Faux Mixed-Media Art Techniques – No Foolin’

My kids revel in April Fool’s Day. They spend hours conjuring up devilishly creative ways to “get” their parents. (The best was a fake letter from Olivia’s college of choice rescinding her acceptance. Or maybe that was the worst.) We’ve always told them they can do anything, as long as no one gets hurt and nothing gets damaged. The girls have stuck to that rule and we have had many April firsts full of laughs (and the occasional scream.)

mixed media collage by johnnetto
This mixed-media collage by CPS community member johnnetto employs many “faux” techniques. For example, the honeycomb
effect was achieved with molding paste and a stamp.

A little foolery in mixed-media art can be funand helpfultoo. Trompe l’oeil (trick the eye) painting and optical illusions have been popular in art since the ancient Greeks, and today there are many tools, supplies, and techniques that make it easy to simulate surfaces and designs.

Here are some ideas you can use in your mixed-media art any day—not just on April 1.

To age paper:

  • Crinkle it up and then iron it.
  • Dip an old toothbrush in a little walnut ink and drag your thumb over the bristles to spray flecks on it.
  • Dampen the paper and sprinkle coffee crystals on it sparingly to create age spots (this works on fabric, too).

To make faux leather:

  • Cover an area with torn bits of masking tape and paint over it with acrylic paint.
  • Take a piece of Tyvek®, scrunch it up and rub it against itself between your hands, then paint over it with ink or fluid acrylics. While still wet, rub off the excess paint. Or, rub the surface with a crayon.

To make duplicates of found objects:

  • Make molds and casts of favorite objects to impersonate the real thing.
  • Use paper clay to fashion buttons, beads or baubles.

To create textured surfaces, use molding paste and a stamp or found object.

To fake an encaustic wax look, cover a collage with a thick coat of matte gel medium.

To age surfaces, apply crackle paste or crackle paint.

To create the look of wood on watercolor paper or canvas (or your wall), use a faux bois (fake wood) tool.


faux bois background for mixed media
Faux woodgrain background created
by Jenn Mason.

Cloth Paper Scissors

Editor Jenn Mason recently described how to use a faux bois tool on her blog. You need a curved faux bois tool, which you can find in the decorative paint section of a craft store, hardware store, or a paint store.

Here is the basic technique: First, paint a thin coat of paint in a woody color. Next, paint a coat of gesso over the paint and drag the faux bois tool over the gesso while gently rocking it back and forth. This will create the woodgrain effect.

Let the gesso dry completely, then paint a thin layer of a different wood color over the surface. Let it set a minute, then wipe off the excess.

In the years I’ve worked on Cloth Paper Scissors (since it’s premiere issue in 2004), I’ve been amazed at the variety of mixed-media techniques-faux and otherwise-that contributing artists have created and shared.

Now you can get eight years’ worth of collage, fiber art, and mixed-media techniques in one place, the Ultimate Cloth Paper Scissors CD Collection. And that’s no April Fool!

P.S. How do you make if faux? What techniques do you use to make one thing look like another? Leave a comment below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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