Against the Grain

Our new challenge this month over at A Vintage Journey is Against the Grain, which is being hosted by the lovely Sara Emily. Here’s what it’s all about:

“Most of us love the look of wood and there are a lot of art/craft products out there that help us achieve beautiful wood grain, including stamps, stencils, embossing folders, paper and mixed media products. We would love to see how you add a touch of wood texture or appearance to your vintage, shabby, mixed media, art journaling, industrial, timeworn or steampunk projects”.

I experimented with a fun technique using Distress Ink and gel medium to create a wooden plank background for my art journal page. This provided the perfect backdrop for my “metal” hearts, pretty flowers and quotes.

For the background I dragged three different Distress Ink stamp pads from right to left horizontally across my page, as you can see the mixed media paper I use is textured which helped create the wood grain effect. Then I applied some gel medium over the top using a paintbrush making sure my brush strokes were continuous and in one direction to create the wood grain finish; the ink colours used were Brushed Corduroy, Vintage Photo and Ground Espresso. To build up the wood grain, I repeated this process four times in total ensuring that the gel medium was dry before adding the next layer …

… on applying the ink for the second layer I also divided the page into wood panels using the Ground Espresso Distress Ink and a black marker smudging the inks with my finger …

… and before I applied the fourth and final layer of ink and gel medium, I rubbed the page hard with a baby wipe which removed some of the gel medium and ink to give an aged and worn look; the mixed media paper I used was 250gsm so it can take this type of treatment.

For the heart I drew and cut a heart from some silver recycled packaging and then ran it through an Elegant Embossing Folder from Tim Holtz. I applied some black acrylic paint over the top to emphasis the embossed parts of the image and when dry I wiped the access paint off with my finger which gave it a tarnished look. The heart is also edged with a black Sharpie permanent marker.

I arranged my “metal” heart onto the page with some pretty die cut flowers which are Tim Holtz Botanical Layers and also some Sparkle Little Birdie Flowers; everything is stuck into place using glue dots. The tiny silver hearts are cut from the same silver packaging using a Falling Hearts Thinlet set by Tim Holtz. To finish, I added three Tim Holtz Small Talk stickers that read “have an open heart”, “no beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart” and “follow your heart”.

I hope you are inspired to join in the Against the Grain fun over at A Vintage Journey, and for more inspiration you’ll find some amazing creations from my fellow Creative Guides over at A Vintage Journey too, it would be lovely to see you there!

My page reminds me of springtime and it seems that spring is on it’s way with all the beautiful flowers that are flowering already, here’s a springtime Camellia that flowers just around the corner from us – isn’t it gorgeous (grin!).

Thanks for joining me today! If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.


I’m pleased to join the Hearts challenge over at Art Journal Journey that is being hosted by the lovely Bleubeard & Elizabeth this month with the hearts and wording on my page.

I’m also pleased to join the Floral Frenzy challenge over at Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge with the pretty flowers that I included on my page.

I’m pleased to be able to join the Layers challenge over at Paperbabe Stamps with my page too.

I’m joining in the With Love challenge over at Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge with my art journal page too.

Here is a list of all the materials used to create this art journal page:

  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Brushed Corduroy, Vintage Photo, Ground Espresso)
  • Liquitex Matte Gel Medium
  • Faber-Castell Big Brush Marker (Black 199)
  • Recycled silver packaging
  • Tim Holtz Sizzix 3D Texture Fades A6 Embossing Folder (Elegant 664172)
  • DecoArt Crafter’s Acrylic paint (Black)
  • Sharpie Permanent Fine Point Marker (Black)
  • Tim Holtz idea-ology (Botancial Layers #TH93554, Small Talk Stickers #TH93193)  
  • Little Birdie (Sparkle Little Birdie Flowers SKU213726)
  • Stix2 glue dots
  • Tim Holtz Sizzix Thinlets (Falling Hearts 664415)
  • Ranger Glossy Accents

19 thoughts on “Against the Grain

  1. You did an amazing job creating the look of wood. I am really impressed and think I need to try that technique. It is a gorgeous background and works so well to make a gorgeous page. Thanks for sharing with us for Elizabeth’s challenge at Art Journal Journey. Happy end of the week. Hugs-Erika

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh Jo, I was blown away by how you created the wood grain background. It is stunning and looks so very realistic, too. Then, adding the metal heart and beautiful flowers was even more special. Most impressive indeed. Thanks for sharing this with us using my theme at Art Journal Journey, dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo the wood effect base looks fantastic and the embossing on the heart looks beautiful, It is an awesome page and i am so happy you have linked with us at Art Journal Journey as well.
    Yvonne xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo, your wood grain effect is so believable, and I’m delighted you shared your steps with us! The tarnished heart is the icing on this journal page cake! What a fantastic work of art you have created for this challenge! Thank you for your inspiration and for being such a sweet and helpful teammate and huge supporter of my blog! Big hugs! Sara Emily PS That camellia is amazing! I’ve been trying to get a white camellia plant for my friend for the loss of her father last fall, who loved white flowering plants. Perhaps they will be in the shops now…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a super cool art journal project, Jo. I love the die and all your fabulous touches. I saw it over on the SSS blog and had to come take a closer look. It’s really fab and I thank you for sharing your creative ideas with us all. I tried a more Mixed Media project this time as well, and it was way out of my comfort zone. But how can you go wrong with HEARTS, right? Your project is lovely!
    It would be awesome to have you stop by and link up with us also at Word Art Wednesday. My challenges are always Anything Goes/Family Friendly and we have amazing prices, too. I’d love to see your art linked up with us when you’re able. Here’s the link in case you’d like to play along:
    Have a blessed and creative week. I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful art.
    Happy artful wishes,
    Karen Letchworth – my personal blog – my challenge blog

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was so keen to see how you created that amazing rustic wood effect, Jo – and the tutorial doesn’t disappoint. Thanks for sharing all the details of your process – it’s a fabulous look, and the metallic heart looks great against it.
    Alison x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, what an amazing background technique Jo, brilliant idea to use the Distress Inks with the gel in so many lovely layers, amazing depth and texture! Love your beautiful embossed metallic heart as well, a perfect contrast to the rustic wood look beneath. Thanks so much for sharing it, Deb xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a lovely romantic page Jo! The background is super clever and realistic looking and I adore the heart with the texture fade use to give it all that dimension. Lovely colours and composition too!!
    Have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on your win Jo, so nice to see you in the winning seat this fortnight with this amazing piece of mixed media loveliness.. For some reason my past comment doesn’t appear to be here, I it’s one that was eaten by the gremlins… grrrr.. Enjoy your prize Hugs Tracey xx

    Liked by 1 person

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