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How to: Salt & Watercolour Background

salt and watercolour background card technique

Today is the last post in this mini-series and today I share the technique post that I promised when I started this series featuring a salt and watercolour background technique. You can find the other posts, where I made cards from this handmade background paper, linked beneath this post!

This idea actually started when my mother, who is a card maker as well, asked me how to use different inks with salt and water to create a fun background. We had both seen some videos about this technique but never really tried it ourselves and somehow it wasn’t working the first time she tried it. So today we have sort of an experiment! I’ll describe what worked for me and what I used for this technique. If I’ll find out a different technique with comparable or better results in the future then I will attach a link to this post.

Be warned: this is a picture heavy post!

What do you need for this technique?

- Watercolour paper or other paper that can handle water well (I used Cornwall Rough watercolour paper, because that’s what I have). You don’t want to use paper that’s too thin because the paper will bubble up and not correct itself whilst drying.

- Watercolour paint (I used my Gansai Tambi 36 set). I’ll explain later on why I choose paint over ink. The darker colours seem to give a better result because of the contrast that’s created with the salt, but you can see what works for you (this is personal preference). I found that by mixing two colours the end result is much more interesting.

- Salt: I used sea salt because of the rough texture.

- A water sprayer.

- I found it easier to tape the watercolour paper to a board with painters tape because that way the watercolour paper will stay mostly flat and you can pick it up to set it somewhere else to dry. I prepared two boards.

- A brush;

- A glass of water;

- A mixing tray to put your watercolour paint in.

salt and watercolour technique

The Experiment

I started this experiment with ink instead of watercolour paint:

first I tried Stampin’Up Ink, I used the colour “Blushing Bride” (my mother tried Memento dye ink, which is the same sort of ink), that didn’t really work: hardly anything happened when I added the salt, the salt also didn’t adhere to the paper, there were just a few weird spots on the paper (although I saw a video on YouTube where Stampin’Up Ink was used with this technique). Maybe it just didn’t look nice with this colour ink? If you know a way to use these inks with this technique then please let me know!

Then I tried Distress Inks. These inks are known for their capability to react with water. And it did work with the salt but what I found out is that rather then pushing the ink away the salt attracted the water, creating darker spots without the lighter spots around the dark ones, like watercolour paint does. It gives a more muted effect (you can see it in the card with the “Cracked Pistachio” colour under “Results”).

salt and watercolour technique

That’s why I turned to my watercolour paints and tried them out. The salt almost immediately reacted with the water-paint-mixture and it was real fun to go back every half hour (okay, really more like every ten minutes!) and see if there was a difference. Of course at some point nothing happened any more but it’s still fun to watch. The salt adheres to the paper so at some point I was considering if I could make a card with the salt still attached but there was just to much salt. Maybe I'll try this some other time on a smaller piece of card stock.

Anyway, I really liked the results with the watercolour paints best so I went for that as my main method.

How To

After taping the watercolour paper to the boards and choosing the paint colours that I wanted to use I wetted the paper with my brush and water. Then I applied the two water colour paints (for each section) with the brush. When I was satisfied with how opaque the paint looked I spayed water over both the colours and added the salt. The salt doesn’t need to be everywhere, I think it will look better if some pieces have salt and other pieces don’t, but I’m a little OCD I guess and on my projects the salt was more or less evenly spread everywhere!

Then you just have to let everything dry. I dried it over night because I wanted to make sure it was totally dry. If the paper feels cold to the touch then it’s not dry enough.

After drying you can remove the paper from the board and rub the salt of with your fingers or the edge of an acrylic stamping block and then you’re ready to make cards with this gorgeous handmade background paper.

salt and watercolour technique


Here I’ll show you some cards that I made with these background papers. I’ll also link to the posts where you can find more details of what I used for these cards in terms of colours and stamps and such.

You can find more information about how I made this card here:

You can find more information about how I made this card here:

You can find more information about how I made this card here:

I had so much fun creating these cards and the salt and watercolour backgrounds!

Wishing you a creative day!

#handmadebackgroundcard #saltandwatercolourtechnique #handmadecards #gansaitambi

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