Monday, 16 May 2016

Mixed Media Birthday Card Part 1

It is my hubby’s birthday on Thursday and today I made a start on a card for him.  This is the first time I’ve made any art for some time and it was great to get back in the studio again. I have been very busy with other things and when I did eventually have time for it, I was much too tired and had to rest.

What I hoped to make was a mechanical card for him, involving cutting some pieces on my cutting machine, but I spent some time messing about on the iMac trying to get Inkscape to run, which it wouldn’t, and I also put my old Windows laptop on, and both computers needed numerous updates and it was all taking far too long, so in the end I decided on another tack – a mixed media card.

I had a rummage and found some bits and pieces which I thought would combine well to make a montage of different textured pieces, all in muted browns and greens with a touch of gold – rectangular shapes in an abstract design.

I began by creating a textured piece with Tyvek. In case you are not familiar with this, it is a bonded polyethylene material commonly used in the building trade as a waterproof, breathable membrane. It is available in a “paper” type and a “fabric” type – the latter has a softer handle. It does not tear or fray. I once made the mistake of trying to cut the paper Tyvek using a punch, which promptly jammed and it took me ages to pull it apart again! It does apparently cut extremely well on an electronic cutting machine and I am looking forward to trying this. Tyvek of both types is available through art suppliers but this is a very expensive way to buy it; some time ago I found a pack of large A4 envelopes on Ebay at a fraction of the price – these can be opened up to provide some quite large sheets.

I obtained a large piece of the soft woven-type material from the builders who did the renovations on our house; this is not actually Tyvek but another brand, and I tried melting this without a great deal of success. I have found it very good as a thin, lightweight flexible material for binding albums as it does not tear. I set this aside for this particular project because it wasn’t giving me the results I wanted.

This is one of the Tyvek envelopes.

01 Tyvek Envelope

I cut a piece from it and placed it inside a folded piece of baking parchment and ironed it gently on a hot setting without steam.

02 Ironed Tyvek

I could see through the parchment what was happening. The Tyvek shrinks and bubbles with heat; the bubbles project away from the heat source and you can use the piece either way up, according to the effect you want. For this project I wanted the bubbles projecting upwards.

03 Ironed Tyvek Detail

The more you iron it, the more bubbles you get, and these will pull apart, creating holes. It is reasonably controllable with the iron but the effect is quite random and no two pieces are the same. It distorts a lot more and is less controllable using a heat gun but you can get some very interesting effects that way.

I then had a look for some other materials to use for the project. I found a couple of beige ribbed velvet fabric swatches sent to me by a friend, and decided to use one of these.

04 Ribbed Velvet Fabric Swatch

It wasn’t interesting enough as it was, so I sprayed it with some Dylusions spray inks.

05 Inking the Fabric Swatch

When it was dry (helped along with my heat gun) the colours were a bit paler, which suited my purposes. I spattered a bit of water onto it and left it for a few minutes before blotting it off, which gave a mottled appearance.

06 Inked Fabric Swatch

Returning to the Tyvek, I sprayed this liberally with black Dylusions spray ink and smooshed it around with a brush.

07 Spraying the Tyvek with Black Ink

Once this was blotted off and dried with the heat gun, the darker colour was in the crevices, emphasising the 3-D texture of the piece.

08 Dried Ink on the Tyvek

Once it was dry, I painted the raised surfaces with some Dylusions acrylic paint in brown.

09 Brown Acrylic on Tyvek

The three pieces so far. The piece at the back (top right) is a piece of embossed metal from my stash, which I made ages ago. It is coloured with brown alcohol ink and then sanded to bring out the texture. The other two pieces are the pieces I made today.

10 Three Pieces

After the acrylic paint was dry on the Tyvek, I added some gilding wax in copper and gold.

11 Gilding Wax on Tyvek

I wanted to put some microbeads into the central part of the piece, so I spooned out a few into a ziplock bag and squirted some gold mixatives alcohol ink in, closed the bag and squished it around for a while to coat the microbeads.

12 Colouring the Glass Microbeads with Alcohol Ink

I applied these to the Tyvek piece by painting on some soft gloss acrylic gel medium and sprinkling on the microbeads and tapping off the excess.

13 Microbeads on the Tyvek

Here is a mock-up of the card with the three textured pieces laid on some patterned card, all on the A4 card base.

14 All the Elements

I inked the edges of the card base with Distress Inks in Walnut Stain and Forest Moss, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster. This piece is A4 folded to A5.

15 Inking the Card Base

These are the small background papers I found in my stash, trimmed and attached to the card base with double-sided tape.

15 Background Papers

I attached the various elements using double sided tape for the embossed metal, and regular matt gel medium for the fabric piece and the Tyvek. I put a non-stick craft sheet over the top of this and laid a heavy book on top to make sure the Tyvek sticks down properly, and left it overnight. This is all I have done so far.


  1. It is absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to see the final card. Happy Birthday to your DH. I hope he has a perfect Birthday.

    1. Thank you Aiyana - so glad you like it so far. I've done a bit more since then. We are going to the County Show on his birthday and looking forward to a lovely day out.


  2. Wow, you've got some amazing textures there! Love the Tyvek with the micro beads! Really cool! Hope to see the finished card soon - although I understand not before hubby's birthday! Your iron reminds me somewhat of the star destroyer from Star Wars, LOL! Thanks for visiting my blog earlier! It's always lovely getting messages from you, Shoshi!

  3. Wow Shoshi! you're really getting back into things! Gorgeous textures, I eagerly await the completion. Happy crafty week, Angela x

  4. I had to stop by after checking out your desk and I'm IMPRESSED! What amazing textures! Never seen Tyvek like that before!


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