Friday, December 12, 2008

Pages Without Pictures?!

No photos? Use a movie poster! Pages about movies, music, and sporting events add personality and a glimpse of everyday life.

The focus of a page doens't have to be a photograph.  In this layout, Stephanie wanted to show off a guitar pick and autograph she got after a concert.  Extensive journaling tells the story behind the memorabilia, and a die cut microphone as well as the band's photo and logo (found on the internet) make colorful and unique embellishments.

Don't forget to make pages chronicalling achievements and to display certificates and other memorabilia.

A sign of the times...include pages about your real life and your lifestyle in your albums. Events alone don't tell your story.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Layouts

Sharing some layouts from the other Crafty Neighbors....

Stephanie created this mosaic to showcase her many photographs of the Bronx.  Mosaics are a great option when you have a lot of pictures.  Wish in the Wind is just one company that offers paper, tools, and easy tutorials for creating awesome looking mosaics.

Cindy created this mosaic using background paper from Wish in the Wind.

Christen's freehand doodling around flowers cut out of patterned paper renders a unique perspective.

In another layout by Christen, doodles created with stamps and stencils accentuate a single 4x6 photograph.

More of Christen's doodling.  The stars in the background originated from a stencil and were embellished freehand.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Layout Ideas

Every scrapbook deserves a great opening page.

For this opening page, Stephanie cut a focal point out of her patterned paper (the Statue of Liberty), matted it on a contrasting color of cardstock, and used pop dots to adhere it over another piece of the same patterned paper to give it a 3D effect.

Cindy used a Cricut Expression to cut many different sized circles for this layout.  The circles echo the rings in the olympic symbol.

A layout of last year's Pam's Pals event.

More pages of the same event. The doodles were made with Inque Boutique's "Nightingale" stamp collection and black Staz-On ink.  I then highlighted portions of the doodle with a white Uniball pen.

In keeping with the pink and black theme, Cindy used Staz-On "Brilliance" ink and then restamped a little off-set and embossed in light pink.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Finding the Time to Crop

I was recently bemoaning the lack of time I spend scrapbooking these days, and I wondered to myself, what has changed and what can I do about it? It’s not that I’ve lost interest in scrapbooking; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. If anything, I love this hobby even more than when I first started. I’d be scrapbooking all the time if I could get away with it! And it’s not money, because although my budget has forced me to cut back spending towards my favorite hobby these days, I’ve also gotten a lot smarter about my spending. No more buying of patterned paper just because it was pretty or because I might some day use it, and online printing services have brought cost of photos down to under 10¢ a print. So the only thing that I can think of is where I crop.

In my early days of scrapbooking, back before the XXL and the Cropper Hopper rolling cart, before I filled up five (yes 5!) Cropper Hopper Embellishment Organizers, before the binders full of QuicKutz and the totes full of Stickles and stamps, I used to sit at my kitchen table in the evenings and work on my pages. In fact, I had so few supplies that I could pull up a TV-tray in front of the television and work from there. And then I started shopping. Even after I’d bought a few things, I could still get most of my supplies into a Crop-in-Style Navigator and eventually an XXL. I was still portable. 

My neighbor, Stephanie (Crafty Neighbors, you know!) and I would take turns dragging our carts down the driveway to each other’s houses and we really loved toting our stuff to the local scrapbook stores (LSS) so we could talk to the store employees about the latest and greatest techniques, gizmos, and gadgets. We started out with a Krispy Kremes and Starbucks Crop at the LSS every Thursday at 10:00 A.M. We’d stay until we’d have to leave to pick up my son from school or until guilt forced us into going home to cook dinner for our families. We’d also hit one or two Friday or Saturday night crops a month or drop in on a store for some free crop time. We met a lot of friends that way, and there were always other people around when I cropped. In fact, I rarely cropped at home any more.

I was a lot more productive in those days, too. Since I was cropping all the time, I guess the creative juices were always flowing. We’d be at a crop when midnight would roll around, and we wouldn’t want to stop to go home. Sometimes, if we couldn’t talk the store into staying open a little later, we’d bring our stuff back to the house just to set it all up again and work some more! It wasn’t unheard of to get 8, 10, or even 12 pages done in a night. These days, I’m lucky if I can finish two. We recently had a three-day weekend, and I planned to spend most of it scrapbooking. I was so excited because I thought I might finally finish doing up all the pictures of our trip to Mazatl├ín from a few years back. Nope. It just wasn’t in the cards. In the end, I wound up doing two pages – just two pages!

It’s not that I’m slow. I don’t spend a lot of time bent over the page, daydreaming and trying to figure out what to do to it. I do a lot of power planning. Basically, I do all the design work for a lot of pages at once, in anticipation of what I might want to work on next. Then I gather up all the supplies and keep them all together in Cropper Hopper Page Planners. That way, I have everything ready, so that when it’s time to actually crop, everything I need is right there and it goes down on the page so quickly and easily – even for a page that’s really elaborately embellished. So I’m not wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what to do or whether I have the supplies to do it.

A few years ago, we bought a new house (don’t worry, Stephanie and I still live close enough to be neighbors). My new house had a big sunroom/den that I thought would be perfect for my crop studio. It was full of light, had beautiful hardwood floors, plenty of room for tables, and it opened right onto the kitchen. At first, it was a scrapbooker’s dream come true. Stephanie and I started hosting crop parties here at the house. It was cheaper than doing the crops at the LSS, and we didn’t have to stop at midnight. But over time, everyone started collecting more and more product, and it got harder and harder to tote. And our kids were growing up, too. We couldn’t just leave them at home with Dad for a few hours. We were spending our weekends at dance recitals, swim meets, and football games. After a while, people just quit coming to the crops. And we weren’t going out to crops any more, either. We had acquired so muchstuff that it just wasn’t fun to tote it around any more!

I realized one day that I wasn’t getting any pages done any more. And I really did miss the time I got to spend with my pictures and my pretty paper. I started getting behind. My son was going into high school, and I still hadn’t finished his elementary and junior high albums! So I decided I needed to go back to working on my pages at home, whether anyone else came to crop or not. I resolved to sit down for one hour every night and work on a page. It worked for a while. It was a great stress-reliever at the end of the day, and I was actually getting some work done. But then I noticed that I didn’t even have time for that. I’d get started on a page and it would take me a week to finish it. I figured, at this rate, I was going to be dead and buried before I finished the 3rd grade! No matter what I did, I just could not get anything done!

I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. I blamed it on a lot of things. I was too busy. I work better when I’m with a group of scrappers. I’m spending all my time working on Crafty Neighbor products. But it just didn’t make sense, because I’m really not that much busier than I was a few years ago when we cropped every weekend and came back home to huddle around my kitchen table. And then I finally figured it out--I think the problem is my house! My dream crop room has become the bane of my scrapbooking existence. The space that was supposed to boost my productivity and inspire my magnum opus is now cramping my style! The big, airy, light-filled room that opens into my kitchen has become Grand Central Station!

At first, I loved the fact that I could be in my room without being alone. My family was right there in the kitchen, passing by my room on the way to the fridge, stopping to talk for a moment while I put adhesive on the back of that picture of Christen in her prom dress. I could be doing my thingwithout isolating myself from the family, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about abandoning my family to pursue my own selfish interests. And let’s face it, we all feel a bit selfish when we spend time on our own pursuits – that comes with the title “Mom”! But what I’ve come to realize is that the open-door means Mom is still here, being…well, you know…Mom. So if I take a break for some “me” time, I’m not really getting any me time out of it at all. How could I? After all, there’s nothing to stop my teenager from coming in and saying, "Mom....", and off I go to help him find whatever he’s lost or to give his friend on the phone directions to our house. If I were at the scrapbook store, he'd just have to figure it out for himself. Right?

So, if every time I plan some time to sit down with my new stack of Basic Grey or my Crafters Workshop stencils and life finds a way of interrupting me, then what’s the answer? Do I pare down my supplies to a more totable tote? Do I drive for miles and miles just to attend a 5-hour crop party in the next town? Do the Crafty Neighbors need to buy a building and invest in one of those Crop Clubs so we can do scrap parties every weekend? Do I build a wall and lock the door to get some one-on-one time with my stamp pads? I don’t know. But if I find a way to spend more time scrappin’, I’m hoping I’ll be so busy cropping that I won’t have time to blog here and tell you about it!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Great American Scrapbook Convention

You’ve heard the expression, “A day late and a dollar short,” right? Well that just about sums up the situation after spending three days at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington, Texas last week. The Crafty Neighbors were at GASC all three days (maybe you saw us there in our matching t-shirts?). We passed out lots of free product and met lots of vendors and store owners. We were especially excited to make contact with some potential suppliers of new products and to arrange a retail deal with Susie from Scrappin’ Goodtime in Corsicana. Susie bought out our entire stock of Album Spacers to sell in her store there.

So how are we a day late and a dollar short? Well, basically, we spent all our money on some really good deals (who can resist QuicKutz fonts for $40? or Stickles at buy 4 get 1 free?). And as for being a day late, well, it’s a lot of work putting away all that stuff. I mean, we gotta hide it so our husbands don’t see it, right?

Seriously, though, we learned a lot of techniques and came up with so many ideas for new products that we just can’t wait to show you. Some of our new products will be showing up on the website immediately, and some will come in the following weeks. Needless to say, you should check back often. Some of these items are one-of-a-kind-never-to-be-seen-again, and there’s going to be new stuff added almost daily (or at least we hope!).

We hope you like what you see, and please leave us some feedback. We’d like to know what you like and don’t like about our site, what kinds of products you’d like to see, and just about anything else you’d like to share with us! 


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How Do You Scrap?

How do you scrap? Are you an event scrapper, or a concept scrapper? Do you work chronologically, or do you just pick random pictures? Are you working on the past or the present? One scrapbook at a time, or many? Traditional or digital? What comes first, the picture or the idea?

I'm mostly an event scrapper, but I'm really a combination of a lot of things. My earliest scrapbooks were construction paper and magnetic photo albums where I stuck all my precious keepsakes from my high school years. Those eventually evolved into baby books for my children, and collections of memorabilia from the various rock bands my husband and I played in. Even my genealogy research was more akin to a scrapbook than files! So rather than pages filled with philosophical wanderings, mine have always been about who, what, when, where, and how.

As a pack rat and wannabe photographer, it was only natural that I turned to scrapbooking. I think I got it from my mother. She had this wonderful trunk full of treasures like my first lock of hair, macaroni artwork that my sister had made, and even her own construction paper scrapbook that she had filled with newspaper and magazine clippings of her favorite bands. So when I started amassing things like Gene Simmon's guitar pick and the 1st Place ribbon I won at the VICA convention, I wanted to put them somewhere that I could look at them frequently, and maybe even show them off.

Fast forward to the present day and the digital age, where Photoshop reigns supreme, and the Megapixel is the queen. I still scrap events. Mainly because I have so many pictures, and I am so far behind that I still have years and years of old photographs to stick down on paper. And the stack just keeps getting worse! With a very busy son in high school (you know, one of those kids who thinks they have to do EVERYTHING!), I don't even have time to do this week's events, much less all the other events from the past 15 years!

I look at all the magazines with all the lovely concept pages about favorite things, love, and nature, and I wonder, do these ladies get to spend so much more time scrapbooking that they've already finished all the Christmases, birthdays, and high school graduations? Or did they just give up trying to document all the Easters, dance recitals, and garden parties? I have pictures from family vacations that could fill a single book! There's no way I could ditch 20 great pictures of the orchestra concert in favor of just one close-up of my son in his tux! And how will I ever remember my daughter's first birthday with out a picture of the cake before and after she stuck her whole hand down into it?

I get bored easily, too. So I hate just working on one album at a time. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. But if I have to look at one more picture from the Boy Scout National Jamboree, I'll puke! I wound up with over 40 pages from that single two-week event, and by the time it was finished, I was dying for something new to work on. Something that had nothing to do with Boy Scouts! So for that reason, I'm always working on several things all at once. I have a neat file system where I keep proposed pages. I have several pages all planned out in various categories: Boy Scouts, my son's school days, my daughter's school days, my own childhood, current family events, old family events, etc. That way I always have something interesting to work on. Some of it I do chronologically, like the Boy Scout pages, simply because they have to go in the album in a certain order, and I don't want any blank pages that I wouldn't be able to fill. Others, like my children's and family events, I do in whatever order pleases me, however inspiration strikes. For these albums, a blank page here and there just means that I'll have to make one of those wonderfully inspired philosophical pages one of these days when I'm done with all the events. I can't wait!

Of course, I have to thank my lucky stars for all the technology that's made it easy for me to stay organized enough to scrap all my cherished memories. A good flatbed scanner and Photoshop have enabled me to completely archive not only my photos, but my mother's as well. And on more than one occasion, it's saved a photographic disaster from the waste bin. I use my computer to find pictures of random things I never thought to take a picture of when I was younger, like the house of my best friend or my favorite Barbie doll. It's also great for printing out titles and doing special effects. I've even done at least one purely digital page (see the Reader Gallery!). So for me, digital storage is a total lifesaver. That way, when I am inspired by a beautiful layout in a magazine, I can go straight to the photos and do up an amazing page. Or better yet, maybe I'll just finish this big pile of Cub Scout pictures first....