What to Do About Mixed-Media Art Stash Build-up

Here is why I have such a hard time getting rid of anything in my stash. It seems as though the very minute I decide I don't really need something because I rarely use it, a mixed-media art technique comes along to prove me wrong.

Cases in point: fusible web and ephemera.

fused paper with mixed media art techniques
Mixed-media art paper by Rebekah Meier.

I acquired a fair amount of double-sided fusible web when I first learned about art quilting. The very idea that I could use an iron to fuse fabric to a sheet of this stuff and then iron it in placeinstead of appliquéing by hand or machine, filled me with wonder. So I stocked up on the stuff. But somehow, that intricately designed quilt I envisioned making never materialized.

I also like to collect ephemera like napkins, candy wrappers, and tissue paper with interesting designs. The theory is that I'll use it all up in collage. Now, I do use these papers for collage. But my paper-to-completed collage ratio is seriously skewed in favor of paper. Even if I made collage-making my full-time job (and don't think I haven't considered it), I could never use up all these papers I've accumulated.

So I was ready to thin the herd, so to speak. But then I spied some artwork by Rebekah Meier slated for the March/April issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine that made me change my mind.

Rebekah has developed a technique for fusing delicate papers onto the web and then layering on paint, stamping, and stenciling to create an interesting surface that's durable enough to stitch through. The double-sided nature of the fusible web allows you to merge the layers on one side and then remove the backing and fuse the piece onto another substrate.

Here's the technique. You'll need double-sided fusible web, acrylic paint, lightweight papers (like tissue, paper napkins, and found papers), parchment paper, an iron, cheesecloth, and other general mixed-media art supplies of your choice.

Fragile Fusion
Making durable layers with delicate papers

1. Remove the release paper from 1 side of the double-sided fusible web. Arrange torn or cut pieces of the tissue, paper napkins, and found papers onto the sticky side of the fusible web. Completely fill the piece of web, slightly overlapping the edges of the papers.

2. Cover the tissue with parchment paper (or the release paper) and press well with the iron.

3. Dilute the acrylic paint with water (1:1), and paint the paper surface with the flat paintbrush. Adjust the water/paint ratio as needed until the desired effect is achieved, keeping in mind that you want the designs of the papers beneath to be visible. Let dry completely.

fragile fusion mixed media art piece
One of Rebekah's completed
Fragile Fusion pieces.

Note: For this project, cream-colored matte acrylic was used, but metallic paint also works beautifully as a basecoat.

4. Cover with the parchment paper and press with the iron.

5. Add more details. Do some stenciling. Stamp designs onto the tissue. Make marks and swipes of paint using a plastic card. Drip and drop paint onto the tissue, and then blot the paint with a paper towel. Tip: Script design stamps work especially well.

6. Following the manufacturer's instructions for the fusible web, fuse single layers of cheesecloth onto some areas of the tissue. Use the parchment paper or release paper to cover the project when fusing.

7. Paint over the cheesecloth with acrylic paint. I used metallic gold, copper, and some matte colors in these samples.

8. Repeat stamping, stenciling, and painting the tissue until you are happy with the results. Tip: I like to use bottle caps to stamp circles.

9. Once dry, remove the release paper from the back of the tissue. Place the sticky side down onto the desired substrate, cover the tissue with parchment, and press with the iron to fuse the tissue material to the surface.

I just love this technique and the effects it gives. But, now I have a dilemma: how can I reduce my stash when the editors and artists of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine continue to provide creative and innovative ways to use our materials, issue after issue?

I think rather than de-stash, I should keep seeking out new ways to use the supplies I already have using inspiration from Cloth Paper Scissors.

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments section below.

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