Demystifying Mixed Media

I have looked forward to taking this class for SO LONG, and I am excited that I finally get the opportunity! I actually began my crafting journey being drawn to Mixed Media Journaling before I ever thought about card making. But I never was brave enough to jump in and try. Now I am ready! I understand so much more about stamping and other techniques that it doesn’t seem like such a foreign language to me any more. Our instructor, Tania Ahmed, gave so many wonderful examples that I will be trying out her ideas for a long time to come!

I ended up making 3 cards for this course, and could have made so many more. A while ago I actually purchased the Altenew Deco Wallpaper stencil, looking ahead to this class. So I used it in my first card.

Card 1: Art Deco Glam!

Art Deco is one of my all-time favorite styles of design. It is glamorous and also graphic. While I was working on the Muse course, I started making boards on Pinterest that would serve as sources of inspiration for future cards. One of my boards is Art Deco, and one of the images I saved is the left pic below. So my idea for Card #1 was to try to recreate this classic gold and black Art Deco pattern on a card using the Altenew stencil and Altenew Embossing Paste.

I began this card by dusting my black card stock with an anti-static powder tool, as I was planning to do heat embossing, and I didn’t want the embossing powder to stick to the surface of the card stock. I then adhered the stencil to the card stock and to my craft surface using low-tack tape. Next I spread the embossing paste in a very thin layer using a palette knife. As soon as I was satisfied that the paste was thin and evenly distributed, I removed the stencil and thoroughly washed it and my palette knife right away. It’s really important to take the time immediately, as otherwise the paste will harden on your tools and it will be very difficult to remove!

When the embossing paste was partially set, but still tacky, I poured gold embossing powder over the entire piece of card stock. I shook off the excess so that the gold only adhered to the pattern created by the embossing paste. I then heat set the gold embossing. I noticed immediately what Tania had said about heat and embossing paste: the whole design kind of bubbled up under the gold embossing powder when the heat hit it, so the pattern ended up being much more textured on the surface than I had anticipated.

Once the panel had completely set, I cut it down with my paper trimmer to measure 4″ x 5 1/2″. I decided on the Altenew Fancy For You die for my sentiment. I cut 4 images — 3 in black card stock and 1 in gold. I glued them all together with liquid glue as I usually do, to give the sentiment more depth and dimension. But when I looked at it with the background, it still didn’t stand out enough against all that gold! So, I cut a vellum band to go around the middle of the card and adhered it on the back side with double sided tape. This helped the sentiment some, but I felt that it still needed something else.

I decided to trace the actual sentiment die (upside down) on a piece of black cardstock (left pic above), and fussy cut out the shape. This gave me a solid black backing for the words. I then used liquid glue to adhere this behind the regular sentiment die cut, and then used liquid glue again to attach the whole sentiment piece to the vellum and the front of the card panel. Finally I adhered the card panel to a shiny gold cardstock panel measuring 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″, using foam tape and a little liquid glue over the vellum on the back of the piece. This left a small gold border only on the left and the right edges on the front side of the embossed panel. I also added 3 gold sequins for a final embellishment.

This card turned out just as glitzy as I had hoped it would! I will be sending it to some dear friends who are celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary soon. I think that deserves a glamorous acknowledgement! ???

Card 2: A Walk in the Woods

I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed with this card when it started. I just knew that I wanted to use my new Altenew Metallic Shimmer Spray Inks to make some fall-colored leaves. So I die cut out several sets of leaves from white card stock using the Leaf Clusters Die Set. I then sprayed the leaves with the shimmer sprays, alternating between Frayed Leaf, Forest Glades, and a little Warm Sunshine. The results were fabulous, looking very textured with mottled colors! The leaves looked just like the color of our leaves here in Alaska right now… as we are already starting to head into the fall season.

This gave me the idea for the next step on this card. While my thoughts ahead of time were towards making a background using the leaves, as Tania had demonstrated with alphabet dies, my mind now turned to the possibility of making a scene card with realistic looking trees and foliage. So, I got out my Altenew Birch Impressionism stamp set and dies. I love this set because it produces such realistic birch tree trunks! The 3rd pic on the right (below) is actual birch bark from our yard, so you can see all of the color and texture variations. ?

I used the Rock Collection of Altenew Crisp Dye Inks (Limestone, Silver Stone, Industrial Diamond, and Pure Graphite) to stamp the 4 layers of the tree trunks in my MISTI Stamping Tool. However, because this is the Mixed Media class, and I felt adventurous, I decided to try something completely different and see what happened.

So, after stamping the first 3 layers, I mixed the ink for the 4th layer (Pure Graphite) with some embossing paste. I then used my pallet knife to dab a small amount of the colored embossing paste down the fronts of the 2 stamped trees. Next I added more Pure Graphite to the 4th (and final) layers of the two stamps and stamped them right on top of the embossing paste. I then quickly cleaned the stamps and let the tree trunks dry. The end result looks really good, with some actual 3D texture added to the trees. After they were completely set, I cut them out with the matching dies. Then I fussy cut them so that no white borders were showing. Finally I finished the tree trunks by using the Limestone ink cube around the perimeters of both trees.

Next I chose a patterned paper from the Altenew Reflection Scrapbook Collection and cut it down to be 4″ x 5 1/4″. This paper made me think of a golden sunrise or sunset behind my tree. I glued down the right tree trunk with double-sided tape, and used foam tape on the left trunk so that it would add dimension to the scene. Next I arranged and adhered all of my textured leaves at the top of the card. I used liquid glue on the bottom layers and foam squares on the top to give more depth. Finally I cut off the extra leaves and tree trunks that were hanging over the edge of the background patterned paper. NOTE: Of course, living in Alaska as I do, I realize that these leaves are not at all like real birch leaves…. but I am just calling it “artistic license!” LOL ?

The next step to this card was cutting out two frames for the scene, using Altenew Woodgrain Bark card stock. The smaller frame’s outside dimension was 4″ x 5 1/4″, and the larger was 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″. This card stock has a realistic wood grain in it, but when it was cut in such small pieces, that really didn’t show up. So, I used an embossing pen to highlight some of the grain in the paper and heat embossed it with clear embossing powder. As you can tell in the pics above, the embossing added some darker highlights that provide just the right amount of emphasis on the actual card (difficult to see in photos). ?

After cutting and embellishing the frames, I used double-sided tape to attach the largest one to another piece of the Woodgrain Bark card stock cut to A2 size (4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″) to form the background and base of the card. I then adhered the smaller frame on top of the tree scene with a combination of double-sided tape and foam tape so that the frame sat evenly on the varying levels of the scene. The final step was to adhere the whole framed tree scene to the background piece with foam tape so that the card had even more dimension.

The last thing to complete on this card was choosing the sentiment. I really liked one particular statement on the Altenew A Walk in the Woods stamp set. I stamped it with dark brown pigment ink from my stash on a lighter piece of the same patterned paper. Then I framed it with a backing of light green card stock from my stash. I used a combination of foam tape and double-sided tape to glue it down so that the sentiment would be an even level across the card. Finally, I added a few enamel dots from the Altenew Tropical Forest set as embellishments.

I am really pleased with the way this card turned out. The splattered leaves, textured tree trunks, and embossed wood grain frame all give it a 3D feeling of reality. [LOL – even if the leaves aren’t exactly accurate!] Now it’s on to Mixed Media Card #3:

Card 3: A Glitzy Birthday

My 3rd Mixed Media card was a total experiment in new techniques and ideas, some of which worked, and some not so much. But I’m pretty happy with it for my first attempt at this type of card.

Yesterday was like my birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Valentine’s, and pretty much every other holiday combined for me. My husband came back from the mailbox and said, “You scored the Altenew Mother Lode!” That’s because I bit the bullet and ordered the Altenew Watercolor Brush Markers and Refills, PLUS the Altenew Artist Markers all together in one big package. I have been really limited when it comes to posting for the AECP when I’m trying to focus on Altenew products and I haven’t owned anything for watercolor or alcohol coloring. So this is my AECP graduation present (soon!) and my birthday present (October) all wrapped into one amazing package…. just in time for me to use them for this card. I’ve been doing my happy dance for 24 hours now!!! ?‍♀️?‍♀️?‍♀️

I began this card by adhering a couple of old hymn pages to some watercolor card stock with matte gel medium. Then, after they were dry, I added white gesso over the entire page. I let that dry overnight. Now if you are looking at my finished card and these seem to be missing… well, they are there, but I covered them up so much that you can’t even see them anymore! Hhmmm…. a beginner’s mistake, for sure….

After everything dried overnight, I put squirted some fresh water on my work surface and then added drops of Persian Blue, Midnight Violet, and Metallic Silver liquid watercolors. I combined these all together and then smooshed my card into the mixture. Then, as Tania had instructed, I dried the card panel and smooshed another time. I actually did this 4 or 5 times, drying the surface between each application of the liquid. It’s really hard to see correctly in the pics, but there is a beautiful silver sheen over the whole card. The brush marks are from where I had applied the gesso.

On another topic, I don’t remember which of our AECP instructors suggested it, but I have started using freezer paper (yes, from the grocery store) on my craft surface when I am doing something messy like smooshing with paint. I actually do have some teflon craft sheets, but I LOVE the fact that freezer paper (the shiny side) works well and it’s disposable afterwards! Yay! So I have been using it ever since it was suggested…. and KUDOS to whichever instructor clued me in to this discovery! ?

The next thing I did was to mix some of the same 3 liquid watercolors with embossing paste. I used a bit more silver than the other colors. Then I spread the paste through the the Altenew Halftone Stencil... primarily towards the corners of the card panel. I tried to get the layer of embossing paste as thin as I could, but I would have definitely liked it much thinner. Also, the silver paste ended up looking more gray as it dried (not my concept at all). So, while it was still tacky I sprinkled some silver glitter embossing powder on the circles of paste. I then heat set everything. This actually made the circles a bit more shiny, but I didn’t feel it was enough.

On to Plan B…. or is it C? Anyway, I decided to try mixing some of the silver liquid watercolor with water in a spray bottle and make my own silver shimmer spray (since the REAL Altenew shimmer spray is sold out every time I try to buy it!). [see right pic above] I sprayed the silver onto the embossed areas of the card and there was a definite positive difference. So I decided to leave well enough alone and just stop right there! [You know, sometimes less=more…. but ignorance can also lead you down the path of “maybe if I keep adding more, it will fix it”….] LOL, sad but true….

Next I cut the panel down to be 3 3/4″ x 5″. I decided to go around the edges of the card with a black Sharpie so that there wouldn’t be any white showing. But, afterwards, I felt that it needed more definition around all of the edges, so I did some ink blending using Andromeda and Jet Black Crisp Dye Inks. [Sorry that I’m lacking a pic of that process. I was busy “doing” and totally forgot to take a photo.]

I chose the Altenew Happy Birthday Die as the sentiment for this card. I die cut it out of black card stock 3 times, and shiny silver card stock once. I then glued all the layers together with liquid glue to give the sentiment some dimension. However, given the shiny background, I felt like I was in the same situation as with my Art Deco card (above). So I once again used my trick of tracing around the upside-down die on the back of some black card stock and fussy cutting out a larger “shadow” image for the sentiment.

Finally, I attached the card panel to a black backing cut to 4″ x 5 1/4″, and then used foam tape to adhere that whole panel onto an A2-sized piece of shiny silver card stock (4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″). I then used liquid glue to attach the sentiment piece onto the card. The last step was to add a few silver sequins as embellishments.

I like this card…. although I feel that I was just experimenting with so much and not knowing what to expect for the final result. It was kind of like throwing mud against a wall and to see what sticks…. (do you know that old expression?). The best thing about the final card is the beautiful silver sheen. It’s very hard to see well in the pic because of the glare. But it is really pretty. The most disappointing thing about this card is that the stenciled embossing paste came out too “gray” instead of silver, and seemed much thicker than I had intended. However, overall it is a really nice card.

I am so glad that I took the Mixed Media course! I learned so much, and I am looking forward to refining and polishing these techniques as I continue to practice them. I have also signed up for an entire year course in Mixed Media [Wanderlust 2021], so by this time next year I will be producing some awesome MM cards! (I hope!) ?

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. I hope I have been able to inspire you to take some risks and jump into the unknown a bit! As so many instructors keep saying, “It’s only a piece of paper!” LOL …. EXACTLY! Have fun!…. Sande


  1. Wow. You had so much fun making these cards, didn’t you? I can feel the excitement!! They all look fantabulous!! You explained everything very well too!
    Thank you for entering your work to the AECP assignment gallery.

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