Do-It-Yourself Craft Mat

Hello, Marilyn here with a cool how-to from Alchemist Misty.  Have you ever need something, but just can’t seem to make yourself part with those hard earned bucks to purchase it?  Never fear!  Today, Misty shares with us how to make one of those much longed-for items, a craft mat.  So without further ado or to-do, here’s Misty……………………………………………………

If you’re like me there are things you should probably have but don’t buy because you would rather spend your money on more paper, inks, mists, etc.  One of the things I really needed was a craft mat, but I really couldn’t see spending $20 on one!  So I kept trying different things to get the same effect and finally stumbled upon a roll of laminate…the kind you can find in hardware stores to protect drawers and shelves.  I has some on hand as I had just laminated a chore chart for my kiddo.  Anyway, I decided to test it out over a piece of cardboard and I was so excited to see that it worked PERFECTLY for my needs!

Homemade Craft Mat

First you find a large piece of cardboard.   I’ve used the Gauche Alchemy “pizza box”.  It’s the perfect size and you already have the shape lined out for you!  Plus, who wouldn’t love to have their own Gauche Alchemy craft mat, right?

Craft Mat Step 1

Then you use the “magic cover”, which is just a roll of clear laminate, and cut two pieces about an inch or so bigger than your cardboard piece.  Take the first piece and slowly remove the backing off small sections at a time while laying it over your cardboard piece….trying to smooth it out and prevent any bubbles or creases.  Then once you cover the first side, repeat with the opposite side.  The second side is a little harder because you want to make sure that you place the laminate on the cardboard without touching the sticky side of the laminate on the opposite side…or you will have troubles detaching them.

Craft Mat Complete

Once you have both sides laminated, cut the excess around the cardboard and your mat is ready!

Nonporous craft mat

Craft Mists

As you can see from the pictures you can use inks and mists and since its a non-porous surface, it has the same effect as the expensive craft mats, and you are paying less than $5 for this one!

Now, I’m not saying that this is just as good as a craft mat in every way.  For instance, the Ranger mat is supposedly heat resistant, and this one will melt under extreme heat!  If your a cheap-o like me though, this is a perfect knock-off so that you can spend your money on better things like more mists, inks, and glitter!

Thank you Misty for once again giving us a great how-to.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is the perfect solution to a problem I’ve been having.  See, I LOVE glue, but I get it everywhere & my nice, expensive craft mat is just too big for my work area.  So did I give this a whirl?  Oh, yessiree, yes I did, I sure did, I made a smaller one using Misty’s instructions.  PERFECTION! Now I can glue to my heart’s content and when done, move the mat out of the way.

Until later……………………

Image Map

Nature Lesson

Hi everyone! Maggi here to show you a nature lovin’ altered shadow box curio from from Alchemist Jo. Take it away, Jo!


Altered Shadow Box
I have LOVED looking at Maggi’s and Chrissy’s Curio Boxes that they made from the wonderful Knick Knack Paddy Whack Kit and wanted to have a go at doing one myself – and I wanted to have a go NOW! In one of my ‘things to alter’ box I found a curio box that I got cheap because it had a scratch on the acrylic (but I don’t really mind about that).

Raw Shadow Box Ready to Alter

With this box, the acrylic ‘lid’ slides off. I gave the box a coat of white gesso to seal the wood, and then applied a coat of brown acrylic. I used a crackle glaze medium but, as usual, didn’t read the instructions properly, and applied the second coat of acrylic paint too soon so it didn’t crackle, more flaked. But you know what? I really liked that look, it gave it the look of something that’s been kicking around in a garden shed for many many years and that was pretty much the look I wanted anyway. See, there are happy mistakes!

Mixed Media Shadow Box

The ‘feet’ are 4 beads, painted the same way as the box and applied with a glue gun.

Box Legs Made From Beads

I then had lots of fun filling the box with curios from nature that give us lessons in life…… A heart shaped pebble (love), a shell (Home), a feather (be gentle), eggs (nurture), a seed head (expand your horizon), a seed pod (protect), a leaf skeleton (find the beauty within), and a dead moth that got blown into the house one day (seize the day).

Nature Themed Shadow Box
The eggs are polystyrene eggs painted with acrylic paint and dotted with brown. I used some Ouchless Cardboard for the shell to sit on and the leaf skeleton (which needed to be raised nearer the lid or it seemed to disappear) and some white net from the Wedding Night Mixed Media Color Kit for the seed pod.

Finally, I screwed the clasp into place.

Wow, that was such fun to put together!

Thanks Jo, you have a way with nature! And I just love how your “mistake” produced this amazing peeled paint look, *love*.

Now go glue something awesome onto some awesome something!

Maggi 😀

Image Map

Collage art– it’s not just for Kindergarten!

It’s a cloudy day here in the desert (quite unusual for May!), and I went in search of some new art inspiration to feed my soul.  And let me tell you, the art world is rich with mixed media and collage work…I was inspired, indeed!

Take a look:

I am really loving the monochromatic quality of this one!  In fact, there just may be a kit full of these neutral, faded tones released soon *hint hint*

 Looking at all this amazing collage work has really inspired me to look at the things around me (even trash!) in a new way.  Receipt from the convenience store?  Ticket stub?  Old letter?  Discarded ribbon?  All of these things can be used to create art that is personal and meaningful.

I encourage you to take some time to think about what inspires you, and how you can incorperate everyday objects into your art.  And then leave us a comment and tell us about it!

**all artwork found on**

Laras Grunge Keepsake Box

Lara here! It’s been a looooooooooooonnnnggggg time since I’ve been around these parts!
I’ve come today with a memory box i made for a friend to store his letters and postcards and things he picks up along his many travels.

The outer cover is matte board covered with sheet music from the Wholey Sheet Mixed Media kit, sewing pattern that many a Gauche kit comes wrapped in, Golden Soft Gel Matte and acrylic paint drips, splatters and stamps.

I also used different Golden Mediums mixed with Black Gesso to create additional texture like Coarse Pumice Gel and Heavy Molding Paste. This made it easier to nestle little pieces of things onto the piece. The Molding Paste holds the heavy stuff like a champ!

The cover i am pretty proud of. Its alot of things from my stash of garage sale finds, trash picked up from streets, junk drawers and, of course, Gauche Alchemy Mixed Media ephemera – most notably the Black Out Mixed Media Kit.

One of the most awesome things i’ve heard in awhile came from a co-worker i was showing this box too. She asked me about the glasses on it and if they were mine. I told her i had picked them up in the parking lot of a grocery store and had been saving them for the perfect arty use. She said “you’re the only person i know who sees art in trash.” Somehow… someday… that should be my autobiography title!

The cover opens to show the actual box which is made of handmade paper i picked up at the Scrapbox Creative Recycling in Ann Arbor for $1 – that place is AMAZING – if you live in Southeast Michigan and you like to craft you MUST go!

Some traditional scrapbook epherema mixed with trash – how awesome is that?! The film strip is from the Gauche Alchemy Black Out Mixed Media Kit.

Kas’ Louie Louie

Kas’ altered item this time around…is a dog bowl.

She says….
My daughter informed me the other day that she thought I must not like our latest dog (of about 6 months) as much as the others, because I haven’t made any craft or photo projects about him.
Well, I of course had to prove her wrong…and now she believes me.
So Louie now has his very own work of art.

I glued a strip of scrapbook paper around the inside edge and a picture of him in the center, using Martha Stewart glue.
I made small snips in the paper so that it would lay flat on the curve, much like sewing on a curved seam.

I then embellished it with objects from the following kits:
Scarlet Fever Red Kit,
Banana Hammock Yellow Kit,
It’s All Gravy Baby! Brown Kit, and
Wedding Night White Kit.

I hot glued some dog ribbon for a hanger…and voila!!

’tis the other season….

garagle sale booty

lara here …

so, last weekend i stumbled into a neighbor’s garage sale just to see what other’s trash i might find treasure in.
i’m actually not a big garage sale fan, but as i’ve gotten more into mixed media i’ve approached them with a whole different mindset.
…as i have trash piles on the side of the street 🙂

i walked into the house and saw the “normal” stuff – bedding, books, side tables … in the corner was a sewing table. Really gorgeous, but i would have no place in my home for it. Being the nosy, erm curious, soul that i am, i opened one of the drawers and low and behold it was FILLED with all different colors and sizes of lace ribbon. This is when the adrenaline kicked in and I opened another draw – full of sewing accouterments like super old needles in cool packaging, discolored tape measures, BUTTONS … as i wiped the drool from my chin i asked the woman if i could buy this stuff separately or if it came with the table and she was more shocked than i was to see that the drawers were full. She said how about $3 and i said “sold!”

OK … so then my interest was really piqued and i started looking around a little more – a bag of old sewing patterns! Now, i’m not one to sew, the thought of threading a sewing machine sounds like torture, but the artwork on the patterns alone were wonderful! Back in time when they sketched the models… I asked how much for this huge bag and she said “hmmm $10?” i said “ok”. Then in the other corner were a pile of books – i got two super old ones – a dictionary where the pages are already starting to crumble and an old novel from the early 1900’s i’m scared to touch the pages. And she threw them in to my bag – $13 and enough ephemera to last a lifetime!

Tis the season for garage sales – what are some amazing things you’ve found that have quickened your pulse and infused your creativity?

This is why…

… I adore music videos. And love that you never know how much talent there is out there.

Owl City’s “Vanilla Twilight” Fan Video Winner on YouTube

Two brand new kits! Brilliant!

You know we’re suckers for the totally ordinary.  Making the totally ordinary EXTRAORDINARY, that is!  (We’re called Gauche Alchemy for a reason, y’know.)  One challenge in using found objects and non-traditional supplies is that sometimes the very best thing is right there in front of you, but your brain is boxed in and you don’t see the potential.

Allow us to help.

Our newest kit is called WHOLEY SHEET!  This kit is… well… flat sheets of anything and everything.  Add texture, color, interest… and give your creativity a kick-start in the process.  Once you dig into this kit, I know you will begin to look at objects all around you in new ways – and when you do, please SHARE your new insights, m’k?

Get ready art journalers, card makers, scrapbookers, and mail artists, mixed media fiends of all ilk… here’s an eyeful for ya!

This kit contains between 25 and 30 sheets of … well… um… sheets.  😀  You never know what you might find, but here are a few examples: punchinella, cardstock, wrapping paper, foreign newspapers, kraft paper, shrinky dink plastic, foam sheets, tissue paper, plastic canvas, wax paper, foil, napkins, bingo paper, coffee filters, sandpaper, ouchless cardboard, game boards, shop towels, packing material, produce mesh, maps, wallpaper, dictionary pages, plastic screen, cork, cute l’il lunch bags, shopping bags, dryer sheets… trust us, you’re gonna have a good roll in the sheets with this one.  (Okay, that was super-sized cheese.  Sorry.)

Now.  A confession.

I must admit something of which I am ashamed.  We’ve been holding out on you guys.  We put this Acme kit together an embarrassingly long time ago and are just not getting it up on the shop.  It’s a fantastic kit – especially if you’re into pink.  🙂

To refresh your memory, an Acme kit is a full-size kit full of whimsical, vintage, and found goodness – without a specific theme per se.  This is our third incarnation.  There will be future versions, but once this lot is gone, it will look very different – so if you like what you see, grab one!

Well, well, well… take a look here:

– pink plastic canvas

– hot pink and turquoise tassel fringe (personally, one of my fav finds ever!)

– fruit punch vintage pog top

– game pieces and/or small toys

– bird and butterfly sequined shapes

– playing card

– swatch of yummy bright striped cotton fabric

– vintage-inspired pink napkin

– our signature original paper ephemera (at least 5 sheets, 2 of which are oversized)

– Sassafras Lass Yummy Vintage 12×12″ paper – Memory Lane

Stay tuned for some great ideas, projects made with these kits, and of course… more kits unveiled shortly!  (We always got a thing or two up our sleeves…)

A New Project

2806882258_aa31460cb3spaceballI just received this amazing, beautiful cigar box from a gentleman in my office. Well, to be honest, someone gave it to him and I said “PLEASEDON’TTHROWITAWAY!!!!”. I don’t think he quite understood why I was so keen on acquiring a smelly (albeit gorgeous) cigar box. He handed it over to me and shrugged as he walked away.

NOW…what to do with it??? I need your suggestions, everyone. To be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve done a 3-dimensional project and I could use some fresh ideas. 3129396462_d31b3f6277

The Talented and Lovely Lara

Did you know Gauche Alchemy has a Flickr group? We do! It’s a marvelous place to get ideas and inspiration. Lara is a gifted artist I had the immense pleasure of “meeting” though that group. She deftly mixes Gauche Alchemy kits and her own personal style into Art Journals, layouts and cards that defy all the typical gushy adjectives like stunning, jaw-dropping and amazing.

Here’s Lara, in her own words:

Scrapbooking / Mixed Media / Art Journalling – I had an identity crisis trying to figure out where i fit in! And then i decided, why do i need to fit in?!

And at this same time i discovered Gauche Alchemy and a whole boatload of new supplies and ephemera and exciting materials i had never thought to use before… But things that are strangely and comfortably familiar.

This last year has been a CRAZY time of transition and growth and change for me as I somehow thrusted myself into a new life chapter (innocent eyes blinking). Using these creative outlets have pretty much saved my sanity if not my life. And what i love about this medium is I don’t feel the need to be perfect every time – I’m not going into it trying to create a masterpiece … i’m just going into it to create something that hopefully makes me either giggle or hyperventilate.

(This layout seems so old school now, but i still get a giggle out of it.)

My style has changed dramatically this year as I’ve decided not to try to conform to any one medium.

Scrapbooking was waaaay to restrictive – as most of the things i create i don’t necessarily need to stand the test of time – they’re personal and really only need to be around 50 more years (hopefully) and if they do start to decay all the more scrumptious! So, i became less worried about acid-free materials. I also was asked to join the Gutter Girlz design team earlier this year which has pushed me to not only design out of the box but to address topics I may be too fearful to share otherwise.

The one product I can’t create without is acrylic paint now – i used to be sooooo scared to use it! But now I can’t imagine not using it which means at any given time I have three projects going as drying time forces a cycle.

(this was the first layout i EVER did with acrylic paint! I was still trying to fit into the “scrapbooking mold” 😀 )

I also can’t create without some sort of found object – which has saved me TONS of money over the years as i don’t go on spending sprees at scrapbook stores anymore  (just at Gauche Alchemy’s Artfire Store :-p )!

I have a couple of projects I’m particularly proud of…

Earlier this year my BFF graduated nursing school and I know she had always been interested in keeping an art journal but didn’t have time to do it during school. And that all the things she was collecting to put in the journal was stuffed in boxes and drawers – so i decided to make her a “Pre-Art Journal Journal” – something strictly made out of different size envelopes. It was so much fun to make i’ve been wanting to make one for me and perhaps to sell … but then i get sidetracked 🙂

I also was honored to be able to create a birthday card for Bono through the African Well Fund, a charity I’ve been involved with since 2003 – they even wrote a little story about the card:

Lately what I’ve been almost solely working on are art journals.

I really really love this format for many reasons – the size, the history one journal holds, practicing new techniques, holding a complete or near complete journal and seeing all the bits hanging out is one of the most inspiring and exhilarating feelings ever! Some of my favorite art journal pages are:

I don’t know if i have a particular process that i create with because i usually have 3-4 projects going because of paint and adhesive drying. Alot of times I find objects or images that inspire me and i just create around those. Challenge blogs are a huge inspiration for me. More often than not I come up with visions and ideas when i’m not crafting that i try to remember for later to try out. Sometimes it works, sometimes i forget – I’ve always wanted to get into a habit of carrying a notebook with me but i haven’t! Someday….

You can read more about Lara on her  art blog and see more of her work at flickr.