I used the masking tape technique on the box lid above.
Last night I demonstrated a masking tape background technique that adds lovely texture to a surface on the Inspired at Home Pajama Party Live. This technique has been around for years but I’ve seen it used recently in Claudine Hellmuth’s book Collage Discovery Workshop: Beyond the Unexpected and in the book Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn Kohl and Cindy Gainer. It’s a simple and economical technique to use.
A close-up of the box lid
All you need for this technique is some masking tape, the surface you wish to create the background on, some gel medium (if you want the project to be archival), some paint (or see the other colouring options below), something to apply the colour with (paintbrush, foam brush, sponge, cloth etc.), and a rag to lift some of the colour back up with.
Here I am using the technique to create the grass texture in a collage/painting that is inspired by Claudine Hellmuth’s work. I watered down the paint quite a bit to make it look more glazed.
Begin by tearing off small pieces of tape and applying them to the surface, overlapping them as you go. It’s good to apply them in varying directions (horizontally, vertically, diagonally) to get the desired texture. Claudine advises even tearing some of the pieces of tape in half lengthwise and adding those to your surface as well. All these torn edges really create a pretty textured, distressed sort of look and give the paint (or other colouring) places to “latch on” so that some areas will be darker and some lighter than others. Before you begin painting, now is the time to cover your taped surface with a coat of gel medium (if you want it to be archival) and allow this to dry.
This is the canvas board that I demonstrated the technique on last night. This paint was barely watered down at all.
The next step is to apply your paint. I used inexpensive acrylic craft paints. You can apply them as is from the bottle or you can thin them down with water (I find this gives more of a glazed look to it). Apply a section at a time and then use a cloth to rub some away. The paint will sink into the torn edges, areas where tape overlaps, and areas where there is more layering of the tape to create those light and dark areas that add dimension. You may want to apply a top clear coat (gel medium, mod podge, clear varnish etc.) to your dried finished surface to protect it.
Some more variations:
Here’s one of my Slurpee lid ornaments using this technique. Instead of using hot glue, I actually used masking tape to hold the two lids together and then covered the whole thing in the masking tape pieces. I sponge painted with a sea sponge 4 different colours of pink.
This is the technique used on an ATC (the foundation for the ATC is a piece of cardboard cut from a cereal box). On this one I used alcohol inks dabbed on with foam sponges to colour it.
This was a plain glass vase that I picked up at the dollar store. I coloured this by using instant coffee (made extra strong) and rubbing it on with a cloth. It takes on a leather-like look. You can also achieve a similar look with shoe polish.
For the colour on this one, I used a packet of Koolaid (the little packets with no sugar added). I added just enough water to make it a liquid that I could apply and used a cloth to put it on with.
On this canvas board, I decided to experiment by cutting (instead of tearing) the tape and putting it on only horizontally and vertically to give a more geometric look. I rubbed Lumiere paints over this.
I’m sure there are many more ways this technique could be used and varied. Besides making a cool effect, it’s also a handy technique for covering flaws such as a nick in the wooden box lid shown above or for times when you began a canvas or other project and didn’t like the way it was turning out.