The Perfect Project for Your Paper Stash

Do you have a stack of gel plate prints or decorative papers just waiting to be incorporated into the perfect art project? This is that perfect project! In this tutorial from our July/August 2014 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, Jodi Ohl shows you how to use your paper stash to create fantastic collage ornaments. These embellishments are perfect for decorating and gift giving.

Jodi Ohl used papers from her paper stash to make these collage ornaments! (Photos by Sharon White Photography)

Ornamental: Embellish with Paper Collage, by Jodi Ohl

I have to admit, I’m not the type of artist who decorates or creates art for every holiday or occasion. I believe that every day is a reason to celebrate, inspire, show appreciation, or remember why it is we do what we do (and who we do it for). If it were socially acceptable to keep my Christmas tree up past the holiday season, with all of my cherished handmade ornaments and mementos, I would probably do just that.

An idea for how to feed that desire for daily bits of inspiration came to me when I was also trying to solve another “problem”: what to do with the stacks and stacks of Gelli prints I had created. I also had a good amount of decorative paper that needed to be corralled. The following technique is a marriage made in creative heaven. It’s always great fun to use items from your stash to create something wonderful.


  • Printed papers, a variety: decorative papers, text, papers with numbers, deli paper, tissue paper (I like to print circles or other simple geometric shapes on deli paper as a way to tie my designs together.)
  • Chipboard, round or shaped, at least 1/8″ thick
    • NOTE: If you find that the chipboard isn’t as thick as you’d like, glue two pieces together. Alternatively, you can use premade chipboard coasters.
  • Paintbrushes: 1 for glue, 1 for paint
  • Gel medium, heavy or soft body (I like to use Golden Artist Colors® Heavy Body Semi-Gloss.)
  • Brayer, rubber
  • Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Inkpad, black (I used a black StazOn® inkpad.)
  • Glue stick
  • Pens, a variety: black, white, and/or your favorite colors.
  • Paint pens (I like to use Sharpie® oil-based paint pens or Liquitex® paint pens.)
  • Spray varnish, matte (I use Krylon® varnish.)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Hole punch
  • Eyelets and eyelet setter
  • Ribbons or twine
  • Optional:
    • Hair dryer
    • Washi tape
    • Stickers (I like to use alphabet stickers in a variety of shapes and fonts.)

1. Gather your papers. A good variety of papers will make your collaged ornaments more interesting. Chances are you will have more papers than you need.

TIP: To make a cohesive collection, try keeping the color families similar or coordinating, or have certain related elements in each piece. In mine, I added a punched-out circle to each ornament and carried that through all of my pieces.

2. Tear your desired collage papers and place them on the chipboard in the general arrangement you like. Start with the heavier papers first. Keep the lightweight papers separate for the top collage layer.

TIP: I generally make 6–12 ornaments at a time, but work with a number you are comfortable with.

3. Paint gel medium onto the chipboard with the paintbrush, and adhere the heavier papers to the chipboard. Use the brayer over the top to ensure the papers do not have any air bubbles and are properly adhered, especially around the edges. Don’t try to make the papers fit the shape just yet. It’s fine if the papers go over the edges. (FIGURE 1) Repeat this process for all of your ornaments.


TIP: If you are using premade chipboard coasters that are shiny, sand them lightly before applying the papers to create a surface that will allow for better adhesion of the papers and accept paint.

4. Add the tissue and other lightweight papers over the heavy paper layer using gel medium. Thin the medium with water if you feel it is too thick.

TIP: The tissue and/or deli prints can help calm down busy areas, fill in gaps, or soften hard edges.

5. Allow the papers to dry. If the substrate feels cold to the touch, it is not dry yet. Speed up the drying process with a hair dryer, if desired.

6. Optional: Add washi tape to enhance your design.

7. Turn the ornament over to the blank side and trim around the shape with scissors. (FIGURE 2) Double check to ensure the papers are well adhered before moving on. Re-glue as necessary.


8. Sand the edges of the ornament to ensure the papers are flush with the edge of your substrate, and then rub the edge of the ornament with the black inkpad. (FIGURE 3)


9. Optional: Add inspirational words using stickers. (FIGURE 3)

NOTE: Stickers don’t always have strong glue on them and can easily fall off. Remedy this by using a glue stick to adhere any stickers.

10. Enhance your ornament, if you like, by adding doodles with a pen and/or paint pen. (FIGURE 4)


11. Spray the front with varnish to seal your ornament. Allow to dry.

12. Paint the back of your ornament, and allow to dry. You could choose to collage the back side as well.

13. Once both sides are dry, punch a hole using the hole punch. Add an eyelet to the punched hole to protect the hole, and finish the ornament by tying a ribbon or twine through the eyelet for hanging. (FIGURE 5)


These ornaments make great gift items throughout the year and are the perfect item to hang in your studio or office to provide a welcome dose of inspiration anytime you need it.

Jodi Ohl is a full-time mixed-media artist and instructor from North Carolina who truly dreams in color. Find her work and musings on her blog. Jodi welcomes your questions and comments. Visit her website at

Learn how to create a stash of hand-painted papers in this Studio Saturday blog post!

In this video workshop, you will learn how to fix prints and work with collages as artist Jodi Ohl walks you through Gelli plate Techniques.
In this video workshop with Jodi Ohl, use excess paint and collage materials to create new paintings and your own art journal spread.
Enjoy 50 step-by-step monoprinting techniques in Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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