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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Step-By-Step: Vintage Mixed-Media Tag ("Sweet Mabel")

Hi guys! Today I have a step-by-step breakdown of how I made this vintage mixed-media tag.

I call it "Sweet Mabel." Mabel was the name of the mother of my childhood friend Maryellen, and it struck me as an old-fashioned name even back then. The Mabel I knew was pretty nice, although she looks nothing like the "Mabel" on this tag.  :)

I started with a journaling card that looked like this:

The text on the card didn't really bother me, as I knew I'd be covering most of it up during the making of the tag anyway. So I trimmed the card to tag size and shape and got to work...

I took out a mini ink tool and a couple of colors of Distress ink and went over the lettering to reduce the difference in value between it and the background:

Next, I chose some vintage sheet music and a page from a midcentury book and tore them up, then added a piece of scrapbook paper, and collaged it all down with Mod Podge. At this stage, things looked like this:

This was a good start, but the tag needed some texture and dimension. So I got out my trusty texture paste and a favorite stencil, and quickly slapped some scrolly leaves onto a few spots on the tag.

After letting the paste dry for a couple of minutes, I wanted to blend and distress the whole shebang so it would start to merge into a unified background. I got out some spray stains in Tea Dye and Antique Linen and spritzed a bit...

But the tag still needed MOAR. I dabbed some Distress Stain in Crushed Olive (one of the most awesome colors ever to exist, by the way; you can thank me later) and let the tag start to marinate in all the vintage-colored juices I was bathing it in.

And yet even the divine Crushed Olive was not really doing enough. I wanted the scrolly leaves and vines to stand out a bit more, and I also wished I hadn't slapped the texture paste on so roughly; I wanted it a little smoother. So I decided to blend a custom glaze of Mod Podge (you could use any gel medium) and Distress Stain. I mixed a little Vintage Photo into my medium and painted over the vines.

The glaze pooled a little bit around the texture paste and smoothed everything out a little, helping the vines pop just enough.

Now it was time to put the focal point together. I had a vintage photo of "Mabel" all ready to go; it didn't need anything done to it. But it needed a frame to set her off. I chose a die-cut frame made of scrapbook paper rather than an actual metal frame. But it needed more dimension...so I coated it with clear embossing powder dusted with Perfect Pearls in Heirloom Gold to add just a hint of aged patina, then melted the mixture to the frame.

I glued Mabel behind the frame and fastened it down with some brads, adding a special rhinestone brad at the top of the frame.

The frame was decorated with some peach-pink roses that I fussy-cut from a few odd pieces of paper I had lying around.

And suddenly, all that was left to finish the tag was to punch a hole at the top...edge the tag in copper metallic and brown chalk ink...add a piece of distressed trim to the bottom edge...and tie it with a ribbon.

Et voila! Sweet Mabel lives on in her own tag. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts below, and am happy to answer any questions if I skipped over something you might have wanted to know more about.  :)

Happy art-making!


  1. What a gorgeous old world collaged tag! I so admire that you took the sentiment on the gorgeous paper, and tore it up to collage. I would have a hard time doing that...yikes, I'm a hoarder of sentiments...lol! I LOVE the frame too...beautiful!

    1. Hi Anita! :) I hear you about "destroying" things for collage! You know, I didn't mind inking over the sentiment at all, since I knew it was mostly going to be covered anyway...the hard part for me was tearing up old sheet music! But I had received this particular page of music in a swap, already torn out of its original book, so I figured I might as well make the page's sacrifice worth it by using some of it. ;)