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DIY Craft Project: How to Make Colorful Bookmarks Using Easy Watercolor Techniques

Updated on August 21, 2015
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Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.

Beautiful bookmarks are easy to make using these simple watercolor painting techniques!
Beautiful bookmarks are easy to make using these simple watercolor painting techniques! | Source

It's easy to make your own colorful bookmarks using some simple watercolor techniques and materials. A fun project for artists of all ages, handmade bookmarks are a great way to enhance your enjoyment of reading!

April is National Library Month in the United States

Celebrate by making your own bookmarks with your family and friends! There are so many wonderful and fun watercolor techniques that will create lovely bookmarks regardless of your artistic experience or skill.

Materials for Bookmarks

Paper for watercolor painting
Paper for watercolor painting | Source

Watercolor paper, or paper for watercolor painting, comes in a few forms. You can buy loose sheets of watercolor paper, pads of paper, or watercolor blocks. Loose sheets are usually larger 20 by 30 inch pages. These sheets can be cut down to a smaller size to use.

Pads of watercolor paper come in a variety of sizes. You can even buy postcard size pads of watercolor paper. These might be good if you are making bookmarks with very small children. You can let the children decorate these smaller sheets, let them dry, then cut them lengthwise into small bookmarks.

Watercolor blocks are pads of paper that are sealed on all the sides. This allows for the paper to dry flat. You leave the paper in the pad as you use it, then remove it from the pad once it is dry. These blocks are usually a bit more expensive than a pad or single sheets of watercolor paper.

Watercolor paper will wrinkle a little bit when it gets wet and dries. Ordinarily when using loose sheets of watercolor paper, you would tape the paper down on a hard work surface as you paint and let it dry before removing it. This allows the paper to dry flat. However, I wouldn't worry too much about wrinkles. These bookmarks are going to be placed inside of books and you can just press them between a few books to flatten them before use.

Watercolor paints come in a few varieties
Watercolor paints come in a few varieties | Source

Watercolor paints come in a couple of forms: either in flat dishes (called pans) or in tubes. Either will work great for these bookmarks. The sets with the little dishes are less expensive and have a combination of colors in them. These sets are particularly good for children.

You will also need a watercolor brush (most sets include a brush), a dish for mixing water with your paints (you can use a paper plate) and some small containers for water. Also keep some paper towels handy for cleaning your brush, blotting your paints, and for quick clean ups.

Crayons and grease pencils can be used to make designs in watercolor painting
Crayons and grease pencils can be used to make designs in watercolor painting | Source

Wax Resist Technique for Making Watercolor Bookmarks

One of the best watercolor techniques for making creative bookmarks is wax resist using a white crayon, grease pencil, or even a candle! The wax in these materials acts as a resist against the water in the paints, leaving the area that you've marked with your crayon or grease pencil white while the area around it fills with paint color.

You can see from my example how the white crayon and grease pencil writing shows up against the paint. The candle would also do the same, but my candle was a bit bulky to write with, and my sample got a little messy.

To Begin Creating Your Watercolor Bookmarks

1. With a ruler and light pencil, measure out and mark the outline for your bookmark. I made my bookmarks of different sizes, but between 2" and 3" wide and roughly 6" to 8" long. I made my bookmarks larger if I wanted to make a more complicated design on them.

You can make the top of your bookmark rounded or pointed if you like. You may want to leave about 1/2" at the top to punch a hole and add a tassle when you're finished with your bookmark.

2. Using a white crayon, white grease pencil, or a white candle, draw your design on your bookmark. Your design does not need to be fancy or complicated. Some simple wavy lines or squiggles will look great when you add the watercolor. You can also draw flower shapes or add words on your bookmark.

Simple marks with a white crayon, grease pencil or candle can create beautiful results in watercolor.
Simple marks with a white crayon, grease pencil or candle can create beautiful results in watercolor. | Source

3. When your drawing is done, mix a little bit of your paint with your water to begin painting. The more water you add to your paint colors, the lighter it will appear on your paper. You can make your colors darker by adding more paint, or by going over an area with your color until to get the shade you want.

You can blend colors together by layering them on top of each other. Above, I kept layering my blue paint to make it darker, then added purple towards the bottom to create a gentle transition of color down my bookmark. This is an easy technique that creates a beautiful result!

Letting two colors of watercolor bleed into each other
Letting two colors of watercolor bleed into each other | Source

Tips:

You can also allow two colors to bleed into each other by adding some clean water to your painting and letting the neighboring colors move into this area.

If your paper begins to get too wet or your colors too messy, you can blot your paint surface with a paper towel to soak up the excess water or paint. Then you can begin to work on your painting again.

Using basic salt as a resist in watercolor painting is a fun technique to try!
Using basic salt as a resist in watercolor painting is a fun technique to try! | Source

Try Using Salt as a Resist in Watercolor Painting

Another fun watercolor technique to try when making bookmarks is a salt resist. Salt will absorb the water in the paint and leave white speckles on the paper. To use this technique:

1. Put down your watercolor paint on your paper. Quickly sprinkle salt over your paint area (kosher salt or larger grain salt works better, but you can use table salt too. Spread a generous amount if you are using table salt).

2. The salt will start to soak up the water and paint where it lands. Let the paint dry completely. Once the surface is dry, brush off the salt grains from your paper. Some may stick, but you can just scrap them off with your fingernails or a table knife.

Source

Finishing Your Watercolor Bookmarks

Once your watercolor paint is completely dry, you can add other details and embellishments to finish your bookmarks.

1. You can use color pencils or crayons to add more color or detail to your design. This is a great way to add a personal note or saying to your bookmark.

2. You can glue on some sequin or glitter to add more decoration to your surface. I suggest just adding thin embellishments on your bookmark since you want it to be flat to use in a book.

Adding sequins and a decorative edge can make a beautiful finish to your completed bookmark.
Adding sequins and a decorative edge can make a beautiful finish to your completed bookmark. | Source

3. You can also use some decorative edge scissors to cut out your bookmarks. This adds a pretty design to the edges of your finished piece.

4. Or leave a little border around your bookmark, and trim it with some washi tape for a pop of color and to make a clean finished edge.

Add some colorful washi tape to the sides of your handmade bookmark for a pop of color!
Add some colorful washi tape to the sides of your handmade bookmark for a pop of color! | Source

5. Lastly, you can punch a hole in the top center of your bookmark to add a tassel made from ribbon or yarn. A few strands of different colored yarn or ribbon will add some fun to your bookmark!

Source

I hope you have fun making and using these wonderful watercolor bookmarks!

Copyright © 2015 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.

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    • Sharing a Bit profile image

      Shelli Godinho 24 months ago from Ontario, California

      I posted this on 2 of my facebook pages. Thanks for sharing

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 24 months ago from the short journey

      Oh how pretty they are! Thanks for the DIY tutorial. I'm now thinking of how I could put my grandchildren's names on their very own spring bookmark...

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 24 months ago

      Some useful, beautiful results. Lovely watercolor flowers.

      Interesting work--as usual. Voted up.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 24 months ago from USA

      Hi Sharing a Bit! Thanks so much for your comments and share! Glad to meet someone who loves this idea as much as I do :) Thanks again!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 24 months ago from USA

      Hi RTalloni - This a such a sweet idea for your grandchildren. I tried to write things on my samples in either white crayon or grease pencil, but had a hard time making it look clean because it is hard to see the white marks on the watercolor paper until you start to paint. I would suggest creating the design for your bookmarks, painting them, then adding the names in color pencil or marker after your painting is done. I'm sure you'll create something wonderful! Thanks, as always, for your support and comments :)

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 24 months ago from USA

      Hi poetryman6969! Thanks so much! I use the flower bookmark in my gardening journal. It makes me smile every time I see it :) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 24 months ago from Norfolk

      purl3agony

      Instructions are very easy to follow and the end results are very pretty with some super images. As always you have done a great job, thanks for sharing,

      Sally

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 24 months ago from Texas, USA

      I enjoyed this article very much. What a nice, straightforward introduction to the wonderful world of watercolor. The bookmarks you demonstrate here are beautiful! As a watercolorist, I know people can be frightened of this medium. Your project is a perfect way to get people started without a lot of daunting "rules" or expectations.

      Many times when I have paper left on the margins of my larger paintings I will use it to make bookmarks. It's a great way to use this paper and not waste it.

      Thanks for a well written, fun hub!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 24 months ago from USA

      Hi Sally! Thanks so much! When I heard that it was National Library Month here in the US, I knew I wanted to come up with an easy project to celebrate. I really enjoyed making these bookmarks and hope to enjoy using them and sharing them with friends. Thanks, as always, for your comments and support :)

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 24 months ago from USA

      Hi Dbro! Thanks so much for your sweet comments! I love your idea of using the edges of watercolor paintings for bookmarks. That's a great way to recycle, or reuse your materials. A few times, when I've had paintings done on paper that just weren't working out the way I wanted them to, I've cut or ripped out the interesting bits and used them as postcards or bookmarks. It's a great way to savage something out of a project. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting. Always wonderful to hear from another artist :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

      These are so cute and I can never get enough of these things; they are sort of like the socks that hide only heaven knows where!

      ^+

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Jackie - I'm just the opposite - every book I open up from my local library seems to have someone else's bookmark left in it :) Hope you enjoy making some bookmarks of your own. I've really enjoyed playing around with my paints again and making these little designs. Thanks so much for your comments and support!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 22 months ago from Norfolk

      purl3agony

      Hi Donna - Congratulations on your HOTD - another one to add to your growing collection. Your Hubs are always the perfect example of how to write a craft article.

      Have a lovely weekend.

      Sally

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 22 months ago from Spring Hill Florida

      What a great idea ! I will be making several of these to give as extra when I gift books. Thanks for the great tutorial

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 22 months ago from Germany

      Congratulations on the HOTD! Those are beautiful bookmarks. Thanks for sharing the DIY. Voted up and useful.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Donna, what a clever and beautiful idea to make your own bookmarks. How neat this is! I would love to try it, whenever I run out of bookmarks for my books. Congrats on HOTD! Voted up!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Sallybea! Thanks so much for stopping by again and for your lovely words of support. I appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi linfcor! These bookmarks do make lovely gifts. I added one to my Mother's Day card by cutting a couple of slits in the card and sliding the bookmark through. I nice little something extra for my Mom, the book lover :) Thanks so much for your comments!

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Thelma! Thanks so much! And thank you for your comments and vote up. I appreciate it!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Kristen - Thank you! I hope you do try making some fun bookmarks, They're like little, useful works of art :) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Have a great weekend!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 22 months ago from United States

      Watercolor resist is one of my favorite techniques to use when teaching children's art. I had never thought about using it for my own crafts, however. Great idea for a simple project you could do with a group. Makes a wonderful mother's day ideas too!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 22 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Such a nice idea, great to include with the gift of a book. It would add a personal touch.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 22 months ago from Chicago Area

      Your how-to hubs are always so delightful with great personal photos. So deserving of Hub of the Day. Congrats!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 22 months ago from Arkansas USA

      What a fabulous project! Love the look of the finished product. Congratulations on HOTD honors!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 22 months ago from Dublin, Ireland

      This reminded me of techniques I used for bookmarks and handpainted cards with the salt. Loved your flowers and describing the layering of colors , looks great! They are a super thing to make to sell, give as gift and for kids to make, congrats on a well deserved HOTD!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Congratulations on HOTD! This is a lovely craft hub.

    • BarbaraCasey profile image

      Barbara Casey 22 months ago from St. Petersburg, Florida

      What a lovely tutorial! As an avid (non-artist) reader, your very clear instructions make me think I could handle making watercolor bookmarks. Congrats on HOTD.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 22 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Donna. How creative. Wonderful hub. Congratulations on the HOTD. Very well deserved.

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 22 months ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Great project - and I bet that since summer's coming up, this activity punches your kids' boredom in the face! Maybe that, provided I seal them with MP or even jeweler's grade resin (in a very thin coat), this craft would yield a lot of Fish Extender gifts for my next Disney cruise...

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 22 months ago from the short journey

      Back to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award and to say that several grands birthdays are coming up and I'm looking forward to including some of these in their cards.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 22 months ago from South Carolina

      Congrats on earning HOTD for this step by step easy craft idea. I just purchased my first watercolor kit yesterday and was going to look up a simple way to begin using it. This will be perfect!

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi VirginiaLynne - Thank you! I'm actually working with my local library to do a children's activity based on this bookmark tutorial to launch their summer reading program. I think it will be a lot of fun. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Dolores - I love to receive handmade gifts and I agree these bookmarks would be great to add a personal touch. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Heidi - Thanks, as always! I was very surprised to find this hub as the HOTD! Hope you are having a surprisingly wonderful weekend too :) Thanks again!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Suzie - Thanks so much! I wanted to share some amazingly easy watercolor techniques that always create wonderful results, and that anyone can do :) Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate it!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi FlourishAnyway - Thank you! I appreciate your comments and support!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi BarbaraCasey - These watercolor techniques are pretty much fool-proof and will always produce beautiful results. I hope you give them a try. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi bdegiulio! Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi SusanDeppner - Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi talfonso - I'm glad this project has given you some great ideas for your own projects. I hope you love what you create. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi RTalloni - I love your idea to include a handmade bookmark with a birthday card! I'll always support anything that encourages children to read. I'm sure your bookmarks will be amazing (like everything you do) and your grandkids will love them :) Thanks so much for all your support. As always, I appreciate it!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Happyboomernurse - Oh, it's always exciting to have new art supplies! I'm jealous :) I think a small, but fun project like this is the perfect way to dive in to those watercolors. I hope you have a lot of fun. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 22 months ago

      Congratulations on your HOTD! So well deserved. I love the droplets on the one and they are all so lovely! Something that everyone can use too. I wish I was more of a painter. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 22 months ago

      Those are beautiful and a great art technique for children to do!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi Glimmer Twin Fan - I think you should give these watercolor techniques a try. I think you'd be amazed at how easy they are and the beautiful results that you'd see. Thanks so much for your comments! Have a wonderful weekend and Mother's Day!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Hi RoadMonkey - Yes, I think children and adults would really enjoy this project. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      I love yr watercolor craft, using salt is a genius idea

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 21 months ago from USA

      Thanks so much, peachpurple! I hope you enjoy trying these watercolor techniques yourself. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 21 months ago from USA

      I loved using watercolor paints when I was younger. I need to give it a try again. Thanks for some new ideas.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 21 months ago from USA

      You're welcome, Barbara :) Watercolor is a lot of fun to experiment with and always results in something colorful and interesting. Thanks so much for your comments! Good luck and enjoy!

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 19 months ago

      beautiful and interesting hub, you made the bookmarks a wonderful thing to keep both in books and hearts. thank you so much for sharing. purl...and many many congratulations for HOTD.

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 19 months ago from USA

      Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed these bookmarks. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a lovely hub! I collect interesting bookmarks and would love to create my own by following your instructions. Congratulations on the HOTD award for this hub. It's certainly well deserved.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 14 months ago from USA

      Hi Alicia - Thanks so much! Collecting bookmarks sounds like a fun hobby. I'm sure you can make some really interesting pieces by just trying some of these techniques and playing around with the watercolor paint. Thanks for your comments and good luck!

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      poopoodapoo 8 months ago

      AMAZING! This i s gonna be fun to do, espesially since i love books!

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