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Heartfelt Mixed Media Art

Mixed media artist Mary Johnson shows how she created a heartfelt piece that features handmade paper and celebrates the lives of those around her.

Materials and Tools:

watercolor paper
oil pastels
etching tool
copper wire
wallpaper scraps
corrugated cardboard
silicone glue
gold spray paint
double-face mounting tape
gold string
gold ribbon
guitar string
pre-cut matte and picture frame
paper towels
boiling water
screen divided into squares
baking sheet
cardboard box for spray painting
sketchpad with textured paper
wooden skewer


1. Tear paper towels into pieces and place them in the blender. Add boiling water and blend the mixture until it forms a pulp.

2. Pour the pulp into four separate patties of paper on a divided screen placed over the sink. Press the water out of the pulp and flatten the paper with your hands.

3. Continue to squeeze water out of the paper by pressing a terry cloth towel onto the paper.

4. Place two 6-inch long strands of yarn onto a baking sheet and position one of the paper patties on top. Repeat for a second paper patty. Move the remaining two pieces of paper onto the baking sheet without the yarn underneath. Put the baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for three hours to dry the paper.

5. Remove the paper from the oven. Place one of the paper pieces in a shallow cardboard box and go to a well-ventilated area or outside then spray paint it gold. Let dry.

6. Sew beads onto one of the pieces of paper that has the yarn attached to the underside.

7. Using a variety of different colors of oil pastels, scribble color onto a piece of sketchpad paper. Blend the colors using a paper towel.

8. Etch a design into the blended pastels using the end of a wooden skewer.

9. Place a cardboard star template on the pastel-colored paper, trace around the template and cut out the star.

10. Cut out small shapes of wallpaper for embellishments and glue them to the front of the star using silicone glue. Let dry. Sew some beads on the star.

11. Glue the embellished star onto the cardboard star template and wrap it with copper wire. Add some beads onto the wire. Bend the end of the wire into a curly tail.

12. Use an 8" x 12" piece of lightweight white-textured handmade paper, wet the edges with a wet paintbrush and place a ruler on the wet edge to rip/tear the paper. Let dry.

13. Cut a 6" x 4-1/4" piece of burgundy handmade paper.

14. To assemble the mixed media art piece, start with an 11" x 14" piece of heavyweight watercolor paper, apply double-face mounting tape to the back side of the 8" x 12" white textured paper and affix it to the center of the base paper.

15. Layer the burgundy handmade paper on top using the double-face mounting tape.

16. Apply silicone glue to the gold piece of handmade paper and glue it to the burgundy paper.

17. Cut and position gold strings and ribbon on the gold paper. Glue them in place.

18. Add the white-beaded handmade paper and glue with silicone glue. Let dry.

19. Glue on the star art.

20. Cut out two 2" x 2" spiral-shaped wallpaper pieces and a 1-inch star. Place them on the corners of the 8" x 12" piece of white paper and glue them down.

21. Write a heartfelt message in pencil: "Let life dance like the stars."

22. Using double-face tape, affix the precut matting to the piece. Place the mixed media art in the picture frame.

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