DIY Collaborative Word Art

December 09, 2014

Collaborative Word Art


I love Masking Fluid.

It is has easily become one of my favorite tools when using watercolors mainly due to it's "magical" qualities. If Masking Fluid were to be a person, it would be that oddball wallflower at the party who never really says much, but when they do they forever leave their mark.
It is this chalky looking liquid that has a glue like texture which is difficult to clean off your brush, but totally worth it. It's magical qualities can be discovered when you paint it on watercolor paper creating a pattern or words. Once the Masking Fluid has dried you then go over it with paint, when this too has dried you slowly rub the masking fluid off and VOILA! The pattern you initially drew is popping up out of the painting!!
Which makes it the PERFECT tool for collaborating with absolutely anyone. 
While there are numerous, other ways to use masking fluid, I have chosen to use it in a collaborative way with my daughter, Eve. Together we were able to make unique, word art paintings that will forever have a home on our walls. While we chose to use words you can also go ahead and make patterns or pictures instead, the main aspect being, one person uses the masking fluid and the other uses the paint!
Tip: If doing this collaborative project with a child then the adult should be the one using the masking fluid for safety reasons. You can always let the child draw the design in pencil if they wish and you trace it with the Masking Fluid.

MASKING FLUID has several names, it is also called Liquid Frisket and Drawing Gum. It can come in several different colors, blue, white, yellow, beige, etc., but no matter the color they should all achieve the same results. For this project I used "Incredible White Mask", but in the past I have also used Pébéo's Drawing Gum. Both worked well.


Materials Used for this Project:

  • Watercolor Paper (Mixed Media paper can also work)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Watercolors or Children's Finger Paint
  • Masking Fluid
  • A quote or pattern 
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Stencil (optional)
  • White gel pen (optional)

    Prepare all of your supplies and sketch out your pattern, picture or quote you plan to paint using the masking fluid. Make sure to take your time until you get it just right, there is no shame to be found in erasing! Try not to make the words or pattern too small as it can be difficult to paint the masking fluid in accurately without it blending into other words. We chose several different quotes that have meaning to Eve and I for this project, however I look forward to using the masking fluid to create pictures or patterns in the future. I used my own handwriting since I thought it would give a more personal touch, however you can always use a stencil or print out a design / quote.


    Time for the magical Masking Fluid! 
    Take your time and use the Masking Fluid to trace your pencil marks, remember less is more in this case. Using too much can lead to it blending into other markings or taking too long to dry, just a little bit goes a long way. 
    Masking Fluid can be quite difficult to remove from your brush so choose one you don't mind potentially ruining. I find it helps if you dip the brush in water periodically throughout the project to get the excess masking fluid off. This will prevent it from building up on the brush making it easier to clean at the end, as well as a helping with cleaner lines. Once you are finished, immediately use soapy water to clean your brush so you have a chance of saving it. Waiting will only turn the masking fluid into a glue like state that hardens your brush to the point of no return.

    When you are all finished you can hold your paper up to the light and let the reflection show any missed spots. ( I didn't realize until after I had missed the inner part of the second "O" in the world "Color", whoops!)
    I recommend leaving it to dry thoroughly overnight or for at least a few hours before moving on to the next step.


     Once it has completely dried you can hand it over to your partner in crime! 
    I let Eve go to town and she covered it up with gorgeous little hand prints and finger painting. Try to make sure the edges of the Masking Fluid are covered in paint, that way the pattern underneath will stand out when you remove the Masking Fluid.

    Let this dry completely. 


    For this step I find it best to use your clean fingertips since it will give you more control and you have a better sense of what you are doing. I know it is common to use an eraser but I am always afraid of it removing some paint along with the Masking Fluid. Eve LOVES this part just as much as I do and is always eager to help. The bright white pops out once you remove the Masking Fluid and you get to see your two creations combine into one collaborative piece!


    Once the Masking Fluid is removed and you are finished marveling at the creation you can go ahead with adding glitter or take this opportunity to "fix" any mistakes. During one of our projects I made the mistake of letting Eve use glitter glue BEFORE I had a chance to remove the Masking Fluid, meaning portions of the word art would never be revealed.

    In order to fix this I used a white gel pen over the letters that would be forever sealed from the glitter glue. A white gel pen can come in handy when fixing little details after everything has been removed. 

    There you have it! 
    An easy, lovely project to do by oneself or as a collaborative project. You can frame the pieces, give it as a gift or turn them into handmade cards / postcards to give to a loved one. I am SURE grandparents would be thrilled to receive a collaborative art piece between their own child and grandchild.

    In case you don't have any watercolors or aren't interested in investing into art supplies you won't use often, you can try this with children's finger paint and a thick card stock paper. I wanted to make sure it worked before I posted this so I tried it with Eve's finger paint and a mixed media paper, it came out pretty well! (see pictures below)
     Using your child's hand prints is a great way to include smaller babies or children that aren't able to paint yet. A great idea would be to write their age or number of months they are in Masking Fluid so that you can track their hand print size and age simultaneously.

    For Eve and I this is only the beginning of many more collaborative projects using Masking Fluid. While I am sure many of them will be given as gifts our first two created together will hold a very special spot on her bookshelf. The quote on the left is from the song "Hourglass" sung by Mindy Gledhill, a lullaby I sang to Eve when she was a baby. The one on the right is a quote that reminds me how blessed I am to be Eve's mother. 

    If you try this project out feel free to share your photos with me, I would love to see what you come up with!

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  1. I hope my kids will be as artistic as Eve! :)

  2. Great idea and lovely pictures!