April Lettering Lesson: Lettering with a Painting Pen

Have you ever been intrigued by a new mixed-media tool, but you just can’t bring yourself to try it on your own? That’s one reason I love taking classes—they’re the perfect place to test out new supplies and techniques. The same is true for Cloth Paper Scissors Lettering Lessons, especially the new April lesson on using lettering with a painting pen.

I’ve been aware of this tool, but never had enough confidence to try it on my own. Art Lesson Volume 8: The Fine-Line Painting Pen by Kari McKnight Holbrook is the perfect incentive to try it out. Kari shows you everything that you need to know to start creating unique, beautiful lettering with this pen. This tool is unlike anything else, and your lettering will never be the same.

Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lesson Volume 8: The Fine-Line Painting Pen
Discover how easy it is to create beautiful lettering with a painting pen in this Art Lesson with Kari McKnight Holbrook.

Kari takes you through every facet of lettering with a painting pen, from achieving the best consistency of ink or paint, to loading the tool, cleaning it, and creating stunning lettering. Her instructions are so clear and precise that I was up and running in less than 10 minutes. How’s that for instant gratification?

The metal pen, which has a small reservoir that holds the ink, is inexpensive and comes with a little needle cleaner, so all you’ll need is ink or paint and thinner, some paper, and you’re good to go. I mixed some Liquitex and Daler-Rowney acrylic inks with Golden Artist Colors GAC 100 on an old CD case and loaded the reservoir of the pen with a small paintbrush, just like Kari recommends in the lesson. I’ll be honest—I didn’t think my first attempt would work, and that I’d have to keep mixing and testing until I got the right consistency. Nope. Got it on the first go. And it wasn’t beginner’s luck—each time I loaded the pen, it worked perfectly. Nothing dripped from the bottom, and the ink flowed perfectly.

Mixing acrylic ink and medium for lettering with a painting pen
It’s easy to mix acrylic ink and medium to create the perfect consistency for lettering with a painting pen.

The painting pen glides like no pen or marker I’ve tried before, and the slight color variations on the page are a fantastic bonus. I worked in a Ranger Dylusions Creative Journal, which has heavyweight, smooth pages that were perfectly suited to this pen. The pen’s reservoir looks small, but it holds enough to fill the better part of a page with  lettering or doodling without reloading. As Kari suggests, I gave the pen a test run by filling up a page with doodles, trying different colors and moving the pen in a variety of ways. She even has a great technique for loading the pen that lends a gorgeous ombre look.

Doodling to get comfortable with a painting pen
Doodling with the painting pen is a great way to get comfortable with it, and see what it can do.

When drawing large letters, I sometimes have a problem with getting lines straight. Not so when lettering with a painting pen. Something about its sturdiness makes it possible to do bold lines and tiny details easily. It also creates the most perfect dots I’ve ever seen.

I tried the lettering style in the lesson, and in seconds I was in the zone, creating flourishes and embellishments. Kari gives you lots of ideas for different designs, and you’ll be inspired to come up with your own as well.

Lettering with a painting pen
Creating lettering with the painting pen will put you in the zone in no time.

Our Lettering Lesson downloads are only $3.99, and each comes with a companion video; this one features Kari working with the pen in real time. Click here and you can get started right away. Be sure to check out these other great lettering resources!

Cloth Paper Scissors Lettering Lessons Volume 4: Creative Cursive Hand Lettering by Jodi Ohl
Create fun, dynamic lettering with your own handwriting in Lettering Lessons Volume 4: Creative Cursive Hand Lettering by Jodi Ohl.
Art Journaling Live 2: Easy Lettering With Julie Fei-Fan Balzer video download
Discover ways to build your lettering library with these fun techniques in the video Art Journaling Live 2: Easy Lettering With Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.
Creative Lettering Workshop by Lesley Riley
Your favorite quotes come alive when you hand letter them with techniques rom Creative Lettering Workshop by Lesley Riley.

Studio Saturdays: Layered Fabric

Fabric has always been an essential element in my mixed-media work, and when I discover a new technique that includes it, I’m over the moon. Betz White’s layered fabric pillow in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine has so much depth and detail that I had to make a date with my sewing machine.

“A Layered and Textured Pillow” combines reverse applique with hand and machine stitching, and incorporates fabric, felt, sari ribbon, embroidery, and more. Betz is a genius at building color, dimension, and texture in unique ways. I decided to use her techniques to create a case for my sketchbook and supplies, and I’m so in love with the look of it that more projects are in the works.

layered fabric


Here’s why I decided to make a case for my sketchbook—I usually carry it and a small supply case in a zipper-lock bag. Not very artful or creative, I know. Kind of embarrassing when I pull it out in public. It’s way past due for an upgrade.

Sketching supplies
This is what I’ve been carrying my sketchbook and supplies in. Sad!

I started by raiding my stash of felt and choosing a few brightly colored pieces. Since I didn’t have one piece large enough, I thought I’d piece these together into the size I needed. To make sure my case was the correct size, I measured the width, height, and depth, and then made a mockup in muslin. Since the piece has a gusset to accommodate the width, plus a flap, I wanted to make sure everything fit. Making a muslin prototype allowed me to avoid what I like to call reverse sewing, or ripping everything out while cursing silently to yourself.

Felt scraps for layered fabric projects
Felt scraps are a great component of layered fabric projects, since they don’t fray.

I chose a red and pink stripe for the front piece, overlapped the back pieces by about ¼”, and sewed them together with a zig-zag stitch. The front and back pieces were sewn together with a regular seam.

Felt scraps sewn for a layered fabric bag
The felt strips were sewn together to create the front and back of the bag.

The fabric lining is a key element for this layered fabric technique. I chose a cotton fabric with text on it; I thought the structured black and white design would be a nice contrast to the brightly colored felt. I can’t resist fabric with text, and this one was chosen from the special hoarding pile for a starring role. I hope it appreciates what I did for it.

Lining fabric for layered fabric bag
The text fabric is a great contrast to the felt.

After pinning the right side of the lining to the wrong side of the felt, I machine sewed a bunch of wonky circles in coral and yellow thread. The idea is to create shapes that will be cut out, showing the fabric layer underneath. I didn’t have any grand plan in mind for sizing or spacing, but if you want to plot your design out, by all means do so. You can use a chalk pencil to draw in your shapes. In her project, Betz created intersecting wavy lines, a beautiful effect.

Cutting the circles out to reveal the fabric was a game changer—the look of the layered fabric was so amazing, and it reminded me of the excitement of creating pop-ups with paper.

Cutting the felt to reveal the fabric underneath
Cutting the felt reveals the lining underneath.

More dimension was added with strips of sari ribbon that I sewed across the piece. I also added hand embroidery, which gave some extra texture and dimension. A button closure finished it off, and now I have something to carry my art supplies in that I’m proud to show off.

Sari ribbon sewn to the bag
Sari ribbon strips were sewn across the piece to add extra dimension.

Betz has so many more ideas, tips and techniques in her article, so don’t miss it. You’ll even learn how to make easy tassels. Create something beautiful for your home or workspace, something that reflects you.

There’s lots more mixed-media layered fabric ideas and inspiration in the North Light Shop!

Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons Volume 5: Recycled and Re-Inked by Rae Missigman
Recycle color catcher sheets from the washer into a fantastic layered fabric project; see how in Art Lessons Volume 5: Recycled and Re-Inked by Rae Missigman.
Fabric Collage video with Ruth Rae
Discover how to give fabric texture, dimension, and layers in the video Fabric Collage with Ruth Rae.
Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins
Download the eBook Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins and learn how to combine fabric and paper for unique mixed-media artwork.

Casting Call by Mandy Russell

Mandy Russell discovered a product called ComposiMold, a meltable, reusable mold-making material, and shares what she learned in our May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Always on the lookout for new ways to add real texture and dimension to her journal pages, she devised a way to make fast, skin-like molds, allowing her to cast onto heavyweight art journal pages, canvasses, and wood panels.

Here is another art piece created by Mandy with her new mold-making technique.


•Whatevers PHOTO (WEB)--CROP

The Whatevers

Vicki Chrisman, Nathalie Kalbach, and Catherine Scanlon founded a storytelling project in 2012. Fascinated with vintage photos of people, they decided to create stories for the people in the photos. They called these characters the Whatevers, and picked one photo per month to use in their artwork. They shared their art and stories on their blogs, posting the photos they used so others could join in the fun.

They shared some highlights from their creative processes in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, and share the photo here for you to join in the fun and create your own art and stories. Enjoy!

•Whatevers PHOTO (WEB)--CROP

Loretta Balen • Lynchburg, VA

Mixed-Media Flowers Reader Challenge Results

We invited readers to create mixed-media flowers, and the variety we received amazed us. Welcoming spring in a wonderfully creative way, our readers used everything from metal and fabric to knitting, encaustic, and more. There were even flowers made of mushrooms, lichen, and seeds. Sadly, there were far too many to include in the May/June 2017 issue, but we are thrilled to share more mixed-media flowers with you here.

Loretta Balen • Lynchburg, VA
Loretta Balen • Lynchburg, VA
Carrie Love • Hilliard, OH
Carrie Love • Hilliard, OH
Greta Lyons • Buckinghamshire, U.K.
Greta Lyons • Buckinghamshire, U.K.
Colleen Ray • Morro Bay, CA
Colleen Ray • Morro Bay, CA
Willadene Torbenson • Renton, WA
Willadene Torbenson • Renton, WA
Candy Tutt • Woodland, CA
Candy Tutt • Woodland, CA
Chris Cozen

Artist Profile: Chris Cozen

Chris Cozen

Chris Cozen was our “Artist Profile” in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Chris is all about color, and enjoys sharing her creative ideas and techniques with others—teaching, and in books and videos. Her vibrant canvases and positive attitude are uplifting and inspirational. We were thrilled to share her story and her art. Here is more from our Q & A with Chris.

Cloth Paper Scissors: You seem to have an incredibly positive and optimistic outlook on trying new things, pushing yourself, and embracing challenges. Where does this come from?

Chris: It’s true that I love exploring and trying new things and am always up for a good challenge. But, in truth, I don’t know why. Growing up in a semi-rural environment at a time when kids were outside most of the day and left to their imaginations contributes a lot to being adventurous. I was a pretty shy kid growing up and am in many ways an introvert, except when I am teaching. My first teaching job was with children who were blind, and I learned from them that life was what you made of it. I figured out how to make things work for those children, how to give them what they needed, and they embraced every lesson with such enthusiasm. I still think of them and what they taught me about embracing life and working toward the unknown. In general, I would say that I like solving problems and figuring things out. Patience and perseverance help. I live with rheumatoid arthritis and it does impact my work. It’s made me recognize that nothing is promised, and that each day is a gift that we should always make the best of.

Cloth Paper Scissors: How has having two studios in two such different locations, California and Ohio, affected your artwork? Do you find you work differently or more/less in either location?

Chris: That was indeed a challenge. First, I had to split up my supplies and didn’t bring everything I needed to Ohio. Secondly, the light was totally different: In California I have skylights; in Ohio I live in a 14-story building and the light comes in from one end of the room. One studio allows me to work larger, one doesn’t. In Ohio I worked on paper more than canvas. In Ohio I have my grandchildren who are always ready to join in art play and allow me to take their “starts” and do with them what I will. I work regularly in both places, but I find I work more intensely in my California studio, which is separate from my home, and larger than the Ohio studio. Both climates offer different colors and environments to take in. That is exciting to me.

Cloth Paper Scissors: How often do you use photos in your work, and how much “tweaking” do you do? Do you just play until you like what you see, or do you set off looking to create a certain look?

Chris: I rarely use photos directly in my work. I do take tons of photos and look at them a lot. I want to lock the shapes and the negative spaces around things in my mind so I understand how things go together: How something looks when it intersects, connects, or passes by another thing, as in overlapping leaves, or stems connecting to blossoms, or how a vine wraps itself around a branch. I’m always composing with my camera, looking for interesting sets of positive and negative spaces. I use this concept in my work a lot, as I paint with negative techniques more than with drawing. I don’t set up little scenes in my studio to take inspiration from. I solely use my imagination, paired with the visual knowledge I hold in my mind, to come up with the composition. I sometimes think there are art fairies that live in those initial layers of paint that have already decided what the painting is going to be, and all I need to is follow the clues.

Cloth Paper Scissors: How have the many photo apps that are available, and that you have mentioned liking, affected your art, and your style of working?

Chris: Photo apps are my secret vice. When I have a few minutes, I’m always playing with one of them. PIXLR is my favorite, and I can’t get enough of layered photos. I see differently within the app. When I combine photos, I can capture space and color differently from real life. This leads me to experiment with color combos and spaces I might not have actually seen when I am painting. I may want to create a body of work from these manipulated photos. They are so interesting to me. Who knows what will happen? New technology is so exciting. I love the discovery it allows.


A Creative Way to Use Tin Foil

In the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Lisa Thorpe shared a creative way to use tin foil. Yes, the same wrap you use in your kitchen. When Lisa doesn’t have the metallic element she wants for a piece of art, she makes it. Items that work best for this technique have interesting texture, but are flat enough to glue smoothly to mat board.

Here are a couple more of Lisa’s art pieces that include these metallic elements.



Figure 9

Grafix® Double Tack Mounting Film

In our “A Look At” column the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Darlene Olivia McElroy shared a variety of techniques for using Grafix® Double Tack Mounting Film to add texture to your artwork.

Here are a few more options for you to try.

To begin, die cut a shape from the Double Tack Mounting Film, or cut one by hand. (Darlene die cut several butterflies.) Remove the backing from one side of the shape and press the sticky side to your substrate. Burnish the mounting film to the substrate with a bone folder or a spoon, so it is adhered well. Peel the paper off to reveal the adhesive shape.

Lay a metal leaf sheet on top of the adhesive shape, dull-side down, and burnish. The metal leaf will stick only to the adhesive. Brush off the excess leaf with a soft paintbrush.

Tip: Lightly sand the metal leaf to distress it slightly.


Joss paper is an inexpensive way to get a metal leaf look. Remove the backing on the top of the adhesive shape and apply the Joss Paper face down on the adhesive, making sure that only the metallic portion is pressed onto the adhesive.


Fine aquarium sand is a great way to add a gritty, raised surface. Apply the sand to the adhesive shape on your artwork. Leave the sand natural, or apply acrylic paint. Darlene adds a coat of polymer gloss medium over the top for extra hold.

Figure 9
Figure 9

Place a piece of newspaper face up on the adhesive shape, and burnish well. With a wet finger, remove the paper around the shape. This results in a grunge-look, but I really like its imperfections. (Figure 9)

Technique Tuesday: Handmade Studio Decor

If your creative space is a corner of a room, a refurbished basement, or a funky loft, it deserves a little sprucing up. Spring is the perfect time to put supplies in order and clear some space for more mixed-media projects. Why not create a few custom handmade studio decor pieces that will help you stretch those artistic muscles? These projects and techniques will have you looking at your workspace in a whole new way.

Be sure to check out the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine for even more great mixed-media projects for your studio and home!

1. Don’t stick paintbrushes in any old jar—create a holder worthy of your art tools that you’ll love looking at every day. In the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, the article “Bohemian Artist’s Stool” by Sally Griswold and Josie Celio shows how to create a painted, stamped and embellished stool. The same techniques can be applied to other studio pieces, like a tool holder. Shown in the article is a plain square wooden caddy; to embellish this piece, paint it with chalk paint, let dry, then stamp with text stamps in a dark shade of paint on all four sides. Stamp a Moroccan design at the bottom. Add dimension with molded paper clay; press the clay into flexible silicone molds, then adhere them to the sides of the box with wood glue and allow to dry (Iron Orchid Designs’ Vintage Art Décor Moulds by Prima Marketing Inc. were used for this project.). Create a translucent color wash in one or more colors and apply it to the molded pieces. Apply gilding wax with your fingers, and seal the piece with a clear sealer.

Mixed-media handmade studio decor tool holder from Cloth Paper Scissors March/April 2017
This tool holder started as a plain wooden box and was embellished with paint, stamps, and paper clay molding. (Art by Sally Griswold and Josie Celio, photo by Sharon White Photography)

2. Garlands make great handmade studio decor; you can create them quickly and change them up for various seasons and occasions. In the article “Flutter” in I {Heart} Paper magazine, Marisa S. Swangha creates a wire and paper garland that looks like books fluttering in the wind. To make them, collect 50 pages from a hardcover or trade paperback book, or 75 pages from a small paperback, and arrange the pages into stacks of 5 pages each. Fold each stack in half lengthwise, creasing with a bone folder. Create a template for the pages, noting the size of the book pages and the fact that you’ll be cutting on the fold. Cut a slight curve at the fold side of the template to accommodate the wire. Align the template on the fold, secure it to the pages with a paper clip, and trace around the template. Move the template down the fold of the stack and trace more pages. Cut the book pages out to create the booklets for the garland. Create a small loop at the end of an 8′ piece of 22-gauge wire, and twist the end to secure it. Rest the center of one booklet on the wire, about 6″ from the loop. Bring both ends of the wire around to the center of the spine and twist it together 4 times. Repeat, adding more booklets about 6″ apart. Make a loop at the end and hang the garland.

Book garland from Cloth Paper Scissors I {Heart} Paper magazine
Add handmade studio decor to your workspace with this garland that looks like little books fluttering in the wind. (Art by Marisa S. Swangha, photo by Sharon White Photography)

3. Form and function meet in a colorful mixed-media key holder embellished with found objects, featured in the article “Key Keepers” by Jennifer Heynen in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts magazine, 2011/2012. For this project, paint a small beveled wood plaque with acrylic paint. As the first color begins to dry, lightly paint another color on top, but don’t cover up the base layer completely. When dry, consider where you’ll place the objects, and paint designs to frame them; simple circles and squares work well. Lightly sand the edges of the plaque to create a worn look, and further distress the piece by spraying it with walnut ink, rubbing it into the surface while still wet. Attach found objects to the plaque, and screw cup holders to the front to hold your keys. Fun objects to use include house numbers, toy components, checkers, and metal findings.

A mixed-media key holder makes for great handmade studio decor; featured in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts magazine
Use this mixed-media key holder for your apron, a small tote, or jewelry. (Art by Jennifer Heynen, photo by Larry Stein)

4. Globe lanterns turn any room into a festive space. In “Globe Lanterns” in Paper Art magazine, Sherri Timmons explains why she’s enamored with the handmade look of these items: “I love the beauty of the slightly imperfect because it adds an unexpected element of interest to art.” This project starts with a purchased round paper lantern. Insert the wire support to make the lantern dimensional, and determine how wide the torn pieces of paper need to be. For larger lanterns, use 2″ squares, and for smaller ones, use 1″ x 2″ rectangles. Tear several sheets of plain copy paper into strips of the desired width, then tear those into smaller pieces. Fold each square in half. Lightly dip the folded edge of a piece of paper into a shallow dish filled with glue, and adhere it to the lantern, starting at the mid-horizontal line. Work in horizontal rows, allowing each row of paper to be slightly overlapped by the row above it. Try working from the mid-point toward the bottom, then from the mid-point toward the top. When the lantern is covered, hold it up to a light to see if additional squares are needed.

Rows of torn paper turn a plain paper lantern into one-of-a-kind handmade studio decor.
Dress up paper lanterns with rows of torn paper for handmade studio decor. (Art by Sherri Timmons, photo by Sharon White Photography)

5. Style counts, even if you’re in your studio by yourself. Spruce up your studio with an apron that reflects your artistic sensibility. In “Painting With Doodles” in the Summer 2015 issue of Zen Doodle Workshop magazine, Kari McKnight Holbrook uses hand-painted Roc-Lon Multipurpose Cloth to embellish an apron. To begin, cut a piece of Roc-Lon to cover as much of the front of the apron as you wish. Consider the size and shape of the apron, whether you want to cover pockets, etc. Mix Golden Artist Colors GAC 900 in a 1:1 ratio with acrylic paint, and paint the cloth. Let dry. Sketch your design with dressmaker’s chalk, and paint it in with the GAC 900/paint mixture. Add doodles or intricate designs with a liner brush. Try some doodle lettering, starting with creating basic letter outlines with permanent marker, and embellishing them with drop shadows, flourishes, and dots. Set the paint with an iron, and varnish the piece. Stitch the painted Roc-Lon in place. The article includes instructions for creating an apron from an old pair of jeans.

Hand-painted apron from Zen Doodle Workshop Summer 2015
No creative space is complete without a unique apron that shows off your artistry. (Art by Kari McKnight Holbrook, photo by Sharon White Photography)

6. When decorating your workspace with handmade studio decor, don’t forget the door! Create a wreath from book pages, as seen in the article “Book Page Wreath” by Angela Chavez in Paper Art magazine. Remove pages from a book; you’ll need about 200-250. Gently scrunch each page in your hands, and open it flat. Holding the page horizontally, fold it in thirds lengthwise. With the page still folded, fold it in half the short way, and punch a 1/8″ hole just above the fold. Repeat for the rest of the pages. Bend 1/8″, 36″ round welding rod to form a ring. Thread the book pages onto the ring through the hole, packing them tightly, and covering the entire rod. Attach the ends of the rod with a brass hose joiner barb to create the ring. Apply glue between each page, on an area that touches both the rod and the page. Positioning the pages at different angles on the rod adds thickness to the wreath. Position and glue the pages on either side of the joiner barb to conceal it. Hang the wreath on the door from a ribbon to welcome your guests.

Book page wreath for handmade studio decor from Cloth Paper Scissors Paper Art magazine
Welcome guests to your studio with handmade studio decor like this wreath made from book pages. (Art by Angela Chavez, photo by Sharon White Photography).

Give your workspace a little pizazz and create some mixed-media decor pieces using these resources as inspiration!

Cloth Paper Scissors March/April 2017, mixed-media home decor
The March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine is filled with ideas for handmade studio decor.
Cloth Paper Scissors Studios magazine, Fall 2014
Get tons of ideas for sprucing up your creative space in the Fall 2014 issue of Studios magazine.
Inside the Art Studio, edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic
See where top artists create in the book Inside the Art Studio, edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic.
Mixed-Media Chalkboard with Cast Resin video with Jen Cushman
Every workspace needs a chalkboard; learn how to make one yourself in the video Mixed-Media Chalkboard with Cast Resin with Jen Cushman.