AIM DIY: Appearing Leaf Drop-Dyed Tissue

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

If you’ve tried out our Paper Flower or Tie-Dye Tissue Paper DIYs you know how much fun it is to dye paper with liquid watercolor. There’s something so magical about the way the colors mix and flow through the paper fibers.

I was thinking about fall leaves, and of course paper dyeing seemed like the perfect way to capture the fiery colors of the season. After a little experimentation, I came up with a dyeing variation where leaves mysteriously appear on a gorgeous field of color.


Supplies You’ll Need

• White tissue paper
• A Pigment Based White Stamp Pad, like this Craftsmart Pigment Ink Pad from Michaels. Other stamp pads, or inks, should work too, just test them out on a piece of scrap tissue.
• Stamps, made or bought.  I made my own in a method similar to the one Rachel used for her Stamped Scarf project. I carved my stamps from cheap erasers.
Blick Liquid Watercolors
• Liquid Droppers and/or absorbent foam paint brushes.

Here’s a sneak peek at the leafy magic…

To get started- decide how you are going to use your tissue, and where the leaf design should be. If you are using it in a bag, I would suggest decorating the corners; if you’re going to wrap with it you will want to decorate from the center out.

Ink up your stamp, and press it firmly on your tissue. (You know- stamp it!)

Repeat with your stamps in a random pattern until you are happy with the design. It may be difficult to see the white ink on white tissue- but that’s what makes the next part so fun!

Let the stamped tissue dry for a few minutes, then fold the tissue several times and place on a plate or other protective surface. With your dropper or brush begin applying dabs, drops, and lines of liquid watercolor to the tissue.

The leaves should start to appear in white on your tissue. (The watercolor won’t soak into the area that you have covered with the stamp ink.) If you end up with excess dye puddling up on your design, simply dab with your brush or a paper towel.

Keep dropping and dabbing until you’ve covered the area with color.

Flip the tissue over and add color there as well. (It should soak through all the layers.) After you are done, let the sheets dry completely (at least overnight) before unfolding and using them.


Tada! Customized tissue that will make all your gifts pop.

Other things to try

• More color combinations
• Different stamps – maybe stars, initials, polkadots…
• Other types of ink – colored or metallic ink pads, block printing inks and more
• Drawing with metallic Sharpies or paint pens
• Drawing with dry watercolor pencils before dyeing
• Experimenting with other papers

AIM DIY: Ampersand Shadow Box

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Over the last couple of years I have started to accumulate little tchotchkes, despite my best efforts to “collect no functionless thing.” Every little piece has a special connection to my family and memory, so they’ll all just have to stay.

My mom’s house had shadowboxes everywhere, but most of them were type cases that I have since stolen and use for their original purpose (holding lead type for letterpress printing.) I decided to use scrap materials to make a shadowbox of my own, and since I love letters it turned into an ampersand.

Supplies for the Base

• Scrap Cardboard- lots of it, including one piece that was at least 12×12
• Printed Letter or Symbol – approximately 12″ x 12″. I printed on, and tape together several pieces of letter-sized paper to make my template.
• Pencil
• Scotch Tape
• Carbon Paper (if you have it)
• X-acto Knife
Gummed Paper Tape (and wet sponge) or Wide Masking Tape – I like using gummed tape on projects like this because you can slide the tape while it is wet and get the placement just right.
• Scissors

Supplies for Paper Mache Layer

• Black and White Printed Newsprint (or other thin paper)
• Bowl
• All Purpose Flour
• Water

First I print out and pieced together the template using scissors and scotch tape. I lightly taped the template to a large piece of cardboard (at least 12″x12″), slipped the carbon paper underneath and traced along it with a pencil- checking periodically to make sure that I was making an impression on the cardboard. (Alternately you can cut the letter shape out of your template, and trace around it with pencil.)

I darkened the lines with pencil to make sure I knew where to cut.

Carefully I started cutting the shape out of the cardboard.


To make the sides of the shadowbox, I cut several 2″ strips of cardboard, making sure that the corrugation ran the short way. (See image above.)

Since there are a lot of curves in the ampersand, I gave myself a head start by slitting along the ribs on one side of each of the strips. This allowed the strip to flex more easily along the curves.

Slowly I started covering each edge of the ampersand piece with the cardboard strips, following around each side.

I attached each piece using gummed paper tape (masking tape would work as well.) On heavy curves, I stuck the tape to the side first, then made small cuts that overlap and lay flat on the back side. (Everything will be covered with with paper mache, so little mistakes are a-okay.) I cut and began a new piece at each sharp corner, and connected them with gummed tape.  REMEMBER: It’s just cardboard, so if you mess up it’s okay! Just toss that piece and try again. I messed up a lot.


After I had the whole shape outlined and taped, I made a few more strips of board for shelves. These strips are 1.75″ each, so that they are a little less deep than the outside walls.
I took a good look at what I wanted to store, and tried to leave space for each item. (If you have larger or smaller nicknacks you might want your shelves placed differently.) I trimmed the shelves to size, and attached them to the walls using more gummed tape pieces.

With the cardboard base built, I got everything ready for paper mache. I typically combine water and flour in a bowl until I have something that resembles very runny pancake batter.

I tore newspaper into small strips, and dipped it into the flour mixture, then laid a single layer or pieces all along the base, including the sides and back. (Again, mistakes are OK! You can always remove a piece and replace it.)

A gloppy mess.

After I had the base completely covered, I let it dry in front of a heater for a few hours, then went back and added a few more pieces to the spots I had missed. (You can add a whole second layer if you want, it will make the form looks smoother, and give you a little extra strength.)

Well, I’m done for now. I love the way my keepsakes fit into this shadowbox… and happy that I made it using only scrap materials.


Other Things I Might Try

• Sealing it with a spray sealant. I’m skipping this step for now, but if everything falls apart, I’ll let you know!
• Painting the whole shape, or just the inside. If you mix acrylic paint with glue you can make a partially translucent color. That way the print will still show through.
• Do a whole word of shadowboxes.

What would you make?

AIM TODAY: Why don’t you take a break?


From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

When you make the decision to make your craft into your career (or a huge part of your life), you’ve entered into dangerous territory. Suddenly the thing that was fulfilling, expressive, and personal has become something that you have to think about from a practical angle. Instead of using the supplies you want, the time you want, and just being happy with the making of it all you have to consider profitability, sellability, and all the other “-abilities” I can make up.

Universally, artists feel the pressure to improve and evolve their work. There’s always something to adapt to make it a better representation of the creative magic within us. The real problem is that those changes come when you’re not looking. They can’t be forced (although they can be coerced.)

So, take a break. Reboot & let all the outside inspiration soak in.

Take a vacation.

I think a vacation can be anything you want, not just going to a new destination. Although this does seem to be the most popular choice amongst people who are looking to take a short break away from their normal lives. Sometimes you don’t even need to travel that far, as depending on where you live, these ultimate UK caravan spots may be the ideal choice for you and your family if you want to enjoy some quality time together. During this time, you can do anything you want, without anyone asking any questions. One of the most restorative things about a trip is the break from our routine; so if you can’t get away, take a week to change things up.
• Cook dinner instead of take-out, or vice-versa.
• Play solitaire instead of watching tv.
• Sit under a tree with a book.
• Try weird outfits. Change up your hair. Put on some temporary tattoos…
• Put a radio in your bathroom.
• Get a new candle, and do everything by candle light.
• Have a 10 minute dance party every evening. (Force everyone to join in.)

Try new creative things.

• Play with medium outside of your wheelhouse. It doesn’t have to be expensive- I love doing a papier mâché project from time-to-time to break my routine; and that’s just trash! Cooking also counts.
• Take a class, listen to a lecture, or reach out to someone you admire. A different point of view can help shake things up.
• Use your other hand. No really. It’s hard and fun.
• Make something that solves a problem you’ve been having. I finally broke down and made my own doorstop, and even though it’s simple, it was different enough from my normal work to give me some ideas.

Give in.

• If you’re stuck on one thing, move on to something else. It doesn’t help to sit and stare at a blank canvas.
• Productive procrastination is OK. Really, I swear. You’re still getting something done– even if it’s not exactly the thing you need.
• Take a deep breath, and let the next wave of inspiration come at you.

What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?