Watercolor Quaker Marriage Certificate

I’m in northern Vermont this week hanging out at the Smuggler’s Notch Resort.  We are in a two bedroom condo nestled at the top of the hill overlooking three mountains.  Today the wind is howling and the rain is coming down in sheets.  It’s a toasty 41 degrees outside, but I’m inside looking out at all that Vermont has to offer while sitting fireside working on Rachel’s Marriage Certificate. 

We’re in full wedding mode this week.  And this is what I’ve been practicing for.  If you’ve been following along, Rachel asked me earlier this year if I would be able to make a marriage certificate for her wedding.  I had to admit I had no idea what a Quaker Marriage Certificate was, but this journey has transformed me personally.

She originally wanted flowers, but if you know Rachel – that’s not her, and certainly not Tom.  Since they traveled around the world last year, I thought I’d create something that had meaning to both of them as a keepsake for their wedding.  Something that was personal – I interviewed Rachel, and poured over their travel blog before deciding to paint the world famous Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Chile.  This mountain range is a symbol of Chile, and their 5 day trek was a must do for them and certainly an experience they treasure.


I was apprehensive at first, and after a few weeks of research, I decided I’d take on the challenge head on.  You see, these marriage certificates – well the hand painted ones, go for $500.  I thought that was pretty steep, and wanting to save Rachel money, I decided to learn how to watercolor.  That was not on my to do list.  In fact, I’ve been wanting to learn how to paint with oils and acrylics.  But the kids did give me a watercolor set and some brushes for Christmas, so why not?

Several online classes, and even a live one revealed one fact – I love to watercolor – who knew?  And to paint a landscape like this, I won’t say it was easy – hundreds of hours went into prepping for this week.  Michael kept asking me when I would paint it, and if I was over my head.  Well, I was not going to admit that I was, so I just kept saying don’t worry – I have a plan!  Well, I did – but I have to admit (don’t tell him), I was a bit worried.  After all, this is something they’ll have for a lifetime to commemorate the start of their married lives together.  More than 130 are set to sign it on Saturday, so I was really putting myself out there.  No easy task – especially for a perfectionist like me!

I’ve been very hush hush about it to the family, and I can only hope that Rachel and Tom love it.  It truly has been a labor of love on my part.  Now if only I had had enough time to learn and master calligraphy – then that would have been perfect!  Thankfully I have decent handwriting.  You’ll have to leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

I’ve taken to watercolor so much so that I’ve woven it into my j-o-b here at The Creative Grove.  After all, it IS the hottest trend in paper crafting today.  I’ve learned so much that I’m actually teaching a class on how to use everything I’ve learned and making cards with it!  For more info on that click here.  Class starts May 17th and is on sale during the pre-release period.

Torres del Paine – Watercolor Quaker Marriage Certificate

I have to admit, my original plan was to have two complimentary scenes at the bottom corners to round out this piece, but since we need more than 130 people to sign it, that was just not possible without reducing the artwork which was tough since it was such a wide image. 


As it is, I painted it so that 3/4” can be hidden for framing if desired.  The spacing was a challenge with so many signatures.  Michael and I didn’t want the writing to be too small so that you couldn’t read it.  I played around with tracing and copying pretty scripts, but I just couldn’t write with confidence and ultimately ended up going with my own handwriting.  It was Michael who encouraged me to do that.  Since I have a way to accentuate it with flair, I think it actually came out okay.  I’ve never been so nervous to write something!  Overall, I’m pleased – it’s not perfect, but then again I’m my worst critic.  As long as Rachel and Tom love it, I’m happy.  Here are the details:


To make sure I had it down, I first did a watercolor scene on a smaller scale.  I had purchased some masking fluid and decided to use that on the actual certificate instead of pure watercolor as I wanted the snow to look like snow and not dirt.  It took me 1 1/2 hours to sketch out the final scene to just get it right.  Then came the writing.  I first did it in pencil and went over it with a micro pen.  Then I needed to add the 132 lines.  We actually have 138 people attending – but I know some will sign as husband and wife or miss it all together, so I didn’t worry about that as I couldn’t fit any more!  DSC00353

Next, I began with the sky and water.  Go figure I messed it up from the start, but since I watercolor in layers (just the technique I’m most comfortable with), I knew I could work through that.  I actually had several moments where I questioned if I’d have to make a second one!  But I’ve learned from several watercolor projects that the end result always turns out much better than you expected once all the layers are on there.  Patience….

The mountains took the longest time as there are seven layers that were built up to the final scene. 


In overall work time, the watercolor scene took me 13 hours start to finish.  The certificate itself 17 hours.  Now I know why they charge $500!  It’s a time consuming project!  Of course my practice scene took a day and then there was prep time too. 

DSC00366Handpainted Quaker Wedding Certificate

The end result was certainly worth every minute, and dollar!  Best of all, they’ll have it for a lifetime and I have a new skill. Smile

Signature Snowflake 001

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Join me for a fun week of water coloring!  You will learn several techniques that will turn your paper crafting projects into WOW projects!  Class starts May 17th!  Click Here for more information and to save during the pre-registration!