Effortless Salt & Watercolor Bookmarks | Daniela Mellen | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Effortless Salt & Watercolor Bookmarks

teacher avatar Daniela Mellen, Artist & Author

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Class Intro

    • 2. 2 Class Supplies

    • 3. 3 Taping the Bookmark

    • 4. Bookmark #1 : Simple Color Blend

    • 5. Bookmark #2 - Rainbow Gradient

    • 6. Bookmark #3 - Night Sky

    • 7. Bookmark #4 - Feather Bookmark

    • 8. Bonus Class #1

    • 9. Bonus Class #2

    • 10. Class Wrap Up

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Effortless Salt & Watercolor Bookmarks

Join me as I create demonstrate an effortless technique to create texture using salt crystals and watercolor by making four bookmarks. This class was designed with beginning watercolorists in mind and is a fun way to make an intriguing result.

We will use salt - either Kosher, table, or course salt to interact with the watercolor pigments. The larger crystals produce larger results, but combining crystal size or distributing table salt causes interesting effects.

In the first two bookmarks use salt on color blends. The second two bookmarks build on the first layer, using wet on dry techniques to create a night sky and a colorful feather.

There is a downloadable Class Supply List included, as well as a Class Template to help you sketch out your images for the Night Sky and Feather Bookmark.
Lessons Include;

  1. Class Intro
  2. Class Supplies
  3. Taping the Bookmark Paper
  4. Bookmark #1 - Color Blend
  5. Bookmark #2 - Rainbow Gradient
  6. Bookmark #3 - Night Sky
  7. Bookmark #4 - Feather
  8. Bonus Class #1 - Using Rice In Place of Salt
  9. Bonus Class #2 - Observing the Effects of Salt Crystals vs Salt Water vs Pigment Alone
  10. Class Wrap Up

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniela Mellen

Artist & Author


I'm an artist and author living in coastal Florida and surrounded by plants, animals, marine life, and the warm sun - all things that inspire me.

I am drawn to creating things and love to get lost in projects. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new, build on existing skills, and branch out to new ones. I was formally trained as an educator which is my passion and incorporating art into teaching makes my life complete.

As of March 2023 I have a catalog of classes on Skillshare. You'll see handmade books, memory keeping, watercolor, acrylic paint, unique art supplies, and photography composition. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing your work.

Check out my Patreon Channel or my YouTube Channel for additional class info... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Class Intro: Hello. I'm Daniella Melon and author and artist here in scale share. Welcome to my art class. Effortless salt and water color bookmarks. In today's class, which is designed for beginner watercolorist, we will pay four bookmarks using salt and watercolor paints. This combination art supplies and household staple produces unexpected an intriguing texture in your work. This class was designed to create watercolor texture with ease. We will work on wet on wet technique to achieve intriguing colorblind, and then we'll drop in salt crystals. The salt will absorb some of the water, and the remaining pigments will do unexpected things. In two of the bookmarks, we will build on that texture that we create in the first step to create stunning images. We'll build another layer with wet on dry technique, and we'll add details like spatter and highlights with a gel pen as well. I've included a downloadable class template that will help you to sketch out your images. I've also included two bonus lessons. The first uses an alternative to salt to achieve texture, and the second bonus class demonstrates the difference between using just water color paint , salt and salt water. The images that you create will make a beautiful bookmark for a favorite or well used book for your class project. Try your hand at one of the bookmarks. Feel free to post your work in the class project section. And if you'd like to post your work on instagram, use the hashtag watercolor bookmark and I'll follow along Thank you for joining me. 2. 2 Class Supplies: the supplies you'll need for our salt and water color Bookmarks class include the basic supplies, uh, water color pigments, an assortment of brushes, a pencil and an eraser. Watercolor paper. This is 100 and £40 watercolor paper that I cut into the bookmark shape. These are 5.5 by two inch, and they fit the class template that I have included in the project section of this class, so you can download it, but you can use any size you want. Just vary the images that we paint. Exercising Lee accordingly. Additionally, these are optional, but I find them very helpful. I have some just painter's tape. It's a very low tack tape. I have a cardboard piece here. This is the backing of a pad of watercolor paper, a little spoon, these air magic erasers that I've cut in half. I use these just to clean up some of the dried bookmarks. When we're done. I have a white gel pen, and alternately you can use white pencils as well. I have a corner puncher just around the corners. You can use a pair of scissors, I have a hole punch and then I have my salt. I have two types of salt. I have a kosher salt, which is small crystals and then a larger coarse salt. 3. 3 Taping the Bookmark: to get started for my bookmarks. One optional thing I like to do is to have a nice, clean edge around the bookmark. Now there a couple of ways you can achieve this. You can do your painting and then sliced down the bookmark thio thio even smaller size, cutting off any edges that are ragged or I like to take this painting tape. It's a look kind of a low tack tape and just to make sure it doesn't tear off the paper, which it sometimes does. So I have to be prepared for that. I place it down on my board first a couple of times, and then I'll come back and put it on my work. I just eyeball it. You can measure it if you want to be exactly precise to create the border. I just want a little border, maybe quarter inch or so, and I do that all the way around. Alternately, I just paint on my piece here. It will tend to buckle a little more, but that's an option 4. Bookmark #1 : Simple Color Blend: So now to create my first radiant, I'm gonna take some Clearwater and a nice big brush. This is a 10 round 10 and I'm just gonna paint the entire exposed watercolor paper with a clear coat of water. Then I'll choose to colors that interact nicely together. Um, so I will go with red and a yellow, get a lot of pigment on my brush, and I'll just drop in some of that red just along the edges because it's wet. You can see it bleeding, and I'll go back in with even more pigment, more red pigment, and drop that in to get a nice color. Since we know the water color when it dries is much lighter. Then I'll take some nice yellow no dab that in as well. I'll go back in with a little darker yellow and some color there, some pigment, and then I'll go in with a darker red and and that as well. I think I had a little more of the original yellow, and then I'll take my board and tilt it and let those colors move around and flow together . Now here I can see a little spot of white with watercolor paper, so it takes some yellow, just dropped that in, and that'll pull the remaining pigment right to it now to add my salt. What's gonna happen when I and my salt is? The crystals are gonna absorb the water and the pigments get a stakes. It's thicker. It's going to stay and make little halos around the salt crystals. So I want to make sure I get that at the right time. And by that I mean, I want to make sure there's enough pigment and wetness on the paper that it hasn't dried yet. So the sort of salt has some water to absorb. But I don't want it to be too wet that the salt melts somebody's drop some here, and you can already see the darker colors forming around the salt where the water has been absorbed. That was a coarse salt that I used. And as you can see, um, it's already interacting the colors air. Lightening up everywhere now for the hard part is to just let this sit and dry thoroughly, not almost dry but completely dry. So we'll give that some time. Our bookmark with the coarse salt and the kosher salt. I'm gonna just gently pull off some of the salt, at least the bigger chunks. Then I'll remove the tape. Unfortunately, this one pulled a lot on this side of the paper right off of it. So to repair that was not really repair. But to hide that, I'm gonna just slice off, take my bookmark, just slice off off for size, all right? In the corners, my center hole. And then I'll just thread some orange ribbon right through that. And here we have our book with a lot of texture. I really like the way the salt crystals pulled that pigment, absorb that water and pulled that pigment. 5. Bookmark #2 - Rainbow Gradient: for a second. Greedy, and we're gonna try and have many more colors. So again, I'm going to start out by taking the paper and wedding it with a clear coat of water. And then I'm gonna make sure my paints are ready. I'm gonna start with Red and they would have some yellow and some blue and then I'll go in and add additional colors from there. So I mix my red. I want to be nice and vibrant. I'll start right at the top and just drop in some pigment. Then we'll go around here with my yellow, leaving a little space and drop in more pigment there. And I'll do the same thing with the blue, leaving just a little space at the end. We'll go in at farmer pigment to all three of the colors. Okay, going with even darker red up top. And then we'll start adding my Grady in colors so I'll look for a little bit of an orange here, and I'll put that right here. Combining that with the red and letting the colors believe together do the same thing with the yellow and the orange. Having those colors bleed together and then I'll go in with Green. Come back here with some blue and then over here, where I see there's a lot of pigment running. Take a dry brush and just absorb some of it. And then lastly, I'll go in with some purple in the bottom. So there I have a nice, radiant rainbow Grady int looking here. I see a lot of pooling of the pigment in the water. So I'm gonna take my dry brush and absorb some of that just so we don't have too much paint . Then I'll take myself. This time I'll use a fine salt. I'm just gonna Sprinkle it a little bit here and there of the color. And again we sit and let this one dry. Nothing. Our rainbow ingredient is dry. We can remove the salt and created into a bookmark, so I'll use my whole punch my corner around her, my rough sponge. Here it's like a magic eraser and I'll take a brush. First thing to do is just brush off any clearly loose salt, and that gets some but not all. I'll take it with my finger so I get more of a feel for it and I can see the salt coming off and here it they will just very gently peel off the tape. And here we got a little bleeding underneath the tape, which means I didn't secure it tightly enough, so I'll remove it from the board. So here I have are bookmarks. If I do this, I can feel that there still is some salt. You can see that ice just by brushing my finger over it took a little off. I'll go in here with my magic eraser, make little circles theme, and that gets itself off as well. There are some really stubborn pieces. I'll have to really work that with my finger. Now I have a few options. I can leave it just like it is. I can slice off the pieces to make it just a uniform bookmark, since the border has been ruined by the bleeding underneath. So I think I'll do that Here, have my straight edge cutter just playing here and get rid of all the border. Now from here, I have a couple of options. I can put it on a piece of paper that creates a border either white or black. But since I want to use this as a bookmark. I don't want the added weight or thickness. So instead I'll just round the corners. So I take my corner punch on all four corners, could also use a pair of scissors, just trace a circle around the edge. And then, with my whole punch, I'll punch a hole right in the center. I'm actually I think I'll do it on the red side and then I'll just get some ribbon and thread it through. Kerry have some red ribbon. A little clip the ends. If you like them long, you can leave them long. I like it just long enough that it sticks out from the edge of my book. But no longer you could draw over this with a permanent black marker. You can another layer of pain if you like, and you consign it. I'm gonna leave it just like that 6. Bookmark #3 - Night Sky: for our next bookmark. We're gonna do it fun technique. I want to make a night sky with the silhouette of the trees on the bottom and I'm gonna make like a pink sky maybe a pink peach sky glowing. And then the night sky with Grady in from the darkest of night to where it meets with the pink so they'll be a little area of not so much Clearwater, but much lighter color. First thing I'll do is I'll go over the area that I want to put my pink sky in. I go over that with a clear coat of water. Then I'll mix that light color, and I want a pink well and a little bit of blue to that as well. Go back and add a little more pink. Drop that color in kind of emulating the tree shaped but letting that pigment run as well. Do you want a little bit of darker color at the base, so dropping some brighter red and we'll let that sit. You can see it's hard to see the light, but there is a little overlap of just clear water. Now I'm gonna color in the entire thing leaving a teeny little barrier of dry paper between the base and the color that I'm coloring. And now and it's bleeding a little bit and that's okay, and I'll slowly pulling that color together, and then I'll go in with my dark color and I want to makes a nice rich black. But I want to add some blue to that as well, almost like a dark midnight blue gonna start adding pigment up top. And when we add the salt to this layer, it's gonna absorb the pigment and leave little spots that are supposed to be reminiscent of stars. And we can help that along after it drives with a little bit of the gel pen as well. Now here I'm taking a brush that I added water to. So I got a lighter color, and I'm just bringing that, combining that with the pink sky of the night. Then I'll go back in a little more pigment up top, just a few spots working my way down. I want about 3/4 of the bookmark to be the darker, um, sky. Pull some of that pigment, and when I'm happy with that, I'll take just a few crystals of salt. A salt crystals will start the center. I'll just drop in a few, just like stars in the sky. Make it a little more concentrated of salt stars, shall we say up a top in. We'll let that layer dry before we work on her final layers. Now that our layers air dry, I'm gonna remove the tape from around the night sky and you can see it's already. The tape is taking some of the watercolor paper off the edge, which sometimes happens on that. It's a fairly clean edge that looked nice. Take a paper towel on my salt off into tabal, gently at first my finger. I'll take my no sponge rubber now that I removed all the salt layers, a completely dry going here and make some trees on the bottom. So with a small brush and some dark pigment to go in and just make some simple shaped trees just right to the bottom edge, and I'll stick with an odd number, - I want to go ring right to the base, try and make that line nice and dark. Nice contrast. But if there any sparse areas will fill those in a swell We just want a simple silhouette And now I see where the salt pulled the pigment away kind of created something reminiscent of Star is not very clear. So I'm going with my white gel pen and just make a few little stars in the sky and I'll make a tighter concentration on the top of the bookmark as well. Maybe a few right here in the light pink area. Now I can cut down the, um bookmark if I do. But I think that I like the edge. I like that. It's straight. I'm not gonna around the corners on this one But I will take my punch, punch a hole and then I'll take some ribbon and just feed it through that hole. Make it land You're not. So I just feed it through with a loop and then I pull the other parts out of it. I'm just gonna shape the edge here. And here is my night sky bookmark 7. Bookmark #4 - Feather Bookmark: for our feather bookmark I sketch the feather which you can find on the template You just cut it out, place it on your bookmark and trace around or you can Freehand sketch the feather I'm gonna take just a slightly smaller brush since we're not coloring the entire bookmark and I'm gonna go in with a clear coat and paint the interior of my feather then I'll drip in some cuts and pigment that I want to do for my feather. I'll do this yellow orange. First, create the outline in the shape. A little up here is well like it's just a basis of color. And now, with a smaller brush, I'll go in and drips, um, color. I think I'll use some six and orange. It's maybe a little over here. I don't take a little bit of the brown and a little bit of blue. Just drop in. Some pigment could take a very tiny brush and go in with the deep yellow. Create a nice sharp outline for this feather. We'll try and do it fairly quickly before the paint dries so we can add our salt effectively. So there we have the basic shape of our feather dropping. Just a little more blue. Get a nice, vibrant color. Maybe put a few pieces down here to tie it together. It'll take some fine salt. Just Sprinkle it. We'll let those layers dry. They're feather bookmark, but it's remove the tape trying to be very careful, removing and see if I can preserve the entire all the paper that worked out very well. I'm just gonna brush off any of the salt. I could feel a little bit of salt left, so I'll take my sponge. And now work on this feather a little more. My very small brush. Could it come in here with that golden yellow again? Make more of an outline around the edge. We'll come in here with a lighter grey. No outline. This part of the feather here, the quill Go in. Just create that quill. The dark pigment. I'll create some of the feathers here. I don't want perfectly straight lines. We'll go in here with my dark blue, echoing the color that I put down at first. Then I'm going with a little orange as well. I don't want too much on my brush. Just enough to create feather strokes A little variation, then with a slightly smaller brush. I'm just gonna take a little bit of that color Could make a little spatter So I'll start with that golden yellow spatter around the brush around the feather with my brush going little, little the orange And then lastly, almost going with a little blue When this dries, I'll punch a hole in the center and threaten my ribbon through it Now the feather has dried from the spatter I'll take my whole punch punch right in the center I have my ribbon guanciale bend in half and thread through And there I have my feather bookmark. 8. Bonus Class #1: Another interesting technique that you can try does not involve salt. Some people are concerned that salt has destructive qualities on the water color paper for long term effects, and and that's a legitimate concern. So try using rice. This isn't a kind of an instant rice that is par boiled and then dried, and it only takes a minute or so to cook. But it does have absorbing qualities like the rice, but it doesn't leave the harsh, corrosive elements on the paper so treated the same way. I find that the rice absorbs a lot more and sticks, so it's because of the pieces are so much bigger. It's not the same thing assault, but it does create a salt lake effect. So I brushed clear coat of water on my paper. Now I'll add some nice rich pigment, so purple, some blue go back to make sure I have a light on a lot of pigment. Really rich color. I had a little bit of it's nice, dark red as well. Then when the water and the pigment are there slightly wet, I'll take my dry rice. Just drop it right on it. And again, I left the stride the same way I would let the salts dry. We'll come back and see what happens with that. The rice has dried on our bookmark. We remove it. We'll see where it moved that pigment and created an interesting texture. It comes off much easier than the salt as it doesn't melt into the paper. And now we're just remove the tape. So using the rice instead of assault does create a very interesting texture. Again, I could punch a whole string some ribbon and I'll have a race bookmark. 9. Bonus Class #2: for this bonus class. I want to see what would happen if I added salt in different manners. And if I didn't have the salt and see what difference it has on the pigment. So with that, I mean, on the 1st 1 we're gonna paint the clear coat of water on our bookmark, and we'll drop in the pigment just like we did in class. Just take three colors, start with a red, go to blue and they will do some purple, and we'll leave this untouched. So this will just be the pigment on the 2nd 1 I'd like to add, um, instead of adding salt to the top of the pigment, I would like to start with a face of salt water. So here I have a little bit of water. Gonna add a spoonful of salt. Generous sits Booneville. So we know that there's quite a bit of salt in the water. I'll stir this up to dissolve. We'll paint the saltwater onto our bookmark, saturating that paper, and I'll clear off my brush with salt water and we'll just drop in pigment. Same colors. Got a lot of red. I'm just dropping the red. We'll do the blue, we'll do some purple. Well, CVA has any effect on the pigment when it's all dry in, the last one will add the salt on top, so clear coat of water when our pigments make sure and a lot of pigments of assault. When it removes it, we'll still see a lot of color. And now we'll add some coarse salt from the bottom of this bookmark and we'll add some finer kosher salt to the top. We'll let this dry. Here we have our experiment where we used a wet paper and some pigment where we dropped wet pigment onto the wet paper. Remove a tape here. The tape came off really well. I didn't tear the paper at all. So here we have our just are simple watercolor on wet, wet wonder color on white paper. Here we have the saltwater that wet the paper and we dropped in the pigment and you could see the pigment Did some interesting things created these halos around. So that's an interesting effect. And lastly, we have our wet pigment on the wet paper where we dropped in both thick salt and kosher salt. So I'll take that just wipe off the salt. We'll see the interesting texture that's left behind. So here we have three different results using the same products, and this one introduces salt. And this one has salt on top, so different effects that you can get to create different textures and backgrounds in your in your bookmarks. 10. Class Wrap Up: So here we have our completed bookmarks. We have the radiant of red, orange and yellow pigments wet on wet. Well, we dropped in the salt. Here we have a rainbow radiant where we dropped in the salt and you can see an interesting texture in the background. It helps to blend the different layers and create a very, very nice effect. Here we took advantage of the single color and just watered it down to create the Grady int of the night sky. We added some simple shapes and the gel pen to finish that one off. Here we have more of an image of the feather again. It's very abstract and rustic, but it gives the effect that we wanted, and using the salt to create the texture inside the feather prevents it from being a flat painted background. It gives a nice variation. Then we have our experiment, which turned out to be quite nice as well. I labeled from the saltwater in the rice so we could tell the difference. And then I just went over with a permanent pen. And you're a simple shape again, creating a nice bookmark, kind of a fun effect. Thank you for joining me in class today, if you'd like. Please take Try your hand at one of these simple bookmarks and posted in the class project section. Or if you'd like to post on Instagram, use the hashtag watercolor bookmark and I'll follow along. Thanks for watching.