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.





11 thoughts on “Judy’s Altered Minds 10 items in a paper bag challenge.

  1. So beautiful. I am amazed at what you made with what you had! It was a great idea to dye everything! Love how this challenge turned out for you. Do you give the finished product to the original person or is it yours to keep? This opened my eyes to seeing things in a new light!

  2. Game on, Theresa! My bag is pitiful, but I, too have inks and sprayers and (OMG is that a FRAME?!?) something to mount the idjit thing on. Thanks for posting this, you brave, brave soul. I love your art, JAMS friend!

  3. You’ve done wonders with the contents of your bag. Great idea to dye them to make them tone in together. Love the idea of this priject.

  4. You clever girl you! Gorgeous project Theresa!! Had to laugh about the bag you put together and someone thinking you were out to get them- your recipient obviously wasn’t very familiar with your style and love of metals and rust:):)

    I hope you fared well through all the storms last eve and didn’t have any damage or lose power. I heard some were not so lucky. We were lucky to only have some nasty weather and minor flooding in areas. No power was lost at all despite the wild winds.

  5. How lovely. I haven’t started on my project yet. Thanks for the step by step photos. I’m now inspired to start. I would have loved the bag you put together.

  6. Theresa, such a fabulous idea! I’m going to suggest it a local group of art chix here in Tampa. Of course, we have one friend who would be reluctant to give up her “stuff,” but this will be a good lesson in letting go. Love what you did with the photo.

  7. Love this! And you did a cool piece given you had to work with what you were given. I had a similar idea for a collage class- kind of like the cooking show Chopped where the cooks open their baskets and have to prepare a dish using those ingredients. Great to see your example of how it could work. 🙂

  8. It would have been a delight to get your bag of treasures Theresa.
    Coloring all of the pieces you received was such a great beginning.
    Your beautiful style came shining through in what you created too (of course!).
    I have participated in similar challenges and found it a good way to step outside the box.

  9. That bag had me on the run and I almost didn’t do the challenge after I saw my items. But couldn’t go out like that. I had to look at the items and think about what I would do if they were paper and took inspiration from a cardboard box. It turned out great and I THANK Theresa for challenging me and for thinking outside the box. : O

  10. Pingback: theresa mARTin and JAMs Challenges | Judy Gula, Fiber & Mixed Media Artist

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