Misty’s Altered Journal


Michelle here.

We have a fabulous photo-centric “How I Did It” post from design team member Misty today.

Misty has gotten lots of great feedback on her liberal use of punchinella and traditional stencils to add texture to her mixed media scrapbook projects. So we asked her to pretty please take photos during the making of her next project.

I’m really glad we did because I just learned a few things myself!

Materials needed: Gauche Alchemy punchinella, Crafter's Workshop stencils (any brand is fine actually), paper to cover your work surface, a notebook or other alterable surface, gesso primer, modeling paste and misting or water color paints.

First Misty removed the front and back covers of the journal to keep the inside pages clean.

Lay the punchinella flat on the surface for use as a stencil. Apply molding paste over the design with a credit card or your finger. Gently pull the punchinella back taking care not to disturb the imprint.

This is what the first layer could look like- feel free to keep applying layers till you get the desired amount of texture.

Misty also used her favorite daisy pattern Crafter's Workshop stencil.

While the second molding paste layer is drying, place the title or other embellishments. Make sure letters are holding fast. Allow to dry.

Once the primed chipboard is dry, several different color mists are sprayed directly onto the surface from very close range to create drips. The letters are stamped black when the misted color is dry. Misty mixed her own mist paint for this project! (That post is coming your way soon!)

This is the final result. Misty also applied ink over some of the raised texture in the gesso for extra contrast. This is SO LOVELY!

Misty used the following Gauche Alchemy products for this altered journal cover:

Blue 4mm star punchinella

Blue 4mm star punchinella

PVC teardrop punchinella

PVC sunburst punchinella

White 3mm circle punchinella

Pink 6mm heart shaped punchinella

So I have this large jar of molding paste and an even BIGGER jar of gesso. I am starting to experiment just a tad. How about you?

Got any altered paint projects you’d like to share? Hit us up on Flickr! We promise to leave fun comments!!!!

Don’t forget, you can stock up on everything in the Gauche Alchemy store at 10% off through the end of March in honor of National Craft Month!

Check us out in the social nets!


Cheryl’s takin’ a walk

Hello there!

Michelle here with a wonderful new step by step process video from Cheryl.

I am currently undergoing the arduous procedure more commonly known as “Project Life” where you shoot and journal every day life. I am already “cheating” by journaling only 2 days a week (if that). What I really love about Project Life or Project 365, a similar 1 photo a day version,  is how it forces me to pay attention to every day details.

Cheryl has taken the much more HUMANE approach by documenting 52 walks she will take this year- one for every week.

Here are a couple of images from week 5 and 6:

Image from week 5. I like the more abstract nature of Cheryl's photos.

This photo is stunning. I. can't. stop. looking! I actually started walking in my neighborhood after I read Cheryl's post about 52 walks on her personal blog.

Now a brief pause while we check in with Cheryl as she makes the binder cover for this project:

And a quickie shot of one of the pages she recently worked on. She used stamps from Sassafras Lass and items from the Blue Streak mixed media color kit.

Please excuse the admittedly imperfect lighting. Cheryl was very gracious to provide this as she was literally on her way out the door for a week long trip to Dublin. But I'm not jealous! (much)

So how are you tackling Project Life or Project 365 or any other year long art project? Let us know by commenting here or linking up your work to the Gauche Alchemy Flickr page!

Check us out on the social networks mi gente!

Image Map

Music to Create By

Hi everyone! Maggi here!

So what’s going on in the background while you’re creating? Sometimes I have the TV on, I catch up on shows while my kids are taking a nap or if they’re still awake I’m probably gluing things together while listening to the kiddie chaos that is a three year old screaming along to Barney or The Wiggles.

Some artists prefer to create in silence, with only their thoughts for company. Me, well I’ve got too many voices in my head for silence to be relaxing so I always reach for music to get me in a creative frame of mind. 😛 So here’s a small sampling of what I reach for in my more artistic times. I also listed some project types you can work on while listening to them, although any of them would be great while you’re making anything. 😛

An American Prayer by Jim Morrison with music by The Doors

An American Prayer is an album that was put together after Jim Morrison’s death containing some of his poetry (recorded by him in previous studio sessions) with added music by the surviving Doors members. I have to say that this is one of my all time favorite CDs and it sets the creative mood perfectly. I find it so inspiring every time I listen to it.

Perfect For: Art journaling

Temptation by Emma Wallace

I’ve been a big fan of Emma Wallace for a few years now. She describes her music as “modern ragtime” which is a perfect phrase for her style. Temptation is one of her more recent collections and I find it so soothing and inspiring. She’s got a voice like no other and I can’t get enough of her poetic songs.

Perfect For: Painting and collage

Complete Best by Perfume

If you have not discovered the world of Jpop (Japanese pop music) yet, you are MISSING OUT HARDCORE. There is nothing that can get my paint brush bopping like the sugar coated fun that is Jpop. And Perfume is one of my favorite groups. You can’t help but smile and create something sunny and fun when you’re listening to Perfume.

Perfect for: ATCs, scrapbooking and staying sane while you’re fussy cutting. 😛

Cat Stevens Box Set

Any album by Cat Stevens is worth having but the Box Set of Cat Stevens is truly amazeballs. I first fell in love with his music when I saw Harold and Maude. (My mom would force me to watch it when I was a kid because it was “so great”. It wasn’t until I was older that I truly appreciated the mastery of this movie.) Cat Stevens did the entire soundtrack for the movie and this box set contains everything Cat.

Perfect For: Art journaling, collage, painting

With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails

Oh boy, this was a toughie. I love me some NIN but I had a hard time choosing between With Teeth, a more recent NIN offering that is truly awesome or Pretty Hate Machine which is a freakin’ NIN classic. But in the end I chose “With Teeth” as it really gets my creative blood pumping.

Perfect For: Freaking out when you’ve messed something up. Also art journaling, image transfer, stamping

I’ve got to stop now because if I don’t, this post will be 2,000 CDs long, I love creating to music that much. 😀 Thanks for taking a peek at my favorite music to create by! Now I have to know, what music do you have to have when you’re creating and what are you making when you listen to it???

Let me know in the comments and then go glue something awesome onto some awesome something!

Maggi 😀

**All images from Amazon.com**

Image Map

Dear Diary: Today I Painted You

Hi everyone!

Maggi here with this month’s theme day: Art Journaling. If you’ve never “art journaled” before, I encourage you to give it a try! It’s a great way to express yourself creatively and emotionally. The best thing about art journaling is that you really can create something about anything, good times or bad. 🙂 Here’s what the team created:


‘I’m always late; it’s about the only guarantee in my life! While I was creating this page, I was listening to the radio and Fergie’s “London Bridges” came on. At that point, I was just messing around with paints & inks on the background – and then I was struck with inspiration to make a page about my lateness & my favourite phrase! (lol) On this page, you can find some GA doilies, Punchinella, and pieces from the Wholey Sheet Kit, as well as the Banana Hammock and Blue Streak Kit Mixed Media Color Kits!


I made use of the It’s All Gravy Baby! Mixed Media Color Kit for this art journal as well as pieces of bingo cards, playing cards from the Gauche Kits for this! I glued all the buttons together using Stickles for that added bling!


These couple of pages in my art journal feature our Acme Kit, Kitch Delish Kit, Wholey Sheet Kit and Bombshell stamps products. The journaling reads: This broom is not for sweeping and this pot is not for cooking your dinner. We all know that Bombshell witches have better things to do.


I’m lucky enough to be part of a Circle Journal that’s based around Rock music. Each month the new pages will be about a different rock band or singer. The journal I received this month included a CD of songs which the recipient has to pick their favourite and compose a couple of pages. As soon as I saw Ace of Spades by Motorhead on there, there was no competition 😉

This has got loads of Gauchey goodness chucked at it; a Bombshell stamp, lots of acrylic paint, bits from Blue Streak, Wedding Night & Scarlet Fever Mixed Media Color Kits. The scrawled writing is glitter pen and is the lyrics of the song.


Basically I blobbed on some acrylic paint and squished it between the two pages. I used the GA plastic mesh as a mask for some glimmer misting, and some GA Punchinella as a stencil. I added a stamped flourish and some GA Punchinella-cut to make a kind of flower in the centre of the flourish and some sequins-from the Pink Parts Mixed Media Color kit.


Life is about discovering yourself

I used paint, gesso, markers and Punchinella! 🙂

And there you have it! Do you enjoy art journaling? Now go glue something awesome onto some awesome something! 😀

Pam’s Inspiration

Inspiration… where do you find yours?

I find I spend too many hours on the internet.  One link leads to another and I am led through a maze of talented artists, all of whom inspire me one way or another.  While I get plenty of inspiration I usually end up with no time to transform that inspiration into art projects.  So this week I made an effort to get off the computer and do some projects.  I thought you might be interested to know who or what has been inspiring me lately and see the projects I’ve created.

Firstly, for scrapbooking inspiration I give you the the wonderful Louise Nelson. Lou is one of my fellow design team friends over at The Creative Type (new challenges starting soon at The Creative Type by the way).

Louise has such a unique scrapbooking style which looks so easy.  Believe me, it’s not!  Louise doesn’t use much in the way of product when she scraps, but everything she uses is perfectly chosen and perfectly placed.  She usually uses a restrained colour palette, often on kraft cardstock with a squirt of glimmer mist here and a splash of paint there embellished with string, or tissue paper or found bits and bobs. You can see more of Louise’s unique style on her blog, An Uninterrupted View.

So, taking my inspiration from Lou, here is my attempt to scrap Louise style:

The other thing that has inspired me lately is hand bound books.  I’ve been searching through Flickr groups (my favourite hunting ground for creative inspiration) and found a number of groups dedicated to handmade books.  There are a couple: here, here and now for a real treat on the bookmaking front here.

Aren’t her books exquisite? Full of lovely texture, books you want to stroke and keep forever.  So after all that inspiration I decided to order a couple of books about how to make handmade books and bookbinding and these two books duly arrived from Amazon.

These books are both great for step by step instructions.  So armed with these and the fabulous 12×12 wallpaper samples from Gauche Alchemy, I embarked on the making of my very first hand bound book.  And here it is:

Not bad for a first attempt, even if I do say so myself!  I’ll probably use it for an art journal.  As I mentioned, Flickr is a great source of inspiration and while you’re there don’t forget our very own Gauche Alchemy Flickr group is also full of inspiring projects-and we would love you to upload any of your Gauche Alchemy projects there too!


Gauche Alchemy Theme Day: Projects in the Mist

Hellooooooo everyone, Maggi here! 😀

I hope you’ve all had a good week! We here at Gauche Alchemy are ready to get your weekend rockin’ by sharing this month’s theme day which is…*drum roll*…Mist! That’s right, this month we decided to mist up our projects. Do you like using mist on your projects? Mist is basically a paint or ink that you spray out of a bottle causing it to “mist” on your paper or page. Voila, Projects in the Mist!

(For those of you counting, I’ve used the word “mist” 7 times already. 😛 And P.S.-Did you know that we just happen to have a fabulous selection of mist available in the Gauche Alchemy store? Well, we do so head on over and stock up without ever leaving your keyboard. :D)

Now, let’s see what our DT ladies, who got all misty over theme day this month, did for their projects…

Lara: For my misting project I decided to use the latest prompt at A Year in the Life of an Art Journal as my inspiration in addition to the “misting” prompt here at Gauche Alchemy.

However, for my misting technique I chose spraypaint as lately I’ve been super inspired by graffiti and I like the opaqueness spray paint creates. There’s five layers of paint on this page (I know, I have a problem) – the first layer is my “palette” layer – paints I’ve used on other projects throughout the last couple of months. Over that to make it more cohesive I used acrylic paint with some molding paste and Punchinella to stencil it. I then slathered my hands in paint to do the imprint. Then I cut out outlines of my hands, used them as masks while I also took some lovely plastic canvas from the Wholey Sheet Kit and lightly spraypainted over the entire page. I then sprayed some “Merlot” Glimmer Mist for a soft drippy effect and then dripped more acrylic paint at the top. Finally I put some alpha stickers on that say “Stop – Are You Happy.” I wanted to journal more but then decided that one sentence says it all. And my art journalling these days has concentrated more on visual evocation than literal. But that one sentence produces an answer that then produces so many more questions….

Yvonne used pieces from our Scarlet Fever Mixed Media Color Kit for this awesome layout:

Hello my name is

Erika: I used glimmer mist extensively on my art journal page. It was used to create the background, used for both negative and positive masking.

Stamped the butterflies, and bubble wrap with glimmer mist and created coffee rings by pressing a cup into the mist and transferring. Painted the heart with glimmer mist and last but not least added splatter by flicking the glimmer mist off a paint brush.

Kas: Well, I ended up spilling on my project, so I had to do some quick rethinking as my fever wasn’t going to let me re-do the other project. So with some scissors and a few assorted things from various GA kits…I have a cute card to send my friend. (sometimes things happen for a reason!)

I used Red Velvet Glimmer Mist for the sun and Patina for the ocean. The ribbon, monkey and palm tree are from GA Mixed Media Color Kits.

Angela: Did you know you can paint with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist? The soft colors of the Glimmer Mist give a shimmery watercolor effect, and there’s no need to use water, just dip your brush directly into the mist bottle. That really cuts down on the mess!

For this card, I used the Bombshell Stamps Hawaiian Girl stamp set. I stamped the image of the Hawaiian girl on white textured cardstock using black StazOn ink (This is important! StazOn ink will not smear when it gets wet!) I then used a fine detail paint brush and painted over the stamped image with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist. I used quite a few colors of mist on this card, but you could get a nice effect with only a couple of mist colors.

Once my image was dry (it only took a few seconds), I mounted it on this cute card that I made with Gauche Alchemy Ouchless Cardboard and palm tree wallpaper sample.

And as for yours truly (uh, it’s Maggi again) lol, I decided to share with you an older project of mine but this use of mist has special meaning to me because it was the first time I ever used any sort of mist.  (And you never forget your first time, am I right? 😉 ) lol  So I started with ATCs using pictures of Jimi Hendrix, lyrics from his song “Manic Depression” and Punchinella.

Now the special “mist meaning” was that I totally screwed these up.  LOL  The cardstock I used for the background was blue, I added a crackled paint effect but the Hendrix pictures were black and white.  I say “were” because I got WAY too close with the paper and misted the living snark outta these ATCs.  lol  Ah well, the effect actually worked and it served as a lesson that even your creative mistakes can be used to your project’s benefit so never be afraid to try something new!  🙂

And there you have it, Misting Madness!  Do you have a misting project to share with us?  We’d love to see it!  Just include a link in your comment on this post so we can take a look or even better, upload it to our Gauche Alchemy Flickr group!
Now you know the drill: Go glue (or mist) something awesome onto some awesome something!  😀

*Final “Mist” Usage Count: 30

Art Journalling with Erika

Erika here!
There is something so raw about creating an Art Journal page. I’ve just recently started and I’m sharing my journal pages with all of you here at Gauche Alchemy. It is a way for you all to get to know me a little and is a huge creative outlet for me. No staying inside the lines, no concerns if colors go together or if I’m following the golden rules. Creating a journal page is all about getting Down and Dirty with what is in your heart, your mind or your cornflakes. It is a way to show emotions and share thoughts in the truest form. If you haven’t started an art journal yet there are so many great places out there for reference. One of my favorites is Teesha Moore – she is very informative and has great tutorials and tips on how to get started.

For this page, I’ve shared with you one of my favorite poems. I started by using oil pastels on the journal page and created a resist for the paint i’d be applying afterward. I used a few different colors of gouache paint to create movement, then decoupaged a dove onto the sheet with Mod Podge. Finishing off the look with some Delta Gesso (from the GA Artfire Store) that I smeared across the page with a credit card. It was maxed out, so no worries.

Then the poem emerged on the page and I finished it off with some Liquid Pearls in pink. Well it is my favorite color so there has to be SOME on every page. maybe I’ll go crazy with pink on my next page. Pink Parts here I come!!!

Try your hand at expressing yourself through a journal created with artwork. Be off the cuff, cutting edge, be YOU!!!

Review: Pasticcio Quartz art zine

Hello ladies and gents! Amy here, and I have the honor and delightful pleasure of reviewing the latest copy of Sarah Fishburn and Angela Cartwright‘s art zine Pasticcio Quartz.  The latest edition is Issue 9, Spring 2010.

Would you like to WIN a copy of Issue 9?  We we’ll be choosing a winner Thursday morning, so please comment on this post for your chance to thumb through this lovely lovely – compliments of Sarah and Angela.

I will admit that I’m not the most well-versed reader on the zine scene… but I can say that most zines I’ve managed to get ahold of are self-published black-and-white versions.  Delightful as they are, it’s a breath of fresh air to get a slick, colorful paperback booklette, especially when the contents are so yummy and luscious that you just have to pore over every single page (52 of them, to be precise).

Let me walk you through this issue, bit by bit…

The zine features equal parts artwork and articles.  I can tell you that my blog feedreader is bursting even fuller at the seams since scanning through this latest issue, which focuses on ADORNMENT.  Embellishments galore – and who doesn’t love that?  Among the varied offerings: digital art, mixed media, collage, oil and acrylic painting, pen and ink drawings on plywood, jewelry, metalsmithing, fabric and stitching – and of course, contributions from the editors themselves.  Each page is full color and boasts a plethora of eye candy – yes, even the articles are printed on backgrounds that invite careful scrutiny.

Among the featured artists:

DJ Pettitt

Lynden St. Victor

Amanda Blake (her contribution makes my heart hurt – that’s how bad I want to hang it on my wall!)

Joe Carrion

Paul Murray

Diana Frey

Cecilia Swatton

Tawnya Romig-Foster

Tim Mitoma

Roxanne Stout

Colin Gerety (Sarah’s hubby!)

Megan Gray (her contribution also makes my heart hurt… *sigh* pitterpatter pitterpatter)

Stephanie Lee

Connie Freedman (Angela’s ac studio9 partner)

Krista Silvia Raak

Pearl Red Moon

Patricia Ayres

Nina Bagley

Riki Schumacher (gasp!)

In addition to the amazing artwork, you will find a multitude of quotes – from this year’s Oscar contenders to quotes about adornments – articles about calligraphy, steampunk, charms, buttons, and book reviews.  (I have to say, I happened across a book review by Sarah on Amazon.com, and her [very accurate] review tipped me over into knowing I *had* to have the book – it’s a good one – Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials.  I’m glad I trusted her judgement on that one!)

We are also treated to a couple of kick-ass tutorials (one by a favorite artist of mine, Judy Wise) and an article by the one and only Suzi Blu.  There’s a full page of awesome links to the most awesome stuff, and a couple of profiles about artists whose artwork lives on though they have passed – both of whom I was not acquainted with before, and both well worth knowing.

The best thing about an art zine is knowing that it is the vision of unique artists just like us.  As much as we adore the mags with wide publication and big budgets (and they are ALL OVER the Somerset/Stampinton pubs, as well – Angela even has her own paper line with them), there’s nothing like holding a bit of personal love from a couple of talented women in our very own community.  If you’re inclined to agree, get your hiney on over to this link and pick up a few back issues while waiting for the release of Pasticcio Quartz 10!  Issue 10 will be available in the Fall – be sure to sign up for their e-mail announcement if you don’t want to miss it.

Let me tell you a little bit about Angela and Sarah.  Nicole introduced us to Sarah Fishburn last Wednesday.

Sarah has been one of my favorite producers of eye candy for the past few years, and hers is the site to which I generally point people when asked, “What’s mixed media art?”  Her work has been widely published in a whole buncha books, and she and Angela have written a couple of books together: In This House and In This Garden.  (I hear this is only the beginning for this series!)  Imagine my delight to discover that she is as sweet and accessible as any fan could hope!

And now let’s talk about Angela.  Angela is an artist, author, photographer, mom of two, clothing and jewelry designer, and former actress of some fame.  (She was Brigitta in the 1964 film version of The Sound of Music, was on Make Room for Daddy for its 7-season run, and played Penny Robinson on Lost in Space.  I hadn’t realized!)

Although I somehow didn’t make the connection between Angela and Brigitta, what I *do* know Angela for is her fabulous book Mixed Emulsions: Altered Art Techniques for Photographic Imagery.  She also conceived the concept for and contributed to the book Transparent Art, all about using transparencies to amazing effect.  (You can also see Sarah’s work in this volume published by Somerset.)

I’ve learned that any project with which these two are associated indicates a project I’m likely to enjoy.  Here are some more publications entirely worthy of your perusal – you’ll see more of their delicious work and meet other fabulous artists along the way:

True Colors: a Palette of Collaborative Art Journals

Alphabetica: an A-Z Creativity Guide for Collage and Book Artists

Altered Books, Collaborative Journals, and Other Adventures in Bookmaking

Artist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, Swap

The Savvy Crafter’s Guide to Success: Turn Your Crafts into a Career

The Inestimable Sarah Fishburn

Howdy to all you cool kids, Nicole here, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and reporting for duty.

I’m super-excited to be sharing an interview with the always-inspiring Sarah Fishburn. I first became familiar with Sarah’s work in True Colors – an incredible collection of art journal pages and from what I’ve seen at Sarah’s website, she just keeps getting better! Once you’re done reading all about this talented lady, be sure to pop over to her site and be prepared to lose yourself for a few hours and come out dripping in paint and over-flowing with ideas.

Can you share  a little bit about yourself? I really like the phrase at your Etsy Shop, “A LITTLE BIT STEAMPUNK + A LITTLE BIT JACKIE-O” Can you tell us about that?

I was born in 1954, the year more kids were born than any other in the history of the world. I grew up sans sisters (3 younger brothers) here and there, the Midwest, California, but mostly the Southwest – Arizona and New Mexico. My husband Colin and I have lived in Colorado for about 25 years; we’ve been together for 37. I was attracted to him initially because he plays a mean flute. We have 3 fabulous daughters, September, Corina, and Sierra-Marie, and one equally fabulous son, Silver. We have 7 cool grandkids, from 1-12yrs. Only 1 kitty at the moment, hoping to get another pup sometime this year…we share a veggie garden in the front yard with our neighbors… I’ve never had a driver’s license. I do have a swell retro style Raleigh bicycle. I love to travel anywhere especially if there’s a beach involved, but at the moment I am working 7 days a week so feeling a bit fettered and frustrated at the lack of scenic change! I do like what I do though, and feel grateful to have 2 (outside of art) jobs. Colin just signed a lease on a building and will be opening a coffee house this summer, so we definitely need that bit of security – knowing we can pay the rent – while he gets established. I guess you could say my hobbies are watching movies (I’ll give anything a shot…) and reading (ditto).

I’m so happy you like my etsy shop motto! I can’t tell you! It’s a play on the well-known phrase”A little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll”. My style – and most of what I create – generally has just a bit of dark steampunk edge, mixed with a drop of elegance, ala one of the greatest style icons of the 20th century…

Show us a favorite project or two and tell us why you love it?

The girl in the doorway is my great-grandmother in a studio portrait at age 13. I loved my concept for the piece, and being able to use her image (everyone says I take after her, and she was an artist, too). I love what I wrote, and the overall fairytale look.

Done for a 26 person Alphabet collaborative that has been shown in several galleries across the US, this mixed-media painting (letter S) is totally autobiographical. I’m crazy about all the shades of red I was able to incorporate and the overall dark and abstract quality of the piece.

I’ve seen your work in some of my all-time favorite publications (True Colors, Complete Guide to Altered Imagery etc.) What are you working on now?

Right now I’m so busy at my day job that I’m mostly trying to get my studio redesigned to facilitate being able to work on anything at all, in 1/2 hour blocks! I am working on the 2010 summer/fall issue of my zine and also have a third book in mind for Angela Cartwright’s and my series “In This…”; we have yet to go full-steam on that though.

I wish as one of the True Colors artists that we could do a second volume – we certainly didn’t cover everything in the first…

You can catch a glimpse of some digital art exploration I did in Susan Tuttle’s new book Digital Expressions…

Where do you get inspiration?

I try to always be open to the possibilities no matter where I am or what I’m doing. There are inspiries to be found in posters stapled to kiosks downtown, in the shadows of houseplants on the wall in the late afternoon, in the movement of a curtain as it catches the slightest breeze from an open window…The kidz at the school where I work my day job are a fantastic secret source for me!

Steam punk style and houses make frequent appearances in your art. What draws you to these forms/style?

Turns out, Steampunk was part of my style before I even knew it had a name! I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy and the combo of those and the mad Victorian sensibility that defines Steampunk just appeals to every fiber of my being. What could be more perfect for an artistic magpie attracted to sparkley bits embedded in machinery… Steampunk’s dark with the promise of light, it’s the poetry of machinery, in a flamelit world that lurks just past the periphery of sight…

Houses – now that’s probably a subconscious thing! I’ve lived in almost three dozen house and apartments in my life – sheesh. I’m definitely a nest builder – I would just as soon be arranging things prettily wherever I live as almost anything else! I’ve worked with a close friend and also my daughter in re-doing other people’s living spaces, too. Houses – and homes – were the subject of my first book In This House: A Collection of Altered Art Imagery and Collage Techniques.

Are there other images that consistently appear in and inspire your work?

I definitely use family photographs. Images of children for sure…flowers…I just went and peeked at my own website (!) and that pretty much sums it up, yup, children and flowers. BUT. I don’t always use them in the most expected way – that is – there may be something undefined, something darker, lurking just out of sight – a threat, or maybe just a mystery, with no real image to define it – a presence felt, yet unseen…

What products can you not live without when making art?

I love ALL of the Tūl markers and Tūl fine point black pens, Krylon X-metal paints, printable transparency sheets, my Canon Pixma Pro9000 printer, my sewing machine, a decent pencil (one whose lead doesn’t constantly break), a set of good colored pencils, and any tape, decorative or otherwise, I can get my hands on. Images of course. And though they’re not actually a product, and it might sound strange, I would be hard pressed to make my art without words – after all, I am a Narrative Artist…

What’s your process when creating?

It varies from one project to the next. In general, though, I go into a project with only the vaguest sort of notion of what I want to do. It usually starts with words – a phrase that I heard, or made up, and it’s my job to “illustrate”… hence, Narrative Artist. I delve into collected bits to create a background of papers and on top of those a splattering of paint, and then embellish with images, sketches, stencils, glitter…

Tell us about your zine and your experience publishing it.

Pasticcio Quartz (QUality ART Zine) comes out 3 times a year. It’s printed in brilliant full color by Lulu.com and at 8×8, our readers can easily toss it in their bags and have it ready to pull out to peruse at the drop of a hat! Angela Cartwright and I work on each issue for months in advance – we look for artists from all over the world to feature in a gallery called Palais d’Art. A fair number of guys usually contribute to the gallery – you don’t always see that in mixed-media magazines. We include articles on a myriad of techniques and other content to excite the interest of artists of all disciplines. A little Art History is covered in each issue – I write an entertaining and edifying feature called Art Attack, highlighting two artists from the past – a man and a woman – of whom our readers may or may not be aware. We also include an in-depth interview with an artist currently on the scene. Every issue also includes peeks at things each of us have done, and a lot of pure inspiration – quotes, book reviews, and more. There’s almost always a surprise or two included – maybe a page of clip art imagery, a fabulous recipe, an article written by a guest artist of renown… Here’s the  link to order a copy (we currently have 9 issues available and are working on our 10th).

Sarah has offered a RAK to you, our wonderful, creative readers.

If you want to win Issue 9 of Pasticcio Quartz, please leave a comment for Sarah.

The Amazing Melanie Testa

Melanie Testa, self-described author, textile designer, fiber artist and teacher is one of the most exciting women in todays mixed-media sphere. Her work manages to be both deeply evocative, personal and accessible.
Melanie graciously took the time to answer a few questions so all of us at Gauche Alchemy could learn both about her and from her.
Melanie in her own words:
I am married to a man I love, he supports all the crazy things I think up and has fun with me too. We laugh and play and act like kids together. We have no kids, excepting for the furry sort. Arrow is our cat’s name.
Show us a favorite project and tell us why you love it?
(Click on the pictures to be taken to Melanie’s Gallery)

This image was originally a journal page and it called me to make it into quilt art. I have loved drawing the pencil I draw an image with for a long time. It is iconic for me because I used to do it as a young’un, perhaps it was inspired by the first time I saw Escher’s work called, Drawing hands.
What are you working on now?
I have just begun a new project to highlight the Top 20 Common Birds in Decline. I have printed my first image and this bird is am Evening Grosbeak. I am in love with birds and will do almost anything to further their growth on this planet. It is my hope that the project will tour the country and raise awareness and money to help the birds along.
Who are your favorite artists?
Frida Kahlo and her raw and rabid emotions. Beside which with a quote like,
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly.”
John Copeland‘s BOOKS. His art is too city forward, but his journals? Yes.
Baptiste Ibar, I know him personally.
Helen Frankenthaller. I saw her work at the Yale Museum of art and it made me start thinking about using monoprint to create grounds in my own work. I am indebted.
What products can you not live without when making art? What adhesives do you use to add collage elements to fabric?
I can’t live without Plexiglas, Procion MX dyes and freezer paper when working with cloth. When I collage with cloth I use Mistifuse, when I work with paper in my journals I use matte medium, gesso and glue sticks to paste imagery in there.
Do you consider yourself a modern quilter, a mixed-media artist or something different entirely?
I am an artist. I think when we work in mixed mediums with a crafty edge it is best to be vague for fear of the art establishment making unfounded judgements, it is sad but true. Among knowledgeable types, I call myself an art quilter.
You do a lot of work with nudes, has the human form as a subject always inspired you? Are your pieces based on real people or more an idea? Please tell us more about that.
I love to draw, love it. My figural work is is derived from actual people. I love working with nudes. Because we are human and have an intimate relationship with the human form, I think it is the most challenging subject to work with. The average person can detect the slightest mistake in rendering without hesitation. So working with the human form means an artist either has to get it right, know how to abstract, or stay away entirely.  I would like to work more with the male nude form,
There is a dearth of beautiful male nudes out there; leave the macho, strong male image to those others. I want to create simply beautiful male nudes.
I’ve read that your process starts with journalling and collaging a mixed media piece on paper to solidify your idea and then you translate that into fabric dyeing and whole cloth quilt making. What do you do with the original paper collages?
My journals, for the most part are private, created for my own artistic inspiration and exploration. They mean more to me than any piece of art I have yet made. I don’t really work on loose sheets of paper. And I don’t always reach for these journals when I start a new piece, I use my journals to remain inspired, to continue to draw, to remain balanced as an artist.
If you are anything like me, you are probably chomping at the bit to see more of Melanie’s work and to explore the techniques she employs further. We have a really exciting surprise for our readers:
Melanie has generously provided a piece of her art to give to one of you. Want a peek?

All you need to do to win is leave a comment telling us what form(s) inspire you and/or what you like best about Melanie’s amazing art. You can get a second entry into the drawing by tweeting about this giveaway on Twitter and a third by mentioning this post on FaceBook. Please leave separate comments for each chance to win – it’ll make the counting so much easier 🙂
Nicole (Perky Nihilist)
You can read another interview Melanie gave to Quilting Arts Magazine Here.
Look at more of her incredible art: melanietesta.com
Follow her blog: melanietesta.com/mtype