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Friday, September 25, 2009

Interview with Ramona and Samantha of Altered Art Junkies

We have a very special treat for you this week! A double interview (those are always so fun!) with Samantha and Ramona of Altered Art Junkies. These two ladies host swaps together and make all sorts of art! Let's meet them and then go check out their blog and see all their wonderful crafty creations!

SwapDex: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Samantha: I am 40 and live in Orange County, CA. I am married with a daughter who is 4. We have a yellow lab named Saide. I work for the City of Santa Ana as a Senior Workers’ Compensation Claims Examiner, I include the “senior” as I worked very hard for that J. I’ve been crafting since I was little, it started with crocheting and sewing. I loved to sew but never did it by the book. I was also in a rush to get it done and while my items came out good they were never great. I would alter my thrift store clothes a lot when I was a teenager/young adult or sew curtains, pillows, etc. Our family was also into craft, at one time we were all crocheting and gave each other blankets for Christmas. Now that I look back at that its very funny.

I have to give a kuddos to Ramona as she always takes crafts to the next level. For Halloween or birthday parties she would make the most amazing things. One Halloween she made a 5 ft. hallow eves tree, it was about 3ft wide, with evil eyes, cut off limbs, amazing. She made it out of paper mache.

Ramona: I just turned 40 and live in Half Moon Bay, CA. I am married with one son and two dogs. My son is 5 and I am a stay at home mom, for now. Crafting has been a part of my life since I can remember. My mother has always crafted and passed her love onto me. I started with painting and crocheting pot holders, then blankets. I have a scrapbook I made in high school, before all the scrapbook craze took ahold. My mom also has a scrapbook of her wedding and first baby shower. Currently I am doing altered art projects with recycled items, bottle caps, can lids, plastic containers and cd's.

SD: How long have you been swapping? How did you first learn about swapping, and what made you decide to start? Do you remember your first one?

Samantha: I’ve been swapping about 5 years. I started going to altered art classes with my Aunt Pam and we participated in a swap. I love it as there is so much amazing creativity out there and you are sharing it. I started with ATC then joined in Halloween and Valentine swaps.

I participated in my first one about 5 years ago after learning about it through someone in an art class. I was more curious than anything and figured I could use the cards in my art projects.

Ramona: Well, Samantha introduced me to swapping. We started a couple of years ago and our group included family and a couple of friends. Total there was about 12 in our first swap. We started with a large project, creating two altered art pages for each person in the group. Each swapper would send a journal around to each person in the group and in the end you would have 12 pages done. Large project and in the end everyone was very bored with the whole thing. Plus we almost had a missing journal due to the post office.

SD: What is your range of swapping? Do you stick to swaps hosted by people you know or are you likely to swap with anyone, anytime?

Ramona: Due to time I swap within our group and haven't ventured outside yet. Samantha has and really loves the experience.

Samantha: My range has been from ATC cards to craft projects with added treats. My swap partners have been family members and complete strangers in different states and countries. For Halloween last year I participated in a swap I found on a blog and received an amazing scary black storage box filled with lovely pieces of wallpaper, ephemera and images.

SD: Do you swap with any organized groups like yahoo groups, flickr, groups on swap-bot, other message boards, etc? Why or why not?

Ramona: I belong to a yahoo group but haven't joined one of their swaps, I watch from the sidelines. Belonging to this group has been fun even though I haven't joined in, I enjoy reading their comments and seeing the pictures. Once my son starts school I hope to be able to have some free time and join in the discussions and swaps more.

Samantha: I’ll swap with anyone, near or far.

SD: What's your favorite swap you've ever been in or hosted?

Ramona: Samantha and I took a cruise and did a swap of ATC's, this was fantastic! The creativity out there is amazing. I still have a binder with all the ATC's I received.

Samantha: I agree with Ramona on the cruise swap. We went on the Arts De Mer pirate theme altered art craft cruise and the social for the first night was to swap ATC or any other precious item. I received AMAZING ATCs, gorgeous, crafty and clever and I hold those with care. I made a altered art book out of them and it was so easy, I painted the pages and placed 3 or 4 ATC and other items I received on each page decorating it beautifully.

SD: What do you do to make your packages special?

Ramona: When I make an item for someone I want to make sure they can use the item on a regular basis. I want the item to be used or displayed, not just thrown in a drawer or thrown away! So I really try and make my items useful. As for packaging, well I try and put colorful tissue paper and ribbon. Make the package a present, because that is what it really is, a little present full of surprises for the receiver.

Samantha: I make my items to be used more as a decorated item to bring out for holidays or birthday or just to make the person to feel special. I love packaging, that is probably my favorite. I want the mailing box and package wrap to say “there is something special in here and its for you”.

SD: Do you have a good story about hosting or participating in a swap?

Ramona: Well, once I received a very odd bust of some sort. Not sure what it was suppose to be and what material is was made from. But trying is all we can ask of anyone, good or bad you have to try. Everyone is at different levels in crafting and I just enjoy the fact that people are crafting. You don't have to aspire to be the next Martha Stewart to enjoy being creative.

Samantha: I haven’t received anything really odd yet, but I know what item Ramona is referring to and we both are in agreement that everyone has a different vision of art and you have to appreciate that. You have to be open to receiving anything because you never know what is in that box or envelope!

SD: What do you think is the most challenging part of hosting a swap? Any advice for someone who is thinking about hosting a swap?

Samantha: Be organized! I can’t tell you how confusing assigning swap partners can get.

Ramona: Getting people to join is the toughest. In our group we give everyone a chance to pick a project and so far that has worked for us. My advice is to be very organized and keep track of your participants. Second, be open to suggestions. You may really be into ATC's but your group wants to try inches, just be open.

SD: Any exciting plans for the near future? Swaps, projects, new products?

Ramona: We are currently working towards a Halloween Swap. If all goes as planned we will assign partners by mailing them a gift. Samantha and I try and do things a little different, make people feel special. We want people to remember us and keep coming back to our blog and swaps.

Samantha: I’ll ditto Ramona and say we just want everyone to have fun in our swaps and provide interesting, useful craft adventures on our blog. I would also love to go on another art cruise but that may have to wait till next year. Maybe we can do our own if we can find enough people.

SD: Excellent, ladies! Thanks so much for chatting with us, it was great to get to know two more great swapping gals!

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