Adding Interest to Your Projects With Texture
    We all love doing scroll sawing and woodworking, and love the results that we get when we make items which have intricate fretwork. Being able to create delicate and lacy plaques and ornaments is part of the challenge and intrigue of doing scrolling in the first place. Many times we create beautiful pieces which we can use for decorating our homes, or we can even make them for gifts for our friends and loved ones or to sell at craft fairs. It certainly is a fun and satisfying hobby.

    But sometimes, as much as we enjoy doing traditional scrollwork, it isn’t as practical as we would like to make items to sell, or even to give as gifts. While scrollwork is quite attractive, even smaller projects can take an incredible amount of time. It seems we are always looking for that magic formula of a project that is quick and easy to make, but desirable and attractive, too. Or maybe we are just looking for a new twist on things that would make our work truly stand out among the other vendors at the craft shows.

    Several months ago, I came across a new product called ‘Margot’s MUD’, a cool texture past that dries hard as a rock and is created by well-known artist Margot Clark. At first glance, the designs that are made with the MUD look like they are intricately hand-painted. Even though I have been painting for years, when I first saw these designs, I never thought that I would ever be able to accomplish them. I thought they were definitely too difficult for me to attempt, even with my experience.

    But they were so nice, I had to look further. I went to Margot’s website ( and took a couple of minutes to watch the video on her home page, which shows her demonstrating how easy it was to do the MUD process. When I saw the video, it DID look easy and I really wanted to try it. I could see so many applications for using this product in my woodworking that I had to give it a go. I immediately ordered up the basic ‘MUD Kit’ (which only costs about $35) and I couldn’t wait for it to get here. I felt like a child waiting for Santa Claus to come!

    When the kit arrived, I found that it did, indeed include everything I needed to get started right then and there. I mention this because so many times I have ordered ‘complete’ kits, only to have to run to the store for this or that. With this kit, it truly IS complete and everything you need is included so you can start “playing in the MUD” as soon as you open the package. (She even includes some practice card stock for you!)

    This all was occurring just as I was thinking about what designs I would be doing for this holiday issue. I had already thought that the fretwork bells would make a nice project, but I then got the idea to make a MUD version of these ornaments so that you can see a variety of different designs that you can do quickly and easily using this product. These items will be great for craft fairs and teacher’s gifts and just about any other application you may want to use them on. You can even use the MUD on scroll sawn picture frames and plaques to add dimension and interest. When you apply the MUD and paint over it in a solid color, it looks almost liked carved wood! You could even dry brush metallic paint over the raised areas, as I did here, for a gold-leafing effect. (Or use real gold leaf!) You could leave it light colored and embed small rhinestones or other jewels into it to make it sparkle. It does dry extremely hard and is very durable and won’t flake off like other texture paste that I have tried. I think it opens a whole new way of embellishing your scroll work and I hope you give it a try.

    In this article, I wanted to highlight some of the basic techniques for using the MUD texture paste. While I used the MUD on Baltic birch plywood for the bell ornaments, I am demonstrating it on black poster board so that you can more easily see what is going on. If you follow the easy steps, you will soon become an expert “MUDDER” and open a whole new world of creating for yourself.

(Fig a)
Tape the pattern to the board at the top and trace around the edge of the pattern.
(Fig b)
Place a piece of light tracing paper (dark if you are working on light wood) under the pattern.
(Fig c)
Use a stylus (or a pencil) and trace along the pattern lines.  You only need to trace one edge of the curls, not around the entire shape.  You can also eliminate small details such as the small petals of the poinsettia, and freehand them later.
(Fig d)
Your finished tracing should look something like this.  Note you only need small dots and don’t have to trace the entire circles along the bottom and the top. The curls are only single lines and not double as when you cut it out on the scroll saw.
(Fig e)
To keep the brush clean and to thin the MUD, you use water and a product called Glass Medium that comes in the kit.  Used with a damp brush, The medium helps keep the brush at a fine edge so that you can pull the fine lines and spread the MUD easily.
(Fig f)
Dispense a small drop of the Glass Medium onto your palette. I used the top of the plastic container that came with the kit.
(Fig g)
Rinse your brush in water, gently blot it, and drag it into the Medium.  This will give your brush a fine (pointy) edge and make it easy to pull the piped MUD as you are working.
(Fig h)
For the poinsettia leaf, begin by applying a bead of MUD one side of a leaf  using the small tip provided.
(Fig i)
Use the moist brush to gently pull the MUD toward the center of the leaf.  Use a gentle touch.  You don’t have to go all the way to the center. Allow the MUD to taper toward the middle.
(Fig j)
Move to the other side of the leaf, and draw another line with the MUD from the tip of the leaf to the center, just as you did on the first side.
(Fig k)
Pull the MUD toward the middle as you did on the other side of the leaf with the brush. If the brush gets too much MUD on it, just rinse it with water, wipe it on a paper towel and dip it into the medium again to keep it moist. This will bring it back to shape and keep your lines fine.
(Fig l)
Continue on to the other leaves.  The flower looks best if you don’t ‘connect’ the leaves in the middle.
(Fig m)
Turn the piece as you work so that it is easy for you to brush the MUD in the proper direction.  Continue to do all the leaves until the poinsettia is complete.
(Fig n)
For the small leaves, use the tip and make a small upside down “v” in between two of the larger leaves.
(Fig o)
Use the brush as you did previously to pull the leaves toward the center, again not touching the adjacent leaves.
(Fig p)
When the flower is finished, continue on to the swirls.  Simple trace over the lines of the swirls, keeping them as even as possible.    
(Fig q)
Continue to fill in the swirls of the design. Finally add the dots, trying to keep them as even as possible.
(Fig r)
Your finished ornament looks like you are a painting ‘expert’!
(Fig s)
You can see how easily you can turn a scrolling pattern into a textured design.
(Fig t)
For the next bell, the only difference is the holly leaves, so we will focus on that.
(Fig u)
As with the poinsettia, begin by outlining one side of the leaf, making sure to gently scallop the edge.
(Fig v)
Use the damp brush and pull the MUD toward the base and the center of the leaf.  Notice the angle that I am going in.  The leaves look more realistic if you follow their natural direction
(Fig w)
Allow the first side to set for a few minutes and then continue to do the other side as we did the poinsettia leaves, allowing a bit of space in the middle.
(Fig x)
Do one leaf at a time, as previously.
(Fig y)
Finally, add the berries by making three dots.  You can freehand this.
(Fig z)
To make the flower, you only need to trace along the top edges of the petals and leaves.  You don’t have to bring them all the way to the center. Also place a dot in the center so you have a good reference point for painting the flower.
(Fig aa)
Draw some MUD along the top of the leaf.
(Fig bb)
Use the brush to pull the MUD toward the center of the flower. (Use the dot for reference)  Don’t go all the way to the middle.
(Fig cc)
Continue to do each leaf the same way, pulling further toward down on the sides and less in the center.
(Fig dd)
Outline the top edge of the leaves as shown.
(Fig ee)
Pull the leaves as you did the petals, toward the center, but not touching .  Draw a line from the flower to the leaves with the MUD.
(Fig ff)
Add a dot in the center.
(Fig gg)
Pull the leaves as you did the petals, toward the center, but not touching .
Draw a line from the flower to the leaves with the MUD.

    By learning these simple techniques, you can open yourself to a world of embellishing and decorating your wood projects in new and exciting ways. Full instructions come with the kit, and if you have any questions, you can always contact me or Margot and we will be happy to help you.  

    Since MUD is water based, it is very easy to use and work with.  Clean up is very easy with soap and water.  If your MUD needs to be thinned a bit, you can also use a little water or the Glass Medium or both.  Margot suggests using a mixture of both.  She states that only using Medium is a bit too thick for her to pull down the MUD after piping it onto the surface. Water by itself is too thin for her and makes the MUD look chalky as it pulls down. Adding just a drop or two of water to the Medium just makes it perfect. If you were to thin the MUD in the jar I would suggest you just use the Medium. She also thinks that it is good to add a layer of Medium to the unused portion of MUD left in the jar after loading the bag as it forms a barrier that does not let air get in to dry the MUD. Just pour it off when you go to use the remaining MUD and if a bit of the Medium gets mixed in with the MUD it is fine. If you go visit Margot’s site, you can see all the wonderful examples of how you can use this product.  

    As I stated, you can also use it to apply sequins, beads and rhinestones.  If you don’t want to paint over it, you don’t have to.  It looks quite attractive left white - especially if you are using darker wood.  It is also available in black, which would give a different and elegant look on lighter wood such as oak and maple.  

    I hope you enjoyed this article on this new technique.  I plan to use more MUD in future designs and I feel that it is a great way to make your projects truly unique. Please go to Margot’s site at to see the many different ways this product could be used, as well as see what wonderful patterns Margot has available.  It really is a fun way to dress up your woodworking projects and make them even more special.

    Have fun “playing in the MUD!”
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