Embossed Foil with Alcohol Ink

A while back my sister showed me a technique for embossing foil by folding a piece of foil several times for thickness and placing it into an embossing folder to run through the CuddleBug machine. I then added a layer of white gesso and let it dry. Alcohol ink was dripped on top and after it dried, I lightly ran fine sandpaper across the embossed foil to bring out the foil highlights. Here are the fireworks I made.


Well, fast forward to now and I still do not own an embossing machine (though I do have access to one any time I want.) I decided to see what would happen with using alcohol ink on one layer of embossed foil. I laid a stencil on the table, placed one sheet of foil over it and rubbed the foil with my finger to emboss.


I used many stencils to randomly fill the foil with embossed designs.


To color the foil, alcohol ink was dropped on top of the embossed foil along with drops of alcohol blending solution and set aside to dry.


After the ink dried, instead of using sandpaper (since the foil was one layer and I did not use gesso) I lightly rubbed my finger across the embossed foil to bring out the foil embossed design.


To protect any more ink from being rubbed off, I sprayed the sheet of foil with Mod Podge Acrylic spray. Then when dry I brushed a couple of coats of Mod Podge on top to make the foil more sturdy.


I used a portion of the foil to cover a small notebook by cutting a piece slightly larger than the notebook. I glued the foil to the cover of the notebook with tacky glue, turning the edges to the inside and gluing them as well. I cut pieces of scrapbook paper to line the inside of the front and back cover and glued in place.



Here are some more closeups of the various embossed textures in the foil.


Now to figure out what to do with the rest of the piece of foil— maybe cut out pieces to use on a card, or to put into a mixed media collage, or use on a piece of jewelry, or cover something else…

Be creative! Take some time to play with the tools and supplies you already own to see how you can use them in different ways. Try this technique and share with us in the comments how it worked for you.

Water Under the Bridge

Week 14 of the Documented Life Project started a new month’s theme of exploring inks and paints. The first art challenge was watercolors with the journal prompt being, “It’s water under the bridge.”


I kept it simple this time- just watercolor of a bridge and water.




I made mine a little more complicated. I think this is the longest I’ve spent working on one page. I used watercolor pencils, which I don’t have a lot of experience with yet. I was brainstorming page ideas, and “water under the bridge” made me think of forgiveness. I was searching on pinterest to see what would come up, and I saw the quote about drinking poison to kill someone else. I also saw this really cool picture of underneath a bridge in Paris. I decided to combine the two. I am just going to pour out my anger and let it be water under the bridge. (I am in no way condoning pollution. Please dump your poisons in an appropriate and safe manner.)



My Princess:


Ninja Boy:


Making a Unique Element for Your Mixed Media

The Documented Life Project art challenge for week 13 was to make a custom element. Melinda, the grandkids, and I each rode in a different direction in pursuing this challenge which fit in well with the journal prompt quote: “Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.” by Gabrielle Roth.

I wanted to carve my own stamp with the linoleum cutter I had purchased a long time ago and never got around to using. Not wanting to be overwhelmed in my first carving attempt, I used a simple little pink eraser. I drew a design on a piece of tracing paper with pencil and completely filled in the area I wanted as a stamp with pencil. Then I laid the penciled side of the paper on top of the eraser and rubbed over the backside of the paper to transfer the design to the eraser. Enough of the pencil lead markings transferred to the eraser so I could see where to carve. The smallest head for the linoleum cutter easily sliced through the eraser in very thin strips carving away the part I did not want in my stamp until I got more brave and cut away bigger chunks. My husband (who does woodcarving) said I should have started with straight lines! Eventually I got my design carved and tried it out.


After playing around with that stamp a while, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted for this challenge. So I carved another eraser stamp.


I covered my page with a light layer of blue and pink paint and then used my new stamp with a maroon ink to make several flower shapes all over the page. The colors were too intense, so a spread a light coating of white gesso over the page to tone it down. Then I tore up pieces of various scrapbook papers with blue, pink, purple and green colors and glued them to the page, layering on more paint, gesso with a honeycomb stencil, and stamped petals with my eraser stamp. Using a makeup sponge, I blotted green ink through various parts of a stencil to add greenery. The centers of the flowers were cut from scrapbook paper. To finish it off and add some highlights, I added some doodles with a white pen to the flowers and some leaves.




I’ve been saving coffee bags from our favorite coffee places and from some we have visited in our travels. I’ve seen people do pages about “surviving the elements” for this page, and that is what I was thinking about when I sat down to do this page. Coffee is how I survive the elements of each day. I was never a consistent coffee drinker until my last baby was born, and I needed a daily pick me up to stay awake. I used the inside silver part of a bag to make my mosaic coffee mug and parts of a couple bags to make the coffee and heart. I wrote the words and drew the coffee beans with a colored pencil.

Coffee Mixed Media

The kids watched the video Rae-Missigman posted on her blog for this week’s challenge using stamps on tape and they decided right away they wanted to try it for their pages.

My Princess:


Ninja Boy:


Easter Twinsies and Custom Jewelry

My girls are at the ages where they still get excited to dress alike. So when I started making a dress for My Princess and decided to use some of the fabric for a coordinating outfit for Miss Tickles, they were calling themselves twinsies for the rest of the afternoon and reminded me daily that they would look alike for Easter.


I used a pattern I had bought specifically for making dresses for My Princess and used a pattern I had bought years ago to make Miss Tickles’. I didn’t have enough extra fabric to do the whole dress for Miss Tickles, so I bought a couple pieces of fabric to coordinate. After I got the dresses done, I knew I should make some matching jewelry for them with polymer clay. I played around and made a bunch of different elements and baked them off. Then I figured out how to put together Miss Tickles’, and mom put together My Princess’.



They were so excited to wear their dresses for Easter weekend.

And the next weekend for a friend’s wedding!


(The boys didn’t get anything homemade this year.)

After their dresses were done, I thought that I should make myself something. I looked in our “fabric closet” that has pieces of clothing we have bought at thrift stores and clothing stores to make into other things and discovered an XXL dress and and XL long sleeve t-shirt that would coordinate with my girls.


It took several minutes of staring in the mirror, brainstorming different possibilities, and looking at Pinterest for inspiration before I landed on my plan of action. And of course, once it was done, I also had to have my own custom jewelry.



(I wasn’t meant for modeling. I felt like a goober.)

But these girls are pros!





Focus on This

The art challenge for week 12 of the Documented Life Project 2015 was “As a Focal Point” with the journal prompt, “Coming into Focus”. The phrase focal point means the center of interest or activity. So in an art piece, the focal point should be what your eyes are drawn to first.

I combined two gelli prints from my experimenting with threads and fabric for the background of my page. One print reminded me of trees and the other a fence. The flowers were punched from another gelli print. I added bark, limbs, and leaves to one tree with torn book paper. Doodles to add emphasis and focus were added with a black marking pen.




I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post from a beautiful friend that inspired me to do this for my focus page. She is such a positive person, and I loved what she wrote about the lines across her face from the blinds being her “war paint.” People are often too quick to put on war paint to fight each other. I want to put on sunshine and a positive attitude to wage against the things I don’t like.



My Princess:


Ninja Boy:


Inspiration From a Blind Painter

If you loved to paint and lost your eyesight, would that stop you from painting? It didn’t stop this man.

Sargy Mann’s story will inspire you to move beyond whatever you consider a block to your creative expression. He just recently passed away and you can read more about his life in this article.

So what is holding you back? Be the creative person you were created to be!

Doodle Borders

The theme for March was “Making Marks” using doodles and marks such as stamps in the Documented Life Project. The art challenge for week 11 was borders and the journal prompt:  “Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind.”

For this challenge, I choose one of the gelli prints I made with threads (read post) and drew string and ribbon doodles to make borders. Drawing string intertwining is a good brain exercise and is not as easy as it looks. Try it! A Little Lime has a great tutorial to help you get started. For the border on the left I drew three intertwining strings/ribbons first with pencil (I am still using an eraser) and then colored marking pens and pencils. The border on the right was drawn on another page, colored, and cut out on the left side. I glued a piece of pink crochet thread down the page trying to match all the loops of my doodled border.



I have struggled this year with the challenges each week. I have not felt connected or inspired. One reason has been that I have big changes happening in my life as my Hubby and I have been raising funds to be US Missionaries. We have also been preparing our house to sell to be more mobile for our ministry. I realized that I haven’t given myself the time to make these pages personal. I decided to allow myself to use this art journal for me and not have the mindset that it’s for the blog. Because of this, I have to allow myself to be vulnerable, which can be hard but isn’t a bad thing. Maybe you have been struggling with your art lately. Have you been making it personal?Go-Without-Borders

My Princess:


Ninja Boy:

Ninja Boy was excited to point out to me all the ways he used borders in his picture– very creative!


Making Marks with Doodles

Each month the Documented Life Project issues a new overall theme for the weekly art challenges. For March the theme was “making your mark” with doodles and mark making. We were both a little challenged by this–  perhaps because Melinda and I don’t do enough doodling or “mark” making, so we got a little behind. But we are trying to stretch our skills and we will catch up.

The art challenge for week 10 was to use marks “as a layer element” and the journal prompt (for those who like to journal) was “surviving the elements.”

My final page ended up nothing like I originally had in my head. I started by dripping watercolor drops onto my paper and blowing on the drops through a straw. It was rather fun watching the paint run away from my straw in straight and curly lines all over the paper– though I did get a little light headed. When the paint dried, I used a black marking pen to draw all kinds of doodles all over the page. By the time I was done, I felt the page was way too busy and my eyes could not focus on any one thing. So I pulled out one of the few punches I have and punched out trees from my doodled page. I painted a watercolor background page of green hills for the trees to stand on and glued them in place. By the time I finished I definitely felt like I had survived the elements of doing a mixed media page!




I saw a doodle in Pinterest that made me think of scales of some kind. I wanted to try making something like it but on a fish. I used colored sharpie for my outline and colored pencils to color in my little fishy and the underwater scene. Fish-Doodle-Marks


Melinda’s oldest kids can’t wait for the new challenge to come out each week (they have kept up.) Ninja Boy asked why they don’t just give all the challenges for the year at one time!

Ninja Boy:


My Princess:



Learning to Quilt One Block at a Time {March}

Through a free online course offered through Craftsy called, 2015 Block of the Month, I am learning how to make a different quilt block every month. In January, I made a block pattern called “May Basket”. For February, two quilt block patterns were introduced, but I just made the “Basket of Fruit”. The pattern for the month of March is “Cherry Basket”. The techniques for the base of the basket were similar to previous lessons, but this time using hand sewn appliqué was introduced. If you are a beginner at sewing the video lessons are easy to follow. Even though I have sewn for years, I am still learning new things.

Here is my “Cherry Basket” quilt block.


So are you ready to learn to sew quilt blocks? You don’t even need a sewing machine– just a needle, scissors, thimble, thread, and fabric scraps. The class includes all the instructions and pdf printouts for you. Learn a new creative skill and set a goal to sew one quilt block a month this year (you can start any time.) Sign up here.

(Disclaimer: We do not receive any compensation from Crafsty for sharing this with you. We just like to let you know of great opportunities to grow your creative skills!)

Gelli Printing with Threads

Gelli printing is a wonderful means to producing unique backgrounds for use with other art mediums or for creating your own paper to use in mixed media collage, card making, or scrapbooking. I enjoy experimenting with various items around my house to make new texture designs.

I am still using the same homemade gelli plate I made in January of 2014. I still rinse it off after use, break up the plate, put it back into the glass pan, microwave it for 2.5 minutes, and let it set back up. it remains covered on a shelf in my craft room until the next use.

Why not make a gelli plate of your own and create one of a kind papers to use in your craft projects?

For this session of gelli print creating, I wanted to experiment with various threads. Yarn is an easy texture “tool” to use. (1) You can lay it on top of the paint spread on the gelli plate, (2) set a piece of paper on top, rub, and you get a design that looks like a road through the mountains or maybe the path in an ant farm! (3) When you pull up the yarn from the gelli plate after pulling your first print, the yarn leaves a nice texture on the plate from which you can pull a ghost print. (4) Notice you can even see the texture of the yarn in the ghost print.


I used crochet thread and got a similar look as the yarn, but the lines were not as thick as with the yarn (sorry no picture).

I was curious what thread would do and thought it would be too thin to leave any design, but I was very pleased with the results. In the photo below, you can see I lightly spread paint onto the gelli plate. The thread I took off a spool stayed curled in a spiral, and I laid it on the plate with the spirals sticking up.


When I laid paper on top and lightly rubbed, the thread pressed down and left a wonderful design.


A print can be made with the leftover design when the thread is pulled off the plate, as shown below. (1) I used a different thread that laid flat on the gelli plate. (2) I pulled the first print by laying the paper on top of the thread. In picture 3 it doesn’t look like there is much paint left after pulling the first print, but when the thread was pulled off, you can see how much was left still on the plate (4).


I used those lines on the following print. There are multiple layers in on this page but you can see some of the purple thread lines.


(1) I tried some thicker trim scraps. Because of their thickness, it was harder to rub the paper on top, (2) but some of the design on the trims showed through in the first print. (3) I took the trims off the gelli plate and pulled a ghost print, and you can see so much more of the trim design on that print.


I next laid gold trim on top of paint on the gelli plate, lightly pressing it into the paint, and took the trim off the plate before pulling a print. The design of the trim is much more distinct.


My next experiment was with ribbon. Picture 1 shows the 1/4″ ribbon laying on top of a thin layer of paint on the gelli plate. Picture 2 shows what was left on the gelli plate after pulling the print (3).


This time I left the ribbon on the plate and very slowly rolled some aqua paint over the ribbon with my brayer. The ribbon stayed in place! I then pulled the ribbon off the plate and laid a bunch of thread on the plate. This was the result when I pulled a new print. Notice the fine texture lines of purple where the ribbon had been.


It is hard for me to quit when I start experimenting with various texture “tools” for gelli printing. So I moved on to laying a couple of raveling strips of fabric on the gelli plate (on top of paint). The middle picture is the first print and the third picture is the ghost print.


I turned the fabric strips over so the side with paint was face up on the gelli plate and pulled another print. This time you can see the tiny details of the fabric weave as well as the raveled edges.


Then I tried some pieces of fabric cut with pinking shears and randomly scattered them on the paint on the gelli plate.


The first print left an interesting design and the ghost print shows more of the fabric texture.


Another print and ghost print with pinked edge fabric strips:


I printed a whole bunch more than what I am showing you here, but I hope I have sparked a desire in you to try creating with gelli printing. Learn how to make your own homemade gelli plate and get started! For other ideas of tools you can use for printing and to see ways we have used our prints, click on the Gelli Plate Printing category in the sidebar to read more gelli printing posts.