Adding Texture to Your Projects

Do you ever wonder how scrapbookers and paper crafters add texture to their projects? I do, all the time. I often find myself zooming in on images on websites, Pinterest and blogs to try and see which stencil or product they used to get their texture. Then of course, like any of us addicted scrapbookers; I go out buy the product and play!

While I am not a texture or mixed media guru by any stretch, I do have some favourite texture techniques resulting from all this play that I would like to share with you.

I have used the same, simple Recollections @ Michael’s Creative Tags and one of my favourite stencils (Memory Box Designer Stencil Texture Mesh) for each technique and left the tags as just textured (didn’t add any embellishments, sayings, paper, fibers, etc) so you could easily compare the raw look. For each project, I used washi tape to secure the tag and the stencil to my work surface – this is where the instructions pick up from. I also used a heat gun after applying the product to speed up the drying process.

Here is a quick look at all of the completed textured tags; which I will break down, in order, into specific instructions. I’ve also added some tips I learned from working with the products.

Wood filler – I absolutely love working with this product. It stays where you put it (like putty) and doesn’t change in colour or texture when it dries. You can spray some mists in or throw water colour paints into it to get a different colour, or even add some additional texture to it, like micro beads, glitter or sand (for those beach pages). Wood filler is also very easy to clean up – if you do it right away! I used Americana Wood Filler for this tag.

Here is how I go about wood filling: 1) stir your wood filler (it sometimes separates) and spatula out the rough amount you may need (mix with additional texture product or colour at this point in a small container if you like); 2) spread it over the stencil onto the project; 3) gently peel away the stencil; and 4) allow to dry.

Tip: don’t worry about how smooth or not it applies; I like to spread it pretty messy to enhance the texture illusion.

If you have any extra, if you didn’t add another texture or colour, put back in with the rest of the wood filler for the next project.


Embossing Powder – My newest favourite! Can you believe I only started using embossing and the heat gun stuff last summer? That is crazy – how did I go without for so long? I find embossing very easy to do but you need to make sure your stencil or mask is fairly sturdy; some of the more dainty stencils are just too thin or the negative space is so small it does not translate well. The trick I have found is to use a bingo dauber style applicator and not worry about full and complete coverage. Let the lack of embossing in some spots be part of the texture! I used the Stampendous Clear Embossing Ink and for this tag used the Recollections @ Michael’s Embossing Powder.

Here is how I go about embossing: 1) daub the embossing ink all over the stencil (try not to worry too much about perfect coverage and don’t put it on too thick or it will leak under the stencil); 2) gently remove the stencil; 3) sprinkle or cover with embossing powder; and 4) use the heat gun to convert the powder to coloured glass.

Tip: if you are looking for a mechanical or grunge look for your embossing, use black or dark grey as your main embossing powder and sprinkle in just a little white or light grey.


Mist – This is my go-to texture. I would guess that I throw a little spritz of mist on to 50% of my scrapbook layouts, either on the background paper or as a finishing technique (with squares of paper over my pictures to protect them while spritzing). Mist has the ability to decrease the vibrancy of your project and increase the vibrancy of your project – all depends on the colour and amount you use. For this tag I used Heidi Swapp Color Shine Bronzer.

Here is how I go about misting: 1) if I am looking for a clean, exact replica of the stencil then I lay the stencil directly on the project – if you want something that resembles the stencil but is not as perfect, hold the stencil just above the project flat or at an angle and spray through it; 2) start misting from about 10 inches above the project for even coverage (watch out for any stray drops from the nozzle – or embrace them as part of the effect); 3) gently remove the stencil; and 4) allow to dry.

Gesso – This is the go-to product for mixed media folks. I like it but I have a lot to learn about it still, so may not fully appreciate what it can do. I do know you are supposed to love this product for how it prepares your project for any paints or mists, and how it softens the colours when you apply them over the gesso. Well I kind of hate that it softens the colours sometimes, so it’s a love hate relationship between me and gesso. However, I do love it as a stand-alone product that softens the product you apply it to, either brushed roughly behind your layout focal point or mixed with water and splashed on to your completed page with a square of paper protecting your photos. I use the Martha Stewart Gesso Primer.

Here is how I go about gesso-ing: 1) using a sturdy paint brush apply the gesso onto your project (you may have to really focus on getting all the little nooks and crannies, or not worry and allow the lack of perfect coverage be part of your texture); 2) gently remove the stencil; and 3) allow to dry.

Tip: similar to wood filler, if you want to apply colour or some texture with the gesso – go ahead and mix in paint, mist sprays, etc before you apply to the stencil.

Distress Paint – Is this where I admit my secret crush on all things Tim Holtz Distress Paint? And is this where you all admit that you have the same crush? For real, I love these products. If you ever have an inclination that maybe some distress paint would look good on your project – it will! Go for it. For this tag I used a Distress Crackle Paint Vintage Photo and the Distress Paint Gathered Twigs combo.

Here is how I go about distress painting, specifically for this tag: 1) paint the distress crackle paint across the bottom half of my stencil by painting with the included applicator attached to the lid; 2) gently peel the stencil off; 3) use a heat gun to dry and crack the distress crackle paint; 4) clean and dry the stencil, then put it back on the tag lining it up with the distress crackle paint; 5) dab on the distress paint over the remainder of the tag and just a little over the distress crackle paint; and 6) allow to dry.
Paint – A technique I am new to, but keen to learn. The possibilities seem to be endless with water paints. For a peek at the crazy, possible, amazing techniques check out 13Arts Blog – the mixed media talent of this design team is awe inspiring! For this tag technique, I used the 13Arts Ayeeda Paint in Matte Raspberry.

Here is how I go about painting, specifically for this tag: 1) mist water on the areas of the tag that you would like the paint to run or have a water colour effect (I sprayed the top and the bottom of the tag, leaving the middle dry); 2) using a paint brush, apply the paint to the middle of the tag; 3) using the paint brush or your finger spread some of the paint from the middle onto the wet areas of the tag in sweeping motions; 4) gently peel off the stencil; and 5) allow to dry.

Well there you go! My very simple run down of just some of the many texture possibilities for your projects. Not sure which one to try or which one you like best? Do what I do, try them all!

Have fun.



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