Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ancient Fragments Tutorial

First off, let me say that I am certainly not the originator of this idea - I think it's been around forever. But, I've looked all over the place and I can't find any tutorial/instructions/name for this technique, so I am showing you how I did my Nepal piece and calling it Ancient Fragments, which is what I wanted my "exotic" artwork to look like. Okay, let's get started!

First of all you will need a firm base. I used a 5" x 7" piece of mat board. Color doesn't matter since you'll be covering this up. I cut my edges roughly so it wouldn't look too perfect.

Next, you will need Joint Compound/Drywall 'Mud'. This is the stuff that they use to cover the seams when they put Sheetrock/drywall up. You can find it at the hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) and even at places like Walmart. We've been remodeling so we have a fairly large bucket of it, but you can buy smaller tubs too.

Begin by applying a fairly even coat of mud to your mat board, using a scraper or palette knife. You want it thick enough so your stamp will make a nice impression, but no so thick that it will take forever to dry or squish all over the place when you stamp into it.

The next step is the most important! You need to let your mud dry until it's just the right consistency to stamp into. If it's too wet, you'll end up with an unrecognizable blob, too dry and you won't get an impression at all. Because I have no patience, I use my heat gun to speed up the process. Just keep checking until you think it's ready. *This will take a very short time - don't leave it overnight and expect to be able to stamp into it!

Take a bold image stamp (this one is from Jim Stephen) and press evenly into the mud. Pull up and check your impression. If it looks good, continue to stamp, covering the entire surface. If it's too wet, smooth it with your knife and wait a bit. If it's too dry, you'll either need to add another layer of mud or start over again. You might try re-wetting it, I haven't done that, but it might work.

Let dry - you can use your heat gun to speed this up!

When dry cover the entire surface with slightly watered down acrylic paint. I used burnt umber craft paint.

Wipe/blot off with paper towel. Oooh, how cool does that look now? Your paint will catch in all the little cracks and crevices. I was tempted to stop here!

The next part is entirely up to you and your creative muse! I can't tell you what feels right for what you're trying to achieve, you have to experiment for yourself. For mine, I painted the depressions with red acrylic paint, added Brushed Corduroy Distress ink, more brown paint, gold and copper rub on paint (from RockCandy Studios), oil crayon, and black acrylic paint. You just have to play with it until you're happy! I also sealed mine with an acrylic sealer when I was done.

I hope you've enjoyed this - please let me know if you try it and send a link to your artwork!


  1. Thanks, Shelly. I will definitely try this one!

  2. I've done stuff sort of like this before, but I think I'll try it your way, just to see what my results will be.

  3. Thanks Shelly for this fantastic tutorial!

  4. Pretty cool tech,.-my DH will be doing some drywalling next week so I will have to help myself to some joint compound! Thanks for sharing!
    mary w.

  5. Thanks for the tut! Dry wall mud used to be one of my favorite mediums to use with my preschoolers... and one of the messiest! Added bonus... it's cheap!
    Your use of of it looks like tooled leather. Very nice!

  6. This is so actually see how you created the fantastic background for the piece below. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm going to definitely give it a try.

  7. What an awesome tutorial and work !! I love this and love what you do.
    Hugs June x

  8. thanks for teaching..i will add it the stuff i want to try.

  9. WOW! Thanks for sharing such beauty!! It is just amazing!

  10. Fabulous tutorial - something I never would have thought of in a million years - dry wall mud of all things... I bet we have some of that around somewhere....

    Thanks for the tut!!!

  11. great fun! I've used the mud on the outside of altered books but luv all the layering you've done for such a great finish. xoxoxo Carla H.

  12. Very cool technique! Thanks so much for sharing it!


Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate your comments so much!