DIY: Watercolor Wash Place Cards

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Today’s lovely DIY comes from Molly Suber Thorpe, author of the brand new book, Modern Calligraphy. Filled with templates, tutorials, DIY projects and beautiful photography, this book teaches you everything you need to know to get started. It is perfect for finding inspiration and developing your own calligraphy style. Thanks so much for sharing this stunning DIY with us Molly and congrats on your new book!

Watercolor Wash Place Cards

These beautiful place cards will make a statement on any table. Each card has a unique watercolor wash background flecked with contrasting acrylic paint, and the possible color combinations of watercolor and calligraphy are endless. This project can be made over and over again and adapted to any occasion, whether it’s a wedding reception, holiday dinner, or birthday party.

Yield: 75 place cards
Time: 8 hours (including drying time)
Budget: $65.00

Supplies:
• 90 3.5×6-inch pieces pieces of heavy watercolor paper cut
• Pan of assorted watercolors
• 1 tbsp acrylic paint in an accent color for splattering
• 2 tbsp table salt
• Ink, watercolor or gouache of your choice for the calligraphy
• 1-inch-wide artist tape
• Wide paint brush
• Small paint brush for watercoloring
• Dish of water
• Paper towels
• Bone folder
• Calligraphy nib and holder
• Old toothbrush

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1. Apply a strip of artist tape across the full width of each watercolor paper card, starting 1 inch up from the bottom short edge. Press the tape down firmly, especially along the edges, so that no watercolor will be able to seep underneath. There should now be 1 inch of paper exposed below the tape and 4 inches exposed above it.

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2. Using the large paint brush, brush both the front and back of each card with water, then pat dry with a paper towel. (This prevents the paper fibers from expanding unevenly and warping.) Since there are so many cards, I recommend painting about twelve at a time so your workspace doesn’t get too cluttered.

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3. Using the smaller paint brush, paint the cards with an abstract watercolor design in the colors of your choice. (I normally combine two to four watercolor shades per card, but play around with what you like best.) Don’t let this step scare you! This should be liberating because there is no wrong way to do it. You can fill up the entire paper with paint or leave portions of it unpainted. You can overlap the colors or keep them from touching. You can paint uneven blobs or perfect pinstripes or streaks fanning out in circles like fireworks. You can use light, similar shades for an elegant, understated look, or bright, contrasting ones for a bold, festive effect. Each card can be different – if you use the same colors, they will tie together in a series.

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4. If your paper is soaking wet, blot off excess watercolor with a folded paper towel. Then sprinkle the cards with a pinch of table salt. The salt crystals create a unique pattern by absorbing the wet color they land on, producing slightly lighter spots when you brush off the salt later (see step 6).

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5. With the old toothbrush, splatter acrylic paint randomly over the card. Choose a color that will really stand out from the background colors you chose. I really like using gold to add some sparkle. Lay flat and let dry.

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6. Brush off the salt and carefully peel off the tape. If the cards aren’t flat (which can happen in humid weather), press them between a stack of books overnight.

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7. Fold the cards in half and make a sharp crease with a bone folder.

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8. Use ink, watercolor, or gouache to calligraph the guests’ names in the blank strip on each card. If you’re nervous about messing up, just practice each name on scrap paper a few times until you’re comfortable. Let dry completely.

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Thanks so much to Molly for sharing this lovely DIY with us today and for those interested in learning more about calligraphy, pick up her brand new book – Modern Calligraphy!

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Comments

  1. Wow! This tutorial is awesome! Definitely using this for one of my parties! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You had me at watercolor! Love these. I’m gonna have to share this with our brides!

  3. This is very beautiful, thanks for sharing this watercoloring technique :) The contrast between the white space and the grunge color is very nice. The font fits perfectly…

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