As regular readers may know, I’m getting married in September and I’m making almost all of our decorations. Our theme began as watercolor, but has since evolved to watercolor garden party as we’ve added several lawn games and activities. I think it’ll be a blasty blast.

I found quite a few different tutorials for circle garland but decided to do something a bit more… watercolored.

To make your own watercolor splatter garland like this, you will need:

  • a two-inch circle punch (I use the Fiskars Round ‘n Round Squeeze Punch Extra Large) (can also be replaced with scissors, a LOT of extra time and patience)
  • watercolor paints in desired colors (optional: acrylic paint with water added)
  • thick-ish white paper (I used single-sided scrapbook paper)
  • scrap paper or newspaper
  • string (not thread)
  • paper plate (or something to mix your paint/water in)
  • glue gun, glue
  • Popsicle sticks or straws
  • an area where you get messy
  • paint brush (or a couple)
  • cup of water
  • several heavy books

1. Measure the length of your garland.

Since my garlands are going around the edge of a couple different tables, I math’d up the length of the sides of the table and added a couple inches on, just in case. I cut my string that length and then wrapped the string around a labelled Popsicle stick.



2. Punch out a crap ton of paper circles. You may not have to punch out 200+ like I did (well, technically Colby did that) but as you can see, I made quite a few garlands so I needed a LOT of circles. I went with scrapbook paper because if a circle happens to flip over, there will still be color on the other side. Plus, it’s heavier than regular paper so it absorbs paint and water better than regular paper.

3. Lay your circles out on your scrap/newspaper so your work space doesn’t get messy. I started with blue, and just put blue splotches with a paint brush. Make sure your paint is nice and wet so you get something that doesn’t look controlled. When this sheet of circles is done, put it aside and work on the next lot to try.


4. Once your first color is dry, pick your second color and add even more water to it. We’re going to apply a bit of a splatter technique to this one. You may be better off wearing “play clothes” for this one, because it’s hard to know where the paint speckles may go.

To make it splatter, put quite a bit of watery watercolor paint on your brush and tape the side of the brush with your finger. This will make the paint look speckled. You can also whip your paintbrush at the circles at an angle, aiming at the circles. Try out a few different hand gestures and see which ones you like the look of best.


Note: I did notice after that if you do the splatter stuff with red paint, it can look a bit like your garland was present during a violent murder. Just a head’s up.

YouTube has some great water splatter technique videos you can check out if you’re not sure how to flick your wrist, tap the brush, etc. Here’s one for learning how to make wee paint speckles.

5. Optional: add an accent color.

Since my first two colors were so bold and bright, I decided to go with a much softer color for an accent color. Since my watercolors weren’t making a very nice purple (it kept going brown), I found my acrylic purple and watered it down.

Using a Popsicle stick as a brush, I just filled in some of the empty area between the other colors. Try not to get the other paint wet again because your colors could mix and make a weird color you’re not looking to add to your project. Once you’re done, let that paint dry.


6. If your circles curled after being painted, have no fear! Lay your dry circles flat between sheets of paper and press them between heavy books, just like you would if you were pressing a flower. Leave them overnight and you’ll have flat circles to work with.

Note: Just use printer paper or looseleaf when pressing your circles. If you use newspaper, there’s a chance the ink from the newspaper could transfer to your circles and make them look dirty. Unless, of course, that is the look you’re going for!


7. Time to heat up that glue gun!

With your string laying down straight on your work surface, put a strip of hot glue on the middle of the back of your circle and then quickly lay your string down into it. As the glue cools, press the string further down into the glue.

Note: I’ve now burned myself twice using a glue gun. Hot glue is hot.


8. Keep gluing your circles to the string. I glued mine only a couple cm apart but feel free to space yours out more.


9. Let the glue dry and you’re done!


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Jillianne Hamilton is an author, crafter, hobby addict, history enthusiast and graphic designer in Charlottetown, PEI on Canada's beautiful east coast. Her debut novel, Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, was shortlisted for the Prince Edward Island Book Award in 2016. Her fourth book, The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, will be published in 2018.


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Hi, I'm Jill! I'm an author, a Lazy Historian, a web/graphic designer, a bookworm and a hobby addict. I live in Charlottetown on Canada's beautiful east coast. Learn more.

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