Here at Anything But Cute we love to see all the seasoned and expert mixed media artists, but we also want to encourage those who are just getting their feet wet. Our design team will always be on the lookout for these exceptional artists, and you just never know when we might be giving out something special to a talented mixed media newcomer.
Make sure to put 'newbie' after your name in the linky so we know who you are.
(new refers to 'new to mixed media' NOT 'new to our challenge')

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spotlight Artist - Sara Emily is Tempting You With Texture!

Hello! It's Sara Emily here, and I'm excited to present this month's Spotlight Post, where I will be tempting you with texture! For those of you who see my work, you might see I like to add a bit of texture.

Two things come to mind when I think of texture: visual  and tactile.  Visual texture creates the illusion of dimension, while leaving the surface smooth and flat. Tactile texture has dimension that you can both see and touch. For today's post I'm going to provide some examples of different types of texture, focusing mostly on the tactile version. Even though I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, I do tend to use a bit of tactile texture in my work, but not as much in the line of visual texture.

A couple of examples of visual texture follow.  In the first project, you can see visual texture on both the smaller tags and the larger tag. For the two smaller tags, I applied Distress paint, and then blended on distress inks once the paint was dry.  By flicking on some water, allowing it to sit for a moment, and then heat drying, I was able to give some depth to the background.  By layering paints, inks and then paints again, I can achieve a lot of depth. Specifically this is done by first giving the surface a coat of gesso. Then I placed some Distress paints on my craft mat, spritzed with water and dragged my dried gesso covered card through the puddles. I heat dried and repeat until I'm satisfied with the look. In this example I stamped a Tim Holtz Flourish image with Picket Fence Distress paint and heat dried.  Next, I blended on some Distress inks, and wiped over the flourish to remove the ink from it.  The dried Distress paint acts as a resist.  I flicked on watered down Distress paint in Picket Fence, and then finished with a stamped sentiment. Lot's of depth while the surface remains smooth and flat--visual texture!


In the following project, I used paper products--vintage book pages and tissue wrap and stamped images to provide  some visual texture. Of course there's some tactile texture here, too, in the form of crackle and rusted metal elements.

For my card Let It Snow (again!), I created visual texture and depth using a household product--plastic wrap! This is not my idea, but I saw it somewhere in blogland quite some time ago.  I gave my card a coat of gesso, and dried.  I sprayed with Distress spray stains in Wilted Violet and Blueprint Sketch, misted with water, and laid my wrap over the wet sprays.  I scrunched it up and left it to dry overnight.  When I removed it, it left this beautiful frosted appearance. Additional visual texture is made using a snowflake stencil and paints and inks. Tactile texture is given using an embossing folder and embossing powder.

OK, you get the idea of visual texture, and now let's move onto the good stuff--Tactile texture!!! Tactile texture can be achieved in a variety of ways--using mediums, pastes, papers and other textiles, embossing folders and powders, gesso and paints, die cuts, found objects, and even household products. I could go on and on, because I am always searching for more ways to add texture, but I'm afraid I might bore you.  So, I'll try to limit myself to some of my favorites, and save others for another day.  I'm sure much of this is not new to you, but hopefully there will be something that will inspire you!

We'll start with my favorite--RUST! I'm always looking for new ways to get a rusted look, and recently I've had the opportunity to try some techniques new to me. There are many, many ways to get the look of rust, some of them require fancy products,some just paints and others use a variety of mediums. Mine came strictly from what I had on hand. I guess you could call me a frugal crafter!

For the following two projects, I used similar techniques.

In the photo below, you can see I added visual texture first by adding  gesso, vintage book pages, and paint to my background. To get the rusty texture, I added glass bead gel at the top and bottom over my rusty colored paint.  This starts out white in color, but dries clear.  The stuff on either side is crackle medium, and we'll talk about that later.

In this next photo, the glass bead medium has dried (as has the crackle medium), and I've added Distress paints in Rusty Hinge and Walnut Stain and DecoArt Quinacridone Gold and Cadmium Orange followed by Ginger alcohol ink. This is a bit too glossy, so I gave it a coat of DecoArt Ultra Matte Varnish and then a light dab of Walnut Stain paint once more. I repeated this technique on the butterfly, and the metal embellishment. To see more photos of this project you can visit my Rusted Porcelain post.

In the next two photos, I've made rusted embellishments by using a couple of pantry staples: cinnamon and instant coffee. In the first photo it is used on the rusted grate on the backing and in the following photo, it's used on the buckles. For the grate, I used packing material, added Mod Podge and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and coffee.

I start by adding Mod Podge to each buckle, then sprinkle with a mixture of the cinnamon and coffee. When dry, I add another coat of Mod Podge to seal. I find it helpful to pour out some Mod Podge to a little cup, so you don't contaminate the large bottle with your cinnamon and coffee. For the buckles, but not the grate, I gave the dried buckles a coat of the Ultra Matte varnish to take down the shine of the (matte) Mod Podge and then a light touch of Quinacridone Gold.

Another rust technique I used on one of these projects is using household chemicals to create rust on metal hardware.  while the nuts and nails were already rusted in the garage, I rusted the keyrings and washes with a bath of vinegar for 24 hours followed by a soaking of kosher salt and hydrogen peroxide for another 24 hours, and finally, a sun bath for another day. A bit time consuming but effective.

On my next rusted project, I was looking for a rusted tin roof vibe.  I got that (I hope), by using a piece of corrugate board from a shipping box.  I distressed it and painted it with Folk Art Metallic Gunmetal Grey and heat embossed while the paint was still wet with a mixture of embossing powders: Embossing puffs in brown and a mixture of Cloisonne  High Gloss Granules (which are like Ultra Thick Embossing Powder), black embossing powder, and Perfect Pearls Powder in Pewter. To see more detail s of this wall hanging you can visit my Stay Curious post.


I don't really know what look I was going for here, but it all ended up looking like rust to me in the end.

I started by embossing my card with a Tim Holtz Steampunk Texture Fade and sprayed with Distress Spray stains, Distress inks, Lindy's Moon Shadow Mist, Ranger embossing puffs, Burnt Copper Leaves embossing powder, and some of my hand compounded Cloisonne Granule/embossing powder/Perfect Pearls powder. I can't tell you the exact colors used, because I was just flinging stuff at this at the time.  but start flinging your own colors, and see what happens! That's the beauty of mixed media. The ball chain is altered using alcohol inks and embossing powders, and the gears paint and embossing puffs, powders, and Cloisonne Granules. To see details of this and the other textures on my card, visit my Grungy Valentine post.


Well, I think we might move on to something other than rust!  How about CRACKS?  Another favorite of mine. The following two photos show hearts with cracks, although  it's hard to see them in the second shot. I actually followed Pamellia's tutorial here, but I thought no discussion of cracks would be complete without mention of  her Mega Crackle.  I added a little heat embossing for additional texture. The purple frame also has cracks.  I used Crackle paste (Golden in this case), Distress ink and paint to color it, and DecoArt antiquing cream to show off the crackles.

Special Gift

The bigger cracks on this little guy's top hat come from crinkling up the card before making into a hat. I rubbed a little Ranger Perfect Ink Refresher into the card before wrinkling and beating on it and then forming it into a tophat. I used Distress Crackle paint, acrylic paint, and DecoArt Grey Antiquing Cream to get and highlight the small cracks.

Something A Little Less Sinister 

I got the nice large cracks on this skull by using DecoArt Crackle Paste in thin and thick layers. By priming the styrofoam skull with black gesso before applying the paste, I got a nice old, decaying bone look. I highlighted the cracks further and aged the "bone" with DecoArt Creme Wax. I invite you to click on the link below the photo (if you dare!) to see how gruesome this little guy is, and to see how I made his rotted hair.

Decay and Spiders! Beware!

I love the love of cracked glass, and here I made faux cracked glass on my clock faces using Tim Holtz' Faux Cracked Glass technique.  I used Ranger Glue and Seal (matte) on  clean and dry vials, acetate, and glass watch crystals, followed by Distress Rock Candy Distress Crackle paint in a medium layer. Make sure the Glue and Seal is perfectly dry first. Allow both mediums to dry on their own. I used various alcohol inks to give the glass an aged appearance.  You can click on the link below the photo for details on how I crackled the clock die cut.

Fe Fi Faux Fum 

Other ways to create texture on your mixed media pieces include embossing folders like I used in the example below.

Oh, Baby It's Cold Outside 

Use stencils and paste--texture or crackle like I did on this shabby card.

Shabby Wedding Card

Or throw everything including the kitchen sink at your paper or card. Here I used pieces of coffee filters, cheese cloth, and microbeads and then topped it off with crackle paste and a stencil. Isn't it yummy?

Shabby Monochromatic

Or use your mistakes! Here, I used a piece of card I had heat embossed with Distress Embossing powders which leave a gritty texture when heated.  I did a poor job on the embossing, but saved the panel in my "trash" box anyway. For this project I tore it into strips and adhered to a heavy card base. I gave it a coat of gesso using a credit card, and before the gesso fully dried, I scraped over it with the  credit card again, revealing a gritty worn texture. A few torn vintage book pages with a watery wash of gesso complete the background all ready for what ever you want to throw at it or leave it just as it is for a shabby vintage look.

Sometime's it's just fun to see how your new products will react with your old ones! In this sample, I had sprayed my scrap of card with Rusty Hinge Distress Spray stain and dropped on some Perfect Pearls powder in Forever Green.  I spritzed with water and dried with my heat tool.  I added a thick layer (like spreading peanut butter) of my new Distress Crazing medium and again dried with the heat gun. This looks really amazing in real life--like old worn and musty leather. Oh, I love grunge!

I think I will leave it at that before I bore you to tears! Remember, with mixed media there's no wrong way to do anything! Just try different things, and you will find something you love!

There's still time to play along with Samra's Earth Day challenge which runs until May 4th! Get out your earthy colored mixed media products and possibly a recycled/upcycled item, and let's celebrate our great beautiful earth!

Thank you for giving me your attention and sticking with me through this LONG post; I do hope you come away with some inspiration!

Hugs and Blessings!
Sara Emily


  1. Brilliant post Sara, love all your texture creations, thanks for sharing in detail.

  2. Texture galore :) Thank you for the fantastic overview and fabulous pictures.

    Paper Talk with Samra

  3. This is simply OUTSTANDING and I will be bookmarking this post for future reference. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful techniques.

  4. Thank you for this great post! I love texture but especially rust and crackle effects so was really good to see a selection of ideas, Jane :)

  5. Fabulous post Sara Emily!!! I loved reading every word. Never a bore to learn cool mixed media techniques. Thanks so much for sharing all of this. Hugs, Autumn

  6. The most inspirational and the most detailed spotlight post I've seen! I am certainly going to bookmark it for a future reference!
    Outstanding job, Sara Emily! Hugs! Branka xx

  7. This is absolutely amazing, Sara Emily!! All of the techniques you've shared are so fabulous!! And your projects are stunning!! It's bookmarked so I can refer back to it often!! Have a great day!! Big hugs :)

    A Mermaid's Crafts

  8. absolutely amazing - you are a very clever lady! Just wish you lived close so I could pick your brain about techniques!! Big hugs rachel x

  9. A really fantastic post Sara, I have learned so much with the wonderfully clear way you have shared this information with us and I will definitely be back to check it out time and time again! Hugs, Anne xx

  10. You are unbelievable - You know me -- I will read this again and again and again and take notes. How in the world did I meet you anyway!!!! Lots of good luck. Bravo!!!! And thank you very much for a wonderful group of tutorials.
    sandy xx

  11. Wonderful post Sara Emily, so many wonderful examples of how to add texture to your projects, thank you for sharing your techniques! Deb xo

  12. What an awesome tutorial, Sara Emily! This is a great reference to have to create amazing textures - thank you!

  13. I have to make a bookmark here, so many things to remember and try! Thanks so much for this fabulous post!

  14. So inspiring to see your textural delights gathered together... amazing tips and techniques, and as Lys says, a definite bookmark post!
    Alison x

  15. So inspiring to see your textural delights gathered together... amazing tips and techniques, and as Lys says, a definite bookmark post!
    Alison x

  16. Fabulous tutorial, Sara Emily!! For sure I'm bookmarking this, and ps - I absolutely adore your last experiment with the crazing medium and Perfect Pearls - stunning!! xxx Lynn

  17. Thank you for such sweet comments! You all inspire me so much! Hugs!

  18. Bookmarked, pinned, noted and wowzers! Love this spotlight post and everything that you shared! So many yummy and wonderful ideas, textures, and designs! Hot diggity!

  19. Fabulous "all about texture" post that well show and summarizes the differences between visual and tactile texture. and wow, such fabulous samples and details on the how-to!!! Thank you so much for sharing Sara Emily! Hugs!

  20. Could you give me some tips on how to use embossing powders over cheesecloth? I absolutely love your work!!

  21. It is a great website.. The Design looks very good.. Keep working like that!.