article to see how much of each you need to mix, and also the type of thinner that Doreen recommends. This layer should look like you’re spreading chocolate sauce on the clay, but don’t worry about the dark shade! Pounce the brush into crannies and crevices to make sure the paint reaches all the low spots.

Painting a base coat of burnt umber oil paint on polymer clay ornaments
A base coat of burnt umber oil paint is needed for great dimension and depth.

In the next step, you’ll rub much of it off with a soft cloth, leaving a beautiful warm brown color. The more you buff the more the color comes off, but you’ll notice that it stays in all the crevices. This is why adding texture is so important—that dimension is part of what makes these pieces unique. This is where I started to appreciate (and stopped being nervous about) working with oil paint, as opposed to acrylic. Oil paint has such a richness and depth to it, and the open working time is a huge plus. You can add and subtract paint all you want, and the results will be so beautiful.

Buffing the base coat on a polymer clay ornament
As the burnt umber is buffed, the polymer clay ornament takes on a lovely, warm brown tone.

No need to wait for the paint to fully dry—once you’ve buffed it, you’re good to add the next layer. Here’s what mine looked like before I started painting the embellishments:

Buffed oil paint layer
Once the burnt umber paint has been buffed, the dark paint stays in the recesses.

I used fairly traditional holiday shades of reds and greens, mixing the paints until I found  shades I liked. Since I was making four ornaments, I mixed enough paint for all so I wouldn’t have to stop and mix more batches. Using a small liner brush worked great for painting the various embellishments. If some paint happened to go where it wasn’t supposed to, I removed as much as I could with a cotton swab, then repainted and buffed the area with the original color. After painting, these ornaments will need to cure for a few days, and then they’re ready for your tree, mantle, or garland.

Painting details on a polymer clay ornament with a liner brush
A liner brush is perfect for painting details. Gloves are a must!

You know the great feeling when reality exceeds expectations? That’s this project. Seriously, you have to make these. Even before I finished painting them my colleagues were making dibs on which ones they wanted. So please, get the November/December 2017 issue, some clay, glass ornaments, and some oil paint, and make these amazing polymer clay ornaments. All the instructions are in the issue, and you’ll get to see Doreen’s designs, plus a special bonus piece she created that you cannot miss.

Painted polymer clay ornaments
Make some of these polymer clay ornaments for yourself, and give some as gifts!

I hope your holidays are filled with color and creativity!

If you love working with clay, learn about five types of clay that are perfect for three-dimensional art in this blog post!

If you’re looking for more great information on clay projects, or for handmade holiday items, check out our great resources!

November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
All the instructions for making these polymer clay ornaments can be found in the article Heartfelt Holiday Ornaments by Doreen Kassel in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
Mixed-Media in Clay by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Patricia Chapman
Discover great techniques for using paper clay, plaster, resin, and more in the eBook Mixed-Media in Clay by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Patricia Chapman.
Cloth Paper Scissors Paper Holiday magazine
The holidays are here! Get greta ideas for making gifts, decor, tags, and more in Paper Holiday.


Making Art From a Place of Love

We’ve had a number of mixed-media artists pen fantastic essays about inspiration and creativity in our Cloth Paper Scissors magazine column Releasing the Creative Spirit. In this latest installment (also featured in our November/December 2017 issue), artist Carrie Schmitt shares how she embraces her creative spirit to create art from a place of love. Enjoy!

”Follow the Roses” by Carrie Schmitt

Releasing the Creative Spirit: Making Art from a Place of Love by Carrie Schmitt

“The secret of art is love.” ~ Antoine Bourdelle

When I was going through a divorce, I feared my days as a full-time painter might come to an end due to my new financial situation. Suddenly, my art became more precious. Realizing our time together might come to an end, I no longer took my relationship with art for granted. Even the struggles during the creative process became bittersweet. My paintings and I became a team. Finally, I saw my art for what it was—a living, breathing entity. Creating became a passionate and tender act of love.

My paintings are alive to me now. I had tapped into a deeper place of love. I had blurred the lines of material physical reality, and was able to experience my art as a vibrational energetic presence. Now, I like to say that I love my paintings into being.

At my retreats, I try to produce this experience for participants. First, we create a beautiful environment conducive to loving one another, our creative process, and ourselves. We throw rose petals on the ground and burn sweet-smelling candles. We dress ourselves in gowns that make us feel alive and festive and desirable. We honor and seduce the creative spirit.

We meditate to calm our mind and body into a state of relaxation, acknowledging the body’s incredible role in our creative process. We practice yoga and dance to clear our energy channels and allow the flow of creative energy to find expression. We dance in ways that physically and energetically open our heart. We visualize how our heart participates in the loving act of creation. This helps us tap into our intuition and emotions rather than work from our critical mind.

making art
”Sassy Self Portrait“ by Carrie Schmitt
“Who told you that one paints with colors? One makes use of colors, but one paints with emotions.”  ~ Jean–Baptiste–Siméon Chardin

We listen to a playlist of love songs I created, and we sing aloud. Singing activates our throat chakra, the energetic center in our body connected with creativity and communication and finding our voice. We sway our hips and awaken the creative parts of ourselves as we paint. We let our emotions flow freely onto the canvas. We become one with our creative process. We continue to paint and keep accepting and loving our art into being while simultaneously accepting and loving ourselves. When you work from a place of love for yourself and for your creativity, this energy will manifest into physical form as your art.

We are often taught to quiet those aspects of ourselves where our creativity resides. Our sensuality, our voices, our bodies, all play a role in the wholeness of our creative expression. To embrace our divine creative feminine spirit, we embrace our fullness with an unlimited capacity to commune and co-create with the creative spirit that is always accessible to us.

Carrie Schmitt is an artist, author, yoga instructor, and retreat facilitator. Her art is sold in galleries, in private collections internationally, and is licensed for clothing, home décor, accessories, toys, and stationery. Carrie lives in Seattle, Washington, and teaches workshops and retreats throughout the country. She is the author of Painted Blossoms: Creative Expressive Flowers with Mixed Media from North Light Books. Visit her website at

For more inspiring words from Carrie, read her guest post on finding your individual style as an artist.

Shop Carrie’s books and videos below for much more inspiration!

Develop your own art style while you explore and paint the organic and forgiving shapes of flowers in the Painted Blossoms: Creating Expressive Flower Art with Mixed Media ebook.
Learn Carrie’s unique approach to painting flowers in the Mixed Media Flower Paintings: Using Inspiration Images video download.
Learn design elements and how to incorporate them into beautiful flower paintings in the Surprise Garden: Design Elements for Mixed Media Flower Painting video download.
Create loose and flowing abstract flowers with the help of water in the Abstract Flower Painting: Dramatic Drips & Layers video download.

Plus, don’t miss the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine!

Our November/December 2017 issue is filled with ideas and inspiration for the holidays!

Get Great Advice for Selling Handmade Items

The holidays are prime time for selling handmade items at art and craft fairs, pop-up venues, and trunk shows. If you have plans to sell at a show, or are even thinking about it, you need to do one thing before you even start thinking about your display: Get advice from Carolyn Edlund. Carolyn is that great friend who has the best guidance and the most knowledge about selling at shows. In her online course Interweave Art Business Series: Sales Success for Artists & Makers—Sell Your Handmade Work at Retail Events, Carolyn gives you great advice in such an upbeat, assured way that your confidence is going to soar, and you? Will sell.

selling handmade items
Learn the secrets of selling handmade items successfully with this Interweave Art Business Series: Sales Success for Artists & Makers—Sell Your Handmade Work at Retail Events, with Carol Edlund.

Artists aren’t always natural salespeople, and that’s okay. But as Carolyn points out, strategies for selling handmade items can be learned, and she’s got wonderful practical information she can’t wait to share with you. Learn how to find the best shows to sell your work, how to display your work, build a rapport with customers, and close deals. She even shares resources so you can get started right away. Carolyn’s an artist herself, in addition to being an entrepreneur, an art business consultant, and the founder of the art blog This is no outsider dispensing advice—Carolyn’s been in the trenches. I wish I had had her expertise when I started selling, I would have avoided making so many mistakes, and I absolutely would have sold more. Lucky you—you have the best head start!

Carolyn Edlund’s great selling advice is your ace in the hole this holiday season. Even if you’re not a natural at sales, you’ll learn all the tips and tricks you need!

One of my favorite parts of the course is Carolyn’s tips on talking with customers when they’re in your booth or space. So often this is an awkward dance of wanting to engage people, but being afraid of talking at the wrong time, or scaring them off. Carolyn’s solution is to start talking a little bit about your work, providing a backstory to a piece, and offering an interesting tidbit about your process, or the materials you use. Listen to your customers and learn from them, she says—maybe you’ll discover that they’re looking for a gift for someone, and you can point them toward an appropriate piece.

Are art and craft fairs the best venues for your work? In this course you’ll discover other options for selling handmade items that might be better!

Strategizing in advance about how to handle objections, such as a customer worrying about a return policy, or not being able to afford a piece, puts you in the position of authority, and makes you feel confident. When you have answers at the ready, obstacles are easily overcome, and selling handmade items is that much easier.

Discover great ways to work with customers to make sales and build your base.

What’s wonderful about this course is that all types of artists and makers can benefit from her knowledge, and she has tons of real-life situations that she shares with you. You don’t have to feel alone or that you’re struggling to get your artwork seen and accepted. For example, here’s a great tip Carolyn shares: to increase the perceived value of your work, sign it, and include a signed certificate of authenticity, which also includes information about the work. Include some text about what inspired you, and the techniques you used. Isn’t that a great idea? Wouldn’t you respond well to that, if you were the customer?

You’re not just selling handmade items, you’re selling you! In this course you’ll learn terrific ways to share interesting aspects of your creative process.

She even has tips on how to display your work for maximum visibility, and how to encourage customers to engage with your work. Lots of photos are included, which is great for visual people like us.

Design a display that suits your work! Carolyn has great advice for creating displays that attract customers.

Another valuable segment of the course covers building your customer base. How do you find people who will like and appreciate and buy your work, and how do you maintain them as customers? Carolyn has great insider advice for this, too, such as easy ways to stay in touch with your fans and followers, how to make them feel valued, and how to keep them updated on your current work and events.

Building and maintaining a loyal customer base is key for making sales, and Carolyn shows you easy ways to do both.

Carolyn talks to you like a friend, respects you like a peer, and she makes selling handmade items absolutely doable and achievable—because it is! There’s nothing you can’t tackle, and the payoff is not just more sales, but also building a community of like-minded people who support and appreciate your work.

This Interweave course comes with useful workbook exercises, which will fast track you even more toward your goals. If you’ve never sold your work before, or if you’re looking for ways to increase sales and customers, sign up today, and have a great and profitable holiday season!

Get Festive with Kinetic Art Gift Tags

‘Tis the season for holiday gift giving, and these festive kinetic art gift tags are perfect to tie on to larger packages or give as standalone presents. Designed by artist Dena Ann Adams and featured in the November/December 2015 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, the tags are easy to make using scratchboard and an assortment of mixed-media art supplies.

kinetic art
Kinetic art gift tags created by Dena Ann Adams (Photos by Sharon White Photography)

Arctic Angels: Kinetic Scratch Art Tags by Dena Ann Adams

One of my favorite mixed-media art techniques is creating tags using scratchboard. This project can be worked on in stages or made in batches. It’s the perfect project for this busy time of year. Use them as gift tags, cards, or give one as a standalone gift.

For these tags, we’ll use digitally printed or color-copied sheets of scratchboard images, allowing us to use the images over and over—and build a nice collection.


  • Scratchboard, black, a few sheets (I used 8” x 10” Scratch-Art® boards from Melissa and Doug®. Be sure to use the boards, not the paper.)
  • Water-soluble pencil, white (I used a Stabilo® ALL white pencil.)
  • Scratch art tools, also called scratch knives (Ampersand™ Scratchbord™ tools and Melissa and Doug® Scratch-Art tools work well.)
  • Awl
  • Acrylic paint pens, black (I use a uni Posca paint marker pen.)
  • Towels and/or cotton swabs
  • Water
  • Scanner and printer, or a copy shop
  • Cardstock, heavyweight for inkjet printing
  • Paintbrush
  • Matte medium
  • Scissors
  • Art tags (I used Ranger tags in Kraft brown.)
  • Metallic paints (I used Lumiere® metallic paints in Rust, Olive, and Pewter.)
  • Stamps
  • Ink pad (I used a Ranger Distress Ink pad in Antique Burlap.)
  • Cosmetic sponge
  • Found papers (I used vintage book pages for this project.)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Gesso
  • Glue (I used Mod Podge®.)
  • Water-soluble art markers (I used Tombow® Dual Brush markers.)
  • Glitter
  • Brads and brad-setting tool
  • Colored pencils (I use Lyra dark colored pencils or Prismacolor®.)
  • Fibers for hanging loops optional
  • Source photos or images, copyright free
  • Transfer paper, white (I use white transfer paper by Melissa and Doug for tracing.)
  • Photo-editing software (I use Photoshop®.)
  • Embellishments
  • Alphabet stamps (I used small stamps.)
  • Dye ink (I use Ranger Archival ink.)
  • Brad setting tool

NOTE: A traditional scratchboard is coated in white clay and then inked over with black ink. Scraping with a tool removes the ink and reveals the white below, giving your drawings an etched look.

Make your collage sheets

1. Sketch your collage elements on the scratchboard with the white pencil: head, body parts, and accessories. (FIGURE 1) Remember to keep things small, but know that you can reduce your final size more later if needed. If you are not comfortable drawing freehand, use the transfer paper and trace from your reference image.


NOTE: If you are including wings or other movable appendages, be sure to make these pieces wide enough to accommodate a brad attachment.

2. Begin scratching with the tools, removing all of the black in areas where the highlights would appear on the object first. (FIGURE 2) The curved blade tool is my favorite tool for this technique.


TIP: It is sometimes difficult to get a nice fluid line with a flat scraping tool. This is especially true when working with lettering. Use an awl for a fluid curve.

3. With your lightest areas all white now, add crosshatching to create the mid-range and darker areas. (FIGURE 3) Experiment and develop different hatching and dotting techniques to suggest volume and shadows, always keeping in mind where the light source is. (FIGURE 4)


TIP: If you make a mistake, use an acrylic pen to restore black to the surface. Once dry, you can scrape the black away again if needed.


4. When you are satisfied with your image sheet, gently wipe away the remaining white pencil marks with a moist towel or damp cotton swab. (FIGURE 5) Avoid wiping any areas that were corrected with pen, as the pen may wipe away as well.


5. Scan and print your copies in grayscale onto the cardstock. Alternatively, make color copies, which have better detail and are less likely to smear than black-and-white copies. Don’t forget to adjust the size of your prints if needed to fit the tag(s).

TIP: When you scan your images, the scratch lines are sometimes too fine to print well. Enlarge your image and open the Levels function in Photoshop. Click on the white eyedropper in the pop-up screen, and then click inside a scratched line that is supposed to be completely white. Click the black eyedropper and then click an area of the image that is supposed to be true black. Save this image in grayscale with a new name. Print from this image.

NOTE: It is not advisable to cut, collage, or glue the scratchboard because it tends to resist glue and will curl.

TIP: For mirror images of items like mittens, draw the shape once and print a second, flipped version of your sheet for the other mitten or other shape, such as wings.

6. Add a layer of matte medium to your image sheet to beef up the page and make the inkjet ink less likely to run. Don’t brush too vigorously, as this will cause the ink to run. Let dry.

Prepare the elements

1. Cut out the collage elements, leaving a narrow black border on the scratchboard images to help define the shapes. (FIGURE 6)


2. Embellish the tag with paint. I painted a rough band at the top and bottom of the tag with metallic paint. (FIGURE 7) A thin, fairly uneven coat works best. Let the brown of the tag show through. Continue to decorate the tag with stamps, paint, embellishments, or mark making as desired. Let dry.


3. Age the unpainted part of the tag with Distress Ink, using the sponge to apply the ink. (FIGURE 7) Run the edges of the tag(s) along the ink pad to add more color.

4. Cut out accessories for your figure from found papers. I cut a coat from a book page for the bear. Paint the paper with light gesso or paint, age the edges with Distress Ink, and let dry.

5. Glue the clothing into place, and attach the body parts and other elements with glue. (FIGURE 8)  Set aside any moving parts for later.


6. Color the black-and-white pieces with markers, or add a little glitter with matte medium. (FIGURE 8)

TIP: If your colors are too bright, carefully work over the area with a slightly damp paintbrush to lift some of the color.

Final touches

1. Decide where you want to attach the moving parts to the tag, and carefully poke holes through the parts and the tag with the awl. Set the brads so that the moving parts can rotate. Use a brad setting tool if desired.

2. Draw around the collage elements with pen or colored pencil to integrate the edges. I used a black pen. Make marks, add more stamping, or add other embellishments. (FIGURE 9)


3. Use coordinating fibers to make a hanging loop. (FIGURE 9)  Finish the backs of your tags as desired.

Dena Ann Adams etches strange critters onto all kinds of surfaces in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She saves every scrap of paper and loves teaching other creatives her cut-and-paste methods. Visit her website at

Want more mixed-media gift tag inspiration? Here’s a fun idea for creating tag-shaped fabric collages and another great idea for creating paper clay holiday tags!

Check out these holiday issues of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine for more festive ideas:

November/December 2017
November/December 2015

Art Journaling Tools That Work

Art journaling inspiration is everywhere. But what if inspiration alone isn’t getting you from idea to the page? That’s where great art journaling tools come in, and we happen to have just the book that will turn your seed of an idea into a full-fledged, artful art journaling page that you’ll love: Amplified Art by Kass Hall.

The subtitle for this book says it all: Dynamic Techniques for High-Impact Pages. Kass really wants your creativity to take off and soar like a jet. So she’s filled this book with ideas for incorporating energetic color, design, patterning, high contrast, printing, lettering, and more. The tools she provides come in the form of imaginative techniques and design principals that you can use in your own artwork, with your own style and favorite materials. Customize these ideas any way you like. This is the kind of book you can pick up and start anywhere, and you’re sure to discover new art journaling tools that will enhance your artwork in amazing ways.

Discover great art journaling tools that will make your art journal pages come alive with color, pattern, and energy in Amplified Art: Dynamic Techniques for High-Impact Pages, by Kass Hall.

Whenever I get in a creative rut, or I just want to mix things up, I know that there will always be something in Amplified Art that will set my wheels turning again. This time I made my own collage papers using stencils, following techniques that start on page 9. Learning new ways with familiar materials is always a great feeling, and this helps me justify my increasing stash of stencils! Working in my large journal, I first amassed a bunch of designs of all different types: flowers, abstract shapes, classic overall patterns, and some fanciful motifs.

Grab your favorite stencils—even if they don’t seem to go together—and use them to create unique designs and patterns.

Starting with a Moroccan design, I traced several of the shapes around the page with pencil, then traced a leafy stem, some flowers, abstract designs, and a couple of birds.

I used a mechanical pencil to trace the shapes, making the lines dark enough to see, but light enough to erase.

Kass encourages you to overlap the stencils as you trace them, which sets up intriguing design possibilities. Which images should pop, and which should recede? How does that change the dynamic of the artwork? Unnecessary lines were erased (I love using a Tombow MONO Zero Eraser for this), and the remaining ones were traced over with a black Sakura Pigma Micron 005 pen. If you’re going to add color to your work you’ll need to use a permanent pen; the nib width is up to you.

When you decide on how the designs will overlap, you suddenly have the beginnings of a dynamic page.

Kass has a great tip for this stage in the process: Scan your design, so you’ll be able to create more collage papers when you need them. Print the design on different types of paper and you can add color and patterns any way you like, whenever you like. More great art journaling tools to have in your wheelhouse.

I chose to add watercolor, shading as I went, and not always staying within the lines. You can go total rainbow shades here, or choose a color palette you like.

Color your design with watercolor, markers, pen, paint—think about the effect you want, and the type of paper you’re working with.

After adding the watercolor the background looked a little too bare, so I grabbed a piece of punchinella and some PanPastels and Gelatos and created some circle patterns here and there.

art journaling tools
Amplify the design with more stencil marks and color.

A white paint pen was perfect for making tiny dots in the flowers and the Moroccan motifs, and gel pens worked for adding doodles. I created some grid marks with a stray piece of plastic needlepoint canvas and some stamping ink and a brush.

art journaling tools
With the art journaling tools in Kass’s book, I felt so confident creating this one-off page that I can now use any way I like!

I scanned the finished page as well, and following a tip from Kass, I used some basic Photoshop filters to change it up a bit. Here’s the artwork with the Smudge Stick filter:

Add a filter to give your scanned artwork a different look.

And here it is with the Mosaic Tiles filter. Fun, right?

Photo editing filters are an easy way to change things up. alter the color palette, add contrast, and see what effects you can achieve.

I printed the artwork with the Smudge Stick filter onto pale pink cardstock, and used part of it as a quick embellishment for a book cover. I cut out a few motifs and glued them on top, added some shadows and book text, and created some black ink splatters to tie the elements together.

art journaling tools
There are countless ways you can use your new collage papers.

All of these great ideas came from just one technique in Amplified Art. There’s so much more in the book to explore, and I’m sure once you get it, it will always be within reach. Don’t miss this opportunity to add this book to your library and have even more art journaling tools at the ready! Also, always remember this (you’ll find it on page 4):

The most important thing of all! (Artwork by Kass Hall)

You can never have enough journaling techniques! Get 10 awesome art journaling tips from top artist/instructors, including great ideas for repurposing household items for art, creating expressive faces, combine doodling and collage, and more!

Studio Spotlight: Jen Cushman

Editor’s Note: Studio Saturday is taking a short break and will return next week. Please enjoy this glimpse inside Jen Cushman’s art studio! This Studio Spotlight is also featured in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

Photos and artwork by Jen Cushman

Every artist who sets up a studio should take a page from Jen Cushman’s playbook. This mixed-media artist who specializes in jewelry had a thoughtful approach to setting up her home studio when she and her family moved in to their Arizona house five years ago. “I took a complete assessment of how I like to work,” she says. “I wrote down what materials I use most often, where my stumbling blocks tended to occur, and what drove me crazy—for example, if I had to stop everything and rummage for a particular type of glue. Then I created an organization system and workflow tailored specifically to these issues. My studio has been an evolution.” For the last details, Jen brought in a professional organizer for a bit of professional help. “I finally have it working perfectly for me,” she says.

That carefully calculated arrangement includes specific spots for using drills and torches, and ones for patinas and other wet mediums. Jewelry, collage, and assemblage components are kept in clear plastic shoeboxes that are stacked and stored in two large cabinets, and in tables located throughout the space. The sorting gets pretty granular. There’s a box for white four-hole mother-of-pearl buttons, and one for white two-hole mother-of-pearl buttons. All that organizing allows Jen some freedom. “I love to be messy and dig through my stuff looking through the best objects to represent my vision, and then create with wild abandon.”

What really catches visitors’ eyes when they walk into the spacious, airy room is the abundance of original art and unique vintage pieces that peek out from shelves, sit atop cabinets, and hang from hooks on the wall. Vintage dress forms are bedecked with Jen’s handmade jewelry pieces, her assemblages are tucked into shelves, and bright, collaged tags are clipped to the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Most of the pieces are her class samples that were too indispensable to sell, but Jen explains that as her business plan changes, so does her desire to collect the work of other artists. “My intention is to collect more of my amazing artist friends’ work and have a much broader visual representation of inspiration in my studio,” she says.

As for what inspires her to combine original art with touchstone vintage pieces, Jen says, “I am always looking for a change in perspective, for a shift to happen. I delight in the unexpected. I go out of my way to create beauty and tell stories by piecing together random things that seem to have zero commonality. I like soft next to hard edges. I like metal next to velvet. In our busy world, it’s my hope that in a brief moment I might catch someone, and they will see me. They will see who I am, and what I’m trying to share with the world.”

Jen Cushman

Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art 17 years ago and never looked back. She’s drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. Author of two books, her work has also been widely published in national art and jewelry magazines. She travels and teaches collage, assemblage and jewelry making techniques. An inspiring speaker, Jen’s been invited to share her knowledge of women in business and living a creative life at industry conferences and art events. Visit Jen’s website at

For more with Jen, don’t miss her tutorial for creating a rustic wire star tree topper.

Plus, check out our November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine for more ideas and inspiration, including a look at how Jen created a handmade book with unique meaningful materials.

November/December 2017

Gifting Art from the Heart with Jodi Ohl

Want to give a gift of your time or talent this holiday season? In her latest Creative Connections column (also included in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine), mixed-media artist Jodi Ohl shares some wonderful ideas for gifting meaningful art from the heart. We hope these ideas inspire you in your own holiday gift giving this year!

art from the heart
“Wish” by Jodi Ohl

The Gift of Giving by Jodi Ohl

I am often asked to donate my art for various causes, and, as much as I’d like to say yes to everyone, I can’t. But, from time to time there is a request that speaks to me. I’ll usually oblige by going into my inventory and picking out something that fits.

Recently, I was asked to donate a piece of art for a military fundraiser, specifically for veterans re-entering the work force. I was a little perplexed as to what to donate. I decided to dig deep and create something new that would have meaning, something symbolic that would speak to the sacrifices our military makes.

I could have painted a flag—that’s patriotic for sure, but not the personal touch I was going for. Funky houses? I tested that idea and painted a few patriotic houses, but they were more whimsical than I wanted this piece to be. I searched the Internet for military symbols, something that would grab me, and my search kept bringing me to boots. It hit me. I decided to paint soldier’s boots that were weathered and worn.

I put out a request for friends to send me photos of military boots for this special project, and I was floored by the response. I took bits from three different photos: a friend’s husband’s boots by the door, signifying he was back home safe and sound; a son’s boots after a recent deployment; and finally and most heartbreaking, a picture from a Gold Star mom. All of the photos touched me.

A few days after the auction, I was contacted by the new owner of the painting. She was the mother of a soldier currently serving, who said she felt that the painting was meant just for her. Her family includes several service members, and when she sees those boots at home, it means all is well.

That was exactly the response I was hoping for. I was truly out of my comfort zone creating something for a new audience, but I discovered that when gifts are given from the heart, they always have real meaning.

art from the heart
“Soldier’s Boots” by Jodi Ohl

If you’d like to give a gift of your time or talent this holiday season, here are a few ideas that may inspire you:

• Create cards or other small handmade gifts to give to residents of a local senior center or assisted living home. So many of our elders are alone during the holidays and welcome gifts, cards, and visits.

• Share some of your creative skills with those less fortunate or who would enjoy learning from you. Consider teaching a small 1–2 hour complimentary class. Sharing your gifts often has rewards far beyond the actual act of giving.

• Is there a children’s ward in a hospital that could use some cheering up? Donate a painting or wall hanging. Could you brighten up someone’s day by donating handcrafted earrings or necklaces to a women’s shelter? Doing the unexpected can be extremely gratifying.

• Listen to your friends and family. Has anyone mentioned they would love something you’ve already created, or raved about your work but couldn’t purchase it? I typically don’t give handmade gifts to all of my friends and family, but I do listen when they are fond of something. That sense of gratitude is hard to replicate. I think you will find there are many options, both close to your home and your heart, to spread joy and love with your creative talents.

Jodi Ohl is a full-time mixed-media artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina. Her work is known for its distinctive texture and bold color combinations. She enjoys writing about her art and sharing the love of healing and motivation through creativity. Jodi teaches online and in person around the U.S. Look for Jodi’s book, Abstracts in Acrylic & Ink: A Playful Painting Workshop from North Light Books, and her videos: Jodi Ohl‘s Zen Painting Workshop, Art Journal Jam, Texture Techniques for Abstract Art, and Abstract Painting on Yupo®. Visit Jodi’s website at

Be sure to also check out Seth Apter’s dos and don’ts of handmade gifts.

Our November/December 2017 issue is filled with inspiring ideas for holiday gift-making!

November/December 2017