Mixed Media Bag Charm Tutorial

Mixed Media Bag Charms

A couple days ago I used one of my Target gift cards I received during the holidays to purchase a new handbag.  I love the ‘color’ gray so naturally when I found an inexpensive, larger gray handbag, I was all in!

Upon closer inspection at home, I realized that although the bag will go with a ton of different jackets and outfits, it is kind of ho-hum visually.  😛

So that got me thinking “How can I jazz up this sleepy bag?”…  Like so many other instances, MIXED MEDIA ARTWORK was my answer!

Below you will find the steps that I took to create my Bag Charm…


–Scrap canvas (my piece was about 6″ x 12″, medium weight)

–Mixed Media supplies (stencils, rubber stamps, stamp ink, acrylic paint, markers, white pen, watercolor paint, paint brushes, etc.)

–Scrap Paper to make a shape tracer

–Polar Fleece (or other heavier fabric that will act as a stabilizer to stitch the canvas on)

–Sewing Machine (or hand stitching if you are committed!)

–Eyelets and Eyelet Setter

–Scissors (or a variety of cutting tools if you have them…  Exacto Blade, small precision scissors, book making awl, etc.)

–Wire Keychain Cable

Quick Note– The direction below are simply my process that I usually use to make my Mixed Media artwork.  There is definitely enough info below to get you a Bag Charm that looks very similar to mine.

That said, BE CREATIVE!  This tutorial leaves TONS of room for you to really personalize your Mixed Media Bag Charm.  Feel free to play it safe and make one that looks like mine and then, after going through the process once, change it up and make more Bag Charms using your own ideas. 🙂  They are fun to make and we all know you can never have enough different accessories!

Creating the Mixed Media Fabric:

Mixed Media Bag Charms Materials

When I make my Mixed Media Fabric (MM Fabric), I use many different mixed media art techniques.  My artwork often has lots of layers of materials. Sometimes I start with tracing a stencil using a permanent marker, other times I simply write with my own handwriting to get started.  Regardless of how you start, take the plunge and start marking up that piece of clean, untouched canvas.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Stamped

For this project I started with a circle rubber stamp and StazOn purple permanent ink.  I thought it would be fun to make my MM Bag Charm using the 2018 color of the year, Pantone’s Ultra Violet.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Purple

Next, I kicked it up a notch and used some Liquitex Basics Acrylic paints and some Reeves watercolors in a tube.  All of them using the color purple in some form and occasionally adding a little blue to try to get that ‘Ultra Violet’ color.

Mixed Media Fabric Purple

I continued to work on the fabric, taking time to let it dry when necessary.  If you compare the two images above you’ll see that I added paint stenciling, black painted dots for contrast, more purple acrylic paint on the black dots and lots of doodling with markers and my favorite white pen.  I’ve tried many and the Uni-ball Impact White Gel Pen beats the rest.  GET IT!

Remember, the goal with the MM Fabric is tons of layers and covering most (if not all) of the original canvas color.  You can create your MM Fabric the way that you want to but that’s how I roll…

Mixed Media Fabric With Tracers

Next you will need to create some paper tracers to trace your shapes onto the back of your MM Fabric.  Your paper tracers can be any shape that you want and use any kind of scrap paper you have hanging around.  I got my hands on black construction paper first, which is why my tracers are black. (But this actually worked well for photo purposes so it’s a win-win if you ask me!)  Any relatively simple shape you can think of should work for this.  Keep in mind you will be stitching around it a few times so crazy detailed shapes might be a challenge but the choice is really up to you!

Mixed Media Fabric With Tracers

Flip that gorgeous piece of MM Fabric that you created over!  Using you tracers (I liked the idea of two of the same shapes, one slightly smaller) trace the shapes onto the back of your MM Fabric.

Don’t forget to trace one tracer facing up and then the next one facing down to make sure that they will be an exact match once they are cut out and placed back to back.  I labeled my tracings with ‘1’ and ‘2’ so that I would know how they fit back together.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Cut Out

Once traced, cut you shapes out being careful to keep your cutting as precise as possible.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Inner Fabric

Next comes the Polar Fleece (or similar material to stabilize the pieces of canvas).

I roughly cut out pieces of Polar Fleece that worked well with my color choices and that I happened to have around my art room.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Trimmed

Next I placed my matching canvas pieces onto the fleece…  One on top and one on the bottom of the fleece.  You can’t see the bottom piece because…well… it’s matched up on the bottom.  Trust me, it’s there.

Take this MM/fleece sandwich to your sewing machine and stitch around the edge.  If you want more precision, go ahead and pin your pieces.  I’m a danger seeker (and get annoyed when I can’t push pins through pieces of fabric that have acrylic paint on them) so I skipped the pinning.

I went around 3 times with the sewing machine, purposely trying to make it look a little jaggy and primitive.

Mixed Media Bag Charm Stitching Detail

This is a close up of what I ended up with.  I will say, because I didn’t pin it, one side (the side I could see while sewing) looks a little better than the other but the other still looks good. I just picked the better of the two sides and decided that it was officially the top side now.

Mixed Media Bag Charms With Grommets

After you sew your charms up, carefully trim the edges, paying special attention to not over-trim any one side.

Next you will need to get out your eyelet setter and a couple eyelets.

Mixed Media Bag Charm Cutting Tools

I’ll readily admit that the TOUGHEST part of this whole project was simply getting that darn hole big enough through 3 pieces of fabric to slip the little eyelet blank into it.  I tried the awl (which made a nice starter hole btw), sticking the end of a scissor blade and rotating it, trying to cut it with the Exacto blade (BE CAREFUL if you try this…  a couple times I heard that voice in my head saying “you’re being really dumb with something really sharp!”).  Ultimately the winner was the Tim Holtz scissors!  Of course they would be the best because everyone knows Tim Holtz is the God of all things Mixed Media! duh

However you cut the hole, make it just big enough to accept the eyelet blank.  Then use the setter tool to attach the eyelet to the MM Fabric Charm.

Mixed Media Bag Charms Fastner

The eyelet setter usually only needs a couple of whacks with a hammer to get the job done and it relatively easy.  When finished, grab your Wire Keychain Cable, open it, slip the charm(s) on and attach it to your handbag!

Mixed Media Bag Charms Complete

Viola!!  You are done and ready to share your creativity, artsyness and awesomeness with the world.

Thanks for trying out the tutorial!  If you have questions please do post a comment and I will do my best to help.

Also feel free to tell me what you thought of the tutorial!  I plan to do more in the future and would like to know if my instructions/resources are clear enough for you to actually make something.

Thank you again and until next time!

Cheers, Holly


2017- A Little Retrospective

Every year the same thing happens as I draw closer to New Year’s Eve.  Inevitably I spend time (like most people I think) thinking about how the year went and ready to turn the page into a fresh new year.

2017 was a big year for transitions and shifts in our family.  Lily has moved up to the High School and has shifted friend groups a few times.  Aidan is king of his elementary school as a 6th grader but it anxiously waiting to get to the Jr. High with me.  Alan is still trying to figure out his next career move but is on the verge of a break through. Hopefully it won’t take too long for him to carve out a new career that will bring him true fulfillment and happiness.

I have also finally realized, whole heartedly, that in 3 years I will leave public school teaching.  It’s time and I know when my predicted exit date comes, I will be ready.  I was uncertain about this for most of last school year but there has been something about the start of school this year that has made it crystal clear that I’m ready to try some new things out starting in 2021.

I also feel really good about all my attempts to get out there as an artist in 2017.  The Acton Open Studios was a fun experience that I will participate in again and I am proud of all of the research that I have done about what being a professional artist might look like for me.  Social media and drawing traffic to this website is still a work in progress but I’m much more aware of how to advance in the future. It’s simply a matter of REALLY finding my side hustle in 2018 and trying to find the energy to work full time, continue to raise a family AND build this artistic side of my life.  No small feat for sure but as long as I make some forward motion I will be happy.

Another thing that I am going to try to bring to the table here in 2018 is to provide more resources (DIY, Tutorials, Tips, etc.).  Sharing is caring after all…  🙂

So there it is!  Best of luck and love to everyone in 2018!!

Cheers, Holly

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thankful Mixed Media Artwork

Well it’s that time again!  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I wish you and yours a very peaceful and happy holiday.  Below I have created a process video that shows the steps it took to create the above ‘Thankful’ artwork.  Remember, this day especially but also everyday, count your blessing and try to remember to be thankful. 🙂



End of October-Beginning of November Round Up

Pink Unicorn and Bitches Book

Hello again!  It’s been a while mostly because we have been super busy with Halloween, a birthday and me simply doing my daytime gig…  All that said I have been able to make a couple of things AND continue to explore ideas of what I could do post art teacher career.  The wheels keep turning in my head…  Always turning… 🙂

I have been spending some time trying to get more familiar with Illustrator CC and using that info to continue to learn how to make SVG files.  Above are a couple of examples…  The Unicorn was a decal that I put on some plastic tumblers to be used as favors for my daughter’s bday.  The other one is a phrase that I have always loved so I put it on a notebook so I will know who I need to yell at for various reasons.  And if the yelling doesn’t work I’ll send the guys below to work it out for me!

Hipster Skeleton

The image above is my son who by day wanted to be a ‘Hipster’ for Halloween and by night he wanted to be the bringer of Death…  Interesting commentary on society if you ask me! 😉

Birthday Girl

I CAN’T believe that this young lady is 15 years old now!  Feels like yesterday when I held her as a tiny baby.  Luckily, we are very close so she still will let me hold her…  Albeit it’s usually for shorter spans of time but I will not look a gift horse in the mouth!!

This next one is a tiny (2.5″ x 2.5″) origami book that I made while my students were working. I offer this, along with other small projects, as a way to keep students making art even when they finish their larger assignments for me.  I think I would like to try to turn this little beauty into a kit of some kind, which is another area of handmade business that I hope to explore.

Punk Post

And this one was a super happy find! Over at Punk Post there are a group of folks that loving making and sending beautiful things as much as I do!  It’s a company that (once you get the app) will send a handwritten note to whoever you want for a small cost (about 6 bucks).  You can even add confetti and pictures!  My note was a fun, funky and artsy surprise.  Everything I expected and more!  Totally worth the cost to get something more than junk mail delivered to me.  There was one part of me that thought this idea was silly.  I mean shouldn’t you be the one sending a note to someone?  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?  That said, Punk Post raises the bar on the note sending.  They really do make it special and easy.  I could probably make something like this BUT it would take a long time to do…  Again, there’s the argument for if you are sending a special note then YOU should send the special note, but this is such a time saver!

Oh well, I guess I will debate that internally until next time!

Cheers, Holly

Acton Open Studios 2017

Mixed Media Artwork Display

I am super happy to report that I would consider my first run with Acton Open Studios a success!

Mixed Media For Sale Display

This past weekend several local artists opened their studio doors to let visitors see what they create and how they make their artwork.  This has been a great experience for me in terms of stepping out as an artist and not so much as an art teacher.  As my retirement from public school teaching looms a few years off, I think that it’s important for me to explore different alternative ‘work’ possibilities that involve visual art and the Open Studios was my first real step.

Felted Bowls

Participating has also shown me how (kind of) isolated I am in my world of art education…  For the last 17 years I have left my house early, got to working with adolescent students by 7:30 each morning, rinse and repeat for a total of 5 classes and then leave in the afternoon to start my other job as a mom.  And hear me when I say I AM BLESSED to have had this lifestyle for that long but as my own children get older, I know that there must be something else out there for me.  The question is, what?Mixed Media Mini Canvases

I can’t guarantee that working art shows and craft fairs is my future plan but I will keep experimenting with doing shows and try to get out there more frequently to figure out if it could work on some level.  At the least, craft shows could be one piece of other pieces that add up to an art career.  Only time and practice will tell!Pin Display

So on that note, the future looks bright and I am excited to keep experimenting with creating some kind of artful career.  Thanks for your interest in my journey!Mixed Media Plushie Orange

Cheers, Holly

A Messy Table Is A Happy Table!

Studio Table Full Of Mixed Media

So it’s been a while!  A couple of weeks ago I had Strep Throat and it knocked me on my butt!  Not a fun time at all but I feel like I have rebounded in a big way, while trying to prep for the upcoming Acton Open Studios tour that I’m participating in on October 21 & 22.

Colorful markers

I am super excited about this event because even though this is my first year with Acton Open Studios, I am already feeling validated as an artist and not only a public school art teacher.  Don’t get me wrong, both roles require great planning and creativity but my purpose at whathollymade.com is to try to get in touch with my inner artist as opposed to the one that is teaching 100+ thirteen year olds each day. 🙂

Green Mixed Media Fabric

Colorful Mixed Media Squares

So anywho, I am stoked to be back in the land of the living and full of energy again while loving spending free time working on artwork for the open house.  Hopefully I will continue to show you messy tabletops filled with what I have been working on.  Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers, Holly

Friends For Some Friends

Mixed Media Plushies

Had a lot of fun making these little guys this past weekend for my friend Katie’s children.  Her kids were too cute when I had posted a pic of ‘Brad’ to Instagram.  They liked him so much I decided to reverse the process and ask the kids for names and then I would create something from what they came up with. 🙂  So let me introduce….

Blue Mixed Media PlushieBe-Dee

Fox Mixed Media PlushieMr.Fox

Cute Mixed Media Plushieand Missy!

Is it strange that the last one told me her name was Missy?  Katie’s daughter is too young to really give a name so I went with what I was told.  When toys speak to you, you listen. 😉

These guys have been so fun to create I will likely have more available at the Acton Open Studios stop at my house, so if you want a little bubbie for yourself I will likely have some to adopt!

Thanks for checking in!

Cheers, Holly


Say Hello To My Little Friend!

Green Mixed Media Plushie

All Scarface references aside, I would like to introduce you to ‘Brad’…  He’s a little stuffed guy that I made using some of mixed media fabric that I created this summer.  I feel connected to Brad because I made the fabric for him during the summer which is most definitely a happy time for me.  Going back to school this week made me realize that I wanted to hang on to the memory of my summer fun and super relaxed summer existence.  That’s how Brad was born!

The process was pretty straight forward and I just love giving life to those mixed media-esque items that I create.  I enjoy the process of making the Mixed Media backgrounds but then am often left with what to do with a pile of background papers or a stack of colorful fabrics that I have made.  Brad is just one of the many answers to that question.

I already have plans to make more little ‘bubbies’ like Brad.  As I roll out more little guys that I make I will share them here.  As for names for them…  I let them tell me. 🙂

Cheers, Holly

Lobby Artwork Is UP!!

Colorful mobiles 2017

Hooray!  The RJ Grey lobby artwork is now up!!

This was a lesson that I created and implemented with my 8th Graders during the 2016-17 school year.  All the 8th graders that I had over the course of the year worked collaboratively to create a mobile that focused on using the tints and shades of a single color.  They were also challenged to come up with the theme of their mobiles and make sure that the mobiles actually balanced and were well crafted.  The struggle was real but I think the hard work paid off.  This installation will be on display for the 2017-18 school year at our school.

I will mention that this is the place in my life where my actual art making and my job as an 8th grade Art teacher starts to blur…  Clearly I didn’t make all those mobiles but I did make the unit, trouble shoot the overall design and develop the technical directions to make a successful mobile.  I was also the gal going up and down the ladder 75+ times to hang them so I do feel comfortable saying that I did have a hand in ‘making’ this artwork.

Now that the school year has started, I will sometimes post school related things that I have made.  That said, when I share things that I make at school or have to do with my job, I promise that they will always be interesting and artful.  I swear I will never post a lesson plan or curriculum map! bleck

Here’s a time lapse video that shows how the whole thing went up!  Enjoy!

Cheers, Holly

First Instagram Post

Hello World Blue Mixed Media

So I finally jumped into the pool and made my first post to Instagram! Thank you to all the super sweet strangers that liked my video and started following me. 🙂  I look forward to exploring all the communities and individuals available on Instagram.  I am always inspired by what’s out there to look at and the like minded people to connect with.

Also, since it would appear that Word Press often gives me error codes on photos and videos I am connecting to this blog, I have had to create a work around to add videos here.  That has resulted in the creation of my own Youtube Channel where all videos that I create will be housed.  Honestly, this social media stuff has a domino effect.  If you are on one it seems like you need to be on all!

Thanks so much for watching!

Cheers, Holly