Mixed-Media Art Techniques: 5 Things I've Learned

As you may know, I spent a few days at the CREATE Mixed-Media Retreat in New Jersey last month. I had an absolute blast meeting so many creative people who were teaching and taking the classes. Everyone there was so talented! 

mixed-media fabric art soy wax batik
A sample of my soy wax batik fabric art.

Most of my focus was on interacting with members of our mixed-media and fiber art community. But I did take time to for myself, participating in a couple of classes: Batik with Soy Wax taught by Jeannie Palmer Moore and Fusion Fabric taught by Jane Davies.

I learned a great dealin the classes I took, wandering in and out of the other classes at CREATE, and in the time I've had to reflect on the retreatand thought I'd share some of my insight with you.

1. Wax is magical. I have been entranced with encaustic collage for a while, but learning how to create a resist with soy wax (which melts at a lower temperature than beeswax, doesn't give off strong fumes, and can be washed out in the sink or washing machine) extended the love affair. All you need are fabric paints (or dyes), found objects for printing, and soy wax flakes.


fusion fabric art
Layers of fabric and paper fused together with lots of ironing!

. Work with what you have, borrow what you need. When I left for CREATE, I wasn't sure which classes would be available, so I loaded up a bag of supplies that included a little bit of everything. I took basic mixed-media materials like found papers, cotton fabric, fabric and acrylic paints, stencils, gel medium, gesso, and basic mixed media tools. Guess what? I didn't have all the supplies or colors I needed or wanted when it came time to make art. So I got creative with what I had, mixing colors, cutting up fabric motifs, and so on. It made me more creative. And the other students and our teachers were more than willing to share with me and the others in the class.

3. Ironing is not for sissies. I'm pretty sure I ironed more in the nine hours of class time at CREATE than I have in the past five years. Turns out both classes required almost constant ironingfor fusing and releasing the excess soy waxso my arms were tired by the time I left for home. However, craft ironing is way cheaper than going to the gym, so now I have a new exercise for upper body toning.

One-page wonder art journal page
from Joanne Sharpe's class.

4. Next time, include an art journaling class. I wasn't able to work an art journaling class into my schedule, but next time I will make that a priority: those people were having so much fun! I have to admit, I tend to over-think art journaling and I fret, especially, over my lettering. But looking at the wildly creative and colorful artwork coming out of the art journaling classes at CREATE, I was itching to grab some juicy markers and let loose.

5. Keep learning and doing.  I picked up tons of tips, tricks, techniques, and ideas from the classes I took and even the ones I just popped in on. But the best lessons I learned were: There is no one way to do something, when it comes to art. And,m the more you do, the more fearless you become. 

Fortunately, I have a lot of resources for learning and practicing new ways to use techniques and make art. And you do, too: The gallery art from our community members here; Cloth Paper Scissors magazine; and the workshops presented by some of the best artists and teachers in the creative world, including many who teach at CREATE, in the Cloth Paper Scissors shop.

P.S. Have you taken a workshop or gone to an art retreat? What was your most valued lesson? Tell me about it below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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