Watercolor bookmark ideas
In this post I hope to inspire you with some bookmark ideas using the water reflection technique, which is a watercolor project.
Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t know how to paint with watercolors. We’re going to use easy tools that are fun and simple for beginners. You are welcome to read on, or simply watch the video:
If you’re using wood stamps, you might like to see the other video I’ve posted below. It’s about how to place your image with your stamp-a-ma-jig.
My current favorite stamp to use with this technique is from the”Beautiful You” stamp set. I like to call this stamp “umbrella girl” (as seen above). This is the stamp we’ll use in this demonstration.
In our header photo, you can see that this technique can also be used with any outline stamp. What I mean is any stamp that can be colored in, rather than a stamp that is already filled in.
I saw the idea for this technique on Youtube by Sandi MacIver. Thanks, Sandi! She used it on a card, but we’re going to use it for our bookmark ideas.
Step One: (Make Your Image) As Shown in Video
The first thing we’re going to do is make our image at the top of our trimmed watercolor paper. For this step it is essential that we use the archival black ink so the water we’re going to add later won’t cause the ink to run.
If you’re using wood stamps like I am, the best way to place it properly is to use your stamp-a-ma-jig. If you’re not familiar with how to place an image using the stamp-a-ma-jig, I’ve included a very short video below:
When you’re using clear mount stamps, you should be able to easily place your image in the right spot near the top of your bookmark.
Of course, now’s a good time to use the baby wipe or stampin scrub coupled with stampin mist to clean off your stamp. Note that some inks stain. The archival black ink may not completely come off of your stamp. As long as your stamp is clean, the staining will not affect the future use of your stamp and will not blend with any future colors you use.
Note: A great way to clean your acrylic stamp-a-ma-jig sheet is with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.
The Mirror Image
The next thing we’re going to do is create the mirror image for the water reflection. Time to grab your stamp-a-ma-jig again!
For this step we’re only going to use the acrylic sheet. Note that there is a bumpy side and a smooth side on that acrylic sheet. Make sure you use the smooth side for this step.
Now we’re going to stamp the image on the acrylic again with the archival black ink. Before you stamp, place piece of grid paper or regular copy paper under your acrylic sheet.
This is because for the mirror image, you don’t want to include the part of the stamp that represents the floor/ground/grass. The copy or grid paper will catch that portion. You could also try to just not get the ink on that part of the stamp before placing the image on the acrylic.
As fast as you can, flip the acrylic sheet over and line the feet up with the legs and feet of the previously stamped image. Lay your acrylic down, and press over it with your fingers well before lifting the acrylic sheet.
You’re going to notice that this image is not as bold and will possibly look wavy. That’s okay! This works awesome with the water reflection technique. Clean your stamp again!
Note: Because bookmarks tend to be longer, the complete mirror image fits onto the paper. If you have a project that is shorter in length such as a card or gift tag, a partial mirror image will still look lovely.
Coloring In Your Water
Before we complete our bookmark ideas, we have to color in our beautifully stamped images.
You’ll first need the inkpad in the color you’ve chosen for the water. Before opening your inkpad, squeeze the top and press toward the back.
When you open it, you’ll notice there will now be a small pool of ink in the lid from where you squeezed. This is the ink you’ll mix with water to add to your paper. Alternatively, you could buy the ink refills and just squeeze a small amount from the refill bottle into the lid of the ink pad.
It’s time to grab your aqua painter. Make sure it’s filled with water, and squeeze it with the brush pointed downward so that a drop of water comes to the surface.
Some people add plain water to the paper first, and then go back and add color. I find when I do this I get too much water.
Once I’ve squeezed the first water droplet down where I know my brush is wet, I don’t squeeze again before dipping the brush in my ink pool. You’ll find there’s still enough water on the brush to dilute the ink a bit.
Now, start just below the part of the main image where the floor/ground/grass would be, and start swiping over your mirror image from side to side and downward. You don’t have to fill the paper. You can leave white space as long as the mirror image is covered.
If you get too much color, use the paper towel to dab some off and try again.
Coloring in your main image
While the water is drying, you can move on to coloring in the dress and umbrella in the main image. If you would like, you could use the heat tool to dry the water first before you move on.
Note: In the header image example where I used the tasty truck, you’ll see I used two colors on the truck. This was my fifth try! It took a while to get the colors to stop bleeding together. If you’re using two colors in the same section and you don’t want them to bleed, dry in-between every step.
First, make sure your aqua painter is clean and free of any previous ink by squeezing down and brushing across a paper towel as the water comes out.
Then, you’ll basically follow the same steps as before to color in the dress, and then the umbrella. Note that you can make the dress long or short sleeves depending on how you color it in. I’ve chosen to do short sleeves.
I’ve done my dress and umbrella in different colors, cleaning my brush in-between of course.
Completing the water reflection
Our bookmark ideas are almost complete! Now that you’ve colored in the dress and umbrella, the water is most likely dry. If not, wait a bit or use the heat tool. Then, you’ll go back and color in the dress and umbrella over the water.
This layer should be a little lighter in color than the actual dress. It may look a little different since it’s going over a previously placed color. This is okay! Perfectionism has no place in art. In art, we might have “happy accidents” that add to the character of our finished project.
You’ll see in the video that I went back and added a second layer of color to the dress. I didn’t feel it was quite dark enough.
I’m keeping these bookmark ideas pretty basic, although you can embellish them as much as you like. To finish up, I’m adding a pretty paper background and some ribbon.
For this example, I’m using the berry burst paper from the fresh florals designer series pack, and berry burst ribbon.
Cut your paper about a half inch thicker than your original size. So, for this bookmark we’ll cut it to 2 and a half inches by 6 and a half inches. Position and attach it with your choice of adhesive. I’ve used the multi-liquid glue.
I use a hole punch to make the hole for ribbon. You can see in my header example I’ve tied my ribbon in different ways for different fun looks.
I like to protect my bookmarks with contact paper before I add the ribbon. I’ll tell you about that first, then I’ll tell you what I did with the ribbon for these different looks.
For these bookmark ideas, it might be a good idea to laminate them. These will be handled quite a bit, and could possibly tatter over time. If you don’t have any type of laminating machine, you could use clear contact paper.
The best way I have found to use clear contact paper to protect your bookmark is to first cut two pieces of contact paper that are about an inch larger than the width and length of your bookmark.
To place your bookmark between the sheets of contact paper, lay the first piece down sticky side up, and then place your bookmark face down on it.
Then, use fast fuse adhesive all the way around the bookmark paper.
Next, lay the second sheet of contact paper down sticky side up, and place the open side of your bookmark down on it.
Once the bookmark is between the two sheets of contact paper, run it through your big shot. This was the only way I found to get a really good press.
Use the base, the thinlit adapter, your first acrylic plate, the bookmark, and your second acrylic plate on top. That’s your sandwich. Run it through forward, then backward. Finally you can trim your edges with your trimmer. The fast fuse keeps the edges from popping open later.
Adding the ribbon
To add ribbon to our bookmark ideas, simply use a hole punch at or near the top. For a bow, add two holes at the top, thread them through, and tie at the front like you’re tying your shoelaces.
For the more traditional look, just punch one hole. When you insert your ribbon, wrap one side over the other. Bring it back around, thread it through, and pull. This is similar to how you’d tie a man’s tie.
For this bookmark, I punched two holes ( I got them crooked, but surged forward) and tied the bow backward leaving a long tail. I used mini glue dots to make the sides of the bow stick where I wanted them to.
What do you think of our bookmark ideas?
How do you like our bookmark ideas? Was the water reflection easy to make? Do you have any suggestions to go along with this technique?
Supplies for the water reflection technique
These are the supplies I used to make this project. You can get your own at my Stampin Up demonstrator website.