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.

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