In my job, I’m incredibly lucky to travel throughout Africa, not as a travel blogger, but as a strategic data consultant. And after visiting some of the most beautiful countries on the continent, like Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Mozambique, and my all-time favorite Nigeria, I’ve developed a deep abiding love of Africa and all her people. So when my fellow bloggers from the IBC suggested mixed media for this month’s challenge, the first thing that went through my mind was how I could celebrate the dark, chaotic madness and raw beauty of this continent I call home. Which is how I ended up creating this “For the Love of Africa” Mixed Media Night Light.
Mixed media pieces are always fun to put together. The possibilities are endless. From combining broken bits of glass, shells, and beads with paint to tearing up cardboard boxes to create a rusty metal continent that has so much to offer the rest of the world ;- )
But before we get to the mixed media night light tutorial let me quickly tell you a little more about the IBC
Soooooooo what’s the IBC all about?
The IBC, or International Blogger’s Club, is a group of bloggers from all over the world who challenge each other to make something using a common theme. Our previous challenge was all about Valentine’s day and we made this adorable quiver full of macramé arrows by recycling a soda can. This month our challenge is mixed media and I decided to celebrate “Africa”. You can see what my friends did with their Mixed Media challenge at the bottom of the tutorial.
What you Need For this Mixed Media Night Light
- Piece of Wood
- Craft Paint – I used Unicorn SPiT
- Cardboard box
- Spice and craft glue
- Transfer medium (optional)
- Jewelry wire
- Fairy lights
- Drill and screws
How to Make a Mixed Media Night Light
Choosing a base and a background
In my humble opinion, mixed media art should always tell a visual story. And like most stories, it all starts with a solid base and a background. For the base of the “Love of Africa” mixed media night light, I used a scrap piece of wood that the Hubby roughened up a
bit lot with a wire-brush drill attachment. If you’re going to turn your art into a night light, any base that’s rigid and durable enough to support your design and the lights will work.
Once the base had been prepped, I applied some of my favorite Unicorn SPiT colors all over the board to represent the two oceans that embrace Africa.
And added a few random wavy shapes with a stirrer.
I kept on adding layers of paint until the ocean background felt right.
Adding quotes, poems, and words
I love adding quotes, poems or special words on my mixed media art. The words help tie everything together and they serve as a gentle reminder of the story you’re trying to convey. In my case, my love of Africa. For the mixed media night light, I choose an amazing poem that can be read in both Afrikaans and English and it means the same thing.
It’s freaky and brilliant. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to read it without switching between my two home languages 😀 If you’re not an Afrikaans speaker, you can click on the short video below to hear how it sounds.
You can write the words directly on to the background, or you can print them and use any kind of transfer medium to add them. I took the easy way out and used “temporary tattoo” paper to add the words. Most of the time my handwriting looks like a legless spider decided to do the Macarena 😀
Use what you have
One of the most satisfying things about mixed media is that you can use things you have at home. It’s kinda like recycling scraps and leftover bits to make art. And you know how much we love recycling stuff. Anything goes as long as you can stick it down and it builds on your story. To make “Africa” I traced the contours onto a piece of MDF that was leftover from when we made this mosaic unicorn, and cut it out with our trusty jigsaw.
There are so many different ways to embellish the African continent or whatever shape you decide to use. Glue on fabric scraps or buttons, or give it a crazy cracked up paint effect. But none of those seemed to gel with the rusty, dusty, old, worn, and “filled with potential” African story I had going on inside my head. So I decided to repurpose a cardboard box and simply removed the top layer of paper to get at the corrugated layers underneath. We’ve used the same technique in the past to make a roof for our brick fairy house.
The de-layered (is that even a word?) cardboard was cut and glued onto the MDF.
And then the whole continent was painted silver.
Right, time to take this mixed media night light up a notch with some texture 😉
Mixed media is all about combining different textures and mediums. It adds dimension and visual interest. You can use texture paste, masking tape, washi tape, thick gooey paint, twigs, sand, buttons or any kind of embellishment that fits your theme or the story you want to tell. In my case, I decided to spice things up a little to create a rust effect on Africa 😉 Just brush on some craft glue and randomly sprinkle coarse spice all over.
Once the glue dries, add layers of brown and black craft paint and speckle on some orange with a toothbrush.
Putting a little heart into it
Mixed media is a playful art, where you can experiment and break the rules to your heart’s content. It’s a fun expression of an idea using different mediums. And more importantly, it’s about letting your inner child take over. Your mixed media art should be an expression of YOU.
I stay in South Africa and wanted to add one more thing before turning my rusty African continent into a night light. Since we use a lot of jewelry wire in our craft projects, it seemed appropriate to use a small off cut to make a wire heart.
And glue it on roughly where we stay 😉
Turning mixed media art into a night light
Okay, so I promised you a night light tutorial and now that all the key bits are finished, I can finally show you how to wire everything up 😉 For this mixed media piece, I placed my rusty African continent on my background and lightly marked where it would go. I wanted to hide the lights behind a “floating Africa” so I added three screws and drilled a hole in the board for the lights to fit through.
Thread the string lights through the hole, so the power pack can be hidden behind the board.
Test if the lights work before gluing them onto the back of the African continent (or whatever shape you’ve used in your mixed media).
And finally, balance and glue Africa on to the screws.
The night light is very subtle but it casts such a lovely glow behind Africa. It’s almost as if she’s been lit from inside. And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to spend time here, you’ll know how true that is. Africa has a way of creeping deep inside your soul and shining a light like no other place in the world ?
And during the day the rusty African continent adds a beautiful pop of color.
The words, layers and the textures help draw the eye, inviting you in for a closer look.
You can use anything to create your mixed media night light. That being said, it’s not just about what you can use, but rather how you use all the bits and pieces to tell your visual story.
If things are just thrown together haphazardly without any thought to composition, textures, colors or balance it might not turn out quite the way we imagined.
If you enjoyed this mixed media night light tutorial don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring 😉
Oh and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more amazing craft ideas to share with you 😉
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY
Pssst, don’t forget the see what my friends from the Int’l Bloggers Club have done with their Mixed Media challenge. Their links should be down below.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.