If I'm honest, I'll admit to being a patterned paper addict. I love the prints, the colors and all those beautiful patterns. Even more fun is putting them together to create your own project. Mixing up the colors and patterns for endless possibilities. For some, this just seems to come naturally and for others with practice. Since Ellen asked me to write this month's newsletter on Mixing Patterns, I've been jotting down ideas as they come to me and the process that I seem to follow most of the time. With a few hints and a little practice, you'll be mixing and matching with ease.
As I decided to create all the sample projects as cards and for ease of photographing, I'll be using 6x6 paper pads. If you're wondering about creating with the larger 12x12 papers, it's exactly the same thing, the prints are just larger. These work great for larger projects and scrapbook layouts and the same principles work for the larger canvas size. I find the smaller scaled papers the perfect size and the patterns just right for designing cards.
When starting to mix and matach patterns, using papers within one particular line is a great place to begin. The product designers have done most of the hard work for you as a well designed paper line should mix and match well for the most part. All the colors work together and there even within one paper pad, you'll find a myriad of choices.
There are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when choosing your papers. Patterns look best if they are not too repetitive. That means that while they coordinate in color and style, you'll want a variety of print scale, color depth and intensity and pattern variation. I'll show you some examples of what I mean. here's a selection of 6x6 papers from the new Origins line by Basic Grey.
This is a selection of papers I wouldn't put together. The colors coordinate and there is a nice range of color and intensity but the papers are all bold florals and are much too busy together.
This is another example of what you DON'T want to do...mix too many papers that have a very similar look to them. These papers all have grid on the same scale and it is just too much of the same thing to be interesting. The key to mixing patterns is to find papers that coordinate but still have variety and balance.
This selection of papers works together well. It has a small grid pattern, a small floral and a larger dark floral paper. You can also see a variety of colors and tones, the dark brown, a medium green and a lighter yellow.
Here is yet another selection from the same paper pad. It has a small grid, a larger scaled geometric floral pattern and a mid scaled ornate pattern in brown. This is the grouping of papers that I ended up using to create a card.
As you can see, I've used different amounts of color on this card sketch. It will depend on the look you want which patterns you use the most of. Take into account visual balance when decided which papers to put where. Darker patterns, more vibrant colors and more intensely patterned papers carry more visual weight than lighter papers. On the following card, I've placed the heavily patterned brown toned paper to the far right and balanced it with a wider piece of the yellow paper on the opposite side.
Supply List:Origins 6x6 paper pad by Basic Grey, Neenah Classic Solar white cardstock , Basic Grey Origins Pieces, Origins Canvas Tags by Basic Grey, Tim Holtz Paper Distresser by Tonic, Tim Holtz Game Spinner by Advantus, Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher by Advantus
These are some of the papers from the 6x6 Sugar Rush paper pad by Basic Grey. I love the range of colors and print and the great vibrancy to this line.With such a range, first start by picking a favorite paper and then looking for papers that will color coordinate well with it.
My favorite easy combo...dots, stripes, text and floral prints. On most designs, I usually gravitate towards a combination of these four types of prints. Dots and stripes just seem to go with everything. I thought this was a fun combo to work with from this line. If you look below, you'll notice I actually didn't end up using the green. I almost reshot this photo using the light bluish/purple pattern but decided to share my process with you. Not every selection will work with every layout. Occasionally I find that something I originally thought would work, actually looks better with something else. It's OK. It's just paper. Arrange them until you get a look that you like.
Stitching can be a great way to tie patterned papers together and transition from one to another. The subtly printed patterned paper I substituted is a nice restful piece. You can use these subtle papers as you would a cardstock layer as well. They are super easy to use and coordinate perfectly with the rest of the papers in the line.
While you're having fun mixing patterned papers, don't be afraid to mix them up with stamps as well. Patterned paper with a very subtle print looks fabulous stamped on.
Supply List: Sugar Rush 6x6 paper pad and Sugar Rush Pieces by Basic Grey, Domestic Love Stamp set by CHF, Neenah Classic Solar White Cardstock, sewing machine, Black Cardstock, Heart Trinket Pins by Maya Road, Tim Holtz Sanding Block by Advantus, Sakura Quickie Glue Pen, Martha Stewart Glitter, twine, buttons by Basic Grey
For the next couple projects, I pulled out a selection of 6x6 papers from the Gossamer line by Memory Box. The subtle prints and colors and beautiful. They are also very easy to use as most of the prints work very well together.
Most designs use two, three or four different prints of patterned paper. I love being able to mix more than that together as it's a great way to use of scraps and be very cost effective. Using strips of paper or squares or punched circles is a great way to use a lot of prints. When you are using that many prints, feel free to loosen the "rules" a little. Actually it's more of a rule of thumb not to use two stripes or two dots than any hard and fast rule. There's always an exception and the more you mix papers, the more confident you will be at putting them together. Because I used five strips of paper in this design, the stripe and the text which almost gives a striped look to it aren't next to each other, they work well.
After adhering and stitching these papers, I die cut them with a Spellbinders Heart die. This will turn one project into two as both the positive and the negative shapes can be used.
Here's how I've used the negative shape to create a card with my mixed patterns.
Supply List: Neenah Classic Solar White cardstock, Gossamer 6x6 paper pad by Memory Box, Key Expressions stamp set by Cornish Heritage Farms, silk ribbon by May Arts, sewing machine, Classic Heart Dies by Spellbinders, Tim Holtz Key Holes, paper piercer
Mixing lines is also something you can do. In the above projects, I've kept to one line from a single company on each card. The next card mixes the heart that I die cut from the previous project of mixed Gossamer papers with a dotted paper from the Sugar Rush pad by Basic Grey. Because the colors and pattern scale and size coordinate well. This is great for using up scraps or just for having fun with a unique look.
Supply List: In addition to the above list... Classic Hearts Scalloped by Spellbinders, Classic Scalloped Large Square dies by Spellbinders, kraft cardstock by Memory Box, Confetti Cake White flowers by Prima, twine, Word Charms by Maya Road
But pattern mixing is not just for patterned papers...it's also something you can do with stamps. Really the same principles apply. Coordinate the style and then mix up the scale and type of pattern to get the look you want. In this photo, the French Script, Weave and Flowers and Lace Backgrounders would make a really pretty project.
Scrapblocks are just large 6x6 background stamps. They can create patterns that can be mixed with themselves or with other background stamps. Here I chose the Vintage Text, Love & Aged Sheet Music Scrapblocks to work together. Unlike stripes, text patterns will almost always work together. I find text to be an incredibly flexible pattern to use.
A very easy way to coordinate patterns that are stamped is to vary the cardstock and stamp them all in the same ink. Black, Brown or other intense colors work well for this. Tone on tone is another great look but what will look good will vary from design to design so experiment for yourself.Here I've used Tuxedo Black Memento ink on all three patterns.
This is the final project. I've used the stamped layers in a project, just like I would use patterned paper. I've even stamped on top of the stamping. By embossing the chandelier, it stands out much better than just stamping in dye ink.
Supply List: Vintage Text Scrapblock, Love Scrapblock & Aged Sheet Music Scrapblock by CHF, Small Chandelier by Hero Arts, Kraft, Raspberry, Willow and Water cardstock by Memory Box, Black Crochet Ribbon by May Arts, Tuxedo Black ink by Memento, Ranger Black Embossing Powder, Versamark Ink by Tsukineko, Jet Chandelier Crystals by Advantus
The final thing I want to mention for you to think about when mixing patterns is color. For the most part, it's easy to pick out the predominant color of a patterned paper. You'll instinctively know that a paper "reads" dark brown, even if there is a myriad of other colors on the paper. Usually the background color of the print will be the dominant color but in a heavily patterned paper, this may not be the case. If you're unsure about the color or weight of the tones, squint your eyes together when you look at it. This will blur all the pattern going on and give you a idea of the depth of tone. This can be helpful when balancing out colors in a complex design.
I hope you'll have some fun experimenting with mixing papers and patterns. It's fun and adds a great look to your projects. While mixing patterns in fashion may be a little intimidating, after all you have to wear it, and mixing patterns in home decor is a huge investment, mixing patterns in paper crafting is quick, easy. If you make a few interesting choices, who really cares? Truly, I've seen some incredible paper crafters put together papers in a wild and fabulous look. I would never have put them together but something just makes them work. Like all paper crafting, it's all about personal taste, self expression and having fun.
Thanks so much for joining me today at In Touch.