Reality Test: DIY Watercolor Gift Tags

Watercolors are all over Pinterest right now. The messy tie-dye look is everywhere from watercolor nails to Dolce & Gabbana floral watercolor wedges to wedding cakes with a watercolor effect. I’ve been inspired by several stationery ideas and was on the hunt for paper crafts when a Free People repin caught my eye.

DIY Watercolor Gift TagsWatercolor gift tags. How cute! But how easy are they to make? So easy. On a scale of one to five, one being totally doable and five being not-so-much, I give this project a one—as long as you have patience. This is not a 30-minute craft.

Watercolors taught me how to go with the flow. As a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, I’ve had my share of watercolor projects. It’s a tough media to control. They dry in the same way Polaroids develop—not exactly how you thought it was going to turn out. You can dab a mistake with paper towels and soak up most of the damage. You can even apply more water and try to lift the residue. But once watercolors touch paper, you can’t completely erase the stains. You’ll always have a faint ombre scar.

Dry Watercolor LinesSo you have to work with what you have by layering. Compromise and improvise. I’m totally a type A person but in a strange way, I find watercolors calming. Unless you’re Andrew Wyeth, you should accept that it won’t look perfect—especially for the splashy tie dye look in these.

Watercolor Gift TagI love pairing these tags with brown paper packaging for a boho chic look. You could also use them throughout a luncheon as beverage markers, placeholders or menu labels. Or how fun would these be as sales tags for a boutique or flea market booth?

Got a Pinterest idea you want me to test? Comment below with a link or tweet me @DeanneRevel.

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Step 1

 Open GalleryDIY Watercolor Gift Tag Supplies Gather your supplies and patience. You will need a set of watercolors, assorted brushes, multiple plastic cups with water, paper towels and plain paper gift tags. I found a set of 20 tags at the craft store for $3. You could also make you own tags with a template to trace, watercolor paper and a hole punch. You don’t have to have a pro set of watercolors. The cheap sets for kids are fine. I tested with Winsor and Newton watercolors and one of those eight-count Crayola sets we all used in kindergarten. And, actually, I enjoyed how saturated the Crayola pigments were—and how fast they dried.

Step 2

 Open GalleryWatercolor TrayStart mixing colors. Wet your brush with clean water and pick up a pigment. Dab it on your paint tray to see how saturated it is. Mix color and water ratios to increase saturation.

Step 3

 Open GalleryWatercolor DropDrop it. Dip your brush in the pigment you want to use and drip the colors onto the gift tag in random places. Pick up more water for larger, lighter drops.

Step 4

 Open GalleryWatercolor SplashStart splashing. Use brushes to blur and splash your original drops around the paper. The more imperfect the shape, the better. Let those areas dry for a couple of hours.

Step 5

 Open GalleryWatercolor SplashesHave a plan. Kind of. You could do a monochromatic tag like the teal one I did (pictured at the beginning of the post) with different layers of one color, but if you want to use multiple colors for a tie-dyed look, you need to block off areas where you want pigments to go. I like using tri-color schemes, but do whatever you want. Go crazy! Just remember if you start doing too many colors at one time, all the pigments will mix and dry a gross brown. If you need some inspiration for colors, get familiar with the color wheel. Wikipedia has a great article on color schemes in art and design.

Step 6

 Open GalleryWatercolor SwirlsAdd more layers of color. You can add additional colors to white areas or add colors on top of base layers to create new colors. I like going back over colors with the same pigment to increase saturation in spots. Pick up the gift tag and move it around to manipulate where the paint goes. Or blow on it to create swirls of colors. Once you’re satisfied with the look, let it dry overnight.

Step 7

 Open GalleryWatercolor Gift Tag with StringPersonalize the tag, then attach twine or string. If the tag wrinkled while drying and you want to flatten it out, press between heavy books for a day.

Materials

  • Watercolors
  • Plain gift tags
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic cups
  • Twine or string

Tools

  • Assorted brushes
About Deanne Revel 

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I manage social media for DIYNetwork.com, HGTVRemodels.com and FrontDoor.com. When I'm not instagramming and pinning, I'm dancing at Zumba and failing at the shimmy. I love vanilla chai, ...

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