9/10 Winners Prefer Gauche Alchemy

Greetings Gauche-ites, how’s things? Julie here.

Way back in November 2008 I was one of the winners in the ‘Best of British Scrapbooking’ competition.   At that time I was guest designing over here and following my win, Amy + Heather were sweet enough to ask me to do a little interview-type-thing about myself for the blog.  [If you really want to know my answer to the question “If you were a piece of fruit what fruit would you be and why?” then you can still read it here!].

Now, back in the present day, here’s how I get to ‘pay it forward’…..

 In January, the UK mag ‘Scrapbook Magazine’ announced it’s ‘Scrapbooker of the Year’ along with 9 runners up. I discovered that [at least!] two of that talented bunch, overall winner Helen Salthouse and runner-up Sarah Piggott , were Gauche Alchemy blog readers so I wanted to give them a little winner’s party over here to celebrate their achievements and to share in some of their latest work.

Helen’s work using  has featured over here before when a layout she made using a Gauche kits was published last year [see the original post here]. Now she’s documented her win on this delicious, candy-coloured layout using various GA items including elements from the Pink Parts  and Scarlet Fever colour kits:

As we’re a nosey old lot here at Gauche Towers I asked Helen and Sarah to answer a few questions for us. Well, it can’t hurt to get a glimpse into the mind of a winner can it? Here’s what they said:

How would you describe yourself and your life?
Helen: The best way to describe my life at the moment would be chaotic, unfortunately.  I’m doing a Foundation Degree so that eventually I can be a teacher; it’s a long old process and I have to be working in a school while I do it, so at the moment I’m working four days a week plus studying.  That won’t sound like a huge amount to some people, but I still have three children at home and finding a moment to scrap or clean (!) is difficult.  Basically I’m slowly cracking up, but hoping to hang on till I actually finish the course!
Sarah: I’m a full-time mum of two boys, aged 3 and 2, so my life pretty much revolves around toddler groups, nursery school and shopping.. occasionally I manage to find time for crafting : ) When I should be sleeping, I’m usually dreaming about scrapbooking or making some sort of living from my hobby. We are currently in the process of selling our house and relocating to the South Coast of England.. although I’ll miss my friends here in London, it’ll be fabulous to live by the sea and near our family.

How did you feel when you heard you were a winner / runner-up?
 Helen: When I had the phone call telling me I had won Scrapbooker of the Year, I was surprised to say the least.  I have vivid memories of entering competitions in comics and magazines when I was a child, where the prize would be a huge pile of something – clothes or toys usually.  I never won anything, but was always convinced I would, and spent the time fantasising about this massive prize turning up on the doorstep.  I don’t think the prize is meant to be the most exciting part of winning this particular competition……Anyway, like I said, the phone call came out of the blue and I jumped up and down and squealed ‘REALLY?? OH MY GOD!’ like a big girl.  Needless to say I had a big grin on my face for a couple of days – and even my 18 year old was impressed!
Sarah: I’d just been thinking about the competition that morning when I got the email saying I was a runner-up. I was really excited, naturally!The first person I told was my man, who suffers my scrapbooking obsession on a daily basis, so hopefully he felt better knowing that I’d actually got some recognition for it!

Who was the first person you told when you found out you were a winner / runner-up?
Helen: The first person I told was my man, who suffers my scrapbooking obsession on a daily basis, so hopefully he felt better knowing that I’d actually got some recognition for it!
Sarah: My husband… I managed to wait til he got home from work to tell him in person. I said: “Guess what, I had some exciting news today.. I was runner-up in that scrapbooking competition!” His reaction? He laughed! “Oh, I thought you were going to say something important, like you’ve got a job or something.” You can imagine how the rest of that conversation went…

Here Sarah shares a layout depicting a big change heading her family’s way this year. She used elements from ‘Ball & Chain’ add-on kit plus sparklies from the purple and blue colour kits and the purple ribbon was the one from her Gauche packaging:


Has  winning changed how you feel about your scrapping now? If so, how?
Helen: I think it has changed how I feel about my scrapping a little bit, but it’s difficult to explain how.  The thing is that I know how hard it must be to choose winners in these competitions because I know how many talented scrappers are out there.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen me!  As far as I’m concerned it was just my time to be lucky.  At first I felt a bit pressured, having to produce layouts for a magazine article as Scrapbooker of the Year; I thought they might just be rubbish.  But I haven’t been struck down by lightning and no-one has laughed at me in the street, so now I feel much more relaxed about it and I don’t actually feel I have to have a style, I’m just doing whatever I feel like doing…
Sarah: I think perhaps it’s made me put more pressure on myself to use varied techniques and products and to produce ‘good enough’, original layouts. Having said that, I was really happy with the three layouts I produced for my forthcoming article for Scrapbook Magazine. I used some GA colour kit sparkly bits which added the perfect finishing touch to my pages.

How would you define your artistic style?
Helen:  It’s difficult to answer this one.  I like using paint, and stitching, and layers.  I like to alter stuff; I have problems using embellishments straight from the pack, no matter how much I like them.  And I like to bring together papers from different manufacturers, in combinations that catch my eye.  I spend ages rummaging through my paper drawers each time I start a page.  I keep coming back to a description that someone left in a comment on my blog – ‘funky with a vintage twist’.  I really love the sound of this, so I’m going to stick with it!
Sarah: I find myself tending towards bold colours and patterns – I’m not too great at doing subtle or understated layouts. I struggle to do ‘clean and simple’ – I always have the urge to keep adding more ‘stuff’ til it could be better described as ‘messy and over-complicated’. I don’t feel I have a definite style at the moment.. maybe one of these days it will emerge!


And finally, I couldn’t leave things without asking Helen and Sarah to confess to the strangest / funniest / most ‘gauche’ thing that you’ve done [on purpose, or accidentally!] while crafting:

Helen: Now, when it comes to doing funny or silly things, I’m incredibly boring.  I have racked my brains in the past trying to think of something that would make a person laugh, but sadly there is nothing.  The most irritating thing I do, on a regular basis, is to mark and cut patterned paper on the reverse side, only to turn over and find that I’ve included the manufacturer’s strip at the bottom.  I try and remember to cut this off now, before I start playing.  Oh, and I sent off a layout to a magazine, including my sketch in the box – except that it wasn’t the sketch at all, it was a random bit of stuff I’d downloaded and put in there by mistake.  Oops.
Sarah: While sorting through a bag full of skimpy undies destined for the bin, I couldn’t resist saving bits & pieces to use on craft projects – so now I have a boxful of marabou feathers, fishnet, ribbon and lace which will one day find themselves on a card or layout.. I just hope no-one asks where I got that from…

Thanks so much Helen and Sarah, for your great layouts and answers … and congratulations from everyone at Gauche Alchemy!   If you’d like to see more of their work see Helen’s ‘Little Birdy Scraps’ blog and Sarah’s blog  ‘Paper Obsession’ .

It’d be fabulous to know if we have any other Gauche-loving-prize-winners out there amongst you.  I’m almost certain that there will be …. so do let us know!

Oh, and speaking of winners …  I’ll be drawing a random kit winner and choosing the winner of the ‘Black Mixed Media kit’ naming competition this Thursday, Feb 11,  09:00 GMT]. I’ll then let you know on Friday who won.  If you haven’t already entered – just leave a comment on the competition post which you can find by clicking here

Julie 😀

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks so much, Julie and Gauche Alchemy, for having me on the blog today!! It must be fate – our offer has just been accepted on a house in Eastbourne – so our dream relocation is becoming a reality.. a great day indeed!!

    Helen – your layout is FABULOUS – love it so much!

  2. OMG!!! WOW!!
    Congratulations both of you!!
    Helen, I haven’t heard from you in like 6 months, now i know what you’ve been up to!!

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