Well here we are one year on from starting this little adventure of a blog and I gotta say I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. One thing that has been a bit of a main stay during my year is participating in the Jot Magazine Mood Board challenges so I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my first blog-o-versary than with a little Jot love. And what a way to round out the year! Would you just take a look at all this lovely inspiration put together by Jot Girl Jodie York. Talk about totally rockin!My first thought on spying this months mood board in my instagram feed was ‘Bring on the Bling!’ In fact I was so surprised to see that only three of the Jot Girls (Amanda, Sheree and Mardi) got in on the bling action with their submissions. Although to be fair Kim did break out the Minc and add a nice dose of foil. With all things sparkly on my mind I pulled together a bunch of the glittery, shiny stuff and got to work.Lots of sparkle totally reminded me of participating in Capture 30 at the beginning of the year and the lovely script work freebie from Polka Dot Creative aka Jodie sealed the deal on what to scrap. Glitter totally makes me happy and with the emphasis on positivity and gratitude in that class I just couldn’t help myself.The delectable pink and blue colour palette against the black & white was just so yummy, so beautiful and vibrant, throw in a little retro look and some positive vibes – pure scrappy heaven. It is clearly apparent that I am on a Heidi Swapp inspired groove at the moment but with the subject matter and that colour palette how could I not get some Heidi Swapp awesomeness on there? Is it really any wonder that I keep coming back for more from the Jot team, they’ve got this thing nailed.I’m sure to back again for another round next month but go and check out the lovely layouts from the other awesome scrappers having a go at this challenge over at Jot, your sure to get just as fired up and in the mood to scrap.
Generally speaking album cover design is reserved for special projects other than our regular scrapbooks which contain our every day happenings and are usually housed in scrapbook albums with a cloth or leather binding and post-bound or D-Ring internal hardware. Special Project albums tend to have very specific subjects or themes that they focus on and therefore a unique reference point from which to begin your design concept. As discussed in my last post about pre-made albums this may mean you consider a specific shaped design for your project and work within its parameters, or perhaps as we will discuss here, you decide to craft something entirely from scratch and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of a handcrafted or alternative DIY album.There is a lot more that goes into the design of a handcrafted album cover before you even get to designing the ‘pretty’ part of you cover. To begin with you need to consider the size, shape and depth of your album and the kind of construction you will use to keep it together. This includes the materials you will use to construct it, the type of tools you will use on those materials, the type of binding you are going to use and whether you need an allowance for seams, holes, or margins. Typical materials for construction of your cover are cardboard, grungeboard and chipboard but often you can find examples that use cardstock, thick patterned paper, fabric, wood and sometimes even plastic metal or other materials. Some seam binding options include glued, ribbon binding, stitched binding, ring bound, accordion fold, post bound or using a specialist binding tool like a Bind-it-all or Cinch to make coil bound items. External and internal hardware need to be considered as well – what type of closure are you going to use, if any, and what are the limitations of the internal fittings including the dimensions of rings or spiral binding? As you can see with such a wide range of options it helps to know what you are constructing your album for.You will note that in my examples here I have chosen various methods of construction for my album covers. My ‘All About Me Album’ has a cover and pages made from corrugated cardboard and bound with my most frequent method of binding – hinged rings. My little ‘Passion’ album uses a coil bound structure on a printed high quality semi-gloss cardstock. Whilst my Calving 2014 album is constructed from heavy weight cardboard with a glue bound spine and covered in scrap paper. The Bible Study Crew Album (the blue one) is made of layers of regular cardboard from cardboard boxes and covered with a blue curtain fabric then bound together with posts like you’d find in a post bound album. Patterned scrapbook paper forms the endpapers and cut-outs have been included on the inside of the cover to house small mini albums which are covered in the same fabric. Whilst my 2014 December Daily cover is bound with hinged rings but has an external cover that is attached with endpapers only on the back cover. The cover design for this album makes it wrap around the entire album unlike the two separate pieces used for most of the other covers. As you can see methods of construction are many and varied and these are only the tip of the iceberg. You enjoy the challenge of figuring it out yourself and simply wing it, as I tend to most of time, coming up with a cover strategy to fit your unique project. There are many tutorials out there in blog land or on Youtube that can give you pointers on exactly what is involved in creating an album and cover style of your choice if you need a starting point including this great resource on traditional bookbinding methods if you want to try something outside the norm of techniques often associated with crafting your own albums.You may choose not to house your album in a traditional square or rectangular shaped cardboard style album and instead make an Alternative Album or Off the Page project instead where your cover design will likely be dictated by the form and function of the materials you choose to construct it from. Basically the sky’s the limit when it comes to materials for an alternative album there are many examples of altered books, like Maggie Holmes Happy Little Moments album for her class at BPC or you can use supplies that may be non-traditional in nature like mint tins, boxes, or leftover product packaging. I’ve attempted albums in a small CD case and CD pocket wallet before or you could go for a DVD case. If you can think it up likely you could make an Alternative Album out of just about anything. Once you’ve settled on the mechanics of your album you can then get into the fun stuff and have a play with the materials and media you want to create your cover. As I said in the intro most albums we make are for special projects so this may mean gathering just the basics – cardboard, patterned papers, fabric etc or gathering a collection of other product like, themed items for say a Holiday or December Daily album if your aim is to make it rather decorative. These don’t have to be your regular manufactured items either on my 2014 December Daily cover I used a cross-stitch piece I’d done and some shaped buttons, raffia, a book-page rosette and a print out of some Christmas music I found online. Things to consider when assembling your decorative elements and basic structure of your cover are the type of binding; hardware you’ll use as a closure or internal structure; seam allowance for wrapping fabric or paper around the edge of your album; or the size/shape of the spine of the cover. These need to be accommodated when your still in the planning stage so you don’t put part of your design where that will impact on the use of the album and so they can also be integrated in your decorative design where necessary. Pre-construction of the album you might also like to do some mixed media work before assembling it, such as some kind of embossing detail on the cover, painting, misting or adding a texture medium all of which can benefit from having a bit more freedom of movement before you assemble the album. It also comes in handy because if you mess up somehow a cover up is easier to do when it’s not already part of you project. Like if you punch holes for your album in the wrong place (not speaking from experience or anything, cos I’ve never done that before…) you can cover with patterned paper or adjust your design to change their location. What sort of an Alternative Album have you tackled in the past, got any ideas for one you’d like to work on in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
While not specifically a photo-less layout I’m throwing in a few pointers for album covers and the like for this last week of photo-less inspiration because they tend to follow similar principles. Covers are the other end of text based and story first photo-less layouts in that the design of these is the major focus. You want to share your album concept thorough you choice of design ideas rather than other imagery or words. There are plenty of pre-designed album choices out there that allow you to put your own spin on how you want them to look so they’re in keeping with the contents of your album. Most have some element of minimal design to make them attractive enough for you to want to purchase, but a lot pretty much leave the rest up to your own aesthetic and purposes. Some albums like American Crafts D-Ring Albums, Simple Stories Sn@p Albums, Bo Bunny Bare Naked, and K & Company Smashbooks (which also have a little bit of embossed detail) have a coloured cloth spine which you can use as a starting point for your own colour choices and cover ideas. Prima, Ranger, Graphic 45, Kaisercraft, Basic Grey, Clear Scraps and Doodlebug just to name a a few offer many choices for Diecut Albums and Mini Albums. These come in a range of shapes, styles and sizes to suit many projects and are most commonly made from bare chipboard or acrylic. Be it a colour choice, a style choice or a shape choice the common element in these and any other type of pre-made album is that they give you a starting point to begin crafting your album. In the case of shaped albums your design is dictated by the contours already given by the album itself. For example these Clear Scraps albums found at Scrapbooks.com have many with a very defined theme, your design has to fit the parameters and theme already set out by the manufacturer or in the case of Kasiercraft’s beyond the page word albums your design is dictated by the available space given by that letter and it’s place within the album. In part you already have a set of dimensions to work with and your own choice of paper or media have to fit within that. The size of your papers, the scale of patterns, imagery and dimensional elements all need to fit within the framework of the already established shape or design of the album. All of these things narrow down the decision making process of crafting your cover and indeed making your contents . In the case of the Kasiercraft album it may mean omitting one altogether. It just depends what parameters you want to place on crafting you album as there are advantages and disadvantages for using a pre-made album. More open ended choices for design abound with a square of rectangular shaped mini album as they are traditionally the shapes we scrappers work in. As is the case with Sn@p Albums and Smashbooks you can also find options that include some element of predesigned pages incorporated in the album for you. Most of the covers I design for my own albums are in that square or rectangular format. The cover shown here is an American Crafts 8.5×11 D-Ring Album which I’ve used to house my One Little Word for the last three years. As this is a reoccurring project that I participate in I decided to keep a few years worth in the same album. The have a defined beginning and ending so I know how much content I will have each year and just for ease of access it makes sense to keep them together. For this reason my cover design has been left intentionally non-specific. Title Pages for each years word separate the content as does the chosen colour scheme. Unintentionally one colour that seems to be showing up every year is a touch of blue so I’ve also chosen to include that in my albums cover design. Because this album sits on a shelf with a bunch of other items I have also left the cover intentionally flatter than I would for say a mini album that may be set out on display. In my experience the practise of One Little Word has unlocked so many hidden opportunities and revelations about who I am and what I’m capable of. It has also been such a transformative experience so for me it’s all about change and becoming more of who I’m meant to be. The aim of my cover is to simply hint at the contents so for me the key and butterfly images represent that metaphor of change and metamorphosis. When crafting covers it is worth considering the end location of the album before getting too heavy handed with dimension or complex layers. Do you want your album to slot into a shelf, to be stored in a basket or bin, to be displayed somewhere in your home or the home of the recipient, or frequently thumbed through by them? Will it bother you if it gets covered in a layer of dust or falls apart from being handled multiple times or damaged in anyway? Not only does the end location dictate some of your design choices but the materials you use to put your cover together need to be considered in the equation. Strong adhesives are needed for attaching items to covers, likewise you are better off using a heavier weight cardstock or paper for you cover to increase it’s durability and considering whether items will ‘snag’ and rip off in handling the album. The beauty of cover design is that you can use traditional paper products for crafting your albums or you can break out other media and supplies to give them a really unique one-of-a-kind look. Mixed Media artistry has the benefits of adding wonderful depth and texture to your cover design, not to mention colour, without some of the pitfalls of creating with paper media and wondering about their durability. And who ever said that traditional leather or cloth bound albums were exempt from a little dressing up like this cover by Ashli Oliver from Purple Mailbox. I prefer to work in paper mostly but have crafted album covers from fabric and even wrapping paper like my 2010 December Daily, which uses both. I used the same fabric as the Christmas Stockings I made for my family that year and the wrapping paper from the lovely gift my hubby gave me so not only do they serve well as product for cover design but it meant that I added in a bit of memorabilia too. Your personal aesthetic and quirks will determine what you can stand as far as usage, storage and what you’d prefer to craft your album cover with. In my next post I’ll continue on this theme of cover design, but for albums that you craft yourself, which add another layer of considerations to your design process.
In this post I want to share some ideas specifically for using memorabilia that you don’t want to alter in any way – even with the addition of an adhesive substance. These may be things that belong to someone else, an older relative, say; or the family collectively that you are momentary carer of, those that have been handed down through the generations. Or maybe you have other things that you want to keep in their whole form for whatever reason, they are identifying items relating to your own personal history or relationships with significant people in your life. These are the things you perhaps consider not your own but heirloom items and they may require a little more care than you think is necessary for your everyday ephemera.So what exactly are we talking about here. Old love letters from say your grandfather to your grandmother; School records (yours or relatives/ancestors) or war records; Birth/Marriage/Death certificates; Religious records – baptisms/christenings, confirmations, church/parish registers; Stories documented by other family members – maybe they wrote/typed out stories from their own life or things like my Nan’s genealogical records; Passenger lists or other travel/immigration related materials; Newspaper clippings (or in my case whole school newspapers); Personal ephemera – handwritten recipes, cards or notes received; unique items relating to relationships, – ie the hay-band my husband gave me as a ‘ring’ when he proposed in person (long story).All of these un-alterable additions could benefit from some creative thinking when it comes to including them in your scrapbooks. A simple method that’s an oldie but a goodie is to use photo corners. You can use them in any colour you can find to add interest or as a design feature or you can go for clear like I did in my Baptism layout to make them blend into the background. One of my personal favourites for including memorabilia but especially stuff that I don’t want to change is to use a pocket. They can be as simplistic or fancy as you like, make a pocket from cardstock, vellum or patterned paper by simply using double-sided tape, stitching or some other fastener like staples on three sides of it, leave the most convenient side (design-wise), open to slide your item into and voila. Or use something pre-made as your pocket depending on the size of the item your housing: an envelope, glassine bag, decorative pocket, die-cut shape or if the item is on the large side a die-cut paper to add a decorative element, even plastic coin pockets. When using a plastic pocket though, you want to make sure that it is made of either a polyester(PET), or polypropylene(PP) material as these have the best archival safe qualities, you’ll find that most document sleeves/plastic pockets are polypropylene.
For these types or layouts I will admit that I often do them as part of a double page spread that will include photos on one half of the layout – usually not the side where I am storing the item or memorabilia. This is to avoid any transfer of material (like chemicals and acids in the item) to affect the photograph or memorabilia or vice versa. I am also more likely to be at my most archivally aware for these kinds of layouts too even though generally speaking I don’t tend to worry about it. It’s as much about physical preservation as it is about memorializing them. If it is really a concern of yours that you don’t alter the item in any way at all there is always the option to photograph or make a colour copy to use that as a stand in and then store the original elsewhere. Depending on what it is and what paper stock you use sometimes you can hardly tell the difference between the copy and the original. Whether in your albums or elsewhere you want these types of things to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from the elements to preserve it. Fluctuations in temperature, exposure to light and humidity, oils, chemicals and products on our hands or the types of products we choose to use on a layout (like some wooden embellishments) are all considerations when it comes to the longevity of the things we want to preserve.
Some items like newspapers should obviously not be in contact with photos. The ph or acid content of these kinds of papers tend to deteriorate over time and can affect anything they may be touching – such as photos or other paper. It is the ph level of these types of papers that causes them to become yellow and brittle over time. Treating them with an archival spray is always a good idea as it neutralizes the ph to bring it to a more balanced level but going the extra step to keep them separate can help the longevity of the item.
You may well ask why you would consider including these sorts of ‘precious things’ in your albums or why it is even necessary to worry about taking the time or effort to avoid altering certain things. Clearly I don’t have a problem including bits of memorabilia or ephemera in my albums but I do think some things might be precious to people other than myself and if they want to do some other form of memory keeping after I’m gone they should have the option. As a scrapbooker I feel that my scrapbooks are the most appropriate and logical location for anything that relates to my or my family’s collective story. It is somewhere that they will be viewed and enjoyed on a somewhat regular basis, I would much prefer to include an item on a layout and actually enjoy and look at it than let it languish in a box somewhere deteriorating or forgotten and eventually thrown out. For me, I draw joy from these kinds of things and acknowledging the wonderful people who came before me or the relationships I have now is all a part of that.You may even consider using some of these methods for displaying ‘one-off’ items of current memorabilia such as your childs first drawing from school or your own love letters/ special correspondence with your spouse. What other items do you think would benefit from a little ‘special treatment’?
Have you ever thought of using text as a design element in place of photos? I don’t claim to be a typographic whiz or anything more than an amateur dabbler in the world of typography but I do appreciate good design. There is no doubt that there is a plethora of great design and fonts out there when it comes to scrapbooking products. Whether you’re into Heidi Swapp’s handwriting or the painterly style of Kal Barteski’s Brush Script for Studio Calico or their Project Life counterparts the Inspire Edition by Vanessa Perry and Heidi’s own Dreamy collection. Perhaps you’re more into the graphic design look of Ali Edwards work or the queen of classic font style Cathy Zielske, whatever your preference you’ve surely used a text embellishment or two on many a layout or pocket page spread before. But what about letting your text take centre stage on a Photoless Layout?My layout here was inspired by this weeks focus of Memorabilia. If you’ve got kids in school you probably have a bunch of text based memorabilia that you want to scrap somehow. We’ve really only just started our school journey around here, but I’d like to at least make a start of getting some school stuff in albums before I become swamped with my kids school work (as a lot of you out there can attest to) and forget what year something was made or which kid made what. Beginning with this little booklet my son brought home earlier in the year. Not only did I get to scrap one of the first things my son bought home from Kinder but I also got to share a funny little conversation between us that could have been rather embarrassing given the context. I haven’t scrapbooked a lot of the interactions and conversations between my boys and I, they’re such a great marker of personality and relationship over time and what seems so normal and everyday now that they’re small is sure to become one of those things I look back on with nostalgia when they’re teenagers full of attitude.
Speaking of a great marker of personality, one of the reasons I wanted to include this booklet on a layout was to capture some of Davids handwriting and scholastic ability, like colouring skills and word recognition etc. Maybe you have samples of other people’s handwriting you want to preserve, like a sweet reminder note from your husband or the way your mother writes her name (I so wanted my mothers signature when I was young that I used to copy it over & over just so I could make and elegant J like she did). Maybe your own style of handwriting has evolved over time and you’d like to do a layout that compares and contrasts the differences. Or maybe you’ve hit the jackpot and have handwritten letters from loved ones to one another or other family stories that you want to preserve. Make these types of things a feature of a layout. Memorializing text documents on your layouts doesn’t have to be limited to the handwritten word either, think a letter of acceptance to university or another program that you’ve worked hard to attain. A speech, quote or lyric whose words resonant with you for some reason, this one is a particular favourite of mine by Marianne Williamson which I included in my 2014 One Little Word album. The current trend for gallery wall prints and the like is a great example of the power and importance that some words have in our story.There are no shortage of text based product out there to support a text focused layout and contribute to the story. As in this layout my titling, journaling and embellishing make text and typography feature in every part of this design, it’s probably one of the easiest design choices to find. From text papers to tiny word stickers to all manner of phrase die-cuts or whatever your heart desires, text based supplies abound. My layout has a decidedly studious theme that is complimented by the use of a sans serif font for the titling, text based embellishments, and dictionary style tissue paper used for in the background – it’s classic and easy to read, much like a school text book. The Kaisercraft paper from the Class of 87′ collection on which I wrote my journaling has the look of a handwriting practice sheet complete with dotted words to copy just like in school. Even my own choice of ‘font style’ uses the printed version of my handwriting as opposed to my usual cursive to further support the look I am going for. Even the bookplates, pencil embellishments and book motif support this emphasis on text.So how else could you interpret a text based layout design? You likely have all you need for a words not photos style layout already waiting in your stash, think alphas, quotes, journaling cards, travel ephemera and text heavy patterned papers. You can likely create whatever look you want, whether you want a look that’s classic, clashing, funky or feminine. Classic style lends itself to sans serif fonts; evenly space lettering styles; journaling with a justified alignment, in columns; black, white and neutral tones. Maybe you want to send a different message with your use of text, what do you think of when you see graffiti-style type or tattoo text; how does it make you feel when words are expressed surrounded by ink-splodges or blurred or smudged. Certain styles and fonts can add a retro vibe or a jazzy element to your layout – gold foil Thickers in a classic font are going to convey a very different message on a layout than would say a multi-coloured bright Alpha. Feminine style makes you think, scripted swirling, flourishing things; cursive text or brush-script surrounded by florals and pastel shades. The possibiliteis are endless for expressing yourself through text, use printed media, typographic works, subway art or make your own with handlettering, font mash-ups, brushscript and digi art to add a unique element to your layouts. This is definitley a case where a little Pinsperation goes a long way. Check out different types of graphic work to inspire your next layout.
If your looking for specific resources Ali Edwards new class Type and Brian Tippets book for CK ‘Get Creative with Type‘ are a couple of great typographic resources specifically with a scrapbooker focus. If your looking for a more classic typographic style then just about anything made by Cathy Zielske will give you some pointers on that. Checking out design books from your local library or graphic design boards on Pinterest or blogs are another great starting point if you want just want to dabble and get your feet wet.
What are your favourite type techniques?
I’ve already covered a number of different options for using a substitute, such as an embellishment, illustration, pattern or alternative item, in place of a photo but one of my most frequent photo substitutes would have to be memorabilia. That’s what this week is all about. Often times the imagery on a piece of memorabilia works in a similar fashion to a photo in a design sense but you have the added benefit of actually getting them in your album as opposed to languishing somewhere in storage taking up space. The content may indeed be photographic in nature (like a postcard) but often will include other details, like titles of an event or place you went to (like a show program or tourist brochure). Be it photographic or otherwise it is often a great point of interest for a layout. In the examples I am sharing today I have ideas for using both brochures and postcards with additional bits of memorabilia and design choices to provide context. The first layout was made by intention of design and the second out of necessity. One section of my exchange album is all about experiencing the changing seasons and how they differ from what I’m used to here in Australia. Where I lived in Indiana had very defined seasons. Summer was for travel, swimming and outdoor fun, Spring was full of glorious colour and Winter was covered in a blanket of snow but no season was more of a show off than Autumn or I could say in this context Fall. It was also known as tourist season where I lived because it was the time of year that my area experienced a massive increase in visitors. Despite the impact that Fall had on the calendar of our area I never actually took any pictures myself, it’s likely I was too busy being involved in all those calendar filling activities. I did however have in my possession a quarterly tourist publication that was a brilliant example of the season and as luck would have it found some patterned paper along the way that was pretty much a photographic representation of the views I saw at this time of year. The memorabilia while serving as an photo substitute in this context also provides more information about the local attractions and some interesting tidbits as well as a snapshot of the businesses in the area should the viewer wish to take a look at it in detail.Luckily for me the brochure, and most of the memorabilia I acquired during my stay, was conveniently sized to add to a 12×12 layout, so for the left side of this double page spread I simply let it speak for itself. A title and some minimal embellishment in the form of an off-cut from the right hand paper subtly bring the two sides of the layout together . The right hand side however was to be filled with story so I chose to get my text on vellum and still let that lovely autumnal paper shine through. It was also an excuse to grab some themed embellishments that, lets be honest wouldn’t necessarily fit in too many other places, since other than these pages I don’t scrapbook seasons. Most of these are from a Paper Pizazz 8×8 Seasons Paper pad.As I said my second layout came about as a means of necessity. While I did take some lovely photos at Kings Island, a theme park in Ohio, I accidentally double exposed the roll of film therefore making all of my photos unusable. Total bummer. But a little thing like having no photos wasn’t going to stop me when I still wanted to record the memories – postcards and ephemera to the rescue. The starting point for this layout was the lovely saturated colours of the plastic bag and since this is a no photo layout I don’t have to worry about archival safety. The postcards themselves aren’t very visually powerful as far as colour goes so I needed to balance their lack of saturation against the bag and chose to do so by … This layout also sits next to another theme park layout about Cedar Point (again in Ohio) so I also stole some of the colours from ephemera that I’ll be using when I make that layout, so both layouts look a bit more like they fit with one another.Using memorabilia in lieu of photos on your layouts means using a lot of the same concepts and techniques to make it work effectively. Consider scale, like you might when using photo enlargements or close up pictures. The greater visual weight of a large item often calls for embellishments that are smaller in size and quantity than when using a smaller photo or memorabilia counterpart. However you also need to be mindful of the depth of the item as much as it’s length or width. Memorabilia can add a lot of bulk and physical weight to you layouts depending on the nature of it. You may need to consider backing your memorabilia on a thicker cardstock to offset some of the weight or manipulate or subtract from them to loose some of the depth and bulk. Taking your colour palette from your memorabilia complements them just as well as it would if you used a photo, likewise selecting papers with patterns of complementary hues, scale and designs allows for the image to take centre stage over its background and embellishments.What’s your big tip for using memorabilia on your layouts?