Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Scissor Struggle: When to Cut Loose

Copy, Paste. Copy, Paste. CTRL C, CTRL V, it's what I do. All Day. I'm an Accountant, inundated with spreadsheet maintenance and the "office guru" when it comes to Excel, no less. It's monotonous, all the copying and the pasting but it's necessary and makes my job easier.  It also requires no thought, no technique, no need for questioning if it's right or will work. At the end of the day, it's finished and I don't go back over it and wonder if there was a better way to do it. It is just simply copy and paste. When I go home at night I don't think about it, I focus on my family, my chores, my means for keeping my house from collapsing. Then I focus on what shouldn't require Copy and Paste: Creating.
I've thought a lot about why and how that outlet for creativity has changed and evolved over my crafty lifetime.  I've dove deep and headlong into what I call 'Scissor Crafts': crochet, embroidery, card making, mixed media, scrapbooking, quilting, art journaling, and sewing. I've spent countless hours reading books, blogs, magazines, and anything I could get my hands on regarding the minutia of a new craft. I've learned the techniques, the terms, the tricks, built the stash that goes along with it and occasionally turned out something for the world to see. People ask if I do 'X' other craft and I say 'No, not yet' and in the back of my mind I try to convince myself that  'X' craft won't be the next thing I fall into which finally causes the stacks of supplies in my stash to topple and drown me while searching for a missing pair of scissors.
So, why do I do it? Why do I keep bouncing to new crafts?
Why do I fretfully wander into a new section of the craft supply store, feeling like an outsider; like I'm a lost tourist, hoping that no one will see me peeking into the next aisle, not yet a member of that craft's secret clubhouse. Why do I make my head spin the first time I read 'A Beginner's Guide to 'X Craft' and when I've plowed through the sixth version of the same basic how-to, and spent well over what I make in a month on supplies, and then spent a week obsessing on how I can possibly re-arrange my already too small room to fit these in, do I then realize that now I have to actually create.
Or do I?
Reading how is easy, making the supply list is easy, swiping my credit card is easy, opening packages, plugging things in, and sorting things into storage tubs is easy. It's the same process every time for everyone. Copy. Paste. So why is is so hard to make that first scissor cut?

I believe that there exists a spectrum in creating. At one end are the basic techniques you use over and over. Ink and stamp, sharpen a pencil and draw a line, cut out a square and sew it to another square. Copy. Paste. As you move across, there are harder techniques and more advanced versions of the basics that require more skill, more time, and more supplies but you're still copying and pasting until you reach the point where the crafting hits an advanced, recreating the wheel, genius kind of level. Maybe I'm naive, but to me, every craft in the 'at-home' industry has a settling point on that spectrum for the masses and the elite - that accepted point, and its distance from the copy paste stage, where people like me and people who are instructors, authors, and lead bloggers are producing their day to day body of work.

This is why I've stopped paper crafting. I can't copy and paste.
This is why I've started sewing. I can copy and paste.
This is why I kept cycling through crafts.

A sewing blogger can take a bolt of fabric, notions, and a vintage pattern book and make a dress and a blog post every day. I can take a bolt of fabric, notions and a vintage pattern book and make a dress and blog post it every day.
A card making blogger can take the stamp set she was sent three months before its release, and various other supplies from her sponsored stash and make a card from her original design and blog about it as part of a sponsored blog hop. I can take a stamp set, paper, ink, scissors, and a tape runner from my local craft store and create the exact same card and blog it and I'm a copy cat and I feel icky.

Maybe its because sewing, quilting, crochet, and embroidery are such vintage crafts with such functional applications that it's all been done. Fashion and trends change but at the end of the day you're still creating a nine patch or a pair of pants. Mixed media, scrap booking, and card making are relatively new crafts with much less practical applications. It hasn't all been done and unless you're recreating the wheel every time you post, it's not interesting and no one in the industry wants to see a copy and you better not enter it in a challenge. I can't expect myself to invent a new technique or start with a blank slate every day and create a masterpiece in the hour I have at night to craft to be on level with the industry. But, I can expect myself to follow directions and produce a button up shirt that in most aspects is a copy and for some reason I'm on level with the lead designer of a pattern company.

So, now what do I do? Should I haul all my paper crafting supplies to the to curb or set up a yard sale and pawn it off to the next person who will feel let down every time they pick up my old ink pad because its not the newest release and they can't use it to copy a card they saw on a blog post? Do I just say screw it, and start making replicas to give to my parents for their birthdays? I bought the stuff, right? My parents will never know I didn't really design it even though I have 'designed by' stamped on the back of every card just above where I sign my name. Or do I continue to beat myself up every time I stare at a blank sheet of A4 cardstock because I expect myself to be a creative genius like the bloggers I follow? Or, should I just keep sewing dresses from patterns already made and accept the fact that all I really need to satisfy my need to create is copying and pasting? It sure makes it all a hell of a lot easier and picking out my outfit in the morning for work is a snap.

Even better? Where does the paper crafting industry go from here? We all know that it has taken a dive, local shops are all but gone and I think it is due to the simple fact that the barrier to entry for Betty Doe who wants to start making scrapbooks is set too high. There isn't a single industry blog remaining that isn't at an unattainable level of genius. There's no place for new entrants to start and be allowed to feel any level of success by just making something with limited supplies from her local big box store. She simply cannot copy and paste. So, she doesn't bother with that aisle or she stops shopping there and goes to a different one. It's what I've done and once I finish the hem on the dress I'm making, I'll know what I'm wearing to work tomorrow.
And I'll bet you I'll get a few compliments on my copy.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mommy & Me

Hi again!
   Here's the Mommy and Me page for my niece's book. It contains a fun game called, 'Find all the Doilies!' I might have gone a bit overboard on this one...
   I started this page by picking out the background 12 x 12 papers. I just loved the vintage shoes, dress form and fancy clothes! I went with a pink, yellow, and green color scheme for the pages in vintage shades to match the background papers and made the accent color black with a tad bit of gold. The ephemera on the pages is from Tim Holtz's new packs and the washi tape is from his collection and a few other designers. These lines look a bit crooked on the page, but luckily that is due to the photo and not an inability to see straight on my part. My favorite part of this page is the little silhouette of the girl with the tiniest bow I've ever tied around her neck. I used a piece of ephemera and added glossy accents to the entire piece and let it dry overnight. Then I added a bit of embroidery floss and Ta-da! I like how it jumps off the light pink paper, but doesn't  look lonely since it's next to the distressed black matting squares. (Those squares won't look so prominent when they are filled with wonderful pics of my niece and sister-in-law)
   I didn't added any specific journaling sections or prompts to this page because it could be used for so many different scenarios. I thought the black and yellow strip spaces would work well for pictures but the pink and green pieces and yellow tag could be for pictures, more ephemera or journaling about places they've gone together, things they like to do or any great memory. There is also blank space by the dress form on the background page that could be used for photos, journaling or ephemera as well.
   I hope you like the page and will visit again soon!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

12 Tags - January

There is a first time for everything, right? Currently, I'm doing roughly 6 things right now while writing this post. And yes, watching hockey, house cleaning, texting, and cooking are all involved (in case you are curious). I think that's not a personal best, but if it is, then hey, another first time!
What I really mean, though, is that this is the first time I've played along with the 12 tags by Tim Holtz. I love the monthly inspiration and played along this time!
Using Tim's techniques that you can find here, I made this card for my brother's 28th birthday which is next week. So, Happy (Early) Birthday, little bro! (The card is in the mail!)
In making the card, I really stuck to the techniques and just added a few of my own touches to the elements. One thing I wanted to try was to add paint to the glittered numbers, not just ink. I was really pleased with the way it turned out! I think using the metallic paints makes a huge difference, though, since they have their own shimmery finish which compliments the distress glitter. To apply, I just added a bit with my fingers here and there and buffed it with a paper towel before it dried.
Another change I made was adding some smears of paint to the background after applying the glue and seal behind the numbers and 'eight'. This added some contrast to really make the 'eight' stand out since I used many different shades of blue on the background. Just a smear of bronze paint really made a difference.
I had a lot of fun making this card and selecting the birthday wish related words to add to the back, especially the 'happy', 'day' and 'brother'.
I hope you like the card and, just as an update, the Mommy and Me pages of my niece's book will be up soon!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My House & My Room

    Hi again! This past weekend was filled with so much crafty goodness, but none of it involved papercrafts. I think I may have worn myself out with these pages, but Christmas cards need to be made so I'll be back into it this week while my few remaining Christmas crafts will fill in the gaps in the time remaining until Christmas. Luckily, I think I am ahead of schedule and will hopefully be able to share some of those gifts here soon too. There was paper involved in both projects, just not the finished result. That still counts, right?

    Anyway, on to pages 4 and 5, My House and My Room! There isn't much but the obvious on these pages. I did select colors for each page based on my niece's house and bedroom so that the photos would match. Plus, it gave me a good starting place for paper and embellishment selection. I also found a card that had 'Places I've Lived' written at the top to add since my niece has lived in a few places so far due to their house being built and finished around the time she was born. I also wanted to add some matting that could be used for small pictures like one of their porch swing, the mail box, the house number or the front door. Those pictures could also line the pavement stones die at the bottom of the page and the matted areas could be used for journaling. Just some ideas!

    These two pages also started the ever-obsessive doily presence throughout the book. I am still picking doily bits out of my carpet. I also found out that you can use Distress Paint in the metallic colors to make letter stickers look almost gilded. Just leave them to dry for a while on their own stuck to a craft sheet. They are so lovely! I also did myself a favor and went through my dies, mostly Tim Holtz, and cut out a plethora of ones I thought went with the book's style to use on future pages, which I will be adding to the blog soon! See you then!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Story Begins

    Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and made some memories. I kept very busy with family and friends who were visiting for the weekend and decorating my house but now I have switched back to a more normal schedule of watching hockey, making Christmas crafts and blogging pictures of THE book! 
    Today, I have the first full 2 page 12 x 12 spread to share! 

    My idea for this page came from the idea that every person has a story and it starts even before they are born. It involves many people and those people's lives are forever changed because of that person. So, I included some matting for photos, but mostly journaling prompts like, About My Birthday, About My Name, and so on. I also included a card with the words 'Some Memories' to serve as a catch all for other things that the other prompts didn't cover. 
    I don't have much to include in this post regarding the papers that I used or the specific product lines I pulled the elements from because of my technique in making the book, so I'll share that instead. (If you do want to know where an element or item came from, just hit the comments and I'll try to go on a treasure hunt for you!) My idea in making the book was to make an entire cohesive unit that blended well and had similar tones and motifs. So, to make it easier on myself, I made a list of page titles and then went through my entire stash of papers and pulled together anything that 'belonged' in the style I wanted. Then, I yanked out sheets of paper that went with the topic of the page, like the typewriter paper I used here for the 'My Story' page and worked to find a mate for that page. I also pulled out sheets that had ephemera or lettering or journal cards that matched the overall motif and made stacks, and stacks...and stacks.  It kind of made a huge mess but with a few post-its it was manageable and having my entire stash whittled down to a theme and a subset made it so much easier to choose what would go on those chosen 12 x 12 pages! I'm very fond of collage and grouping a ton of items on a page to fill up the area and this works well with this style of scrapbooking since I wasn't working from pictures or specific stories. My goal was to make very cohesive, pretty, blank pages and was able to do that by just sifting through my stacks! There are lots of items and collections that are repeated throughout the book, but I think that just helps give it more of a special project feel. 
    In putting the pages together I stayed very consistent on the use of a few products, the first being Distress Ink. There were many papers that I pulled together for each page that had unmatching undertones (shudder) and using Antique Linen, Old Paper, Frayed Burlap, and many other inks gave the pages a similar undertone and made me happy! There is very little in the book that does not have Distress Ink on it somewhere. I also consistently used ribbon, twine, or some type of trim to each page. I also made sure to add some type of ephemera and small metal items to each page. For instance, on this page I used a metal word band and paper clip and some butterflies an the clock. Little touches like these are my favorite :) 
    Anyway, I hope you like these pages and some of the ideas I shared here. If you have any questions or just want to say HI, just send me a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE Scrapbook

   Roughly four years ago, I was out shopping for a very special gift; a baby book for my soon to be born, first ever, niece. I flipped through stacks of pages of books with family trees, registers of gifts, lists of people who visited and places to list all of her 'firsts'. But then the pages stopped and it seemed like there was just so much missing from those pages. I never found a book that gave audience to the stories: how my name was chosen, what my parents said when they first met me, what my favorite foods, toys, and stories were growing up, what was on my Christmas wish list. They missed what made a baby a unique person. 
   So, being a paper hoarder and very inexperienced paper-crafter at the time, I thought, why not make my own baby book. It won't be hard! I'll come up with a few scrapbook pages and buy an album and give that as my gift. I'll leave spaces for journaling those stories and matted areas for adding pictures and trinkets and ephemera from her day one on, well past the first days and first steps and exhausting lists of shower gifts. Then my imagination took over and my brainstorming got out of hand, and I found myself frantically gluing and cutting and vowing to not rise from my chair for hours at a time so I could finish 36 perfect and unique 12 x 12 pages that I couldn't live without having in the book that must be in a shabby chic style before she was born...and then I gave it to her a month after she was born...and then I realized that if she were to have a sister, I was in big trouble. 
   Her sister was born January 13th...I finished her book on November 24th...
...did I mention I am also a procrastinator? 

    If you're anything like me, you probably can't wait to show what you've made to everyone around you and since it's just you and your husband, he's plenty tired of seeing all the things you made that started out as, "Just plain white paper, honey! Honest!". He smiles and nods and mumbles a few things but he's just being nice and that's OK. You may be flabbergasted that you were able to make a vintage looking viewfinder out of glossy card stock and the packaging from your thickers but he really has no idea what alcohol ink is or a steel rule die, so it's a futile effort...and that's where you all come in! I've photographed all 36 pages of my second niece's book which I will, 'God willing and the creek don't rise', give to my niece tomorrow at Thanksgiving and over the next who knows how long, share here on my blog! 
   So, without further rambling here's page one! 

   I wanted to start the book at the beginning. Shocker, right?! I love vintage looking anythings so I picked this paper because of the style of the announcement section. It also already had a completed area for a newborn picture. Of course, we can't just leave well enough alone, so I added butterflies covered in glossy accents and clear rock candy distress glitter, some ribbon, buttons, pearls, and two small paper word bands. This page should have taken ten did not. But, I'm happy with it and its simplicity. This was probably where the simplicity stopped, however, which you'll see on the next pages that I will begin sharing later this week because tomorrow is Turkey Day and deliver the book day!!! (of which I am so very thankful!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gigantic Project Coming Soon!

  For roughly the last year, I've been hacking, pecking, inking, cutting, stamping, procrastinating, and slowly finishing a gigantic project...emphasis on slowly. I finally finished it last night! {does happy dance}
Today's goal is to photograph the entire monstrosity and then start sharing it on the blog after I upload the pictures which will more than likely happen while watching the hockey game tonight because let's be honest - I cannot do just one thing at a time.
  So, basically, I just wanted everyone to know that I have not been a lazy blogger because I haven't made anything in eons. I've been a lazy blogger because I have been spending time on just one gigantic project that I can now share with all of you! So excited!
  Hope to see you all tomorrow (if you're still out there!)