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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Sponge Paint Or Inked Backgrounds


You can create any pattern with sponges and paint

One of the most fun background techniques is sponge inking or painting. You can let your imagination run wild with this idea for all your altered, books, journals, and even cards. It is also a perfect background technique for Bible Journal pages.

The first thing to consider is to lay down a coat of gesso or not. You can consider if you want to be able to see the paint or ink or not. Gesso comes in white, clear, and black. If you do decide to use some gesso, you will need some time to allow it to dry. You could use Gesso on journal pages, This would be a good idea if you are using altered books to cover up print or words.

Sponging involves dabbing paint on paper or cardstock with a small sponge or a piece of sponge in thin layers. You can use one color family or bold contrasting color. 

You can choose to use inks or acrylics. It is your choice. You can use watercolors if your paper is thick enough or if you have done one or two coats of gesso to your page

Prepping Your Pages

As we said in the above, no matter what media you are considering using, you should gesso your pages before getting started. Paint on a coat or two on your pages. Gesso comes in white and black. While I most often use white, you can also get a stunning look with the black gesso. There is also a clear gesso if you would rather not have any color.

You will also want to put some parchment paper or waxed paper under the page you are working on. That way the pages behind them will not get any paint or media. 

I also like to use bulldog clips to keep the pages open and flat. You could also use some large paper clips.

Acrylic Paint creates a lovely sponged background

Paints That You Can Use

Try different combinations of acrylic paints to create a splatter effect. You can use two to three colors, You want to select one color and splatter, Allow it to dry, and then add a second or third. I would allow it to dry for a good 2o minutes, Otherwise, you ate going to get a mess of color and no pattern.

You do not have to use expensive acrylic paints to create this background. Select two color variants in the same color family to create your custom color.

Need some inspiration? Go to your local home improvement store and look at the paint color samples. They will give you lots of inspiration.

What Inks To Use

Next, consider what inks you want to use. I like distressed inks. Mostly because of their colors and how well they blend. Another thing is that as you layer them, you can see the other colors underneath them. You can also use water with them which makes it extra fun!

Of course, you can also use distress oxide inks as well. Both of these inks work with water so you can add a little fin to them with some water splatter

Experiment with other inks or mix distress inks with the other inks and see what results in you get.

Bible Journaling is perfect for a sponge technique

Papers to Use

You will want to use a good weight paper for this application, If you are using it on a journal, you may want to consider applying a coat of Gesso before you start.

Sponges and Applicators

No matter what inks you use, the trick is in the application. 
For this technique, I really prefer a natural sea sponge. You could try different kitchen sponges too.

Try different applicators to see the kind of look that you get.

High-Density Foam Sponges

These are applicators made specifically for crafters to apply ink. They are considered high-density sponges. The sponge material is tightly packed, so the ink stays close to the top of the applicator. That makes the ink come off easily. They are a good choice to smear or dab ink. Over time, they may crumble and dry. 

  1. Cosmetic Sponges-These sponges are relatively inexpensive and can be found in bags in a dollar, grocery, and drug store. They come in different sizes and shapes most often in bags. They can also be found in craft stores. Check out the best prices for these to save some of your craft dollars. They are good for both ink and paint. The wedge shape gives you a flat square surface which is handy if you want to do a repetitive pattern. The narrow part of the wedge is good for tighter areas.
  2. Sponge Daubers-These are little round high-density sponges mounted on plastic tube bases. You can slide your finger into the plastic base and you have a sponge on your finger. They are usually sold in bags of two or three or in bulk packages. The rounded surface of these daubers prevents the edge marks that you might get with wedges.
  3. Colorbox Stylus and Tips-These tools offer several different options. You can use the same stylus for all your colors, just swap out different tips. There are oval, round, and leaf shapes. The tips are sold in packs of three. 
  4. Ranger Cut N Dry Foam- This is a double-sided 8" by 10 " foam sheet that can be cut into pieces any way you would like,
  5. Ink Blending Foam-This has been a popular tool for quite a while. This Ranger tool is a wooden block with a knob handle. The application foam is attached to a velcro-like fastener. They come in flat and round applicators. There are also some new ones that are more ball-like. The idea behind these is that you will not get corners and edges like you might on other types.

Creating Shapes On Your Sponged Pages

You can create different shapes on your sponged pages by creating masks. You can create shapes like mountains, suns, and geometric shapes, by using scrap paper.

You can also use decorative scissors to create shaped masks and borders, 

Tips For Sponge Paint And Inked Backgrounds

  • Always start with the lightest color first
  • If you are doing pages in a journal or Bible, Place a piece of parchment, waxed paper, or scrap paper behind the page you are working on. That way the media will not bleed to the next page.

Sponge Technique


  • White or colored  cardstock ( Use a heavy cardstock 80lb or higher)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Plastic plate or lid
  • Sponges
  • Scissors
  • Scrap paper
  1. Select the sponge you want to use. Different sponges will give different results. So, have fun and experiment with different textures. Sponges vary from fine holes like a cosmetic sponge to larger holes in a natural sponge. If you are using a kitchen sponge, cut it into small pieces.
  2. Dampen the sponge and wring it out.
  3. Pour a small amount of paint onto the paper plate or plastic lid.
  4. Dab the sponge up and down in the small puddle of paint.
  5. Test Your color on the piece of scrap paper before you get started.
  6. The paint should almost be transparent when you start out and get darker as you go.
  7. If the paint does not dry quickly, the sponge is either too wet, or you are using too much paint.
  8. If you are using white cardstock, you need to put down a base coat of paint. Start with a fine sponge with small holes. Stamp randomly to cover the entire surface. Allow the base coat to dry.( No base coat is needed on colored cardstock.)
  9. Apply one or more colors of paint in layers. Sponge densely or sparsely. Use coarse or fine sponges. 
  10. Allow each coat to dry before applying another coat. Go light to dark or dark to light. It's your choice. 
  11. For extra drama finish with a light coat of white or black.

What To Do After The Page Is Dry!

Once your page is dry, there are so many ways to add more to your art. My favorite thing to do is to stencil! You can stencil part of the page or all of the page. It is your choice!

You can also use mixed media with your stencils. Try things like texture paste, glimmer paste or any other mixed media that appeals to you. The world is wide open when it comes to building up your pages.

                       Creating A Sponged Sky Background

Remember, there are no rules in art journaling. Be bold or subtle. It is up to you. Most of all, have fun!

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Happy Crafting!

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