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Let Freedom Ring Art Journal Page Using Paper Napkins

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A creative project is better late than never -right? That is certainly true for this post. I started this project on the 4th of July and just finished it yesterday. Sometimes you just can’t rush creativity. But I am so excited to share this finished creative project with you! When I came across these American flag napkins I had no idea what I’d use them for but knew I’d regret it if I didn’t pick them up. Along my creative journey I remember seeing paper napkins being used in mixed media decoupage napkin art journal pages.

This idea fit perfectly with what I really wanted to accomplish which was to create a memory keeping page listing the names and service branches of all the men and women in our two families that had served. So these two pages will function as the ‘door’ or introductory pages to my memory keeping journal where I’ve listed our families’ names.

The best part about these napkins is they are perfectly sized for my narrow creative journal (which also substitutes at times as my art journal). This art journal project was created to honor those who have served our country, in any capacity and I’m so proud to be sharing it with you.

Before starting the project, as I was telling my husband about what I wanted to do. For whatever reason, he did a search about the flag and tells me the the union side (blue) is supposed to be displayed to the left. I straight up looked at him like he was pulling my leg. But he confirmed that indeed this was true so I did my own research and he was right.

My research led me to the U.S. History website where it reads, specifically:

When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.


That meant for my art journal project page I had to figure out how to cut up the napkin to get it to display on the left. I’m not gonna lie here -it was challenging to disassemble this thin napkin, cut it up and reassemble correctly for the journal page. While I don’t have a video of how I created this art journal page, I’ll walk you through the steps.

01. Gather supplies

  • Art journal
  • Mod Podge (I used matte)
  • White Gesso
  • Acrylic paint in red, white, blue and silver
  • Texture paste
  • 3-in-1 craft glue
  • Pictures, images (printed on regular paper)
  • Flag napkin
  • Sponge brush or decoupage brush
  • Paint brush
  • Foam mounting tape
  • Pigma Micron 01 Archival Pen
  • Small wood stars
  • Embellishments of your choice

02. Prepare your materials

In this step you will need to separate all layers of the napkin to get down to the piece with the image. Keep the other layers as you can use them in future art projects.

Next, make sure all your images are cut to the size you’ll be using.

03. Apply background

For the background, I used a image I pulled off the internet. It was printed on regular copy paper. I had this idea in my head that I wanted it to be a faint almost transparent background of the constitution. It did necessarily turn out how I had in my head but that’s the beauty of a creative project. It’s completely unique.

Brush on a layer of mod podge directly to the journal page(s) and place your background image down. Once you are happy with the look, brush another layer of mod podge over the image. While you are applying this top layer use your brush to lightly press down on the image to help seal it the journal page. Allow to completely dry.

Craft Tip: If you are using a good quality paper journal then you would just use mod podge on this step. If you are using a journal that doesn’t have good quality paper (one that can’t take different mediums), you will want to start with a layer of gesso first to give the paper “grit” or “tooth” to hold the other layers of mixed media you will be adding in.

04. Apply Flag or Napkin

Using mod podge you will apply your flag napkin or your napkin of choice. This is a delicate step because the napkin is so thin. Just take your time and it’ll go on easily. Allow to completely dry.

Next put down a layer of gesso over the pages. This step will lightly mute out the background and flag. If you want more of a ‘white out’ effect just add more gesso where ever you’d like. When finished you will definitely want to make sure you allow the pages to dry completely. I let mine art journal dry overnight.

The reason I used a background image in step 03 is because once you add the napkin, if there is nothing behind it, all you see if the napkin. Typically when you use a napkin for mixed media art journaling you are placing it against a book page which already has type or pictures behind it. The idea is to allow the words to peek through the napkin.

05. Paint the Page Border

At this point, if you run your hands over the page you can feel the “tooth” that resulted by applying the gesso (step 04 above). When I cut my background image I made the mistake and cut it too short which left a border around my two pages. This mistake also turned out to be for the best.

To cover up this mistake, I used acrylic paint in ‘phthalo blue’ along the page border. I made some areas of the border wider than others so that it felt more organic in style. But, this blue border came out much brighter than I wanted so until I figured out a solution, I just moved onto the next step.

06. Apply Texture Paste

At this point, I took some time to layout the remaining embellishments because I needed to know where I had room to apply my texture paste. I also took a picture of the layout with my phone so I knew where I wanted the remaining elements to be placed.

Next I used three different stencils and my texture paste to create areas with dimensional texture. I placed raised crosses in the upper left corner, raised arrows in the lower right corner and finally raised vertical stripes in the lower left corner.

You don’t see the stripes?! Keep reading to find out why.

07. Paint Elements

Next, I painted the crosses with metallic white acrylic paint; the arrows with a silver acrylic paint and finally the stripes with a deep red acrylic paint.

Once the textures were dry, I went over both pages wash of silver paint. That helped to tone down that bright blue and it really helped add even more dimension to the pages.

Still don’t see the stripes?! Keep reading.

08. Embellishments

While my journal pages dried, I made three embellishments for my pages. I loved the full flag in all its’ glory but felt it was just this big area that needed something. Here are the final (maybe?) steps to finish my mixed media art journal pages.

  1. Let Freedom Ring banner. I tore a medium weight craft paper to the size I wanted, lettered the words, stamped some small blue stars on either side of the words, added some red dots with the micron pen and applied it to the page using foam mounting tape.
  2. I used my trusty pink We R Memory Keepers typewriter to type on regular copy paper the phrase ‘home of the free because of the brave’ then I cut them out separately and used some 3-in-1 glue to add them on the opposite page.
  3. Luckily, I had some small wood stars laying around and painted one each in red, white and blue. Then I applied them to the left page using 3-in-1 glue.

09. Lower Left Corner

Remember the red vertical stripes mentioned above? Well, nearly four weeks later, I finally figured out how I would fix that corner because I just didn’t like how they looked. That fix involved removing texture paste.

Let me tell you, taking texture paint off a page is not a good idea. It took a while but I was able to scrape most of it off. But since the texture paste went all the way to the bottom edge, I did rip a very small strip off the bottom of the page in the corner and more of the paper was ripped along inner page sides. So I was now left with a big hole with partially missing paper.

To fix that corner, I decided to use an image of the liberty bell. I print one off on regular paper, tore two of the four edges and glued that down using 3-in-1 glue. Luckily, these pages directly followed the first page of the journal because I had a plan to use scrapbook paper on the first page. Once I fixed this corner I had to start and finish my first page as well because the glue from the liberty bell needed something to adhere to on the opposite page.

So in a sense, I had to reconstruct the bottom edge of this corner. But I took my time and everything came out perfectly. I am so proud of this art journal page!!

Having successfully completed this project I’m ready to make another mixed media napkin art page! Want to create your own mixed media flag napkin page? You can now purchase a set of these flag napkins at the BTD Shop and the product is linked below (stock is limited).

Thank you to all who have served our beautiful country.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your selfless contribution to our freedom and the world we live in today.

If you are inspired to create a napkin art journal mixed media page don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I just really love the product(s) I’ve willingly chosen to feature. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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