DIY: Watercolor Mother’s Day Card + Free Printable

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Mother’s Day is coming up and I’ve been itching for another watercolor project to play with so I decided to try making a fun little “MOM” painting that could double as framable art or a greeting card. I invite you to make your own version using the steps below as a guideline. I’m also offering a free printable greeting card for download!

Step 1: Sketch Letters

Using a ruler, pencil and eraser lightly sketch out letters ” M O M “.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Step 2: Paint flowers

Then with a fine tip watercolor brush, fill the letters with little flowers and leaves. Take your time with this (I worked on it while watching Alias on Netflix). To start, I painted a few flowers first, then filled the areas around the flowers with leaves and vines.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Continue this process until you’ve filled in all three letters.

DIY: Watercolor Mother's Day Card + Printable

Click Here To Download A Free Printable Mother’s Day Card

Download the PDF and print out onto white card stock. Cut out and fold in half where indicated on the template. Pair with an A1 size envelope and give to your mom for Mother’s Day!

TOOLBOX: Water Color Masking Fluid

I love playing with watercolors, I’m going to admit that right now. I love the way the colors run together, the little blotches of pigment, and basically everything else about it. I’m not a watercolor expert, which means that whenever the paint does something unexpected I have the giddy feeling that I just discovered something amazing. (What did I tell you? I love the process.)

My philosophy teacher in high school used to amazing things with watercolor, and I would always try to sneak a look at his paintings before and after class. One day I noticed him using something to cover up portions of the paper while he was working– cut to 15 years later and I finally decide to buy myself a little bottle of masking fluid to play around with. (I bought Winsor & Newton Colorless Art Masking Fluid.)

Still a little overwhelmed to jump in, I watched this introductory video, decided on a test project; and gathered my brushes, paints, and spirit of exploration.

A note: the first time I used the fluid, I ruined my brush. It was a cheap brush, granted, but after that I sharpened up and coated the next brush in dish soap before dipping it in the masking fluid. I coated the whole thing in the dish soap, then squeezed the excess out. (This video shows you how.) Trust me. It’s better that way.

I drew a basic outline of the words I wanted to mask out with pencil. After coating the brush in soap, and gently rolling the bottle of masking fluid to mix it up, I dipped my brush in and saturated it.

Bit by bit, I covered the words with the masking fluid.


All the lines are covered in the fluid now. I’ll be able to erase the pencil lines once everything is done.

I let the masking fluid dry COMPLETELY before I began to paint with my watercolor. (The dry masking compound feels like rubber cement. You’ll know it’s dry when it is only slightly shiny, and your finger does not stick to it.) The watercolor will not stick to the mask, so you will be able to see what you’re working with.

When I had finished my first layer of paint, I let it dry COMPLETELY, then added a little more masking to what would be the little abstract windows in the buildings.

Then I let those dry COMPLETELY (do you see a theme here?) before I went in and darkened all the fields of color.

When I was done working around my masked areas, and everything was dry, I lightly rubbed the masking agent off with the tips of my fingers. (This alone is worth the trouble. I love pulling glue off of things.)

Once the mask was off, and I did a little erasing, I had crisp white lines to work with.

The masked areas were pale enough to let me add a little light yellow watercolor. I love the way the white letters stand out.

Tips to remember

• Test out the water color paper you’re going to be using before you start your artwork. Some of the papers I tried stuck to the masking fluid terribly, and I had to tear the paper to get the dried mask off.
• Coat your brush in soap, or you will ruin a brush, and most likely the piece of paper you’re working on. The first brush started to pull the drying mask fluid back off the paper, and it totally ruined one of my projects.
• Let everything dry COMPLETELY before moving from fluid to paint, or paint to fluid. The fluid will cling to wet paper, or your wet paint and make a wet mess.
• Remember to have fun! Let that childish sense of wonder take over for an afternoon… and when you’re done experimenting, send us the outcome! April’s DIY Challenge is Watercolor, after all.

March DIY Challenge Results!

This month’s DIY Challenge theme was close to our hearts, so we’re very excited to share a roundup of submissions we received from our readers. With a theme like ‘Letters’ you know you’re gonna have some fun. Without further ado, here are the April DIY Challenge Award Winners along with the gallery of everyone’s lovely submissions…

DIY Challenge Award: Most Brilliant

Check out these amazing billboard letters Rebecca Morrissey and Clarissa San Diego made for a (very lucky) friend’s wedding.
DIY Challenge Award Winner #diycraftchallenge #adventuresinmaking
DIY Challenge Award Winner #diycraftchallenge #adventuresinmaking

These are made of foam and painted to look like copper patina then lighted. So much fun to make and they turned out great!! Plus they’re light and easy to transport.

I live in Issaquah and this was for a Pi Day wedding at the Berkeley Faculty Club in California. Clarissa lives in Newcastle and helps run the SODO Makerspace in Seattle where we used a CNC Router to cut out the letters. The painting involved using copper, brown, green and teal with sponges for the desired effect. – Rebecca Morrissey

DIY Challenge Award: Most Resourceful

This entry by Deb Disalvo, inspired us to look at materials in a whole different way. We love the way she and her class in Dublin, Ohio put these mosaic letters together. (You can read more about Deb’s mosaic letters in her recent guest post.)

I was teaching a recycled arts and crafts class after school with kids in the 3rd and 4th grade. Over the years, I had accumulated hundreds of used gift cards. I came up with the idea of having each child cut out the letter of their first name. I, along with the kids, cut up the used gift cards in various shapes and sizes and then glued the shapes onto the letter to create a mosaic look. It was such a good way to use the colorful gift cards and the kids had a great time coming up with their own style mosaic letter. – Deb Disalvo

DIY Challenge Award: Most Character

Katie Smith shared her adorable art journal entry, and of course we swooned. We love her sweet painted letter. Katie lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth area and shares more of her work on her blog, Punk Projects.
DIY Challenge Award Winner #diycraftchallenge #adventuresinmaking

 I love everything crafty- scrapbooking, mixed media, sewing, quilting drawing, crocheting, etc,. So I do a little bit of everything. Inspired by your challenge, I got out my watercolors and practiced some hand lettering in my art journal! It seems like everyone is doing hand lettering these days and I really wanted to try it out! – Katie Smith

Letters Gallery

DIY Challenge Award Winner #diycraftchallenge #adventuresinmaking


1. Hand-letter J by Judith Laguerre from Teaneck, New Jersey.
2. Scrap Paper Ironwork Letter by Alison Lang from Issaquah, Washington.
3. La Casa De Hojas painted sign by Rachel Beyer in Sante Fe, Veraguas, Panama.
4. Alphabet Hoop Art by Rachel Beyer from Portland, Oregon.
5. Scrapbook Paper Word Art by Sarah White from Fayetteville, Arizona.
6. Faux-Etched Letter Frame by Alison Lang from Issaquah, Washington.
7. Chalkboard lettering by Bobby Pathammavong from Portland, Oregon.

Thank you for participating in the March DIY Challenge! For those of you who wished they could have joined in the fun, never fear! Our April DIY Challenge begins on Tomorrow!

Happy Making – Rachel & Alison

SHOW + TELL: Our Favorite Lettering Books

Lettering is one of our many passions here at Adventures-In-Making. We are both trained in graphic design, so type, letters, fonts, etc. are all constantly floating around in our brains. Over the years, hand-lettering has become our obsession and a daily practice. Just like any skill, the only way to get good is to practice, practice, practice. Since we are compulsive doodlers, we tend to be practicing all the time.

Once of our favorite ways to practice is to page through a favorite book of lettering for inspiration and ideas. Since this month’s DIY Challenge theme is ‘Letters’ we thought we’d share some of our favorite sources for lettering inspiration.

Rachel’s Favorites

SHOW + TELL: Our Favorite Lettering Books

1. Logo, Font and Lettering Bible by Leslie Cabarga

This is a great book of reference for any graphic designer. And even better for anyone interested in letters. This book is bursting with inspiration, techniques and tips for the aspiring designer.

SHOW + TELL: Our Favorites Lettering Books

2. Hand Job: A Catalog of Type by Mike Perry

This book is a must-have for anyone interested in hand-lettering. Michael Perry showcases the work of tons of talented artists and designers. Some of my favorites are Kate Bingaman-BurtDeanne Cheuk, and Human Empire.

SHOW + TELL: Our Favorite Lettering Books

3. Handwritten: Expressive Lettering In The Digital Age by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic

This is one of my favorite books for inspiration. A fun collection of posters, books, ads, etc., that all showcase beautifully crafted, hand-lettering.

SHOW+TELL: Our Favorite Lettering Books

4. Custom Lettering of the 60’s and 70’s edited by Rian Hughes

I have a huge soft spot for the colors and psychedelic, groovy style of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This book is a fantastic collection of lettering from the era.

SHOW+TELL: Our Favorite Lettering Books

Alison’s Favorites


5. American Wood Type by Rob Roy Kelly

I was lucky enough to use Rob Roy’s collection of wood type at in college, and to have inherited this amazing collection of type samples. Reprints come up from time to time making this book more affordable- but even in used condition it is an amazing resource for type and lettering.


6. The Art of the Letter by Doyald Young

…or any other book by Doyald Young, who was single handedly responsible for some of the most iconic logos that we grew up with (and typeface of course.) This book has break downs of his letter forms and stories about why he made the decisions he did.


7. An A-Z of Type Designers by Neil Macmillan

This book is mainly focused on the biographies and essays of type designers over the years- but also includes samples of type from almost every era. Since I reference a lot of traditional typefaces in my work, it’s a great resource to have on hand.


8. Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory

This one is all about eye-candy. It has sample lettering work from over 100 artists (including friends of the site, Jacqui and Scott Scoggin). Whenever I get in a lettering bind, all I have to do is flip through a couple of pages to get inspired to try a new style, new color, or new composition.

(Not Shown – Sign Painters by Faythe Levine & Sam Macon which I raved about before.)

What books inspire you?

DIY: Quick and Easy Faux-Etched Letter Frame

I love the look of etched glass, but I try not to use my dremel on anything too delicate. When I rediscovered this awesome Window Film I knew exactly the project I wanted to do.

Want to make you own?


• Etched Glass Window Film: The version linked here uses water to cling to glass, which makes it repositionable, removable, and amazing.
• A printout of the letter you want to use.
• Transfer paper (or any other means of getting the design on the backer)
• A craft knife
• A frame with glass or plexiglass

IMG_6655First cut off a small piece of the film, remove the backer, and set aside. Lay your letter template on top of the backer with a piece of transfer paper in the middle. Hold your stack firmly and trace all the way around the letter.

When you have your design on the backer, reattach the film by smoothing it down with your thumbnail until it it well attached. Using the template lines you can see through the film, cut the design out carefully with a craft knife, then remove the backer.

Follow the instructions included with your film to attach it to the frame’s glass. (I put a thin layer of water down on the glass, laid the letter down, and used my nail to smooth out all the bubbles.)

Voila! Quick and easy “etched” decoration for your picture frame.

IMG_6692 IMG_6717What’re you doing with letters?

SHOW + TELL: Watch Ali Draw Words

I think that it’s one of life’s small miracles that no one has to listen to all the noises that go on in my head while I’m working. The cajoling, the reassuring, the brainstorming, the problem solving, the bickering, the promises, the compromises… you get it. It’s noisy, but generally productive (“What were you thinking, Ali?” “You can do it, Ali!”) That’s my process.

Since this month’s craft challenge is all about LETTERS, and so am I, I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into the sketching steps of my lettered pieces.

img_6405I showed you my travel kit of supplies, but my sketches rely on just a few tools. A mechanical pencil, a ruler, a compass, clipboard, lots of erasers, and some thin white card stock.

img_6411I usually have a concept that I’m trying to convey in words. Often it’s one of the mantras I repeat to myself while I’m working (which makes the whole process very meta.) I will write down a bunch of phrases, and think about…
• Priority of words (Visual Hierarchy) – The most important words should generally be biggest and easiest to read to reinforce the message of your piece. I like to think that if you only read the big words, it would be like a summary of the whole statement. As fun as it is to make a really big and elaborate THE, it doesn’t make much sense. (THE message gets hidden.) You can also use visual hierarchy to hide a message and make people really look.
• What shapes I can use in the phrase: Is there a representative shape I can work into the overall form of the lettering? If I’m writing about lemonade, should I make it fit into the shape of a glass?
• What kind of typography would best represent the words? – Some words want to be formal (“Typography”) and some want to be flourishy (“Passionate”). Sometimes it’s fun to mix those up.

I’ll also start looking at the way a word is structured so I’m sure to give it enough space per letter.

When I have a general idea of the shapes I’d like to play around with, I’ll build myself a make-shift grid with the ruler and compass. I find that I like to make mostly symmetrical pieces, so I’ll map out the middle of the page and go from there. I end up with a lot of extra reference lines, but that’s fine.

Then I will start very lightly penciling in the skeleton form of letters. I do A LOT of erasing, so light lines are important. Usually while I’m working on the basic structure of the letters, I will start to think about the shape they will take in the end.

img_6421I am constantly working to find the center of a word or phrase. I can count letters in my head, but nothing beats a quick jot down of the phrase. I’ll then count (including spaces) and mark the middle. (This is also helpful because if a word has a lot of skinny letters – like Ilif – it will be much shorter than one with fat letters – MmNn)


(More penciling.)

At some I will inevitably get a “better idea” and shift a bunch of letters to work better. In this case I shifted my grid up, erased and re-lettered.


Practice makes better.

One of the best consequences of lettering practice is that I’ve started to think of writing as “drawing letters” which makes it sometimes possible to write backwards or sideways. This helps with lots of things including spacing words from the center line (see above). It is also SUPER handy when you’re a lefty who loved to drag your hand through wet ink all the time.

When I have the skeleton of the letters basically where I want them, I will make decisions about how to flesh them out. My first inspiration was the word “Letter” which reminded me of a typeface I love in my very precious American Wood Type book. (We’ll be showing our favorite lettering books later in the month!)

I love to keep printed samples of type on hand to look at. I used to try to look at inspiration on a screen, but it never translated right in my brain. I’ve started saving all sorts of printed materials (filed by style) to look at when I’m lettering.

img_6435Again using a light touch, I will start to add details to the letter using my inspiration pieces. Sometimes I make little changes in a letter form to better fit my space (hey, I can do what I want!)

Sometimes the skeleton of my letters will have to move to allow for more space for some letters

and sometimes the letters stretch outside of my borders.

Once I’m happy with the general form of everything, I’ll start erasing the extraneous pencil marks.

IMG_6443Once they are gone, I will sometimes look at the whole thing and decide to make changes.

img_6501Like for instance, I might change the phrase itself.

But that’s okay- it’s just a sketch. If I love it I’ll take it to the next level with paints and ink, and if I don’t love it I’ll put it away to inspire me another day.


What’s your sketching process? Is it anything like mine?

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Embroidery is one of my favorite hobbies. I always like to have a small lap project when watching a movie or TV show at night and a simple embroidery project is the perfect companion. What I like most is that you can pick it up and put it down at any time.

A close friend of mine is having her first baby and I’ve been brainstorming handmade gift ideas. I wanted to make something decorative for baby Ella’s nursery, so I sorted through my fabric stash and decided to make Alphabet Hoop Art.

Supplies Needed:

• Embroidery hoops (I used small 4” hoops)
• Cotton fabric (choose coordinating patterns/colors)
• Felt (choose colors that match the cotton fabric)
• Embroidery floss (choose colors that match the felt or choose contrasting colors for a different look)
Alphabet template

Special Tools:

• Iron and ironing board
• Sewing needle and pins
• Sewing scissors
• Printer and copy paper
• Craft scissors and x-acto knife

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

When choosing fabrics, felt and floss consider your color palette. I sorted through what I had on hand and settled on a yellow/orange/grey palette. Iron all your fabrics flat.

Download the template and print. Cut out the circle as well as the letters you want to use. You can choose everyone’s first initial if you want to give these as thank you gifts, you can spell a name or do what I did and make a simple A, B, C.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Then use the template to cut out your fabric pieces. Cut out a circle from each piece of cotton fabric and the letters from the felt.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Disassemble the embroidery hoop and place the circle fabric (right side facing up) over the top of the smaller hoop, making sure it’s centered. Then place the larger hoop over the top, securing the fabric and screwing the hoop tight.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Then place your letter at the center of the hooped fabric and pin in place.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Cut a nice length of matching embroidery floss and separate it into three strands. Then thread your needle and tie a knot at the end.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

I used a blanket appliqué stitch to sew the letters to the fabric. When you watch the Youtube video on how to do the blanket appliqué stitch, make sure to pay attention to how she turns a corner (you’ll be turning lots of corners with the letters).

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial
DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Note: If you plan to make a lot of these, I’d recommend using a more simple stitch to save on time.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

Once you’ve finished sewing the letter to the hooped fabric, you can gently pull the excess fabric from the hoop to make the fabric taut. Make sure the hoop is screwed on tight, and then use sewing scissors to cut off the excess fabric.

DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

That’s it! I hope that baby Ella loves her ABC hoop art.
DIY: Alphabet Hoop Art #embroidery #felt #applique #tutorial

March DIY Challenge: Letters

March DIY Challenge: Letters #adventuresinmaking
Sources left to right: Yarn Wrapped Letters by Let Birds Fly, Ombre Crayon Letter by Craft Cuts, Monogram Cork Coasters by Better Homes & Gardens, Felt Stuffed Letters by Buggy and Buddy, Decorative Vintage Plates by Angel In The North, Cross-Stitch Gift Tags by About The Nice Things, Pompon Letter by Craft & Creativity, Ampersand Shadow Box by Adventures In Making, DIY Floral Letter by The Mrs. & Momma Bird, D Is For Dinosaur by Little Page Turners, DIY Painted Mugs by Glued To My Crafts, Lettering With Watercolor by Melissa Esplin, DIY String Art by HelloBee.

March DIY Challenge: Letters

Letters are one of our favorite subjects for art and craft projects. We are both trained graphic designers so type, letters, fonts, etc. are always floating around in our brains. There are endless ways you can make something inspired by a letter or monogram, so we decided it would be a great theme for the March DIY Challenge! Make your own letter decor, practice some hand-lettering or calligraphy, or make a fun alphabet project with your kids!

How To Enter

Click here for details on how to enter your project to the DIY Challenge! Don’t forget to share your projects with everyone on Instagram using #diycraftchallenge.

The challenge officially begins today, March 2, 2015 and ends on March 30th, 2015. We will post our favorite projects + announce the award winners on March 31st. Have fun and happy crafting!

Need more inspiration?

Take a look out our Pinterest board for more heart project ideas.