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Friday 21 February 2020

Against the Grain Framed Collage Tutorial

Hello! It's Sara Emily here, and as promised, I have a step by step tutorial for you on how my framed collage for our current challenge, Against the Grain, came together. There's still plenty of time to create something with wood or  faux wood grain effects and play along.  We've already got some great projects showing up in our gallery! Hopefully one of these easy techniques I'm sharing today will tease you to join us on A Vintage Journey this month.

There are lots of close ups at sarascloset, so I'll get straight to the how-to. (All products are Tim Holtz unless otherwise specified.)

I start with choosing a frame from my stash. I bought a set of three of these 8 x 10 frames at a sale a while back, and I've used one so far for my vintage garden collage using resist techniques HERE.  I wanted a similar finish ton my frame, but changed it just a bit to go with my colors on this piece.

 I remove the frame backing/artwork and give the frame a coat of DecoArt crackle medium. Allow it to dry.

Once completely dry, brush on DecoArt chalky paint. Avoid overlapping the paint, as this takes away from the crackle effect.

In the end, I decide to dry brush with Ground Espresso paint to compliment my background and elements. It's very subtle, but helps to take the frame from shabby to more vintage.

Now it's time to make the background. I cut watercolor paper to fit the frame and spray it with Antique Linen and Frayed Burlap Distress Oxide sprays and splashes of water.  I dry with a heat tool and add more color in blue oxide sprays.

Here's a little secret I use with my oxide sprays and stretch my supplies: I line my spray box with waxy palette paper for each color group of sprays I use. The spray doesn't soak into the waxy surface (in fact, it remains tacky), and this allows me to use up that over spray at a later date. I just activate it with the tiniest bit of water and dip my paper into the puddle. I blend the ink further on my panel with another spritz from my water bottle. This allows me to add just a bit of color in a more controlled way.

After drying my panel, it was time to do some background stamping. I use three archival inks (Faded Jeans was cut out of the photo when I made the collage), tapping the ink pad on various areas of the Fragments stamp. I stamp off the first impression onto a scrap and then make the second impression onto my panel.

Using a School Desk stamp, I do more background stamping this time using just Hickory Smoke archival ink, first generation.

I move onto my collage elements. I prepare a couple more panels using my over spray palette paper from the background panel, and choose one to emboss with an old Compass embossing folder. The other will be stashed for another project.

To bring out the design, I lightly blend with Oxide ink and a blending tool. I spray very lightly with water to soften.

I tear the two side edges. To get a nice straight tear line, I just draw a line of water using my wet finger where I wish to tear the paper, allow it to soak the paper and gently tear. When the panel is dry, I blend with Frayed Burlap ink and Faded Jeans Oxide ink.

I decided I needed more wood grain on my project, so I apply crackle medium and chalky paint to a kraft panel using the steps I did on the frame. I seal the panel with Vintage collage medium, and when dry, emboss with the 3D Lumber folder.

To bring out the grain, I blend with Distress Crayons. Not shown, I cut the top and bottom edges and blend with Ground Espresso crayon.

I die cut the Destinations globe two times from bristol board and blend with Vintage Photo ink.

I apply Stampendous embossing fluid to the land masses with a paint brush and heat emboss with Emerald Creek Fractured Ice powder, leaving it with a nice rusty appearance.

I pick a pair of good friends from my Paper Dolls pack and color with crayons and edge with Oxide ink.

I stamp a couple tickets from the Ticket Booth set onto a panel from my stash. (I believe I used the same oxide sprays I used on previous mentioned panels, but this time blended with Vintage Photo ink.) Because I want a nice crisp impression (unlike the background stamping), I use my stamp platform to stamp these several times in archival ink.

Using the corresponding Framelits dies, I cut them out and blend them with Frayed Burlap ink.

The final step was to add some words to my collage. I altered a pair of Quote Chips by gluing card scraps to them.

I cut letters using the newer Alphanumeric Tiny Type Upper set, glued them to the chip and gave them a second coat of collage medium to be sure they didn't go anywhere. I know these little die cuts can be fussy to glue. To make it easier, I just scoop out a tiny bit of collage medium on my mat and using my tweezers, dip them one by one into the medium and place them on the chip. You need to work fast as this adhesive dries quickly.

Finally, I blend the edges of the altered chips and another Quote Chip straight from the package with Vintage Photo ink.

All that is left to do is to adhere the background panel to the frame backing, reinsert it and assemble my collage elements. Not shown, I use waste card board of different thicknesses between the layers to give the collage dimension.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the steps I took to make this framed collage, and that it might inspire you to try your hand as some 'wood working' of your own and share your wood or faux wood grain effect project with us this month at A Vintage Journey.

And if you're still in need of more inspiration for the challenge,  I have another woody project HERE, inspired by fellow Creative Guide, Toni. Thanks for the inspiration, Toni!

Thank you for stopping by today!
Happy crafting!

Sara Emily


  1. What a fabulous step by step Sara xx I love the effect on the frame and thank you for the top tip using a wax paper/sprays x Wonderful layers with a stunning outcome xx TFS and best wishes
    Annie xx

  2. Wow, Sara, what an amazing detailed step by step, packed full of fabulous ideas, loved the secret tip of how to make the Oxide Sprays go further. The finished result of both your frame and the collage is absolutely fantastic, love it so much!! Thank you for the great inspiration!! xxx

  3. So the elements and the step by step is super! ;-)

  4. A terrific step by step that 'covers all bases' so to speak , Sara . Thanks for sharing the finer details . Love each of the collaged elements you created and especially LOVE them working altogether in such a harmonious way. Your altered wood grain frame is something special indeed.

    An absolutely fabulous final project.

    You and your creative talent will be missed here at AVJ. Hpe you will keep popping back and checking in with us .
    Take Care
    Amanda x

  5. Beautiful piece Sara Emily! Love the step by step tutorial. As always your work is wonderful and inspires me to get back into my creative space.

  6. Sara, love this piece! Thanks for the step by step walk through of how you created it!

  7. Wonderful tutorial Sara and fab tip on the Oxide Sprays, thanks so much for sharing it and for sharing your wonderful framed collage with us all! Deb xo

  8. Thanks so much for the step by step and all your wonderful tips Sara!

  9. Wow, I loved seeing how it all came together! It looks so stunning and you created so much beautiful detail 😁. It must have been so much fun to create with the different mediums and layers too, thanks so much for the inspiration! Happy and creative wishes! Hugs, Jo x

  10. Love seeing how this all came together!

  11. This is just incredible! You always make the most amazing backgrounds and add such gorgeous elements to your collages. Love this Sara Emily!

  12. What an amazing piece this is, Sara Emily - I'm sorry I'm so late catching up with your brilliant tutorial. The colours are just divine, and I love the weathered crackle of the frame as well as the wood grained layer in the collage composition. Beautiful!
    Alison x

  13. What a beautiful project Sara Emily! Love the colors and wonderful crackle, the blue inky background and wonderful collage of ephemera! We'll miss you and your awesome creativeness here at AVJ!