Among Trees: In The Style Of

Good Morning!  Marilyn here, with an experiment from Alchemist Jo.  Jo was inspired by an artist she read about and decided to create something “in the style of” that artist.  She’s done a bang-up job and the result is an awesome piece of artwork.  Jo, show us how it’s done.


I wanted to complete a project using a paper napkin background and chose a very striking black and white paper napkin from the Paper Napkin Art Kit .  While very striking by itself, I wanted to see how it would look sprayed with some vibrant color (using Dylusions Ink Sprays – mmmmmm, yummy), which I liked.  So, I stuck the napkin onto a cardboard base using Mod Podge (although as you can see, I’d torn it a bit small!).

Paper napkin background

OK, I’d gotten my background, but now what was I going to do with it?  Hmmmmmm (** thinking face**).  I had a few ideas but nothing that was exciting me.  So, I picked out one of my ‘Stuck Sticks‘ (a previous Gauche project) and it told me to study an artist and have a go at creating something in their style.  Good idea (if I do say so myself).  But first, coffee!!  I took myself off to my local coffee shop and sat with a “medium cappuccino to have in please” and the Mar/Apr 2012 issue of Somerset Studio.  As I’m leafing through, what should I see?  An article by Mary Beth Shaw who, wait for it, studied an artist and then created artwork inspired by that artist.  Wow!  How serendipitous!  The artist she’d chosen to look up?  A Viennese artist named Hundertwasser (1928-2000).  I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of him.  His artwork, full of detail and colour, is STUNNING.  I’m in LOVE!  Back home, I carefully studied the main elements that make up his artwork and picked out several to create something which nods to his style but doesn’t copy it.

Napkin Collage Punchinella

On one side of the paper napkin background I smeared black gesso over some large hole punchinella from the Punchinella Variety Pack .  Once dry, I used the ends of pens and paintbrushes to add neon bright acrylic paint dots (I was inspired to use neon colours by Alchemist Michelle’s stunning layouts and photographs).  Using black Staz-On, I stamped a Claudine Hellmuth line circle image onto paper which I then cut out and painted with neon acrylic paints.  These became my trees.  Once they were stuck on, I painted their trunks.  Often in Hundertwasser’s paintings you can see the trunk of a tree through the ‘foliage’ of the tree in front, so I replicated this by using charcoal pencil.

Background Gesso Paint

The finished piece includes a Hundertwasser quote,  which I’ve handwritten.  I initially wrote it with a white paint pen but it didn’t look very good so I painted over it with neon yellow paint.  Better.

I learned such a lot from this exercise.  From Mary Beth Shaw,  I discovered a new (to me) artist.  I REALLY enjoyed experimenting with a style totally out of my comfort zone.   From Alchemist Michelle I got the confidence to try using colours that I would NEVER previously considered using.  From myself, I learned that I can spread my little arty wings and try something new without fear of failure.  Have I created perfect artwork?  NO!  Did I enjoy creating it?  YES!  Will I do this exercise again with another artist?  DEFINITELY!


Jo, what a truly beautiful work of art you have created!  Thank you for showing us that experimenting is good for our creativity, can bring us enjoyment, and that we should never fear the unknown.  All it takes it that one “AHA!” moment and we are off on a new adventure.

Until later…………

Image Map

The fun that is Tumblr.

So I know how hard it is to update your blog. Mine too.

Sometimes, you kinda get tired of the daily humdrum and want to have all these exciting, amazing photos on your blog, which unfortunately, are not in your camera’s memory.

So my happy solution for you is Tumblr. (For the record, Gauche Alchemy is not, in any way or form, connected with Tumblr. We’re not making any money from this post. Nina just really, really likes it.)

I stumbled onto Tumblr recently and it has been an amazing journey. It kinda feels like I followed the White Rabbit and fell down the rabbit hole.

Here, in the site’s own words, is what it is: Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your theme’s HTML. The easiest way to blog.

The opening page leads you to a link to “21 Reasons Why You’ll Love Tumblr“. And of course you should totally check those out.

In a nutshell, it’s fun, it’s easy and it’s a breeze to post anything. The uber cool thing about it is that it’s a wealth of inspiration, amazing photos, cool quotes, cool blogs, and just plain fun.

So you have to have a starting point to jump down the rabbit hole, right? Kindly visit my Tumblr blog to know what I’m talking about.

Trust me, it’s not really easy to explain. But it’s very easy to show you what I mean.

Oh and if you want to learn more about it, here’s an article on it: “What is Tumblr again?

P.S. Oh and the talented lady (whom I stalk and don’t personally know) who got me addicted to it in the first place? The fabulous Kristina Contes has a Tumblr blog HERE.


Nina’s layouts, December kit

Before I get to Nina’s magnificent layouts, wanted to share a link with you.  I stumbled across this site with photos of altered books.  This is the kind of stuff that makes my heart sing! Make sure you click on the thumbnails – you’ll want to look at these up close and personal-like.

Here are a couple of layouts Nina made using the December kit. I just adore Nina’s style and am so thrilled she has designed for us this month!  Keep an eye on our Flickr group for future work from her.  Enjoy!


Bet you’d never guess that round “When It’s Right You Know It” piece is a vintage Schlitz beer coaster, huh?  Did I mention our kits are versatile?  Oh, I did?


One of the most enjoyable things about sending our kits out into the world is seeing what fresh creative eyes can do (ha! “can do!”) with them.  It just never gets old.  I am awed by the use of ephemera in these inspirational journal pages.

Freaking Huge Contest!

rhonnaI just couldn’t help but share this incredibly generous giveaway from Rhonna Farrer. Her digital designs are truly outstanding, and here is your chance to win 209 of them (can you believe it?????)!
Follow the link here: Rhonna Farrer Christmas Giveaway

Visit her etsy shop HERE to view her collage-y style– just fabulous!rhonna-1

Eye candy extraordinaire – Dec kit projects!

Okay, peel your eyeballs and get ready to be delighted – this post is going to be CHOCK FULL of some delightful eye candy and even a tutorial from Nina Patena.

Lets start with some gorgeous projects from our December guest designer, Nina.  I just love these projects – great job, Nina!

We still have a couple of December kits left  – visit our Etsy shop to grab one.

Look at these adorable cards with envelopes!


Then there’s this awesome gift box:


Here’s the inside:


And as if that weren’t awesome enough, here’s a little accordian book that goes inside.  I love the color combination!




And finally, here is Nina’s altered book-within-a-book – scroll down for the tutorial!



ninap-inside-mini-bookHere’s an altered book I used as a box for a mini-book I made from the kit.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial:
I found this unicorn journal in a used bookstore for around $3.
1. Apply gel medium to all the sides of the pages of the journal and then clamp the pages with binder clips overnight.
2. Cut a square hole in the middle of the bound pages. Make sure to put a cutting mat between the back cover and all the pages so you don’t cut through the back cover.
3. Stick chosen image from the kit behind the hole.
4. Glue bound pages to the back cover with gel medium and let dry.
5. Paint inside cover and the bound pages with acrylic paint.
6. Stick images from the kit on the inside cover with gel medium and seal images with gel medium.
7. For the mini-book, I used the small book covers of “The Night Before Christmas” that came with the kit and used double-sided tape to stick the green felt tree (also in the kit) to the cover.
8. I also used the chipboard pieces from “Goodnight Moon” that came with the kit as pages of the mini-book. I stuck cardstock (cut to size) from the kit to the back of the chipboard pieces before punching holes in the upper lefthand corner.
9. I also used the vintage Bingo card that came with the kit as binding. I folded the Bingo card and punched a hole in the front half to insert the fiber that came with the kit and used that to bind the “Goodnight Moon” chipboard pieces to the Bingo card.
10. Stick the back half of the Bingo card to the inside back cover of the mini-book.
11. Use a little gel medium to stick middle part of the Bingo card to the middle of the mini-book.
12. Journal inside as a sweet little Christmas gift to a little one.


Next up – I know you’ve been waiting for it: here’s Yasu’s completed project that she started in our beeswax tutorial.  She decided to make an ornament out of it.  Go to Yasu’s blog to see more of her amazing work, including some similar ATC/ornaments.


To pick up where the video tutorial left off:

Yasu machine stitched over the beeswaxed paper (didn’t work so well -may not want to try this at home – resulted in some thread jams and tangles!), added some eyelets, threaded the fiber from the December kit through the top eyelets, and attached a Santa earring to the bottom eyelet.  Then she outlined our happy couple with the Stickles included in the December kit.

Here are my projects using the December kit – I made gifts for my sister-in-law, Melissa, and my mother-in-law.  Let’s start with Melissa’s gift.




I started with a great little tea box that my mom gave me, knowing I would find a use for it.  😉  I covered it with the cardstock and patterned paper in the December kit.

Then I painted the edges of the box top with brown acrylic paint.

Next, I cut out the 50’s lady (from an old vaccuum advert) and attached her to the box, top and bottom.  I put the “m” epoxy sticker on the top of the box.

I added a Rusty Pickle rub-on to the side of the box.  (It says: “It’s called personality, and baby, you’ve got it!”)

I took a gold-colored Colorbox Cateye ink pad and ran it over the bottom of the box to give some texture and draw out the texture on the cardstock.

Then I Mod-Podged the entire box.

When dry, I added the green 7 gypsies buckle from the December kit, onto which I had tied a wire-edged ribbon from my personal stash. I glued the buckle to the box using Ranger Inkssentials Glossy Accents (gel medium works just as well).

I added clear square Glitz Frosting rhinestones to the edges of the top of the box.

Here’s the last project I’m going to show you today.  I made these cute re-useable gift tags for my mother-in-law, who is a champion at saving all the pretty wrappings everything comes in for re-use later.  Gotta love that – appreciator of beautiful things AND so green!  🙂


Here are the back of the tags – they are spray-painted with Krylon blackboard paint, so they can be written on again and again with chalk!  I wish I could claim credit for this fabu idea, but I stole the idea from… someone.  I’m sincerely sorry I can’t remember who to give the credit to.  (If it’s you or you know where the idea came from, let me know – I’ll credit the appropriate person, of course!)


How to:

I used both wooden and heavy cardstock/chip tags.

First, take the tags outdoors (the Krylon paint is REALLY noxious!), lay out your tags on some kraft paper or other backing material (to protect the surface you’re spraying on – unless you want your sidewalk to be a blackboard).  Spray TWO coats of blackboard paint and let dry between coats.

When the paint is dry, cover the opposite side with whatever decorative elements you see fit.

For these tags, I used several items from the December kit: felt penguin and red Stickles (embellished with a pink rhinestone and Ranger pearls for the eye), silver paper and Santa ephemera (from an old nut advertisement), green cardstock, beeswaxed ephemera, tiny ornaments, more ephemera (blue bows), and more stickles (swirls on blue vellum).

Everything else came from my personal stash: Creative Memories vellum, black thread (machine stitching over beeswax – as I said, I learned the hard way this is not a great idea – lots of tangles – machine did NOT like it), Imaginesce Joy rub-on embellished with Copic glitter pens and a rhinestone, stamps embossed with Ranger red puff powder and Tim Holtz Distress powder. I used some Colorbox inks to edge some of the tags.  You could also Mod-Podge them when you’re done to make them more durable (just the paper – not the blackboard paint!).

Then I punched a hole with my Crop-a-Dile and added an eyelet.

Next, I turned the tags over to decorate the blackboard side: stamped in white ink and added a rub-ons and rhinestones.  I used a Ranger Inkssentials white pen to handwrite “to” and “from.”

Then I tied up the tags with a strip of black vintage ric-rac and included a piece of chalk.  I have a lot more painted tags with which I intend to make more re-useable gift tags later.  It’s always good to get the messy/smelly part out of the way in one go!

December paper crafting kit revealed

It’s time to unveil the December kit. As I mentioned before, this kit is positively STUFFED with great finds and vintage ephemera. 

Our first four orders will receive a complimentary Cosmo Cricket Just Your Holiday Type booklet of 144 cardstock stickers (holiday alphas, sayings, and images – totally adorable!), worth $10 retail.  These will be listed on Etsy in a couple of days, but if you want to reserve one now, e-mail me at gauchealchemy at cox dot net.

PRICE $39.95

This is the heaviest kit we’ve ever made – I counted up over 45 pieces of vintage paper (at least 10 of them full-page vintage magazine ads)… we’ve got a little bit of everything here – baubles, costume jewelry, beer and wine labels, vintage snapshot, vintage coaster, felt shapes, vintage bingo chips and card, fabric and matching buttons, fibers, old playing cards, children’s book pages, yellowed dictionary pages, recipes, sheet music, Stickles, Bazzill cardstock, 12×12 patterned paper, a vintage partridge-in-a-pear-tree Christmas card, vintage pamphlets, 2 lengths of punchinella in red stars and patina circles, Goodnight Moon illustrated chipboard…. well, see for yourself:





Just to show you, these items are the only manufactured craft/scrapbooking/art items we’ve included in this kit – EVERYTHING ELSE is found objects and ephemera!

Daisy D’s 12×12 patterned paper – 1 sheet of Silver Damask and 1 sheet of Sheherazade
Bazzill cardstock 8.5×11″ – 4 sheets, 2 of each color
Imaginesce circle epoxy letters, 42 total, Out on A Whim Collection, Forget-Me-Not Fonts – these have a lovely aged look to them.
Wire angel wings
10 felt shapes (assortment of star, angel, snowman, evergreen, deer, penguin, stocking)
4 baubles/ornament charms
Stickles in Real Red

“eyelash” fiber (color varies but coordinates with papers)

2 retro-style fabric swatches

7 gypsies buckles in “Sea” (1 each of 4 kinds)

Ratting out the competition

Hey fair readers!

Not to toot our own horn…
ah, who ’em I kidding? Damn WELL tooting our horn!

Have you noticed how much vintage ads cost through other avenues? $3-7 per PAGE!

Check out this site, for instance.
Or how about eBay?

Now ask Amy Duff or Shannon Glasscock-Zuklich how many ads of similar nature they got for FREE with their prize packages. Go on… ask!

Or how about vintage snapshots? Check those out on E-bay, too – crazy!

Oh, there are deals to be found – trust me, I’ve found some good stuff on eBay. Occasionally. But why bother? We’ll do the work for you – and after we’ve uncovered the deals and finds, we even coordinate it for you. And we sure as shit don’t charge you several DOLLARS per page of ephemera!

If you’ve not looked at our Etsy listings for a while, go take another look. We always include SEVERAL full page ads or magazine illustrations with various other smaller pieces from dictionaries, children’s books, etc. You’re not going to find a kit more valuable than the one we put together month after month. At THEIR prices, who dares use them in paper crafts? I think that’s why most people FRAME them.

Well, not us. And neither should you. Rip ’em up, play with ’em, and have a grand time doing it.

We’ll be releasing details on our December kit very soon. And I have to tell you that this is our heaviest kit yet. It also has pages upon pages upon pages of vintage ephemera, most of it straight from full-size vintage magazines like LIFE or Collier’s. We want to convince each and every one of you what a fantastic deal our subscriptions will be when they start in January. In fact, we made the main kit so humongous, we don’t even HAVE an add-on kit for December… pretty much it’s included in the main kit, and of course, the price is still $39.95.

Stay tuned for more details. If in doubt, just ask Nina Patena, our December guest designer, what she thinks of the kit we sent her. She’s the only one who has a December kit, so she’s the one to ask… if it’s not in her eager hands right now, it will be very soon. And remember, there are only TEN kits, so if this sounds as magnificent as it should, you can pre-order one by e-mailing me at gauchealchemy at cox dot net.

Whew. Okay, I’m done ranting now. Here’s some cards made by the fantabulous Julie Kirk with our Fun and Games Slurry.

Click images to enlarge.