Mixed-Media Supplies: Substitutions That Work

mixed media art houses
Debbi Crane's 'Cottage Cards'
from Mixed Mania.

cate pratoOften when I'm knee deep in an artistic process and I realize I'm out of (or can't find) a tool or supply I need right now-black paint, gel medium, my CropadileI stop a moment and think: What would Debbi and Cheryl do?

Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater are two of the funniest, most talented mixed-media artists I know. Together they wrote a hilarious book called Mixed Mania: A Starter's Guide to Mixed-Media Art that is set up like a cookbook.

Though each author approaches art in a different way (Debbi is a meticulous planner while Cheryl flies by the seat of her sassy pants), their two styles blend in this book like a fruit smoothie. And it's so much fun to drink it all in.

Plus, they use a lot of cooking metaphors, to which I can relate.

At the beginning of Mixed Mania they offer up a list of art ingredients necessary for a basic pantry. They also offer a list of substitutions, which is why I think of them when I'm suddenly stuck.

For example:

In place of a bone folder to crease paper precisely, you can substitute a butter knife.

If you don't have a compass handy, use bowls or plates from the kitchen to trace perfect circles.

mixed media supplies bone folder
A bone folder is used to create the
creases on Debbi's accordion books,
but you could substitute a butter knife.

Texture stamps make great impressions on clay, but if you check out the soles of your sneakers, you might find an unusual stamp there for free.

Instead of an artist's palette or palette paper, use a plastic or Styrofoam egg carton.

Walnut ink and other antiquing glazes are wonderful for giving your art an aged look, but usually brown paint watered down to the consistency of milk will have a similar effect.

Air-dry craft clay is good for molding into embellishments, but salt dough (one cup flour, one cup salt, plus enough water to make a stiff dough) works well, too.

Some other ideas include:

  • Shoe polish for paint.
  • An office binder clip for a clamp.
  • Fine wire folded in half and twisted to use in place of a big-eyed needle.
  • A hotel key/old credit card as a palette knife.
  • Old telephone book pages as a worktable protector.

The point is, while it's nice to have some special tools of the mixed-media trade, you don't have to go out and spend a fortune. Often what you have on hand can be substituted with equal if not better results. In these belt-tightening times, we can all use a break on our art budgets. One thing I can say for sure though, is there's no substitute for Debbi and Cheryl's humor and enthusiasm for mixed-media art.

And speaking of a budget break, Mixed Mania is on sale in the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop for a limited time at 60% off, along with thousands of other instructional books, videos, and art supplies.

P.S. I've subbed a permanent marker for black paint, Mod Podge® for gel medium, and a hammer and nail instead of a Cropadile to punch holes. What was your most clever and crafty substitution? Share in the comments section below.

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Blog, Mixed-Media Supplies

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