Spring Break Guest Post | May Flaum

Play With Paste from May Flaum

If I simply wanted to preserve my stories + photos I would have switched to digital scrapbooking long ago. For me, my creative time isn’t just about the preserving aspect, though that is very dear to me and definitely a big part of my love of scrapbooking. The thing is, I like to play with physical product. To take a simple piece of paper and transform it with my own two hands.

I like to play. I don’t like to burden myself with a lot of creative rules. I like to get my hands dirty.

Today I want to share with you some thoughts, suggestions, and how-to incorporate some paste into your crafting as well. Whether you’re into scrapbook layouts, cards, tags, altered arts, or a little of everything you too can get your fingers nice and crusty and have a grand time.

Here are two tags I made – the one on the left uses Golden brand glossy gel, the one on the right uses Liquitex paste. More on the how-to of these in a minute – first I want to point out that you can get some very similar looks texture and color wise, but that the finish (glossy vs matte) does indeed matter here. All of the gels, multi-mediums, and pastes I use dry almost entirely clear which means whatever you had under them will show through, it also means you can add color to them before applying.

The key difference is that once dry, with glossy you will get more of a resist effect (mists and inks and such will easily wipe off/won’t want to stick to treated areas), whereas the matte finish gives you a surface that is more likely to absorb and take on color after dry.

So what should you use? I recommend Claudine Hellmuth for Ranger multi-medium as an all-around liquid medium, but if you really want to get some heavy duty texture I love the mediums from Golden and Liquitex. I get mine at Michaels – they keep them on the very bottom shelf under the artist quality paints. Heavy gel, molding paste, blended fibers – they’re all good and will have slightly different finishes (in order: slick, matte and a bit textured, little more lumpy), they work about the same.

On the canvas above I used matte gel with blue paint to coat a canvas, act as adhesive for my photo, and cover the edges of my photo, and adhere all my sequins and embellishments. A super easy, fast, and straightforward way to use paste that I wanted to share here.

Before I dive into more how-to, here are my tips for working with these mediums:


  • Invest in some little disposable cups for blending color in when mixing up custom paste

  • Experiment on a tag, scrap paper, or other zero pressure surface to begin with and get a good feel for the products.

  • Allow several hours, even overnight dry time. Trying to heat with a tool gun for more than a few seconds at a time tends to make things bubble, pop, and get angry.

  • Using ink, mist, paint, or any other liquid form of color with them is great, or color can also be applied over area(s) once dry.

  • Use with stencils, masks, on chipboard or die cuts, smear thin layer, thick, uneven, or on the edges of something.

  • Apply with fingers, paint brush, stick, or anything else.

  • Don’t hesitate to jump in with texture tools such as a knife, fork, bubble wrap, cardboard, or anything else you can think of to create additional texture


Here are two photos showing how I mix color into my medium. On the left, you see me using a small plastic cup (disposable appetizer cups I found at the party store) to mix some Heirloom Blue Mister Huey mist into my paste. I suggest starting with a single drop at a time, adding more color slowly until you achieve the color you desire.

On the right, I have put some acrylic paint onto the canvas, then added some dollops of matte gel onto the canvas and mixed together that way. How you mix in color (if you even do) depends on where you’re heading with that paste, and how you’ll apply it. For all-over the direct on canvas approach saves making a mess in another container and speeds things along.

Once dry, these products will not become rock hard. Lightweight, bendable even, it allows you to continue your play with adding in additional layers of paint, or anything else you’d desire. Above you see detail shots of a layout created with molding paste with blue Mister Huey mist applied all around, then white acrylic paint dabbed over some areas to highlight and add more attention to the texture already there. Here is the full layout:

I kept my paste use to the edges here, just an accent. But just as easily I could have used with stencils, created a custom embellishment, or gone any other number of ways. In this case though, I was just adding some mess and funk to a layout I’ve been meaning to create.

A personal favorite way to play with my pastes is with stencils. Here you can see my process in four steps – first I color my surface (or use a patterned paper to start), then I apply (gloss gel in this case) the medium over a stencil, taking care to hold the stencil steady and flat so that the design comes out. Third I either smooth, or add texture to the surface. In this case I used bubble wrap and pressed it all over. Finally, I remove the stencil by lifting it up gently and allow the gel to dry fully before playing with additional colors or products.

Here’s a detail shot of that tag once finished – I added some cranberry mist and a touch of gold acrylic paint. You can see how the cranberry really only stuck where the gel was not and that the original yellow and orange shine through– love that.

I used the leftover paste from my layout to create this tag with a seahorse stencil that I showed before as well. Once dry I applied paint over the edges, which combined with the paste texture really added some interesting color detail.

The best part about all of this, is that you need to observe no rules. This can be done on any project, in any way you choose from background or base to finishing accent. It requires some patience (you do need to let it dry), but other than that is fast, fun, and a really enjoyable way to add more play into your crafting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at paste – and that you’re moved to add a bit more mess into your creative play time. If you’d like to see more of my creative play, please feel free to come visit me at my blog www.mayflaum.com. Happy Crafting.

ABOUT MAY | For more cool, playful techniques check out May's book Scrapbook Workshop or sign up for an online workshop via Big Picture. Her current self-paced classes include Vacation Memorabilia, Extraordinary Paper, and Holiday Recipes for Scrapbooking.

12 thoughts shared

  1. dawn

    2012-03-28 05:12:04 -0500

    I love love what you showed us here!! I'm into mixed media and just saw soemthing like this a couple days ago and liked it. KNow after seeing yours I LOVE LOVE it. Thanks so much for these inspiring and helpful steps, especially love the stencils. I can't wait to shop at Michaels and play on TAGS, MY FAVORITE SUPPLY!!

    Have a great day and thanks again for sharing!!

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  2. Cheryl M

    2012-03-28 07:47:24 -0500

    What an excellent article, May. Thanks for the tutorial. I cannot wait to try it out.

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  3. may

    2012-03-28 09:18:44 -0500

    I had so much fun with this! :)

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  4. soapHOUSEmama

    2012-03-28 09:45:21 -0500

    AMAZING projects!!!! Love the great tutorial!

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  5. Elaine Allen

    2012-03-28 12:19:04 -0500

    May -

    Thanks so much for all the great information. Some really fabulous techniques. Have to visit Michael's and pick up some of these cool mediums so I can play.

    Elaine Allen

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  6. tiffany h.

    2012-03-28 12:54:46 -0500

    Love your layout and seahorse tag! Thanks for sharing!

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  7. Cindy

    2012-03-28 20:15:36 -0500

    I'm going to have to pull my gel medium out of the cabinet and get it on a canvas. Love what you did. Thanks for the inspiration!

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
  8. Debbie in AZ

    2012-03-28 23:23:14 -0500

    What a great tutorial! I want to add more texture to my layouts and dabble in art journaling -- thanks for the awesome how-to photos and tips.

    * edited 08/11/14 06:40AM
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