Postcards are versatile and fun to make. You can deliver them personally, use them as gift enclosures, or use them as the ultimate mail art. I belong to Postcrossing, an international postcard exchange in which I’ve sent (and received) over 300 cards! Today, I’ll show you how to make both of these postcards.
My name is Quinn McDonald and I’m a transplant from Washington, D.C. to Phoenix. Being chosen for the Niji-Yasutomo design team was wonderful because I’ve been using the products for years and love to experiment with art supplies. I’m a writer, creativity coach, and collage artist.
Splash Inks are portable fun in a bottle. Today, we are going to marble paper with Splash Inks, then use the paper to make the postcards. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to make this project.
Splash Inks, a flat deep, non-reactive pan about 10 inches long and at least 2 inches deep (25 x 5 centimeters). Shown (above) is an enameled meat tray you can buy as a palette in most art supply stores.
The medium to float the inks is Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch. It comes in a blue half-gallon bottle. A spray bottle with a fine, misting spray and a roll of paper towels come in handy.
You’ll also need several pieces of Mixed Media paper (I like Strathmore and Canson). You can also use Arches Velin, or 90-pound watercolor paper by Bee. Add an eye dropper, a big-tooth comb, a shower squeegee and a group of small containers to mix your favorite color inks and you are ready. Start by protecting your worktable with newspaper and wearing gloves if you want to keep your hands ink-free.
Shake the bottle of starch to blend the ingredients. Pour the starch into the dish so you have at least an inch of fluid in the dish. Stir gently with the comb or a gloved finger to remove the bubbles.
Using an ink dropper, add several drops of ink to the surface of the starch. The first time you do this, the drops will be small and sink. Expect one or two test sheets till the starch is tempered.
You can use colors right out of the bottle, or you can mix inks into small containers. A color blending chart is included along with the four bottles of Splash Ink.
After several test sheets (save them for collage work), the ink drops will get larger and float well enough so you can put drops within drops. You can marble with this pattern (called ‘stone’) or you can use the comb and gently drag the teeth through the liquid.
Drag the wide teeth of the comb left to right.
Drag the narrower teeth up and down. The more you comb the finer the pattern. Colors will blend with a lot of stirring.
Place a sheet of paper onto the surface. Place one end onto the surface then “roll” the paper and drop the other end. That keeps air from getting trapped under the paper and leaving a big white spot. Above, you can see that the bottom, left hand corner of the paper is picking up from the surface. That’s a sign to pick up the paper, the marbling is done. It takes about 10-15 seconds for the color to transfer.
Carefully pick up the paper and put it on the newspaper. To get the starch to run off, tilt the paper slightly by putting it on a piece of crumpled newspaper. After about one minute, spray the paper with a mister to rinse off extra starch. If you like a very crisp look with distinct lines, wipe the excess starch off the paper with the shower squeegee. It will take off some color with it.
To make pastel shades of paper, drop the sheet on the surface, let it absorb color, then use a palette knife (or the comb) to push the paper under water. The back will become marbled in a pastel swirl of color.
Make many sheets at once to have choices. To clean the surface of the starch, float a paper towel on it to absorb the ink, then add more ink. Above, you can see several sheets–upper left is a sheet made with the four colors in the bottles; upper center, a pastel effect by sinking the paper; bottom left is a piece scraped with the shower squeegee.
The papers may curl while they are wet. To get them flat, put them between two sheets of parchment paper and iron them on a medium setting till they are flat.
To make postcards, you’ll need watercolor postcards or Strathmore Ready-Cut (5-inch by 7 inch), a small palette to mix the Splash Inks, a brush (watercolor or acrylic is fine), a paper punch to cut out designs, Nori glue and a piece of scrap paper to test ink colors. First, mix colors for a postcard background. It should coordinate with the marbled paper you will use. Because you want the background to be pale, use a lot of water in the ink blend. This will give you the transparent effect of watercolors.
Spray the front (image side) of the postcard with water. Load the brush with diluted ink and create a color wash over the postcard.
Using the paper punch, cut out several teardrop shaped pieces from the marbled paper. You’ll need two big pieces and two small pieces for every butterfly, and five pieces (either large or small) for the flower.
When the watercolor wash on the postcard is dry, use Nori glue to create the butterflies on the postcard. Nori glue dries slowly, so it is re-positionable, a big plus if you live in a dry climate. The butterflies will look very different, depending on the angle of the four pieces. Play with placing them before you glue them down.
For the flowers, you can turn the pointed end of the cut-out pointing toward the center our out toward the edge. Having a part of a flower extend over the edge and trimming it off gives the piece a more natural look. Add glitter glue centers and dots to unify the flower image.
Trace around the petals and butterflies with a Niji Gel Extreme pens for a finished look. You can see more postcards I made using using marbled paper on Pinterest.
And you can see more art supplies at