Creating layers with mixed media texture, by Alison Callcott

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by the ever-talented Alison Callcott. If you’ve arrived her from her DT post, welcome! Don’t forget to sign up to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox by signing up to on the right.

As more and more arts and crafts of other forms have crept onto our pages, creating with mixed media and texture has become firmly entrenched in the scrapbooking world. What is mixed media? Quite simply it translates to using a mixture of different mediums and textures when creating. Mixed media can be as simple as adding some paint and twine (for texture) to your layouts or as elaborate as working with multiple stencils, numerous mediums and lots of textural items. Layering with mixed media and texture is a lot simpler and easier than it looks once you know a few handy tips and techniques.

My layout She (right) is an example of ‘more is more’ in mixed media, textured layering. It may look time consuming and like a lot of work but it’s actually quite a quick and easy way to scrap. You don’t need to worry about imperfections or mistakes, they can either be covered up or left as they are; and there’s not a lot of measuring and cutting.

Before creating these types of layouts I work out the placement of my photo(s) so that I don’t spend time working on a background that won’t be seen, and because adhering products onto an uneven, rough surface isn’t always easy. Once I’ve studied my layout with the placement of my photo(s) I visualise where I want my embellishment clusters, title and journaling to go, and the general design of my background. After stashing my photo(s) somewhere safe so they don’t get damaged by ‘messy’ products (think sprayed inks and paint splatters) its time to get started.

I usually choose a subtle patterned paper or a textured cardstock for my background. That’s my first layer done! Next I select two, sometimes three templates or masks to use with various mediums like texture paste, paint or ink. On this layout I first used texture paste with the 12×12 Tiny Circles template from The Crafters Workshop. Texture paste is easy to work with (think of buttering bread) and dries relatively quickly. Whilst you can easily colour texture paste with acrylic paints or ink I generally prefer to leave it in its natural state. If you’ve applied it quite thickly or are a little impatient, you can use a heat gun to speed up the drying process. Be sure to wash your palette knife and template as soon as you are finished with them!

Once the texture paste is dry its time to add some colour with paint and another template. I’ve used Jenni Bowlin’s Malted Milk with The Crafters Workshop Circle Grid 12×12 template. Whilst the paint is wet, sprinkle some glitter (I’ve used a copper German Glass Glitter) onto the paint. Once dry, brush off any loose glitter and using an archival ink pen, randomly doodle around some of the circles and add larger doodled circles. Finally, using a finer detailed stencil (I’ve used the 6×6 Prima lattice mask), a metallic paint (to co-ordinate with the glitter), and a make up sponge add another layer to your background, keeping in mind at this stage that less is more.

Now that we’ve finished with our wet mediums (for now), it’s time to add some textural elements.

The first textural element I’ve used is plasterer’s mesh. It’s self-adhesive, readily available in hardware stores, easy to cut and shape and will stick to pretty much any surface. Its particularly good for the type of rough, uneven background we’ve just created. Next I’ve adhered hand dyed muslin which I’ve bought pre dyed from D-lish Scraps (they have a great range of colours and having it pre dyed saves so much time!) and a torn up, scrunched, kraft coloured paper napkin I picked up in an IKEA food court. To stick the muslin and paper napkin to my background my glue of preference is a glue stick. It’s not a wet glue so isn’t going to warp the background; it dries clear; is wonderfully tacky; and it’s drying time allows plenty of room for moving and scrunching your textiles.

Whilst the muslin and paper napkin are drying I move on to my next step of cutting some patterned paper strips, the edges of which I like to sand for a distressed finish, which in itself is another textural element. I use both a stapler and adhesive when sticking the patterned paper strips to the background for both extra adhesion and for visual interest. Once that’s done its time to add more layers with torn washi and masking tape. Tearing the edges of the tape provides another textural element as opposed to using it with clean-cut edges. If I’m using rub-ons I’ll generally add them at this point.

Now we’re almost ready to start embellishing our layout. Before I start I like to give the kraft paper napkin (tissue paper is a great alternative) a quick misting with white ink (I love White Linen by Dylusions as it dries quickly and doesn’t smudge when dry) to add some depth. Whilst that’s drying I cover raw chipboard alphas with patterned paper and sand the edges for my title. Not only does sanding the edges show the white core of the patterned paper and reveal some of the raw chipboard beneath, both of which are great textural elements, it also helps your title to stand out from the background. Once my sprayed ink is dry (again, this process can be sped up with a heat gun) I quickly add a small amount of stamping with a textile stamp (here I’ve used a Prima Finnabair brick fence stamp) and a waterproof ink (Archival Ink or StazOn). Why a waterproof ink? Just in case I decide to add another wet medium at the end, such as some Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist.

With that all done, its time to add my photos and title and to start embellishing.

For this layout I created a banner of distressed, punched circles, which I stitched onto the page. To distress the punched circles I spritzed the patterned paper (it was quite thick) with water, scrunched them up into balls and left them to dry. Stitching them to the layout was not only quick but the stitching effectively created yet another layer. I also added machine stitching in the diagonally opposite corner from the banner for balance.

Choosing the final embellishments for this type of layout is fairly simple. Keeping with the shabby theme I’ve used paper flowers (white Gardenias and brown Forget-Me-Nots from D-lish Scraps). In keeping with the textural theme I’ve used various wood chips by Freckled Fawn, which I have kept deliberately natural, and handmade embellishments from Charms Creations. Finally, to add a touch of contrast I’ve used some glitter arrow dew drops from Freckled Fawn and a dark, antique metal clip from Basic Grey. The arrows and the clip provide just enough contrast and interest to keep the viewer’s eye moving around the layout.

Reading back over this, I’m not sure whether I’ve successfully communicated how quick and easy this type of layout can be. I can tell you however that in the time it has taken me to write this I could probably have created at least two layouts just like this one. One thing I will concede though is that this style of scrapping takes practice and experimentation. However, once you have the basics down pat, and have found what works for you (I have certain stencils and mediums I use nearly all the time) you’ll find that what looks like a lot of work, is a lot of work, but also quick and, most importantly, fun!

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