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.

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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!

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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…………
Smiles~
Marilyn

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Stuck Sticks to Get You Creating

Hi there, folks! Scraps, here, with a necessity-is-the-crafter-of-inspiration project from Alchemist Jo!

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Jo: I keep myself busy with quite a few art challenges which is great for inspiration but every so often I want to create something just for me, just because I can, just because.  So there I am, I’ve set aside some time, I’m sitting in my crafting area and, oh dear,  wondering what I can do.

**Tumbleweed Moment**

I’ll twitch a few pencils, stroke my favourite cardstock but will be stuck for inspiration.  Sound familiar to anyone?!  A-ha!  I now have a solution to this problem!

STUCK STICKS!  You’re stuck?  Pick a stick!

washi_tape_ink_inspiration

The pot is a food can (baked beans in this case) covered with washi tape. Have you checked out the Gauche Alchemy WASHI TAPE yet?!  My secret mission is to end up with one of each set!  It’s so easy to use and looks wonderful (especially if I don’t drool over it!).

The sticks are coffee shop wooden stirrers (ok ok, I drink too much coffee) which I color-tinted with Distress Inks and Distress Stains.

inspiration_colour_words_washi_tin

I rubber stamped with Staz-on ideas for creative things to do–sometimes very specific like ‘ATC’, ‘alter something’ or ‘watch a gauche video and have a go at the technique’, other ones giving broader inspiration such as ‘quote’, ‘choose a decade’ or ‘open a technique book and have a go at one’.  One of my most effective inspiration un-stucker stickers is to tidy up my crafting area – it’s amazing what gets found and I’m instantly inspired to create :o)

This was a quick and fun little project.  It would be great to team up with a like minded friend and make a set for each other – then you wouldn’t have a clue what idea you were going to pick out, what fun!

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Oh how fun! Not only did she dress up a lot of things that would have otherwise been tossed into the trash, but she made them into an awesome creativity tool for herself! And I love the idea of a stuck stick swap, anyone game?

~Scraps~

PS: As Sunday is Mother’s Day, I just wanted to take a moment to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to our Gauche Mamas, Mom-Alchemists and all our Mom-readers, too! Wishing you much crafty time to indulge your passions!

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Neon Cuteness in a Tutu (or madness and a camera)

Good Morning Everyone!  Marilyn here with a layout from Alchemist Michelle that is stunning in it’s creative cleverness & just so darn cute to boot.  Michelle, show us what you’ve got…………………………………………..

Mutant Robots Kit

My daughter actually napped today!!! For 2 hours!!!  I got to do some work in actual DAYLIGHT!!!  Using the same basic page design I always use, I slapped on some  washi tape, (including some triangles which I am now officially obsessed with) and incorporated the Gauche Alchemy Neon Color Kit and the Mutant Robots Kit (for the Alice In Wonderland quote, rabbit, word bubble and pink frame).  I wanted to include some journaling but I ran out of space, so here’s the story:

I had a very elaborate “Alice In Wonderland” theme birthday party planned for my 1 year old daughter.  That should tell you everything about how it went right there.  Elaborate and 1 year old do NOT mix.  The disaster alarm started ringing from the first step – a photoshoot with a handmade tutu and apron set I thought was “adorable”.  Well first of all, she hated the tutu.  She also hated the insane Carmen Miranda flower tiara I made for her (I was the Red Queen for the party but obviously Mad Hatter was a more appropriate choice).  I took Miss Thang out 7 times over the space of 4 weeks to get 1 cute baby smiling at the camera shot.  I didn’t even manage 1!!!  I was shooting with a brand spanking new point and shoot camera on auto.  Ok – straight talk from the chick who wasted 4 years and 60 thousand dollars on a photo degree.  DO NOT SHOOT TODDLERS IN SCRATCHY TUTUS USING AUTO FOCUS!!!!  Learn to use your new camera on manual setting or pay K-Mart to shoot the darned photo for you.  WHY?  Because your adorable kidlet in a tutu will look at the camera and smile for exactly 3 seconds no matter how long you spend trying to shoot.  The rest of the time the child in question will move around – a camera on auto focus will spend all it’s time refocusing and you will slowly go MAD.  But you knew this, didn’t you?

Closeup Word Elements

Journaling – 173 images.  Yup, you read right, 173 images – well, it’s actually around 300 but 173 is my final edit from all 7 shoots.  I SQUEALED when I saw the page from Alice in Wonderland in my Mutant Robots Kit!  It’s one of my all time favorite books and it fit the theme I had been struggling to capture for a while now.  I altered the grey American Crafts Thickers using some acrylic paint, yellow marker and a fine line pen.  The neon yarn is from the Neon Color Kit.  The background paper is my favorite print from Basic Grey’s AWESOME “Out of Print” collection.

Washi Tape Stripes

TRIANGLES AND STRIPES!!!!  LOOOVE!  Washi tape is so great – cut it up and stick it on – that’s all you need to create all kinds of cool patterns on your paper.  My favorite combos are diagonal stripe, grid and lace scallops.

Washi String Color

I don’t know if anyone else does this but I like adding cream or white mist droplets to my photos for a “Bokeh” effect without all the fancy in-camera technical footwork.  It’s easier than trying to get the right amount of “out of focus” and I really don’t like random messy effects digital “Bokeh” filters add to photos.

Graffitti Inspiration

Let me leave you with this quote:  If you are silent, the walls speak. Please do not forget me they plead.

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Don’t you love it when you can take several different Gauche Alchemy Kits, pull elements out of each, and then watch things “fall” into place (especially when you spot THE piece that you need for your project”?  Even if it does take umpteen shots to get the perfect (or not so perfect) shot?  My eyes are crossing just thinking about looking through a camera that many times!  Michelle, you rock!

Until later……………………..
Smiles~
Marilyn

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ANNOUNCEMENT (washitape washitape washitape)!

HEAR YE!  HEAR YE!  I come bringing news of immense proportions!  Gauche Alchemy studios is proud and INSANELY giddy to announce the arrival of a new category to our shop.    Wanna know what it is?  I’ll give you a little peek…

Oooooooh…so pretty, right?  That’s right, my gauchie friends…WASHI TAPE!  Twenty different variety packs, to be exact. Stripes, plaid, dots, metallic!  We’ve got it all.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Any of these trios could be yours for only $10 with FREE SHIPPING!  How sweet is that?  Stop by the shop and behold the grand array of washi goodness!!!!

Please stop by regularly to see some fantastic examples of what you can do with washi tape! And possibly a giveaway or two.  But you don’t like giveaways, do you?

I promise you will not be disappointed.

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**

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Getting Sassier with Age: A Retrospective

Amy and Heather here, getting nostalgic and taking a peek backwards as we move forward…

We’ve been asked from time to time how Gauche Alchemy got its start. It might be a boring story, but we’ve decided give you a few of the details on this, our 3rd anniversary.  It’s been a wild ride, for sure, and we are still learning as we go.

Heather and I started scrapping together when our young children were much younger.  I got into scrapbooking in 2000, just after I returned from Greece to visit a friend.  I’m so glad I memorialized that experience because I forgot many more of the details than I imagined I would – mostly names and details of the places and people I saw.  Anyway, I kept trying to lure Heather into it, but it took a while.  Eventually (I think it was around 2005), she took to it, and I finally had a scrapping buddy (yay!).  Her daughter was only a baby then, and shortly after that, I got pregnant with my daughter.  When I finally had her (kind of) sleeping through the night, I’d head to my scrap room as soon as she was asleep and stay up much too late, getting some time for myself.  It was truly therapy at that time.

It was the best girl time!  We spent some great late nights building a wonderful friendship and making some art in the process.  And there may have been a glass or two of wine involved, and definitely some guacamole.  Midnight IS the snacking hour, after all!

Over time, our scrap room conversations turned to maybe starting our kit club.  Already we were tiring of “strictly scrap.” We wanted ephemera and found objects and fun stuff we couldn’t necessarily find at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  We had no idea how to do it, but we thought it would be fun and give us an excuse to shop and then share what we found with others.

And it definitely had to have a gauche, irreverent twist.  No stereotypical scrapbook themes here!  We laughed ourselves silly thinking of taglines we would put on our hypothetical business cards, and wrote down list after list of themed kits we dreamed up!  No topic was sacred.

We decided that it had to be a bit different than anything else out there, so we combined as much attitude as two polite young women can muster (ha!), and took the leap.  I spent a lot of time in those days designing and doing my best to optimize the blog.  My husband complained I was married to my computer.  We made it up as we went along, and there was a lot of making up to do… because we quickly realized with the economy tanking, that there wasn’t as much demand for subscription kit clubs as there once was.  It seemed everyone was looking to get OUT of commitments, and even staunch kit club fanatics were cutting back.

So we went back to the drawing board and took another look at our vision for Gauche Alchemy.  At that point, it became much more freewheeling.  We released themed kits sporadically, stopped focusing on subscribers, and kept adding more mixed media basics.  Some of these have endured.  Others have gone the way of the dodo.  We try to keep looking at everything with fresh eyes.  We’ve experimented with different design team configurations.  We tried pulling back; we’ve tried racing forward.  And we generally try to keep our finger on the pulse of what our readers and customers want without giving up our uniqueness and that little niche that GA seems to fill rather nicely.

We have not been afraid to rock the boat, and we like designers who operate the same way.  Julie Kirk is a great example of a past designer (and Team Captain!) who really knows how to have a party in the boat, lampshade on head, shaking her booty with abandon.  In her underwear.  And then there’s our current Captain, Maggi Flynn, who (as far as I know) coined the phrase, “Rip the box a new one.”   How’s that for thinking outside the box?

In fact, without our designers and team captains, I know that GA could not be what it has become today.  Although we are getting closer to the eventual goal of at least one of us quitting her day job, that hasn’t happened yet.  We work a lot over weekends and pack orders late into the evening… juggling jobs and families with Gauche Alchemy.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world, and without our designers to rock things out and captains to keep everyone on track, we might have given up long ago (there have been times I’ve considered it, if I’m being honest).  It truly is the most gratifying thing to have others share in your vision, and we try to keep things like family as much as we can around here.

I bet you’re wondering what our favorite kits have been in the past three years…

In our quest to give our customers the most unique kits (served with a huge dose of snark, to be sure), we’ve covered a myriad of taboo topics.  Our “Lush” kit served up vintage cocktails, complete with fancy umbrellas and drink stirrers.  The above kit, “Geekery”, is one of my very favorites from the past three years.  Flash cards, typography, tweed, vintage engineering diagrams and original art pieces from local artist Roy Wasson Valle.  **drool**  I’m such a sucker for a boy who likes numbers!

And this kit was very near and dear to my heart.  “Moms for Mams” was our kit for Breast Cancer Awareness month, and a very special one.  My own mother is a breast cancer survivor, so being able to share this kit was especially meaningful.

 

What’s YOUR favorite kit?  Or maybe you have a favorite artist that sparked your creative ideas or read a blog post that challenged you to try a new technique.

  Our main goal here at Gauche Alchemy has always been to inspire you to be fearless in your art making, and we truly hope that this upcoming third year of business will bring a huge, heapin’ helpin’ of just that.  Thank you for sticking around–we’ve got some really amazing stuff in store for you!

Happy Birthday, Gauche Alchemy!

Hey everyone!  It’s Amy and Heather.

Whoo hoo!  Can you believe Gauche Alchemy is THREE years old? What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Stay tuned this month, as you will be getting behind the scenes glimpses of the innermost workings of Gauche and insights to our humble and crass beginnings…don’t worry, we won’t post anything toooo personal.  Or will we?  You just never know!

We have had a quiet summer – at least from your perspective.  The blog has been silent for the most part, while we scheme our evil plots and hatch our gauche plans.  We’ve got some terrific fun for you this month and in the coming months, starting with our guest designer, Dina Wakley!

As many of you may know, Dina has been an amazing creative force in the mixed media and scrapbooking world for a number of years.  She was, in fact, one of my first true crafty inspirations, and she remains one today!  Her unique style has taken her all over the globe teaching and sharing her love of art.  Needless to say, I was pretty darn excited when Amy and I scheduled a face to face meeting with her!

Heather and I had the pleasure of meeting Dina in person, as she is one of the few designers we’ve worked with who actually live in the same city we do.  It was a bit of hike to get to each other, as Phoenix is one large m-f’er of a city, but we had a lovely lunch with her at Wildflower Bread Company (where I ate like a pig bellying up to the trough, but that’s a different story).

Dina’s cutie patootie youngest son was there to act as photographer, and a good time was had by all.  Dina and Heather seem to be hatching plans to make art and bake bread from the whispers I’ve been hearing… now that’s an event that will require photographic evidence, cuz I can’t wait to see what THAT’S all about!

It’s true!  If I ever make it to her side of town, there will be baking and painting involved!  PS: Can you tell from the picture that it is about 179 degrees where we live?  Talk about a glow!  ** it is actually a delightful combination of oil and sweat, but we prefer to think of it as glowing.  Always a lady!**

And we have another bit of news for you – we are releasing a new kit NEXT WEEK!  I don’t want to give too much away, but if you like mail art, you are going to LOVE this kit.  The new kit has a smaller version and a larger version – one for every budget… and we’ll also be having a ton of giveaways and prizes this month to celebrate our third birthday and our re-launch after our summer of silence.  So make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Facebook – some of the goodies will be given away there.  Also, if you don’t already have a Gauche Alchemy badge or blinkie on your blog, consider putting one up – we’ll be choosing blinkers (badgers?) at random to win fun stuff.