Mixed Media Journaling Page Tutorial using decorative napkins

Hi Sisters!

I have mentioned that I am teaching a Bible Journaling class at my home church and I thought I’d share a tutorial on a project we did in class using decorative napkins.

You can use napkins in a variety of ways, and if you adhere them with matte medium, or clear gesso, they will be semi-transparent…allowing you to see text underneath.

This is especially fun if you use them in your Bible! (A little more on that later)

Our class project was to use them as a background with mixed media layers on top.

Start with one piece of deli paper. (I buy deli paper at GFS / 500 sheets for about $5)

Read through the step by step process below before you start:)

1. Apply 1 coat of white gesso to your deli sheet with a foam brush.


2. After drying the gessoed page, separate the layers of your napkin by pulling off the backing. If you have a hard time finding a place to separate the napkin layers, tear a little off the corner to grab a starting point. Then, tear the top napkin layer into pieces. To apply them to the deli paper, brush the area  with matte medium or clear gesso, place the napkin piece on top, then carefully brush the top with more matte medium or gesso.

*Be careful brushing the top of the napkin, it can bunch or tear. If you have trouble with this, “pat” the matte medium on rather than “brush.”

3. With this “design” it is important to plan for the areas you will write a sentiment or verse. (Writing on top of the napkin can be a problem, due to the texture and random small “folds”) If you look in the photo above, I have planned for 2 spaces to be open for wording. (The middle left and bottom right)

4. After applying napkin pieces, then drying the page, apply a thin coat of white gesso or paint over the whole page, using a foam brush. Immediately wipe off some of the paint with a baby wipe, being careful not to rub to hard.

5. Wiping off some of the paint/gesso, will allow the flowers/color to come through, while providing a more muted background…allowing  the next layers to stand out.

6. Using a pencil, draw your flowers. I chose to draw some of them using the napkin flower centers as a starting point. I didn’t use the napkin flower centers for every one. You can erase pencil lines during this step, but be careful not to erase “back and forth.” I find that erasing in “one direction” (while keeping a “light hand”) helps prevent tears in the napkin. Once you are happy with flower placement, go over your pencil lines with a thin tipped micron pen.  Finish this step by erasing the remaining pencil lines.

7. Notice in the pic above that while the flower centers are the “same” the “doodle” flower I drew on top, is much different than the “natural” flower beneath.

8. In the pic above, I wanted you to see (for lack of a better way to say it) my “sloppy” lines. The first “penned” lines will disappear as I go over them later with a black watercolor pencil. Using a black pen for this step, helps me to see the flower lines a little easier. (You could skip this step, and go straight from pencil to watercolor pencil, but you won’t be able to erase your original graphite pencil lines without smearing your watercolor pencil) -make sense?

9. In the pic above, I wanted you to see a close-up of the watercolor pencil over the pen lines. Because you have added dimension and “body” to your deli sheet (with napkins and paint) in order for images to stand out, they must be a bit “weighty” to balance the page. Thin pen lines simply won’t show up very well on their own. The watercolor pencil lines can be left alone, or you can use a water brush to “activate” the color. Sometimes, I like to smear the watercolor pencil lines with my dry finger:)

10. Above is another pic to “confess” my sloppy sketching. I want you to feel FREE to be IMPERFECT through the process! It is the same for our lives…God continues to refine our “messy lines.” ❤️

11. Boy, I’m IMPERFECT & messy!!!

12. I’m showing a couple of things in the pic above. I “activated” all my black watercolor lines with water to give them a bit more depth. I “smeared” some of the center circle  lines into the bottom of each petal to add a bit of shading to the flower. You’ll notice that I also added some detail with a fine tip micron.  Acrylic paint was added  to my “open spaces” (Red and fuchsia) which will later have white lettering on top. (See below)

Finally, I “sketched” my wording in pencil, then went over the pencil with white paint using a round brush. I added scripture around the flowers using a 005 micron pen, and stenciled a few images. You could add more penned doodles, stamps or stickers:)

14. A few more tweaks and I stepped away:)

I add deli paper journaling pages to my bible using a product called zips. Adding washi tape to the outside edge gives the page a more finished look, and protects it from tearing.

You can find ZIPS here.

I need to hear this phrase daily…especially after I’ve decide to order my own day with me, me , me as the center of my focus…BUT REALLY SUE, WHAT DO I HAVE THAT IS NOT YOURS LORD????!!!!

Soooooo thankful the Lord is patient and kind…generous and faithful….slow to anger and constant in going after His LOST sheep.

Below is another example of napkin journaling. This time, using them in full color, as a focus rather than a background.

A few tips I’d like to share on using napkins in your Bible.

1. In a single layer, napkins are transparent once they are dry, if you apply them with clear gesso or matte medium.

2. If you double the napkin layer (laying one on top of the other) they will no longer be transparent:(

I learned this the hard way! I DO NOT INTENTIONALLY COVER TEXT in my Bible. It is my preference to never “cover” God’s Holy Word. UNFORTUNATELY, I have had a few mishaps…this being one of them. In the bottom left corner, I overlapped the flowers and then could no longer read the text…sooooooo, I re-wrote that section (verse by verse) in the margin on the right side 😬 HOPE THIS SAVE YOU FROM DOING THE SAME THING!

Happy Napkining!




4 thoughts on “Mixed Media Journaling Page Tutorial using decorative napkins

  1. You are so generous with your teachings, makes me thing “I can do this!!!”. Many thanks, beautiful page, love your lettering style. I’ve used napkins in my art journal, but never thought to use them in my journaling Bible … can’t wait!!

    1. I am so glad!!!! That is why I post:) Be sure to read through the “tips” And as you apply napkins to your bible page, make sure you keep something in between the pages before and after the one you are working on! Thanks so much for taking the time to write!!! Xo

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