Tuesday, August 4, 2009

muslin journal pages

from start to finish!

some people have asked what i do to the muslin before i paint it with watercolors, or how i glue it to the page, or when i glue it to the page... here's what i do. nothing about the process is precise or particular -- no matter what you do it'll look great!

1. wash muslin in the washing machine to take out the sizing. i like to buy muslin that has a tight weave because it makes for a smoother working surface. most stores have bolts of different qualities and weights of muslin - compare the weaves and pick one that's tightly woven unless you want to work on a rougher surface.

2. rip it up to the size of your page (or whatever size you want).

3. soak the pieces of muslin in walnut ink & water. i use walnut ink crystals - i fill a bowl with water, sprinkle some crystals in and stir. i soak the muslin anywhere from an hour to overnight -- it doesn't seem to make much difference in how dark it gets.

4. wring the walnut ink water out of the muslin -- don't rinse, it just washes away most of the stain. while i have the pieces of muslin in my hand, i sprinkle some crystals here and there to add more walnut ink action. smudge it around - or not.

5. lay the pieces somewhere to dry.

6. now start using your muslin to wipe excess acrylic paint off your brushes, stencil them, stamp them -- whatever you want to get some color and interest going. any and all excess paint that i have while i'm working goes onto a piece of muslin.

this is what my pieces look like at this point.

7. when these pieces are dry, add some watercolor paint. i dip the muslin in my water cup and rub the wet spots in watercolor paint. or you can use a brush... you want a lot of pigment so the color'll bleed up through the acrylic paint at the end.

8. when the watercolors are dry put a layer of gel medium (or mod podge, or pva glue, or whatever - they all seem to work the same) on your journal page. lay the muslin down, and, if you want a smooth surface, use a brayer to adhere it. if you want lumps and bumps just press it down with your fingers. let this dry.

9. squirt some off-white paint (my favorite is 'light buttermilk' by americana) on the page, and with a dripping wet brush, cover the page. if you need more paint just squirt more on there. i like it to be pretty watery so the paint isn't too opaque. if you have an area that looks too covered up, just spray it with water and wipe some of the paint off. let this dry and you're done!

this is what the pieces above looked like after the 'light buttermilk' paint... they aren't glued down to a journal page, but you get the idea...

watercolors, colored pencils, ink, and oil pastels all work great on this surface. it's a 'toothy' surface so it really grabs the pigment from colored pencils and oil pastels. and you don't have to use a pale neutral color in the last step - or you can use more than one color. i don't stick with just one way on every page.
~ ~ ~

if you want to make a Barely There Book...

follow the steps above, skipping # 8 and doing step 9 to both sides of the muslin. then stitch the pages together... one thing to remember when putting the acrylic on (step 9) is that a less watery mixture will let you paint with watercolors on both sides of the page -- there will be very little or no bleedthrough. heh, but that bleedthrough can be a really nice thing... another option is to coat the pages with matte gel medium.



  1. I think you should do an online class of some sort.You now like somthing weekly.yah a weekly project!

  2. Tomorrow, when I am out and about, I am going to go pick up more muslin and then, watch out!!! On my way to greatness! Thanks for your tutorial. Very generous of you.

  3. I agree about the online class!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  4. What a wonderful tutorial, thanks for sharing with us ...might have a play on the weekend. Will let you know how it goes.

    Love your nature girl page.

    Jacky xox

  5. I just love you wonderful layering process lynne! so dang yummy!! thanks for sharing it all with us :)
    xox K

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I can't wait to get started! This has given me so many ideas! I needed a change too! I am going to share your blog addy on my blog, hope you don't mind!

  7. ilike theflower onhercheek;
    thecutegirlwaving hello...
    hell to you!

    a wonderfulsneakpeak intoyou ... and process.

    exoblessing the world, i see!

    a small delicatecatwefeed wascoveredfrom headtotoe in dust over whitefur... ithought yesterdayhehad his firstdirtbath and wanted to tellyouyoumademe notice!

    peace & Showers of exoblessings... 90 degrees humidsun hothothot :)


  8. I love how tactile these pages are...thanks for sharing this. Lynne!

  9. I proclaim you the "Muslin Queen" - you have got it going on here Lynne! wonderful look and I bet, in person, even better!!! :)

  10. Hi Lynne: You are soooo kind - thanks soooo much for sharing your wonderful procesesss : ) I used the walnut crystals on the muslin and what a fabulous loook and after adding the watered-down paint, it was great !!!! now I have to start adding some drawing, ohhhhhh what funnn : ) I recently purchased a set of the Portfolio water soluble oil pastels, are they the same or less better, ha, than the Sennilier (sorry if I spelled it wrong) crayons ?? just wondering : ) thanks again for your generosity. as you may know, I LOVE following your delightful and inspiring blog and your personal, easy to follow steps are sooooo helpful, I don't feel like I have to "commit" to an on-line class, instead I read, get a picture in my mind and just go DO IT !!!! and the fun begins : ) thanks again : )
    Blessings, Sandra in AZ

  11. not precise and particular - music to my ears!

    these are gorgeous

  12. thanx for being a star and sharing with us all, more than appreciated.
    can't wait to give it a go.
    joan in italy

    ps I also agree about an online course...nudge , nudge, wink, wink ...

  13. hi all! you're making me smile! i'm headed out of town, but will check in while i'm gone. if there are any questions i'll post the answers here so everyone can see...

    sandra, i use portfolio oil pastels and sennelier... i like them both. can't have too many oil pastels you know. ; )


  14. you are so good to share this with everyone. it is very kind. i just made beets for lunch. i boiled them whole. well, i actually put them in hot water with just the ends trimmed off then walked away and forgot about them for an age. when i came downstairs for something my nose said Beets! anyway, as i looked at the gorgeous water i thought to myself, i'm going to go get my muslin and put it in here. and i sat down to eat my beets and was reading this post of yours at the same time. so now i am thinking i will start with the beet juice and keep on going ala lynne!! what fun, what fun! i'm making chocolate cupcakes later. i wonder if there is room for them in there somehow. naaah, but they can help me contemplate all this joy. whoo-hoo! thank you, lynne!

  15. Hi Lynne, I just love walnut ink crystals!!! Great to see your process with them and your beautiful pages.

  16. Thanks for sharing the info..I am going to give it a try..sometime>

  17. love the idea of drawingont fabrics rather than paper - it gives your work a lovely quality - I definitely want to try this - very kind of you to share.

  18. I keep thinking about your muslin pages. And I have been wanting to do some hand sewing. I think I am gonna haveta get some muslin.

  19. Your work has such an ethereal quality to it. Thanks for the tutorial. Plain muslin has such
    toothy quality to it, I love working with it too, but not as gloriously as you.

  20. I love the pieces when they are still bright too. Thanks for sharing your technique Lynne.

  21. wow, this is so COOL!!! cool cool cool. it's so cool it's HOT!
    i'm printing this out.

  22. Okay, when I get home in a few weeks and have my sewing machine there (and a buttload of muslin) I guess I'll have to give this a try.
    Life's rough, don't ya know?

  23. This is so wonderful, the way you share your process, and your painted muslin journal... I hope you are having a wonderful trip! Roxanne

  24. This is so wonderful, the way you share your process, and your painted muslin journal... I hope you are having a wonderful trip! Roxanne

  25. Wow! That’s an amazing art technique. I would like to try this technique. Thank you for posting a short tutorial.

  26. Lynne, thanks so much for taking the time to explain this so thoroughly. I could use my painting smock to make a book because that's what I clean my brushes on while I'm painting!

  27. This post just knocks me out. You are SO talented that I can't find fitting superlatives.

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  28. How did I miss this post?? Will have to give this one a try. Thanks for the generous tutorial!

  29. I think I got here from Seth Apter's blog -- and how lucky -- I just posted one about writing on muslin and being uphappy with my result and I found this in-depth tutorial -- thank you.

    i look forward to following your blog -- you create so much texture and depth in your pieces.

  30. Fab technique.. I will be trying this. I have a few pieces of muslin laying about waiting for some life!

  31. luv luv luv thank you for sharing oxo

  32. Thank you for this tutorial.
    Could you check out my blog and see what I am up too!

  33. Hey Lynne , Amy just posted a link to this on her blog , i did not miss it the first time i just forgot to bookmark it so thanks Amy for the link and thanks Lynne for being such a great sharer ......

    hugz bev

  34. I'm here via Amy, too...glad to be follower...so much fun happening round here!

  35. wowwow wow..thanks for sharing...I don't know how I came here but glad I did
    happy 2012

  36. Love this idea!
    I have walnut ink crystal muslin (which I'm now washing ),and everything else I need to create.
    Thanks so much for sharing !
    Happy New Year;-)

  37. great post- I also recommend having small pieces of cloth nearby for wiping etc. Sometimes these are really beautiful!

  38. Wen I actually wiped the wet watercolor on the plastic on a dry muslin..lol..;-)