theresa mARTin

mixed media art


Judy’s Altered Minds 10 items in a paper bag challenge.

Judy’s Altered Minds, known as JAMs for short, is a free altered art group open to all who are interested and meetings are held at Judy Gula’s Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria VA.  If you are in the area and want to join us, read more HERE.

One of the things the group does is create challenges and sometimes exchanges. The most recent challenge was as follows:

The Paper bag challenge:

Each participant brings a plain lunch bag with 10 items from her studio, kitchen, garage, and so forth, along with a list of what’s included. The bags will be traded and a mixed media Work of Art using at least part of each item will be revealed in May.


What I gave as challenge pieces.

We could, of course, add any items we needed to make a mixed media piece.

Above is a photo of what I left as a challenge for one another JAM member. The bags were closed and picked at random. I know exactly what I would have done with the items to make a mixed media piece, but I may have thrown the recipient for a loop. At first she thought someone was out to get her, but after a while she seemed to embrace her items and I can’t wait to see what she does with them. The challenge ends in May. I got stuck into mine right away and finished early.

10 items

What I received as challenge pieces.36″ bead trim on ribbon

Here’s what the paper bag I got contained. I went through the same thought process as my recipient because some of the items were plastic, which I rarely use, and some of the items were yellow, which I rarely use. While I like hearts, these too were plastic and I wasn’t sure where they would fit.

  1. 36″ bead trim on ribbon
  2. 1 skein of embroidery floss
  3. red white and blue marbles
  4. plastic numbers 0-9
  5. heart sequins
  6. 1 sheet green designer foil
  7. plastic fraction sections
  8. pale yellow sheer ribbon
  9. 10mm faceted acrylic jewels
  10. set of 2 tassels

Nothing seemed to go together and it took me a while to work it out.

The secret you need to know is that the person who put together the items I received loves purple. See her list of items above to the right? It’s written in purple ink.  Everyone was amazed that her items weren’t purple, but we speculated affectionately that perhaps she couldn’t part with any purple items.  Her love of purple was what gave me my direction in the end.


Yes, I tried to get some purple on the glass bead and the plastic heart, but it wasn’t happening.

I put everything into a cup and used violet Dr. Ph Martin Inks to turn them purple. Plastic doesn’t dye, so it was limited to the threads, ribbons and tassels.


The ribbons took in the ink well. The red turned a deep wine color.


The results became somewhat homogenous, which is what I was going for. Everything got dipped in the ink again after this point to get a deeper color. I liberated the beads and butterflies from the ribbon to use them in pieces. I didn’t use the butterflies, but partial use of items is allowed and I used the beads and ribbon.

I cut the fraction rulers and drilled holes on one section and used another red section as a mask for the face of my main figure. The colors I was left were reddish and purple, so that guided me through the rest of the piece.

JamsFigureThe fabrics and figure were in my supply cupboard and I liked how they matched the red wine colors I got from the ink. I kept building up the piece from there to fit a 6″ x 12″ x 2″ panel and this is the final result. A section from all 10 items are in this piece, but they are transformed.







Mary Mary

IMG_9427Mary Mary Quite Contrary is a 6″ x 6″ x 2″ mixed media piece.  It’s part of a series of nine that I’m working on for the show at Glenview Art Gallery in Rockville, MD, coming in November.  I began by scanning a photo into Photoshop, then printing it out onto Transfer Artist Paper. I ironed on the transfer to cotton, as you see above.

IMG_9455I drew the square and made an impression of the 2″ deep canvas board to define the edges. I painted the background metallic silver and roughed in the circle guidelines.

FullSizeRenderShe now has a green dress.  The first embellishments sewn on were the silver spikes. I added a row of pale blue Swarovski rhinestones inside the spike circle.


The background has a rice stitch with Japanese silver leaf thread.  The final touch was the teeny tiny pearl necklace. It’s now stretched onto a 6″ x 6″ x 2″ canvas board.



The collection grows.