Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's Old Is New Again....

The saying goes, “There is nothing new under the sun,” and when it comes to scrapbooking, that saying is often true.  Try though we might, there are times when we just run out of fresh ideas.  But who says we have to always have fresh new ideas anyway? 

One of my not-so-secret joys is my penchant for finding new uses for old items and reusing things over and over and over.  What can I say?  I’m a firm believer in “Recycle, Renew, Reuse”.  I’ve made mini albums out of toilet paper rolls, calendars out of cookie sheets, and wreaths out of old newspapers.  I also am very good at reusing old scrapbooking ideas again and again.

I just wrapped up day 20 of the LOAD 212 challenge, and I discovered a recurrent theme in my scrapbooking:  I don’t like to waste ANYTHING.  I will use and reuse scraps of paper until there is absolutely nothing useful in them any more.  I will store away stray stickers and odd embellishments leftover from other projects just in case I might need them some day.  I keep everything!  While many of my friends are having scrapbook garage sales to get rid of all their extra, unused supplies, I’m busy trying to find places to store mine.  Fortunately, I also spend a lot of time trying to find creative ways to use those odd bits, so they do actually get some use.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I like to make cards and tags with the scraps from my page layouts, but I may not have mentioned that I also make other layouts with scraps from layouts.  This is especially true whenever I have a lot of paper left over from a kit or from a large project.  I just can’t toss it, so it will eventually wind up in another album somewhere, done up in a completely different style.  Most of the time, no one will ever realize it.  I don’t limit myself to just reusing the paper and cardstock, either.  I’ve reused pictures in multiple layouts, spread a pack of embellishments across many different pages, and even copied the exact same layout design but with different paper, pictures, and embellishments.  My rule of thumb is, “If it’s in a different album, then no one will ever know!”

To illustrate my point, here are my last 4 days of LOAD layouts and a listing of all the features that are copied or repeated in each one.  Then take a look at the layouts I copied them from below:

Doctor:  All of the embellishments on this page came from a cut-out page I bought years ago.  I’ve been using pieces of it on layouts ever since.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but I glazed select portions of the embellishments to give them dimension.  The letters are plastic and came from a baggie I bought at a scrapbook garage sale several years ago.  They've gotten lots of use.

Birthday:  The background paper is Basic Grey from the “Lime Rickey” pack that I used extensively in my son’s Boy Scout album for his 2-week long World Jamboree trip.  This paper was used on no less than 3 layouts in that album, plus countless birthday cards.

Kennsington:  Okay, there’s really nothing in this digital layout that I directly stole, but I’m sure I have a layout pretty much like this simple one somewhere.  And now that I think of it, I sure use a lot of green.  Of the 20 layouts I have done for this challenge, I used green on 12 of them.  Many times the green that was used was a small piece left over from another project.

Fashion:  This one has several repeating themes.  The paper comes from DCWV.  If you’ve followed my LOAD progress at all, you will notice that I have used the same “Retro” paper pack repeatedly.  What can I say?  It was cute paper, and it definitely works well with the prompts I’ve been given.  I also used yet another art phrase from this pack, and the photos themselves were used in Christen’s high school scrapbook because she made the dress and wore it to her Homecoming Dance.

And here is a look at the original use of these stolen bits:

They don't look a bit alike, do they?  So just remember, the next time you get stuck in a scrapbooking rut, or can’t think of what to do, go flip through your old scrapbooks and projects.  The answer may be right there, waiting for you to copy it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I've Learned So Far

It’s day 16 of the LOAD 212 challenge, and I have to say this experience has taught me a lot about scrapbooking.  I’ve been using the challenge as an opportunity to experiment with different techniques and styles.  I’m also learning a lot about myself and my creative process along the way.

For instance, I find it very difficult to work in a cluttered area.  If everything is strung out all over my worktable, I can’t find anything and I wind up making a bigger mess (or worse yet, break or tear something) trying to find it.  It also takes me longer to get stuff done.

I’ve also learned that my photo filing system isn’t as foolproof as I thought it was.  I spent several hours today hunting frantically for pictures for today’s layout, and they were scattered in multiple locations – all very logical locations, of course, but scattered, nonetheless.

Learning to just “go with it” has been a real challenge for me.  As I mentioned previously, I hate making decisions, so sometimes I have been know to shuffle the elements of a page around for hours hoping that any minute the pieces will just all fall into place and a wonderful page layout will develop.  When I’m not doing a challenge, this can sometimes hold a layout up for days.  I’ll work on other things and periodically look at the offending page, and eventually I’ll come up with something.  Doing the LOAD challenge, I don’t have that luxury.  Some of my layouts have been completed just under the wire, and if I had dallied any longer with it, I would have failed to get it done on time. 

To overcome this shortcoming, I’ve tried to make myself just start slapping the pictures down.  My first instinct would tell me that this technique would make for a terrible, sloppy page, but I’ve actually found that even though I “just slap” the pictures down to start with, the layouts have all developed into some pretty cute ideas (if I do say so myself).  I’ll let you be the judge…

So I’m still hanging in there, and I’m still getting the challenges done on time.  My next big challenge is going to be how to complete a layout while I’m on the road.  I actually have a business trip this weekend, and will have to complete and upload my layout from my hotel room.  I plan to bring some limited tools, but almost no supplies, and I will have to visit a local scrapbook store to get whatever I will need to complete the project for the day.  It’s a scary thought, but I’m up for the challenge.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Scrapbooking Challenges

Have you ever had a scrapbooking challenge?  There are all kinds.  For instance, LOAD 212 is a challenge to complete a layout a day for a whole month.  I’ve also seen challenges that dared participants to create layouts on specific themes or using only specific products, or even by using nothing but scraps.  Those kinds of challenges are fun, definitely challenging, and useful tools to help us expand our creativity and start thinking out of the box.

There are other kinds of scrapbooking challenges as well.  Those are the kind of challenges that make us look deep within our inner selves to create meaningful pages or solve difficult problems.  Sometimes the challenge is to create that special page – you know the one – you have the perfect picture or a very special event and you want the final layout to be just right.  Maybe it was your wedding, or a special picture of your grandmother.  Whatever it was, you thought about it for a long time before you started, and you may have even stopped in the middle because you were unsure of what to do next. 

I’ve had pages like that.  Pages that were so special that I didn’t dare work on them until I found the perfect paper and had the perfect plan.  Some of them I toiled over for weeks before I made them just right.  In the end, I loved what I wound up with, but often the end result was not exactly what I had envisioned.  Sometimes it was even better. 

A great example is my daughter’s prom.  I actually did a couple of mini-album layouts for both her grandparents long before I did a layout for her high school scrapbook.  I had found cardstock that perfectly matched her dress, and had used some pretty bits of a lacy handmade paper as an embellishment.  At the time, I thought it was really pretty.  A few months later, I decided to finally do the 12x12 version of the layouts, but much to my dismay, I couldn’t get either of the two papers anywhere.  I spent months on end searching before I finally gave up.  I just knew her pages were going to be awful.  And then one day I stumbled upon a different paper, and I played around with a different idea.  It's a very simple intro page, just some pretty patterned paper and a lot of hand-cut flowers, but what I wound up with was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.  

And here was another page I worked on really hard.  I just loved this photo of my son when he was small.  I wanted to make the perfect layout.  It's really simple, but the colors just worked so well.  I decided to use it as the opening page for his Cub Scout scrapbook.  I think it made the perfect intro.

Of course, sometimes even when you have the perfect idea, that doesn’t mean it will work out.  Yesterday’s LOAD challenge is the perfect example.  The prompt for the day was “Home Sweet Home” and I knew instantly that I would work on one of the pages I have stashed away in my “pre-planned” box.  Those are some of my go-to projects that I keep at the ready for when I’m stumped or I just want to do a layout really quick without thinking.  The paper, the pictures and often even the title and specific layout are already picked out and bundled together in a folder.  All that is required is assembly and some creative finessing.  When it works, that is.

I seriously thought yesterday’s layout would be a simple matter of slapping some pictures on a page and putting a title on it.  The plan was to do a mosaic tile (see Wish in the Wind Mosaic Moments) layout of some pictures that were taken when we built an addition to our home.  I’ve done mosaics before, and if you use the templates and the pre-marked grid paper, it really isn’t all that difficult.  Except this one was.  I spent 2/3 of my day struggling to make the layout look good before I gave up and started working on my valentine’s cards.  After dinner, I took another look at the layout and decided to ditch it entirely.  It just wasn’t working.  All those vertical boards looked terrible when sliced up into tiny 1-inch pieces, and it made the page so busy and confusing that you just couldn’t tell what you were looking at.  So instead, I literally just slapped some paper and photos together, and I used a Deluxe Wild Wire kit to make a wired title for my page.  It took less than 30 minutes including making the title – pretty good considering I’d never used that wiring tool before!

Today’s conundrum wasn’t much better, although it was a challenge of an entirely different kind.  The prompt for today was “Favorite Memory” and Lain challenged us to start with a memory rather than a photo – to let the emotions create the page.  Letting your emotions create the page is always good for journaling, but if you don’t know what your subject matter is, it can be a real problem.  I spent all day trying to come up with a favorite.  I have issues with playing favorites.  And most of my favorite memories have already been scrapbooked.  It was a really challenge for me to come up with anything at all, and rather than waste a bunch of paper trying to figure it out, I decided to try out a digital layout instead.  Luckily, Stampin Up! Is offering a FREE 30-day trial of their My Digital Studio software.  I downloaded it the other day and thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out.  I had fun playing with the software, and I actually kind of like my take on today’s challenge. 

Challenges can be fun, or challenges can be … challenging.  Whatever they are, they help us to grow, to learn, to explore new options, to boldly go where no scrapper has gone before (I’ve always wanted to say that!).  Challenge yourself.  Do something new. Try a new style.  Take a class.  Do a new technique.  Create something new every day.  You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One Week Down!

Yep, that's right!  I've made it through my first week of the LOAD 212 challenge and have completed a layout each day.  I must say, it's been fun, but it's been a challenge, too.  I start a little bit earlier each day, but somehow that layout expands to fill the time I have left to create it!  Oh well, I'm really happy with the layouts I've come up with so far.  The prompts have been good in that I've started working on a lot of stuff I probably would have put off for a long time, plus they get me thinking about the journalling I want to put on the layout.

Yesterday's prompt was "I always thought...."  It tied right in to some misconceptions I had about my family health history, the reasons behind my recent Susan G. Komen 3-Day experience, and what impact it would have on my life.

Today's prompt was a little harder.  "I miss..." says so much, and I had so many things to choose from.  I thought about doing something light and fun, like picking all my favorite restaurants in my old hometown.  Then I thought about a pet page of my lovely Aussie Shepherd that's no longer with us.  I even thought about my grandfather and my great grandmother, but then I thought about my dear high school friend, Belle, and everything just fell into place.  I think it turned out great and it said everything I needed it to say. And I can always come back to those other "I miss" layouts another day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Every Page Does NOT Have to Be a Masterpiece!

As you may have noticed, there was no blog post yesterday.  While I did manage to complete my Layout-A-Day, I ran out of time to upload it to the blog due to the arrival of company for a Super Bowl party.  I just barely managed to get the layout uploaded to the LOAD group before everyone started showing up!  Lesson learned:  Start early on the layout in case something happens!

Sundays theme was "...the more things stay the same."  My adaptation features Mark and Christen.  I planned to do up a list of all the ways they are similar, but after I wrote the journalling, I decided to leave it just the way it was.  It's kind of sweet, and it fits.

For Monday, our theme was "Little Girl Dreams".  I didn't have a lot of time to work on a page today, so I thought I'd do something simple -- a repeat of a page I did in scrapbooks for my mother and mother-in-law several years ago.  The basis was a story my daughter wrote in elementary school after having watched a bunch of episodes of "Freddy's Nightmares" on TV with my mother.  In the previous two albums, I did 8x8 pages that included some halloween pictures and a typewritten adaptation of the story. For my LOAD challenge page, I decided to include the original manuscript along with the typewritten essay, some light journalling by me, a photo of Freddy Kreuger, and a copy of the picture she drew to go with the story.  It was all very simple, and I whipped out the whole thing in less than 30 minutes, start to finish, including the search for a photo of Freddy.  It's a good thing it didn't take very long to do, because I completely forgot to do my layout until 10:00pm and I had it finished and uploaded by 11:00!  

Lesson learned:  Start early on the layout in case something happens!

So yeah, it's not the best page I ever made, but in reality, how much could I do to make it better?  Buttons and flowers and bows just don't fit, and I really don't think it needs to be any scarier or creepier since it's going in my daughter's book.  Keeping it simple works just fine.

Lesson #2:  You're not Da Vinci.  Every page does not have to be a masterpiece!

Do you like the projects you see on this blog?  Want to see more?  All our project photos can be viewed on our Picasa Web Album.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Then and Now

Time for another day of the LOAD 212 challenge!  Friday's prompt was "Who You Are Now".  I knew I wanted to do a page about myself and how much I've changed over the years.  So when I rummaged through my pictures, I found the perfect photo for my layout -- one of me at a recording console.  Last month marked the 25-year anniversary of my entrance into college.  As a single parent, it was a move that would forever change my life in ways I couldn't even begin to understand.  The focus of my page is dreams and ambitions, and how mine have changed in the last 25 years.  I think the "Pop Star" paper by Rusty Pickle really helped illustrate my point!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Favorite Picture

Favorite Picture...that was today's prompt for the LOAD 212 challenge.  I knew immediately, what picture I wanted to use, and thanks to some really spicy Thai food for dinner last night, I pretty much had the layout figured out by morning (seriously, I dreamed about scrapbooking ALL...NIGHT...LONG!).  Since I didn't really stock up on supplies in advance for the challenge, I did have to make a Hobby Lobby run to get card stock (oh, DARN...I just HATE having to go to Hobby Lobby, don't you?).  Any way, here's the inspiration for my page:

And here is the resulting 2-page layout:

I must confess, I spent a lot more time on my layout today than yesterday, and probably a lot more than I will spend on my layout for tomorrow.  But this was a very special photo, and I felt like I had to do it up "right".  So there it is.  I'm still excited to see what tomorrow's challenge will be!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

And We Have Lift-off!

Okay, so you know that I decided to join the LOAD (Layout a Day) challenge for February, right?  Well, today's prompt was, "You've got good taste", and Lain suggested layouts about food.  I knew I had lots of pictures of food stored in these umpteen boxes of older photos, so the hunt was on.  I found some pictures that I thought would work, made a quick search through my paper and had something perfect.  That was this morning.  My plan was to work on the layout this evening, so I was really pleased with myself for already having a head start.

So later this evening, I whipped out a cute and very simple page.  I tried to keep it as quick and effortless as possible.  After all, the idea is to get it DONE, not make it the most beautiful layout I've ever done, right?  So here's what I came up with:

And I bet you're saying, "Well that doesn't have a darned thing to do with 'Great Taste'!"  Admit it!  And you're right, but that's the point of the challenge.  You don't have to create something on the theme presented.  The prompt is just that -- a prompt.  Something to get you thinking; to get the creative juices flowing.  I really was looking for some good food pictures, but when I saw these, I knew I could do something quick and cute, and that's really all I wanted for my first LOAD day.

Gee, this was easy.  Now I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!