Daring Backgrounds: Graffiti Style

By Nicole Maki (Perky Nihilist)

I love a fresh crisp piece of hot off the presses paper as much as the next gal – trust me, there is a shelf full of Crop Hoppers bearing witness to my obsession. But sometimes, when I’ve seen the sheet I so desperately covet as the base of the seventh card or the umpteenth scrapbook layout on the blogs I visit I lose heart a bit. Some days it all seems so done.

Luckily I have the perfect pick-me-up for times of paper panic. I make my own. No silly, not the paper itself (although to be honest, I have on occasion) – the pattern that makes it pop 🙂

Supplies: Sorry, can’t help you. What do you have on hand?

I recommend using something sturdy – like watercolor paper – as a bottom layer, but I’ve had equally luscious results on butcher paper, scrapbook paper, card stock, plastic, transparency… see, the sky’s the limit. You also need colored stuff: paint, crayons, markers, ink, tea, colored pencils, Sharpies. And I love to add some layers with text, collage etc. Junk mail, comic books, manga, menus – Anything that goes in our ACME paper art & mixed media kit is perfect. Markers or paint pens for scribbling/journalling are a necessity and stencils are a terrific addition. My favorite “stencils” are the punchinella – you get a variety of hole shapes and sizes. Awesome!

Each piece of make-your-own designer paper will be different. I wanted something with an edgy, urban graffiti feel – kind of Alisa Burke meets inner city. Here’s what I did:

Step One: Dribble paint on edges. Smear around with a baby wipe.

Step Two: Squirt complimentary color in white space. Blend with baby wipe.

Step Three: Spritz with dye mister (I used Glimmer Mist, available at Gauche Alchemy shop).

Step Four: Start adding interest. Here I sprayed close up with fabric spray paint and tilted the paper to make it drip. Then I stenciled some letters haphazardly around the page.

Step Five: Go in with complimentary color  (yellow here) and add large sections of paint. Use punchinella as a stencil by pouncing chalk ink through the holes. I find the pattern unifies the elements.

Step Six: Take a white or metallic paint pen (black is good too but very, very bold) and journal all over the page. I tend to get “stuck” so I often write song lyrics or poems I’ve memorized. Keep it loose and messy. Don’t worry if it looks like ka-ka; it’ll be fine.

Step Seven: This pic is bigger so you can see the details. Rip some text, comics etc and glue them to your substrate. Don’t cover up all your hard work, just add some pieces here and there. Then go over it again with paint, punchinella and stencils until it integrates into the piece. If the look seems unbalanced don’t worry about it. If you can’t not worry *raises hand* then add a few dribs and drabs of dry brushed paint to make it look right to your eye. In this example, I added the green paint to the edges. Made all the difference in the world. Now leave it alone to dry.

Step Eight: It’s so horrible I couldn’t take a picture. Kill your darling! What? Cut this beautiful piece of awesomeness into useable pieces. *GASP* I know!

Here’s some ideas: Card Front and ATC Blanks. Keep your scraps, they’re awesome to craft with.

Then wow your friends and yourself by making cool projects. This card was made with the ATC scraps:

Features: Punchinella, Career Girl Mixed Media Kit, Scarlet Fever Mixed Media Kit and Bombshell Stamps.

I made little vignettes with Foreign Text and Wholly Sheet:

and attached them to the (matted) ATC Blanks.

Urban Angels:

These ATCs feature Bombshell Stamps and wings from the beading section at Michaels.

Thanks so much for joining me as I made my own Daring Background: Graffiti Style. It’s truly a ton of fun and the results are well worth the effort.

Napkin Art – heard of it?

Hi everyone!  Amy here.

Did you know that the simplest of items can contribute to a durn fine piece of work?  Of course you did – that’s why you come on over here to Gauche Alchemy, right?

Being that we focus so strongly on reusing and “upcycling,” it surprises me how many of our own designers were not familiar with the concept of napkin art.  I personally think no one explains it better than Sharon Tomlinson, who has graciously given permission to re-post her napkin art tutorial here. Definitely give a clickie on the link to her blog – she is really a fantastic artist – I’m always thrilled to see articles by her, and her blog is a treasure trove of creative inspiration.

I discovered Sharon when I read about her napkin art technique in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine sometime last year (my favorite mag, by the way)… if your reaction is anything like mine, you’ll quickly be squirreling away spare napkins at every social event you attend.  You’ll be looking for napkin sales.  You’ll be picking up a Napkin Art Kit at the Gauche Alchemy store.  (My sincere apologies to those of you for whom the word napkin = diaper.  It’s not a diaper kit – because reusing stuff really can only go so far… a line has to be drawn somewhere!)

If you’d like to see more examples of Sharon’s fabulous napkin art, go here.  It’s amazing what a napkin can do.

Thanks, Sharon, for allowing us to republish your wonderful demonstration!  Without further ado:


Napkin Play by Sharon Tomlinson

If you haven’t discovered the fun with napkins, give this a try.

First decide what part of the napkin you will use. You may use all of it or little parts of it.

In this case I just need a few flowers. So, I used scissors to cut around them.

Then, notice that I tore part of the napkin. When the napkin is applied with Golden Matte Medium, the torn edge feathers out and disappears….almost.

[Note from Amy: any transfer gel medium will work – we offer Omni-Gel through the Gauche Alchemy shop.]

Cutting or tearing just depends on what effect you want.

The cut edge was where I wanted more control.

Mostly, napkins have three layers. Gently separate the layers because you only want to use the top layer.

Clue: the cut edge is sometime hard to separate. Hold the edge between your fingers close to your mouth and blow. It will separate enough so you can pull it apart.

You cannot apply the medium to the napkin because it is too fragile.

Apply an even smooth amount of medium to your art.

This picture shows too much and was only for photographic purposes.

Gently lay the napkin in place. You will not be able to move it once it makes total contact. You can hold it up and gage where you want it.

When you are happy with the placement, use the brush that still has medium on it to gently smooth the napkin.

Be happy with a few wrinkles.

Then with your finger very very very very gently rub it a little more.

You will discover after only a few moments, the napkin is biodegradable.

It just kinda wants to melt away. That is the good and the bad and sometimes the ugly.

I have to relearn this with each napkin that if play with.

Since placement is sometimes critical, just let the edge hang over. You can decide if you want to remove it or leave some.

When there is an area like the little violet on her chin that you are not happy with, you can just rub it off.

This point is made because I sometime collage napkins into my altered books. The hang over part will tear right away along the paper edge and leave a beautiful edge.

Now let it dry. After it is dry, you can use other mediums over it. You can paint over it which I usually do. It want get wet and be fragile after it has dried.

So here she is. Notice that I added more napkin at the bottom and in her hair. It is the transparent quality that is so appealing. Don’t you think?

We’re thankful for sales!

We’re having a Cyber Monday sale over on our ArtFire shop!

Most of us are familiar with Black Friday, I gather – the crazy shopping day after Thanksgiving in preparation for the commercialism of the winter holidays!  You may or may be aware that the online version of this crazy day of sales is called “Cyber Monday.”  Amazing what folks come up with to push consumption, huh?  😀

Okay, I’m not anti-capitalist.  Promise.  To prove it, use this coupon code when you order from our ArtFire shop from now through Monday, and get 20% off your entire order!


We’re feeling generous – we’re kind of wacky that way.  You just may find an extra little something packaged up with your order.  😉


Not shopping for yourself?  Hoping for the best when opening your own presents this year?

Put us on your AMAZON WISH LIST!  You know your friends and loved ones like to be pointed in the right direction – help them out.

This button is located in the price box on the upper right side of each listing page.  Simple as that!

We have lots of fun (and lots of kits) in store for December!  If you don’t already have us on your feed reader, might want to consider it – you won’t want to miss a bit of this.


Your Tiny Bits

Scraps! I bet you thought I was going to be posting about something scandalous. *grin* Sadly, no.

I’d like to thank everyone for the well-wishes and the swell of support. The last six months has kicked me around pretty hard, but I’m made of stern stuff and plan to bounce back as quick as I can.

Creating art is terrific therapy and is a great way to channel nervous energy or keep your hands busy when you are waiting for the meds to work, the doc to call or, as it seems lately, the other shoe to drop.

I don’t know if you are at all like me, but sometimes I wreck everything I touch. Loss of mojo, jangled nerves, too much stress – whatever the cause, at times I’m a one woman demolition crew. Then I get nervous about trashing my pretty craft  supplies so I do nothing. Yes, the beautiful pages of ephemera are safe in their plastic bags; but are they happy? I think not.

In times like these, I reach for my scraps. Specifically the bits too small to do much with. They are already destined for the trash bin so fooling about a bit isn’t much of a risk. After making the Halloween Hat centerpiece for the newsletter (you get the newsletter, right? If not, sign up PDQ – you’re missing out!) I had several inch-sized pieces of foreign book text. I keep a zip loc bag of itty-bitty card stock so I grabbed it and set about making christmas tags. We’ll all be needing tons of these soon enough so why not?

For these tags I stamped christmas images on my book bits and colored them in with markers. I added a little glitter on some and sequins from the Scarlet Fever and Banana Hammock mixed media color kits. Voila. Done. And I didn’t hurt a thing 🙂

Trees tag

Snowman tag X-Mas Tree Tag

With a little confidence built from my lack of destruction I attempted a card with my last, tiniest pieces. A fall card this time as frankly, I’m really not ready for Christmas yet:

If you are wondering how I made that cute abstract tree, check out this awesome video:

You can read more at A Little Hut.

Thanks again everyone for all the love. I really appreciate it.

Blog Candy, Eye Candy, and Pub Candy

Before I get down to biznatch, an announcement:


I had wondered why our previous demand for punchinella petered out. Seems that the listing disappeared from our ArtFire shop. No idea how that happened. Anyway, punchinella (or sequin waste, as it’s sometimes known) is again available!


Okay, so I made up that phrase.

Here’s the news: There will be an article all about about US in the September 1st issue of Scrap n’ Art eZine, which is fanTAStic online mag.

Whoo-hoo! I can hardly wait to see what their designers did with our schtuff.

The ‘Zine is totally slick and beautiful – just like looking through any paper published magazine. I was certainly impressed when first I wandered into their scrappy, arty territory. They also give away a TON of stuff from their sponsors! I loves me some free stuff.

Anyway, the subs are TOTally cheap – only, like, 10 buck for a whole year (6 issues). They give you a FREE (there’s that word again) preview download so you can see what you’re in for (nom, nom, nom – yumminess).


We currently have THREE giveaways going on – 1) Orange color kit naming, 2) Poll about your can’t-do-without art supplies, and 3) Graphic 45 giveaway!

Hmmm… I think I’ll have a wonderful smack-in-the-face giveaway day this weekend… Saturday? That might be a good time. So take your opportunity to participate before the weekend comes. They are open until I actually post the winners. Take that!


Here is a lovely project from Yasu using our Pitching a Tent kit! She is so fabulously talented – I am a die-hard fan. Because her work is to DIE for! HAHAHAHAHAhahaha…ha…ha… okay, so it wasn’t that funny.

Her son’s preschool class is named “Green Frogs.” She tells me he’s now advanced to “Blue Horses.” 🙂

outdoors yasu green frogs

outdoors yasu frogs2

outdoors yasu frogs3

outdoors yasu frogs4

outdoors yasu frogs5

She called these “vermin” on her site. I thought that was hysterical! 😀
outdoors yasu frogs6

GDT call at Scrappin Mojo – and more work from Pam!

For those of you who might be interested, there a 2-month GDT call at Scrappin’ Mojo. Go here for the details. Deadline is 8/20.

Now that I’ve got your attention, here’s some more fabulous work from our very own Pam Thorburn. She made such great use of our Pitching a Tent kit, don’t you agree?

pam thorburn so jack

This page was inspired by the camping hints page, particularly the references to boots, so I thought the photo, with Jack’s discarded walking boots, was a perfect match for that bit of ephemera, You will see I used the tissue paper packing as a background, and then layered on the book cover, and some patterned paper. Everything is from the kit, except the letters.

pam thorburn autumnal days

I loved the scrapbook paper and didn’t want to cover too much of it up. So I cut out the tree design so that I could slip things under it. I then put it back into the same position, but popping it out with foam tape for a bit of added dimension. I frayed a strip of the fabric, gathered it up and adhered it. I made a flower embellishment from the fabric, and layered it over some leaves and the purple lace flower. Then added the little deer peeking from the tree, and the wildlife sign. The only things not from the kit are the lettering and the button. I sprayed the leaves with some glimmer mists to give them some autumn colour-and you might just see some of the mist on the paper (which caught some mist).

pam thorburn card

My daughter Emily did well in her exams and is on track to get a university place next year. So I made her a card with some more of your kit.

A very important poll

Hey all… I know the orange kit naming contest is still going on, but I have another reason to give away a little goodie bag. I need your input.

Art supplies NicoleMarie9988

What is your favorite crafting or art product? Mod Podge? Gel medium? Acrylic paint? Ink pads? Paint brushes? Stamps? Alcohol ink? What could you absolutely not DO ART without?

Give us your answer in a comment below. I will choose a winner randomly. If you post about the poll elsewhere, leave the link in a comment, and you’ll get an extra TWO chances. How’s that for a deal? 😉