Nelson Mandela Quote Collage

I had such a good time creating this project using a powerful Nelson Mandela quote on a very large heavy duty tag. These giant Etcetera Thickboard tags come in three sizes and I used the largest, which measures 8.5″ wide X 14″ long. Tim Holtz released them with Stampers Anonymous at the Association for Creative Industries tradeshow (AFCI, formerly CHA) in January.

Nelson Mandela Quote Collage (Marjie Kemper)

E is for Enabler

Highlighted links in this post are affiliate links which can be used at no cost to you. That means if you buy something from one of those links, your price isn't affected one iota, yet the person who sent you to that shop (moi) earns a small percentage as a thank you from the store for referring you.

Did someone say Gears?

I cut a bunch of my favorite gears from a die called Gadget Gears.  All three sizes of gears come on this one Sizzix die, and they stack really nicely.  I cut the gears out of Eileen Hull's Mat Board, which is thick and will hold up nicely. I always use something extra strong when it's going to extend beyond the substrate, as these do.  

Steampunk Sizzix gears for mixed media collage (Marjie Kemper)

And what about the colors?

I colored the gears with Tim's new Distress Oxide Inks.  Hmmmmmm….. I sure do like them!  I'm hoping to do a video with them soon.  If you'd like to see what to do with them right now, here's a video I made of Tim demoing them at the tradeshow in January.  After I colored them I stamped some script text on there, stacked 'em up, and adhered with matte medium.  The brads are oldies from my stash.

Free Download

I’ve created a Distress Ink Blending Checklist for newsletter subscribers.  I’d love to send it to you.  Click here to get your copy!

Click to download my Distress Ink Blending Checklist (Marjie Kemper)

Measure Schmeasure

I should have spelled out my sentiment before gluing down the Caged Bird die (another favorite), but I didn't.  This left me in a pickle because I was committed to Nelson Mandela's quote “It always seems impossible until it is done” and yet, I had no room for the word Impossible. Love the irony!

Nelson Mandela quote collage in progress (Marjie Kemper)

I tried all sorts of options including stamping the letters in a stacked version and going through other letters in my stash.  Those new stamps are Tim's Block Upper and Lower, which I really like and will be using a lot.  I still have lots of old school foam stamps and didn't think I wanted these, but the fact that you can position them on a clear block and see exactly what you are getting (and where you are stamping) makes all the difference in the world. I've got to hand it to Tim… he made a better mousetrap with these.

Measure before stamping... what a concept!

Mix your fonts

It dawned on me that using a whole lot of different alphabets would work just fine. I've always liked combining fonts so this was a no-brainer.

Sizzix Caged Bird die and mixed media collage (Marjie Kemper)

The children are from a new Paper Dolls set that Tim Holtz released in January.  You get over 100 paper dolls in all sizes and poses in the package, so no shortage of possibilities there. I positioned the seated fellow on one of the new wood Ruler Pieces as it seemed like a good perch.

Use your stash

Just like I enjoy mixing fonts, I enjoy mixing old and new products. The new Etcetera tag is so large that the re-inforcer alone measures 1.5″!  I cut some paper to fit it and then adhered old metal arrows on top.  Other oldies on this piece are the key hole, filmstrip, metal clock, gears, and spinners. I also included some found railroad spikes and some of the new Aristocrat Design Tape (like washi but varied widths and a bit more tack.) Here are a few more pics:

Collage tag reinforcer (Marjie Kemper)

Nelson Mandela Quote Collage embellishments (Marjie Kemper)

Gears close-up (Marjie Kemper)

Mixed Media Art Membership Group

I host the Mixed Media Art Membership Group, a monthly membership that includes facilitated learning through a Project of the Month (with closed-captioned video instruction), Themed Challenge of the Month, a live Zoom Create-Along Session where we all work on our art together, and lots of resources such as the Project Vault, Technique Vault and Resource Library. Best of all is the supportive and inspiring community we enjoy in our private Facebook Group and the gated private forum on the site where I host the videos and resources.  

The group is only open for new members a few times a year, so please add your name to the waiting list to be the first to know when the doors open again. Click here to add your name to the waiting list.

Mixed Media Art Membership Group

Keep in Touch

Thanks so much for the visit. If you're new to my site, please connect with me in whatever way you like:  sign up for my newsletter or find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.



  1. Kate Yetter on March 23, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    This sure is a giant tag. Beautiful work, Marjie. The gears and various fonts are really eye catching!

  2. Astrid on March 10, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    A fabulous project, love every little corner of it!

  3. Nicole Robinson on March 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    This is great Marjie!! I am really enjoying my new found interest with mixed media!

  4. Annie G on March 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Totally love your stunning tag Marjie x great layout with fabulous details and layers x
    Sending my best wishes x still working on your Craftsy class but certainly enjoying it and I managed to purchase some Teesha Moore stamps too xx

    Annie xx

    • Marjie Kemper on March 12, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks so much, Annie! Hope all is well. xx

  5. Ann Barnes on March 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I am in awe over this collage tag you created! I could look at it for hours there are so many amazing details! I was kind of afraid of that huge size but your project has such a cohesive feel that I may not be AS intimidated to try it. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents with us!

    • Marjie Kemper on March 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      It’s a little daunting but fun to fill, Ann!

  6. Anita Sæløen on March 10, 2017 at 2:11 am

    Oh, this is so cool, Marjie! I love your Big Tag. I have also bought these tags so I have to give it a try. You gave me lot of inspiration. Thank you ❤
    Hugs, Anita

  7. Wanda Hentges on March 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    This is fabulous, Marjie!!!

  8. Jackie P Neal on March 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

    This tag is so totally awesome! When I watched your video of unboxing, I thought, however could you use one of those huge tags!! Well, you totally answered that question! Every detail and placement of your elements fits perfect and marries so well! I really do love the way you combined different fonts, it goes so well with the background fonts as well! Bravo!

    • Marjie Kemper on March 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      That video was fun to make! WASHI still makes me laugh. Can’t wait to see what you do with these.

  9. gabriele on March 9, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I love that tag – everything works so well together! I surely would be proud of that artwork if I had created it.

    • Marjie Kemper on March 13, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks so much, BrattyPaddy!

  10. Theresa Grdina on March 9, 2017 at 8:17 am

    This tag is BEAUTIFUL!!!! I can’t stop looking at it!!!

    • Marjie Kemper on March 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks, Theresa!

  11. Julie Tucker on March 9, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Love love love loveeeeeeeeee this! LOVING that quote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. nathwest on March 9, 2017 at 6:08 am

    love it !

  13. Shirley on March 8, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Love it Marjie!
    I have been hanging out for the Paper Dolls and they should be arriving soon in my mail box!
    I love all the details in your thickboard tag. I too love mixing fonts. Thank you for the inspirations.
    Now hurry up Mr Postman!

  14. Carol Taylor on March 8, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    That is just awesome!! Love it. I am so hooked on these tags!

  15. Frauke Hagelstein on March 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Hello Marjie- wonderful project! And you made it possible!?

  16. Annette Green on March 8, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Hey Marjie, I may not visit blogs very often and hardly ever comment when I do, but when your post came through my inbox today I had to rush to your blog to tell you how FANTASTIC this piece is! You knocked it out of the park with this! I love it!

    • Marjie Kemper on March 13, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you so much, Annette! I had a blast making this one.

  17. Anne R on March 8, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I just love that the quote fits so well with the ‘impossible’ issue you had! I am a new convert to collage and I just love the way you brought this whole piece together, from the little fellow sitting on the ruler to the fabulous layered cogs at the bottom – seriously beautiful work Marjie!! Anne xx

  18. butterfly on March 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! Love the texty cogs all layered up at the bottom, brilliant invention to overcome the “impossible” factor, and wonderful use of all those goodies, old and new. The whole thing makes me very happy!
    Alison x