The Finishing Project – No Photo Pages

Because of the scale of this project I have found it necessary to divide it up into different subjects not only for ease of readability but to to get the most out of it, both in the scope and crafting of it. I wanted to cover so much of the experience that divide and conquer was definitely the method of choice. Therefore section titles were a necessity, 15 sections in total, documenting my initial thoughts at the beginning of my exchange experience to friends; major past-times like school and church; extracurricular activities; and closing thoughts on the whole thing. For the most part I do not include photos when crafting section title pages , so I thought this would be a fun thing to share around here – a little inspiration for photo-less layouts. 20150401_1TFPNoPhotoTitlePages Admittedly these layouts lean more to a simplistic style than some other photo-less layouts I’ve done. But given the nature of this particular project and the fact that I’m using a lot of older stash and techniques to get it done the simple approach is totally in keeping with the layouts I’ve already completed. The first layout I’m going to share is one I completed at the beginning of scrapbooking this album; the second one, I crafted this week. This is the title page for the first section in my album and was one of the first that I crafted for this project (maybe even the second or third layout I made, ever) if I remember rightly.  I am still such a fan of the papers here and I love the use of chalk to highlight different aspects of the map paper and other elements on the page giving them a common point of connection. Using a common technique is a really helpful method for creating unity on a photo-less layouts. 20150401_3TFPNoPhotoTitlePagesThe butterfly’s and vine embellishments are from a set of 3D buttons from which I trimmed the button loop from the back and adhered to my layout. Given the dimension these add they provide a point of interest to draw the viewers eye across the page along the diagonal line of embellishments providing a beginning and end point. Playing with dimension is another way to get more bang for your buck on a photo-less layout and you can go as simplistic or extravagant as you like with this one. 20150401_2TFPNoPhotoTitlePagesTrue to that era of scrapping my title is hand cut from cardstock, and that font still has my heart,  by centering it in the middle of the layout the emphasis is clearly on the title because that is the aspect of this particular photo-less layout that I want the focus to be drawn to. Because this section covers my initial application process and also the physical journey from Australia to the states, I believe the choice of elements really sets up the journey aspect of the experience a particularly useful tool for a section title because you are drawing the viewers attention to whats to come. 20150401_4TFPNoPhotoTitlePagesThis more recent layout shares an emphasis on title work too. The metal letters provide some whimsy and fun into this layout and the tag alphas (with the help of a little added dimension) draw out the tan/creamy colours of the Americana tags and brad trio. The tags themselves are clustered together and matted in a similar fashion to how one might mat a photo. Which just goes to show that using similar techniques like matting, clustering or distressing that you might do with a photo can work just as well in a photo-less scenario. Likewise the purple scrolled rub-on, brads and even that circle paper behind that Americana tags use the common technique of a visual triangle to move the eye around the page just the same as the diagonal example on the previous layout drew the eye from top to bottom. 20150401_6TFPNoPhotoTitlePages This layout is most definitely an ode to the ‘I love it to much to use it’ category of hoarded supplies. I just adore those metal letters and the tag alpha set that I have held onto both of them untouched for many years. They really were the sort of things that I kept for “a special layout”.  This far down the track though one of the best things about this project is that I am very much in the mindset of: use it if you love it. Besides it doesn’t get more special than the wonderful people who let me be part of their family and opened their home to me for an entire year without even knowing me.20150401_5TFPNoPhotoTitlePages I hope this inspires you to have a go at doing your own photo-less layouts. You don’t need to have a lot going on for them to be effective.


Meeting Heidi

I had the most awesome experience yesterday when I piled my kids, my sis-in-law, myself and a whole bunch of our junk into the car for a road trip to the Hobart Spotlight store to spend a little time with scrappy superstar Heidi Swapp. She’s in Australia for her Heidi Swapp Spotlight Tour as part of the Spotlight National Craft Month celebrations. To say I was excited would be an understatement. If you’ve spent longer than five minutes around here you will know I am a huge Heidi fan. I have loved her design aesthetic from the very beginning of my scrappy journey and her products since she began designing them. Not only that but she has been such a personal inspiration for me throughout, needless to say I have looked forward to this ever since it was announced.20150327_1MeetingHeidi We were a little late to the party just due to travel issues but we go there in plenty of time to join in the fun. Heidi demonstrated a lovely little ‘happy‘ mini using some supplies from her Wanderlust Memorydex system with all the lovely ladies who came and we had such great fun rifling through all that lovely product to choose bits and pieces for our own little happy project.20150327_3MeetingHeidi Speaking of lovely ladies one of the highlights for me was meeting all the other wonderful scrappers who came to join in the fun. Back in the day I spent all my scrappy time at crops but these days I am so much of a solo scrapper due to circumstance and not having anywhere or anyone to scrap with. Most of my wonderful scrappy connections are friends online and social media that I rarely get to spend any time with actual real-life scrappers (sidenote: Kim Jeffress and I actually recognized each other from our social media interaction lol). I couldn’t help exclaiming to my sister-in-law “I’m with my people” and I could not have loved spending time with these wonderful women more, they just ‘get’ this scrapbooking thing like no-one else. 20150327_2MeetingHeidiAnother demonstration Heidi made was with her fabulous Marquee Love letters. She told us all about how she came up with the concept when making decorations for a party a few years ago, but her husband is really the one who deserves credit for the design that allows the cords to sit so nicely in the back of the letter. We were all big fans and let’s just say there weren’t very many left on the shelves when she was done.20150327_4MeetingHeidiIt was a seriously amazing day and totally lived up to my expectations. If it’s possible I am even more of a Heidi fan after meeting her in person. She is so wonderfully positive and humble and knew exactly what it meant to all of us that she would sacrifice her time, energy, family commitments (and I’m guessing a little sleep) to visit all of us scrappy fans around Australia.20150327_5MeetingHeidiThankyou so much Heidi for visit and hopefully it won’t be too long until we see you again!

The Finishing Project: Repeat Design

If you’re in the frame of mind to complete a project in a short space of time you really can’t go past using a repeated design to help speed up the process. By taking all the guess work out of the design process you are able to knock out pages in a record amount of time and get your words and photos down in an appealing, cohesive manner. It’s a great technique for using when you want to show connection between the subject of your pages, because the visual similarities help the viewer read the layouts as part of a unit. This is not to say that your design has to be without variety or even look exactly the same for a few variations that Repeat Design can take to add more dynamism and contrast to your layouts.20150325_1RepeatDesignAt its very basic Repeat Design means using the same colours, products, techniques and ideas to have layouts that look the same. You can make it even easier on yourself by using a pre-made sketch to decide on the design for your pages or come up with your own. This is a great technique when employed in Mini books or pages about or that show relationships between people or things. It keeps your focus squarely on the photos and words you choose, if you want some great examples this is often a technique employed by Ali Edwards in her classes and projects to great effect, in particular I’m thinking of some of the repetition I see year-to-year in her One Little Word and December Daily albums but if I remember rightly her 31 Things and Yesterday & Today classes are an even better examples of repeat design.20150325_2RepeatDesignColour and pattern variation is really the next step in the Repeat Design process by using the same design but with different colour or pattern choices you retain the visual cohesiveness but produce what I think to be a far more interesting page just by the simple addition of some contrast between your pages. This is a technique I’ve employed here with the right hand side of my own layouts. Which although basic in terms of design demonstrate how a little can go a long way. My reasons for changing both colour and pattern were three-fold. Firstly since I am using the same photo – albeit with a different person shown in colour for all but one of the five individual layouts in this section I needed to have something that would separate them further to show a more distinctive difference between the subject. Secondly I wanted my choices to be a subtle reflection of personality and character. Thirdly the practical side of it is that I simply got to use a variety of papers and therefore use my scrap stash to better effect.20150325_3RepeatDesignAnother simple technique for adjusting the look of your layouts while still retaining the ease of Repeat Design is to employ substitution of other elements on the page, switching out certain products for something else, while keeping similarities of shape and size to maintain the integrity of the design. For example in place of a border element, perhaps using ribbon. If your original design has a smattering of enamel dots, try using sequins, brads or ink splatters in their place. Maybe you design includes a 4×6 photo somewhere and a circular journaling block, why not switch it up and put your journaling in the 4×6 area and make your photo circular instead. Most designs that work, do so because the scale of elements is in harmony, if you keep things in a similar position and scale its easy enough to make substitutions and still keep your layout harmonious.20150325_4RepeatDesignIf you’re looking for a bit more variation you may like to change the orientation of your design. When using a 12 x 12 sketch it’s as simple as turning your layout 90, 180 or 270 degrees from its original orientation and placing the elements in that configuration. When combined with colour and pattern variations or substitution of elements your layouts take on an almost entirely different look. It’s amazing how versatile one design can be when employing a combination of these methods. I prefer to do this with designs that are a bit more involved than the simple design of my layouts here though. If you want to take it even further on the theme you can selectively splice your layout design and change it up that way.  For example splitting your design down the middle and either mirroring the design or placing one side on top of the other.20150325_5RepeatDesignSomething that can be a bit trickier when working on the principles of Repeat Design is to make variations in shape because you need to be able to make sure that your scale and number of elements retain their balance. The left-hand side of my layouts shows a very basic way of employing this method in that it uses Repeat Design by retaining repetition of product choice ie. cardstock, and a limited colour palette of two colours, also by repeating the same shape over and over on that layout. The variation comes by using different shapes and configurations for my journaling on each individual layout. They still manage to maintain the idea that they are in relationship with the other layouts in this section especially when positioned next to their right hand counterparts but overall the effect is that each double page spread retains some of its own personality and interest just by making small variations in design elements.20150325_6RepeatDesignCan you think of other ways that Repeat Design could be used on your own layouts?


Scraproom Decluttering 101: Storage Ideas

I have found that the process of storing scrapping stuff, like most things, is an ever evolving one. New products come into being that spark inspiration and creative fire in us but also require a solution on how to store them where there was not a need before. Our preferences change over time and those things which we once used every time we scrapped somehow stop being the one we reach for and we favour something new. Along with that, those things which we do frequently reach for seem to be ever expanding and the things that took up only so much space now require a lot more. Meanwhile other supplies dwindle, that once saw a lot of use and required a lot of storage, now have a much roomier existence than is necessary.20150323_1ScraproomDeclutteringStorageDuring my Question Everything phase of decluttering I found quite a few things that needed re-homing or additional solutions to make them work better and easier for me. Like I stated in my last decluttering post one of those was doing away with the Elements for Embellishing binder and putting what remained in my paper/flat embellishments drawer. By doing so I then ended up with a bunch of plastic pockets and a binder that could be used for something else. The plastic pockets were just what I needed to replace some that were beyond falling apart in my scrap paper binders and the folder itself proved useful for my ever expanding collection of Alphas, which had the previous binder bursting at the seams. Now, split over two, it works much better and I find fits on the shelf easier too. Another solution that I arrived at for that particular drawer was to add an additional cereal box divider so that I now have one for chipboard; one for photo related embellishments, like photo corners and overlays; one for tags and labels; and one for other small paper embellishments. The movement of items in these spaces was fairly minimal but resulted in a much better use of what I had.20150323_2ScraproomDeclutteringStorageAn area that saw a far more significant overhaul was the lower cupboard in my buffet. Previously in this area I had a set of drawers on the top shelf with decorative scissors and overflow items like pens, erasers and extra adhesives taking up more space than it needed to. The lower shelf held a box of card-making kits, another of cross-stitch patterns and two baskets of handcrafted merchandise I’d made for a very short lived market stall a few years ago. The stationary items & scissors were moved to a drawer I emptied when sorting my ribbon stash and the adhesive made much more sense to be kept in the one box with my xyron and wet adhesives. The top shelf worked okay but I rarely used or even considered what was on the bottom shelf and I thought that given the proximity to my scrap table the cupboard could be used for a better purpose than it currently was. My solution was to use it to house some ephemera and photos on the top shelf and my in-progress project supplies on the lower shelf. The ephemera is from my wedding and while its something I might dip into every few months to do a layout, it’s something I would like to do a lot more scrapping with. Previously it was hidden away and as the saying goes out of sight out of mind. The black box (which funnily enough was the one my professional wedding album came in) was just the right size to hold larger photos and ones that I’ve printed off for scrapping already. Previously these were in a photo envelope in my die-cut basket. I liked that I could reach for them when I wanted to scrap but the envelope was falling apart and photos were getting damaged, also I just really hated looking at the mess of it every time I scrapped. Win-win I say, having the photos in here still means proximity is close but now I don’t have to worry about things getting damaged. The only things that stayed were some baby-wipes and tissues that I use when stamping.20150323_3ScraproomDeclutteringStorageThe solution that I am happiest with though, is gathering all my in-progress and long term kit supplies together in one place. All of these items used to be in about five different locations in my scrap room and it just makes so much more sense for me to gather them together into one place. The 12 x 12 plastic envelopes are ones I use for single layouts or small projects that get done relatively quickly, they used to live on my bookshelf and it would drive me batty that every time my boys came to hang out in my scrap room they would pull them out and the envelopes would end up all over my floor. Hopefully having them behind closed doors means I don’t have to pick them up and rearrange them on a crazy regular basis. The larger green boxes were underutilised in my storage room for holding extra page protectors and ziplock bags. Now they’re a home for larger projects that I am working on making continual progress, holding supplies for my Epic Exchange Album, my Wedding Album and a bunch of stash to scrap my 30th Birthday as well as one that holds my Use it or Loose it stash. This is stuff which I don’t entirely love but am not quite ready to part with yet. I put a limited time frame on stuff in here so if it’s not used up within that amount of time it gets added to my donate box and sent on its merry way. This cupboard was also the perfect place to put my December Daily supplies. Because they get pulled out on an annual basis and used intensely for a short period of time I like to keep them together but the rest of the year they mostly just take up space. This solution means that I have both proximity for the period I use them but that they are hidden away for the rest of the time when I don’t need to even look at them.20150323_4ScraproomDeclutteringStorageMost of my other storage options are ones that I put in place during my last big declutter in 2013 and just needed a little tidy up, I purged a limited amount of supplies from these because they are working as intended and some have already had a little declutter in between to make room for new supplies or simply because it was just easier to get rid of things as I went along. The cupboards either side of the hutch hold four nappy boxes with my Technique items – paints, mists, chalks etc; Title & Journaling supplies – alphabet stamp sets, paper & metal alphabet sets, date stamps; Mini book supplies – coils, cardboard, tins, booklets etc; and now all of my Adhesive supplies in one place – bottles of glue and sealer, spray adhesive, my xyron, rolls of double-sided tape etc. The Mini Book box was the one that saw the most go, because I really don’t use anything in here all that often. I’m going to show you how I revamped those ordinary nappy boxes to make them suit my space when I show you how my scrap space got a little spruced up. Aside from the boxes most of the other shelf space in those cupboards is used for reference materials and memory books.20150323_5ScraproomDeclutteringStorageIn the centre of the hutch I have 6×4 photos housed in four photo boxes and stamping tools, inks, dry embossing/diecut supplies and wet embossing & acrylic blocks in the other four. Loose ribbon is kept in jars in the centre hutch cupboard and makes a pretty display by using various heights and styles. I also have rolls of ribbon in middle draw beneath just kept on the spool. The right-hand drawer is where I consolidated the stationary items from the lower cupboard. But embroidery floss and small ribbon have been wound onto cards and sorted by colour in of all things bullet containers in the drawer to the left.  Which just goes to show you can never underestimate the usefulness of re-purposing random containers for storing craft supplies. All of my binders fit wonderfully in the open centre portion and hold my large collection of sticker, scraps, alphas, stencils, planning pages and inspiration material. Aside from getting rid of some inspiration pieces I kept most of this the same too.20150323_6ScraproomDeclutteringStorageFinally I want to share the storage solutions that live on my desk and contain my most used items. I think I could possibly narrow it down further to a few less of these things if I really tried but for now this is what it is and I’m not really motivated to move any of these items off here, even though the prospect of more space on my desk is rather tempting. Three IKEA baskets contain my Essentials – Scissors, xacto knives, paper piercers, most used pens; Adhesives – double sided tape, vellum tape, glue dots and foam adhesive in various sizes; & Journaling items – Decorative paper pads, journaling blocks & favourite project life cards. A glass apothecary jar holds a happy collection of washi tapes and on the other side of my lamp I have my awesome diecut basket and some much loved supplies in a lantern with the hope that seeing these beauties means they actually get used on layouts and not loved until they’re no longer useful. One of the best storage purchases I made in my last declutter was this Kaisercraft Desk Organizer that is the perfect spot for my 6×6 Paper Pads, embellishment books and some other small paper cut-outs that I regularly like to rifle through to add finishing touches to my layouts. I did remove a photo box from here and put it in another location in my house, simply for the fact that it contained photos that other people in my family could be enjoying but weren’t seeing the light of day sitting in my scrap room.20150323_7ScraproomDeclutteringStorageMost of the storage options in my scrap room are pretty basic or made from re-purposed materials as you can see. Ideally I like to keep things simple, accessible and not containing too much. My hope is that through regular decluttering sessions, tweaking storage options and more than anything else – actually using my supplies I bring the overall level of stuff considerably lower than it currently stands and more useable as time goes on. Perhaps sharing my take on storage has given you some ideas for your own space or maybe you have some ideas that could make mine work even better for me. Drop me a line in the comments below and share some of your go-to storage ideas.

The Finishing Project: When You Don’t Know What to Say

I’ve said it a time or two that my exchange album, which I’m working on for The Finishing Project (a class offered at Simple Scrapper), is a few years old. It has it’s origins back in 2001. That kind of means that I have forgotten some, ok a lot, of the details of the experience which leaves me with a common problem – not knowing what to say. I’ve developed a few tricks over time to help me out with being stuck on journaling.

This double page spread is supposed to tell a little bit about my friendship with these two guys I went to school with Grant and Jean Paul but fourteen years later I am so sketchy on the details that I remember little more than their names (sorry guys) Obviously they were important enough for me to include originally but right at this point in time I’m at a loss. So my first point of call is seeing what clues the photos themselves will yield. If it was just a single page spread in my chronological album this could help me pinpoint the time period the photo was taken in. The location the photo(s) was taken at and possibly if it was at an event, what that event may have been about. All of which could be included in the journaling and spark some ideas about common interests. However given that this section in my exchange album is all about my school friends the immediate clues are of little use to me since it’s already kind of a given that I know the year, location and even what day they were taken on (my last day of school) which has little bearing on our friendship or their individual personalities. In other ways unfortunately these are a little nondescript. What a I can tell from these images are that they were taken in an area just off the cafeteria (which may or may not have been referred to as the commons) that had a bulletin board of notices, three or four soft drink machines (seriously what is with all the soft drink my American friends?) and had booth style seating next to a large window that looked out on the car park. So yeah not a great yield for journaling prompts.20150320_1TFPDontKnowWhatToSayHere’s where story starter technique number 2 comes in. Using supporting documentation. For some projects maybe you have ephemera from the same event a postcard, a brochure, a map or whatever. Maybe you had enough forethought to jot a note or two in your diary or planner or some random notebook. My first point of call for this was to see if I’d made any notes originally in my album plan – no such luck. Second point of call, my high school yearbook – Bingo. First I  looked for them amongst the class sections which led me to finding last names and therefore a means of finding them throughout the rest of the yearbook doing other activities. Unfortunately all that revealed was next to nothing, they were both in the class beneath mine and apparently some of Grants friends had unique dress sense, not really a plethora of information. I suppose that means they weren’t exactly the kind of guys that were into extra-curricular activities either, although the unique dress sense certainly tells me who our mutual friends were so surprisingly that does give me something to go on.20150320_2TFPDontKnowWhatToSay

Now here’s where, depending on your subject matter, you can take your research further afield and go for a random act of info sourcing and take it to a search engine. Subject matter totally makes a difference in how you approach your search. If you’re lost on what to journal for a regularly occurring holidays, the sky’s the limit for finding information to fill your journaling. What was the most popular gift, costume, drink, clothing item, past-time for that holiday that year? What else occurred on that day in history? Do you have your own personal history link to that day? What were the news headlines, fuel prices, price of a loaf of bread at the time? Who knows what you’ll turn up. But if you’re at a loss for journaling about a specific person you always have the somewhat stalkerish tactic of googling them or looking them up on Facebook, which is what I had to revert to, to see if I could find some extra info. Hit for one of the guys total miss for the other. Oh well, it would seem that I am destined to have very little info on my pages.20150320_3TFPDontKnowWhatToSay

Here is where a little Finishing Project wisdom might come in. One of the things Jennifer talked about in the class material was making course corrections. That will mean a myriad of different things depending on your project. Sometimes it means honing or narrowing your original vision and making it smaller and more manageable. Sometimes it means including more or less information, not including the things you’d intended to include because you can’t for whatever reason realize your original vision for the layout. Sometimes it simply means letting go of it completely. For this particular layout I didn’t want to completely remove the layouts from the album because what else would I do with these photos/layouts. I decided the necessary course correction was to only have very spartan journaling. Despite my best efforts I really couldn’t find out much that was of any use to me. So apart from a little bit of text and their names I just had to make this the kind of layout that is more about the design than the words.

Do you have your own take on how to handle layouts that you still want to scrap but have little to say about the subject matter?

The Finishing Project: Everything Old is New

After exploring my old school style in my last Finishing Project post and doing a couple more layouts it got me thinking about how I could use older supplies using techniques and design choices that I equate with a more modern/now style of scrapping. I wondered if it would stand out like a sore thumb or really not make any difference at all in the grand scheme of the album. Lets call this an experiment in design. This double page layout about my church friends was a perfect candidate to try it out though.20150318_1TFPEverythingOldIsNewOne thing I consider very now is the use of patterned paper framing a layout, spend about three seconds in the Studio Calico gallery and you’ll see them all over the place. I knew that would be my starting point and since the only choices I’d made for this particular layout were the background paper and the photos, options were pretty wide open to begin experimenting with. I chose a green cardstock and stripped paper to complement the blue K & Company floral paper I’d already selected. My next design choice was the arrangement of my photos. With the rise and rise of Project Life and pocket scrapbooking the Grid is very much a staple of our scrappy existence these days, and I’d even go so far to say it has been since the beginning, so while it may not be a new thing it’s important not to forget the classics when experimenting with mixing old and new. My main design choice for this layout was to explore a grid set up and work my other elements in around it. I think unlike back when we started and wanted to keep every scrap of paper or embellishment because maybe we’d run out, that we have now realised we will never in a million years use all the stash some of us have accumulated. Hence the rise of clustering and throwing an entire packet of something on a single layout.20150318_3TFPEverythingOldIsNewI did remain a little more restrained than throwing a whole packet of Paper Pizzazz paper charms on here but only a little. Seriously if I haven’t used them by now, when am I going to. I chose the sheet of bronze paper charms because another thing I wanted to play with on this layout is our current penchant for Diecuts and metallic accents, the metals may look a little different these days but they have always been a ‘thing’ as far as I’m concerned. We scrappers also seem to like using many different types of media on our pages – while the rise of mists, gesso and dimensional media like glossy accents or modeling paste are not an option if I wanted to stay authentic to the time period, I still had a myriad of choices for adding media to my page if I wanted to go that route. Chalking, acrylic paint, embossing powder and stamping are all well and truly established media for having a little messy fun even on older style layouts, although I chose not to use any on this particular layout because I generally and historically have not included them in my scrapbooking. This was an interesting experiment for me, I honestly don’t think that this layout has any distinguishing features that make it stand out against any other layout in this album despite my approach of trying out modern methods. 20150318_2TFPEverythingOldIsNewAll of which begs the question – what is the difference between older style and new style, is there really much or one or do we only assume that things have changed so much because the products we use now are a little different? Because I know that these papers were from this year and those papers were from another year it tends to date my layouts for me, but aside from the product choices and the age of the products themselves I really can’t tell any difference. And in spite of the fact that I chose not to include any mixed media, perhaps it has been one of your go-to’s and you’d like to try conducting a similar experiment for yourself. I’d love to see what you come up with, feel free to share a link in the comments below and weigh in on the subject in the comments below.