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Mixed Media Technique: How to Use Patterned Napkin Pieces for Stunning Collage Art

In today's tutorial, I'm going to show you an innovative mixed-media technique that transforms ordinary patterned napkins into captivating collage elements.

A mixed media art piece featuring blue and pink floral patterns, with text overlay stating "Mixed Media Technique Using Pieces of Patterned Napkins" and the "" watermark

What I love about mixed media is that it can use nearly anything to create art. See my page about creating mixed media to see all the fun ways you can upcycle and mix materials to make something beautiful and unique.

Although three-dimensional objects definitely have their place in mixed media, most people probably think about art on a canvas or in an art journal. For an art journal, you'll need to mix supplies that are generally flat. Different kinds of paper, like napkins, are an absolutely fine and fun choice to include in your pages. But what are some other paper choices?

What kinds of paper can I use to make a mixed-media collage?

  1. Old Book Pages: These can add a vintage feel to your collage. They're typically thin, so be gentle when applying adhesive or wet mediums.

  2. Tissue Paper: This is a lightweight option that can be layered to create depth. When used with a transparent medium, it becomes translucent, revealing layers beneath. Same with napkins.

  3. Newspaper or Magazines: These are readily available and offer diverse imagery and text. Keep in mind the ink might smudge when wet mediums are applied.

  4. Handmade Paper: Often infused with unique textures, fibers, and occasionally natural elements like leaves, handmade paper can provide an organic touch to your collage.

  5. Japanese Papers (like Washi): Known for their beautiful designs and durability, these papers can be a great addition to any collage. And don't forget washi tape.

  6. Patterned Scrapbook Papers: Available in craft stores, these come in various designs and themes. They can be a quick way to add visual interest to your project.

  7. Vellum: A translucent paper that can be layered over images or text to create a muted or dreamy effect.

  8. Recycled papers from packaging: You can find various types of paper used to package items. These include cardboard from cereal boxes, the clear plastic used as a window for all types of commercial products, and certain mailed envelopes made of interesting paper.

  9. Wallpaper: If you can get ahold of some wallpaper samples, these can come in amazing textures and designs, including embossing and metallic.

  10. Wrapping paper: Wrapping paper comes in fun designs, and you probably already have some in the back of your closet.

I also answer the question of what types of materials should be used in mixed media in my tutorial on how to make a collaged masterboard background. That list can give you some more ideas.

Napkin collage technique tutorial:

Step 1 - collect some patterned napkins

A collection of assorted floral napkins featuring sunflowers, roses, and botanical designs with a hint of vintage postcard aesthetic spread out to use for artA collection of assorted floral napkins featuring sunflowers, roses, and botanical designs with a hint of vintage postcard aesthetic spread out to use for art

Napkins come in so many different patterns and designs. You can find these in many places; Michaels, the Dollar Store, or Target and Walmart. You can usually find them in the party supplies sections.

Step 2 - Choose the napkin or napkins you want to use for your art piece.

A detailed napkin design showcasing vibrant hummingbirds amidst a bloom of roses, daisies, and other wildflowers.

You will probably want to cut out the image pieces you plan for the design that are both easy to cut out and have distinguishable edges.

Step 2 - Cut out the pieces

Napkins have layers. There is the layer with the printed design and then usually a white backing layer. You'll have to choose whether or not you want to use both layers or peel them apart. The difference is without the backing layer, it will appear more translucent, which looks really cool. Or, if you want the image to stand out more, keep the backing layer behind your cut image.

Hand cutting a floral patterned napkin with black-handled scissors.

I chose to carefully remove the backing layer before cutting it out.

I had decided that it was the flowers from the napkin design that I wanted to use.

Cut-out flowers from a floral patterned napkin displayed on a white surface.

These are the pieces I cut out.

Step 3 - Apply a layer of Mod Podge to the background where you want the napkin pieces to go.

The background you choose can be anything, like card stock, an art journal, or even a piece of furniture. Using backgrounds with variations in color looks really cool since the napkin pieces will be see-through.

Applying mod podge to a blue textured background with a paintbrush.

The background I chose is one of the many for which I've created tutorials on my mixed-media backgrounds page.

Step 4 - Add a napkin pie on top of the Mod Podge and cover it with more

A paintbrush meticulously applying mod podge onto a cut out rose piece of napkin, set against a serene blue background.

Have an idea ahead of time where you want to put the pieces. Gently place them over the Mod Podge you already applied on the background and gently paint more Mod Podge over the napkin image.

Step 5 - Add all your napkin pieces to your background

For a fun look, let the napkin pieces wrinkle a bit as you cover them with Mod Podge.

A close-up of a handmade artwork featuring collaged cut outs of roses and flowers from napkins, drenched in a matte finish

After you have decoupaged all the napkin pieces and covered them with Mod Podge, let the whole thing dry.

Step 6 - Add more collage elements or colored mediums to finish off the piece

My finished piece:

A beautifully crafted floral artwork featuring a garden of radiant roses and blossoms made of napkin pieces on a blue-painted card stock surrounded by a natural beige backdrop.

How I finished it:

  1. I used a white paint pen to outline the flowers

  2. I used gouache paint to add the green stems and grass around the flowers.

  3. Sprayed it with a sealer

Don't forget: Spray your dried and finished artwork with an acrylic sealer to preserve it for a long time.

Using patterned napkins in your art is fun and full of possibilities. Just keep trying, and soon, you'll turn simple napkins into great artwork.

There are a few assorted paper napkins on Amazon, but also check Etsy for a larger assortment.

What other ways have you used napkins in art?

Happy crafting from ArtsyKarma!

A collage showcasing the process of using patterned napkins in art; top left image depicts a hand cutting a napkin with a rose design, top right shows a paintbrush applying paste over the napkin rose on a canvas, and the bottom displays the final floral artwork. "Use Napkins in Your Art for a Mixed Media Journal!" text is present along with "" watermark.

A close-up of a mixed media art piece with detailed floral designs in vibrant blue, pink, and green colors, accompanied by text "Mixed Media Technique Using Pieces of Patterned Napkins" and "" watermark.


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