The Frugal Artist’s Guide to Mixed Media

When I returned from CREATE New Jersey a few weeks back, I wrote about what I’d learned about mixed-media art. One of the lessons was to use what you have.

mixed media stamping on fabric
I turned a celery root into a “rose” stamp.

Now, I know this. So, the lesson was more of a reminder than new information. But it bears repeating, because so often we make excuses for not creating based on what we don’t have: like time, the latest gadget, the “right” materials, space, and money to acquire the other four. (Yes, money can buy time, e.g. a babysitter, take-out dinner, etc.)

Money always seems to be an issue, from artists who are barely able to keep a roof over their heads to more financially secure people who are saving for the Holy Grail known as the iPad.

Last year, I took up the topic of artistic affordability with a post called Creative Tips for Tough Times. “Work with what you have” was one of my suggestions, and since I needed to be reminded of that concept, I thought I’d remind you of some of my other favorites on that list.

1. Use the force . . . I mean the Internet community. For example, if you’re reading this, the Cloth Paper Scissors Community forums are just a click away. People ask for help (and give advice) on everything from what kind of glue to use to where to find inspiration for their next project.

2. Shop for free stuff online. Speaking of the Internet,,, and many other sites often list art and craft supplies that are free to a good homelike yours.

3. Look to nature. Mother Nature provides supplies, tools, and learning opportunities all the time. You can print and dye with leaves, flowers, and vegetables; learn about color theory by viewing a garden; learn about patterns from bark and leaves.

jane lafazio mixed media painting
Rosehip drawing by Jane LaFazio.

4. Sketch and doodle. You can learn a lot just by putting pencil or pen to paper, and it’s free. Sketching and drawing help you see objects with an artist’s eye and doodling helps you see and develop patterns. Experiment with different kinds of pens and pencils to see how the thickness or substance changes the effect.

5. Watch how-to videos. You can find many short how-to videos on the Internet, via artists’ websites, etc. But did you know we have a video gallery here on the Cloth Paper Scissors Community where you can view short (usually 2-3 minute) how-tos from our editors, readers, and our WorkshopTM videos? Viewing these videos is a great way to preview a technique or a longer video to see if you want to pursue it.

Another great way to get “new” information is to use another resource you already have: your back issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. I can’t tell you the number of ideas and techniques I’ve forgotten over the years. Flipping through back issues inspires me to try new things and revisit old friends.

If you’re missing back issues, an economical option that also saves space and time is our Cloth Paper Scissors Collection CD products. You can get a year’s worth, or more for a fraction of the price of the print issues, and they take up very little shelf space.

Now, that’s a tip worth remembering.

P.S. What’s your favorite frugal tip? Share it with the community in the comments section below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Supplies


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