Coffee - A Layout and Background Technique Tutorial - Gauche Alchemy

Hi! I'm sharing a layout and a quick tutorial for the Gauche Alchemy May "How To" Challenge today. I've had a lot of firsts in my life, but I recently had an experience that really opened eyes--and my taste buds! I took my daughters to a birthday party a couple weeks ago. This was a solo trip for me, as my husband was off camping with the boys, so I went through a lot of mental preparation to help ready myself to survive several hours of screaming kids, party games, extreme quantities of sugar and the normal amount of chaos that goes along with birthday celebrations. What I didn't expect was to walk onto a backyard patio and have the child's mother hand-roast, grind and brew coffee beans for the adults in a kid-free zone under a shaded canopy. The small table, glassware and hours-long coffee brewing process is true to the hostess's native country of Eritrea, Africa. One taste of this sweet elixir had me reaching a complete state of zen. I've been drinking coffee for years, but I'm documenting this as my first real taste.

Let me tell you, Starbucks doesn't have anything on this brew! While I was contemplating how I might possibly carve out 3-5 hours of each day to prepare and enjoy a real cup of coffee, I created this colorful layout. I wanted to try a new {to me} technique to pair with the memory of my experience. I found what looked to be a fun technique in the Spring issue of Somerset Apprentice--Cool Backgrounds with Citra Solv by Vanessa Spencer. All you need is a stack of old magazines, high-gloss pictures will work the best, and a bottle of Citra Solv.

Step One: Hang a magazine page vertically onto a cardboard box.

Steps Two and Three: Spray the magazine page liberally with Citra Solv and let sit for 10-15 minutes. The ink will start to drip off the paper. Note: I used homesolv from the makers of Citra Solv because it came in a convenient spray bottle. I tried other cleaners that I had on hand that contained orange oil and they did not work for this process.

Step Four: Wipe away excess cleaner and ink. Let dry and use for art projects!

I tore the treated magazine pages into strips for my layout. I have a nice mix of papers that were wiped clean of prints (top photo) and papers that sport a cool splatter pattern (bottom photo) from the solvent spray. I think I'll continue to play with this technique with stencils and sponges to try to remove the ink in a more textured/patterned way.

Thanks for stopping by today! We’d love to see how this challenge inspires you so please share your work with us! Here's the May Challenge board for further inspiration.


  1. Wow!! What a great idea for the parents at a kids party! I love love love your lo! LOVING the colors and that background you created! Genius!!

  2. Fantastic LO!! So you enjoyed the party :-)


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