Daydreaming on Paper
January/February 2003
Make Your Own Stickers

The passion for stickers has been around for a long time. This article from USA Today describes the phenomenon quite well. With journal- and scrapbook-keeping crazes exploding on the scene in recent years, every craft store, art store, and dollar store has shelves and rotating stands overflowing with stickers in almost every shape, size, and style imaginable. Stickers are super cute, super affordable, and wonderfully versatile. With all that store-bought stickers have going for them, why should you make your own?

  • I have not seen too many artistic stickers available for purchase in stores. When you make your own stickers, you can use everything from watercolors to pastels to rubber stamps to create your own tiny works of art.

  • As with any craft project, making it yourself means that you get exactly what you want. Your stickers will be the right size and have exactly the right messages for your needs.

  • Making stickers is a versatile craft. Whether you want a quick, 5-minute project to relieve boredom or an elegant project that is simple enough to produce in mass quantities, stickers fit the bill.

If you are anything like me, you are not going to stop buying or trading stickers. However, this does not mean that you cannot have a little creative fun, too. This month, I will walk you through my favorite technique for making word stickers for my diary. These are more versatile than journal cards and are easy and inexpensive to make. Let's get started!



  • Self-adhesive labels (The 1-inch by 1½-inch ones are a good size.)
  • Watercolor paints and brush(es)
  • A container for holding water
  • Newspaper, plastic bags, or old rags to cover your work surface
  • A rag or towel for clean up
  • Calligraphy or regular pens and markers (I rely heavily on the Pentel Colorbrush.)
  • A ruler and a pencil & eraser (optional)
  • Spray fixative (optional)
Sticker Materials

The Fun Part

[Note: This is a great project to do with children.]

Step 1: Load your paintbrush with water and dab on some watercolor paint. Brush paint all over your sheet of stickers in a wash of color. Dab on a little of another color. Add more or less water and paint until you are satisfied with the results. (You do not have to completely cover every sticker.) Let dry.

Step 2: Choose another color and maybe another brush (I like to use a flat brush for this part) and sweep paint randomly across the page of stickers in broad, bold strokes. You will get some interesting "textures" if you use a lot less water and a little more color than you did for the first step. Let dry.

Step 3: Choose a third color. Load your brush with lots of water and paint. Hold the brush in one hand over the sheet of stickers. Tap the brush firmly with the other hand, letting paint spray across the sheet in droplets. [Alternative method: Load the brush with lots of water and paint. Splotch some color onto the page. Use a drinking straw to blow the color around in random designs.] Let dry.

At this point, you should have some lovely abstract patterns on your sheet of stickers. You can stop here and use the stickers as is, or:

Step 4: Use your pens or markers to write words onto each sticker. I have found that when using any kind of marker, a light coat of spray fixative (I use Blair) sprayed onto the stickers before writing on them helps to keep the marker from bleeding so your words will be crisp. Go outside and/or make sure you are in a properly ventilated area before using spray fix. Once the fixative has dried (it only takes a few minutes), you can use a pencil and ruler to lightly draw guidelines before writing. Or, you can live on the edge and write the words freehand. You do not have to know calligraphy to write pretty lettering. Check the scrapbook section of the craft store for several books and magazines that feature many artistic hands that even a novice can do. You can also get certain chisled point or flexible brush marker pens that will add flair to your regular handwriting. As for the words themselves, choose ones that are simple yet have many layers of meaning. A good word will inspire writing through both literal definition and metaphorical potential. You want to have a good mix of important words as well as mundane ones. You want words that will have your pen dancing across the page. Click here for a text file featuring 125 of my favorites. Use this as a reference when you are, er, at a loss for words.

word stickers

Do you like this lettering?

Once your stickers are done, use them as a jumping off point for your entry or as a succinct summary of the day's events. Simply affix one to the top of your journal page and write away!


Other Techniques, Ideas, and Suggestions

  1. Use a sponge and acrylic paint or stamp pads to sponge two or three layers of color onto a sheet of stickers.

  2. Most other paper techniques, such as marbling, stenciling, or spatter painting will work just as well on stickers.

  3. Use rubber stamps to create all or part of your sticker design.

  4. ¾-inch round stickers in white or colors have a mutitude of uses. I love to write Chinese calligraphy characters on these. Black ink looks stunning on a neon background and requires no other decoration.

  5. Glue paper or metallic confetti and flat-backed rhinestones to your stickers as accents.

  6. Use blank stickers as a base for creating tiny collages.

  7. Patterned wallpaper and other paper can be glued onto stickers to create seals that coordinate with handmade stationery.

  8. Draw tiny cartoons onto 1-inch by 1½-inch rectangular stickers. Each sticker can represent a cartoon block. Line them up to tell a story.

  9. Use address labels for larger lettering or long quotes.

  10. Create name or initial stickers to give to a friend.

  11. Use a small, pointed brush to paint a tiny image onto each sticker.

  12. Use bottled ink instead of watercolors for vivid colors.

  13. Use a spare refill eraser from a mechanical pencil as a stamp to make polka dotted stickers.

  14. Try using old tea or coffee to create sepia toned stickers for an antique look.

  15. Thumbprint people make good stickers for kids.

  16. Try the watercolor technique above (or any other paper technique) on full sheet sticker paper. After it dries, cut the paper into squares or other shapes.

  17. If you keep one notebook for all of your various writings, it might be helpful to create stickers to flag certain entries so that they stand out. For example, you can make a set of "dream" stickers and put them at the top of any entry that references your nocturnal flights of fancy.

  18. Scatter rice or sea salt on the sticker page while the paint is still wet. This will create some nice patterns.

  19. Draw or paint an image on the sheet of stickers as if you were drawing or painting on a solid page. Each individual sticker then becomes a part of a larger "puzzle".

  20. Use small paper punches to punch shapes into the finished stickers that will allow the color of your writing paper to show through and be part of the design.



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© 2003 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.