Tuesday 29 November 2011

Creatively Scrapping

I'm on a bit of a roll with layouts lately. Perhaps I'm subconsciously trying to hit 50 before the year is out.

Creative Scrappers gave me a hand with this one. They're on a stars fix at the moment, which suits me just fine. This is how my thought process went: stars - nautical stars - nautical - boats - harbours - the harbour on honeymoon. And a layout was born.

Creative Scrappers sketch #184

I'm loving this streak - I'm using up scraps, using paper that I bought ages ago and can't remember why, and combining it all with newer bits and pieces too.

ah, stars! how I love you
Why not go join the fun at Creative Scrappers? They're very, very, very good. You'll see.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Just for Me

It seems like I've been doing an awful lot of tasks for DTs lately, and not a lot just for the sake of scrapping. It's not that DT tasks are tiresome or unwanted; it's just that in moments of high motivation and creativity I feel the need to just...well, create.

stretching the Sass to the max
 So I started from scratch, drew a sketch, and made a layout just for me.

the engagement shoot photos finally get an airing
It's a whole fun, eclectic mess of bits and pieces and ideas, and I love it. The good news is, this period of high creativity hasn't stopped yet. I've got another layout up my sleeve waiting for a break in the clouds so it can be photographed, and one on paper and in my head that will probably come into fruition later today. Anyone else feeling super motivated at the moment? 

Thursday 24 November 2011

Christmas - a Preview

Not much time to stop in today as I'm preparing for an interview, but I just wanted to show you a sneak peek of something I've been working on. It's not available to the recipient until the First of December... any ideas?

Both Gauche Alchemy and I will be publishing a tutorial on how to make this, so keep an eye out. But what is it, exactly? I'll give you another clue: it's shaped like a donut.

In the meantime, Punky Scraps challenges for November are still open (I'll be featured there tomorrow so please swing by and leave me some love), and True XOXO Girls scraplifting opportunities continue until the end of the month.

Last but not least, Scrapbook Challenges is moving! Make sure you follow them to their new home. The Challenger newsletter is also being relaunched with moi as Editor - sign up here before 25th November (that's tomorrow!) to be in with a chance to win some Echo Park Christmas paper:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Feedback and Freebies

I'd like to thank everyone who left a comment here when I asked for feedback a few weeks ago.

I let Django Dog pick a winner, and that winner is:

...to whom I will send a small gift of handmade goodness (oh the tension - I'm not going to show you even a peek of what it is!). ScrappyJacky, well done! Thanks for your comments! Please drop me a line with your postal address.

Thanks again everyone!

PS. When I was talking before about this community being so generous, I meant it. I've been proved right by Michelle, a.k.a. the Willieburg Scrapper at My Analog Life, from whom I have just received in the mail from across the ocean this cute and generous gift:

not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR Sass packs!
She even included this incredibly thoughtful card to congratulate us on our marriage:

great colours, huh? ;-)

Thanks Michelle - you're a star!

ScrappyJacky, don't forget to email me your address so I can mail you something handmade!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Christmas Already?

Time sure flies.

The flurry of post-wedding sorting, tidying, organising and documenting has only just started to calm down, and I find myself half-buried under an avalanche of card-making materials.

But it's the life I signed up for, I guess! Actually, this year, without a wedding looming in the near distance I feel very relaxed about Christmas preparations. Good thing, too, since I have nearly 100 cards to make for customers! The first batch has already gone, and I'm working on the second next week.

rolled paper scraps make a great Christmas tree
and give such interesting dimension to a card
the brief was traditional, but I like to add my own twist
again, great dimension from these baubles

and reusing last year's gift tags? genius!

 How about you? Have you started with Christmas yet? 

Friday 18 November 2011

Punky Recipe - the Star of the Show

It's time for another Punky Scraps challenge! Don't try to resist, because this one is too good to miss.

Make a page from the following ingredients:
  • Stars
  • No patterned paper
  • Masking
  • Staples
  • Exposed cardboard
  • Book page
  • Bottle cap
  • Washi tape
Credits can only go to Inkadinkado and Tim Holtz for the star stamps
Not using any patterned paper was the biggest challenge for me - the biggest to date. (At least I know the need to use patterned paper will prevent my stash from ever getting out of control.)

I used everything on the list EXCEPT for the bottle cap because I FORGOT it. I had a Newcastle Brown Ale bottle cap somewhere (it has a star on it - perfect) but I only remembered it after I finished the page.

Love stars? Love ripping up cardboard? Look no further...
Again, as I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a LOT of time thinking about this page. I left it till the very last minute, and then woke up on the last day before deadline with the idea in my head. This time, the ingredients were decided for me; it was the laying out of the page that was taking time to come into focus.

I would LOVE to see people playing along with this challenge especially, so please pop over to Punky Scraps and check out the inspiration from the DT.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

My Creative Process

I've had a few questions lately about my creative process, so I wanted to talk a little about that today. I've been asked whether I plan everything on a page or just go with the flow. I'll focus on layouts today.

Usually these days I start off with a sketch - Scrapbook Challenges and Punky Scraps DT duties provide me with most of them, but I also like to look at Creative Scrappers and others that come up along the way.

Punky Scraps Challenge 34 sketch
my take

Then I spend a good few days thinking about the theme of the layout - I'm finding I like to tell a story on a page, but not necessarily with words. My journalling is usually on the back of the page these days, or hidden in an envelope or pocket somewhere on the page. So I think about the story, and which embellishments I have that can help me tell that story. Gauche Alchemy kits are great for finding the right bits and pieces.

I'll usually re-draw the sketch myself, adding notes about layers, embellishments, techniques and so on.

Next - and I find this Absolutely Important - I select the Most Appropriate background paper (I'm making 12x12 and A4 layouts at the moment). This is the true beginning. I have often made the wrong selection. I rarely go back and redo a page if I've already finished it. But if I haven't yet begun, or have only just begun, I will go back and select the right paper.

From this, the colours and textures will start to flow. Keeping the sketch in mind, I think about the page layer by layer - do I want the rub-on under the paint? Should I mist and mask the base paper? Can I stamp over that series of paper strips? Can I stamp over that stamp already there?

And then I get started. I roughly follow the sketch, but don't get panicked if things start to go off course. It's an organic process, and a page may turn out looking very different to a sketch in the end. I make mistakes, and accept them. I commit.

I've made a few 'test' pages, practising techniques and so on, but I've never been happy with them. I seem to be happier experimenting as I go. And it's this experimenting that is helping me develop my skills and broaden my repertoire.

Take, for example, the punchinella that comes from Gauche Alchemy. There has to be more to it than just layering it underneath something, right? Play with it! Test it! Push it to its limits! There are LOADS of things you can do. See for yourself:

And a bonus this month:

the card I made with the punchinella resist technique

Experimenting is so important for the creative process. You can decide what you like doing, what you don't like doing, what you're better at, what you want to investigate more.

Go experiment!

Monday 14 November 2011

Happy Days

We'd already been planning our wedding for a long time when Echo Park's Happy Days collection came out. To be honest, I was so consumed with making wedding decorations that I hadn't really thought ahead to what the post-wedding scrapbooking would be like. Echo Park saved me the trouble, in the end. More than that - it was a match made in heaven.

Of course, recently I've been getting stuck in to that post-wedding scrapping, recording our happy day.

This layout you've already seen:

Materials used: American Crafts Thickers (Rainboots in Aqua Glitter Foam); Bazzill White cardstock; Echo Park: Dots and Stripes in Concrete, Happy Days chipboard accents, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days journalling cards, Happy Days paper (Checker Board, Little Flowers reverse side); My Mind's Eye paper (Lost and Found Union Square Perfect "Happy"); Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge stamp set.
{Scrapbook Challenges Sketch #271}

I stitched and stamped before sticking down the paper strips. Then I added a printed swallow, a Cricut-cut nautical star and an RSVP - all from the wedding invitations - as extra memories. Finishing off with Happy Days chipboard shapes and Thickers was a doddle.

Why so easy? Well, Echo Park has pretty much decided my theme for me - I still want to be quite free and 'different', but I do want to have some main colours and motifs running through the pages. And Happy Days is perfect - you've seen the photos of the wedding. It should help me reach that subtle theming I'm after.

I made another Happy Days layout last week - taking into account this layout too, do you think I've achieved continuity?

Materials used: Bazzill Dragonfly cardstock; Echo Park: Dots and Stripes in Concrete, Happy Days alpha stickers, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days journalling cards, Happy Days paper (Checker Board reverse side); Gauche Alchemy Punchinella;Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge stamp set; Toga alphas; vellum.
{Creative Scrappers sketch #181}

For the border, I cut up the remains of this chequered vellum I've had for years and machine-stictched it on, then drew a couple of extra outer lines with a black pen. To make the chevrons, I cut a strip of the reverse side of Happy Days Checker Board paper, and then cut this strip into squares. Keeping the squares in a line, turning every other square 90 degrees gave the rough pattern; then it was just a question of lining the stripes up and trimming the edges. I did the same with the Dots and Stripes paper.


Since we went for cupcakes as the wedding cake, the Happy Days element stickers had to be used: cupcakes, layer cakes and sundaes - yummy! I cut around the cake on the journalling card a little so it could stick out over the photo. Then the title - punchinella, more chevrons, and lovely pure alphas.

And finally, my piece de resistance this month...

....take one deep photo frame from a well-known supermarket chain, take it apart, and make it your own!

Materials used: Echo Park: Happy Days alpha stickers, Happy Days chipboard accents, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days paper (Ads, Retro both sides); Gauche Alchemy Punchinella and various Mixed Media Color Kits elements.

The frame comes with a super-thick inner mount that is quite wide, providing a great working surface. I drew around the mount directly onto the patterned paper and then simply cut out the shape I wanted to partially cover the mount. I did a teensy bit of fussy cutting to get the Retro flowers; glued some GA elements onto some thin wire and stuck them down behind the big chipboard title; and then just layered the rest up.

because the frame is so deep you can really go to town on the layering

on the subject of matches made in heaven... look at this Echo Park Happy Days chipboard accent with a vintage mini film negative from a Gauche Alchemy Mixed Media Color Kit

Friday 11 November 2011

It's All About The Journey

I'm loving this artistic journey I'm on, and I'm finding myself fascinated by the twists and turns a journey can take, and how each new avenue leads to change, influence, adaptation and improvement. All those terms are subjective, obviously, but I really mean them in a sense of how happy I am with my creations and the direction they are heading in.

A journey can be so many different things.

This life journey I'm on, for example: I'm married now, and I feel like we can take on the world. We will go places together. 

All this and more fed into this layout as I was making it for this week's Punky Scraps sketch challenge. I wanted to pay homage to life and living, to enjoying and experiencing the journey as we are on it, not just after it's finished.

Don't you love it when you look at something you've made and it makes you happy? I used: Basic Grey Basics and Wander paper and Wander rubons, American Crafts Thickers and Toga Alphas, Sassafras Lass bunting sticker, Heidi Swapp Ghost Alphas, Glitz transparency, Echo Park For the Record journalling card, and Gauche Alchemy goodies (feather, sequins, plastic embroidery grid, map, foot paperclip, WOODGRAIN PUNCHINELLA!) 

how great is that foot paperclip?!

Go check out the sketch and the other DT members' awesomely punky work, and share a tiny slice of their journeys too.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Back to Black

In rebellion against the lovely autumn colours, today's post is going dark. Or maybe it's just because I completely bypassed Halloween this year. Or because I used to have goth tendencies. Or all of the above.

The November challenge up at True XOXO Girls is all about black - about being inspired by black in any way. I was inspired by this photo via Pinterest...

photo from bleachblack.com
...because, well, WOW.

I wanted to play with texture in this challenge, so I made a canvas, with just a splash of colour. A ray of hope, if you will, emerging from the shadows.

I used some texturising medium to get that sandy look on the bottom third, mixed acrylic with PVA glue to make it glossier for the top two thirds, and added some gesso coffee rings for added relief. I also stamped and heat embossed the swirl which I love.

It's tough, to make something inspired by black, and then to photograph it well. I've not done such a good job: I should have listened to Michelle's excellent tips on photographing all-black creations.

It's a bit better in close-up though.

Oh, and - exciting news - there are a couple of DT spots open on the XOXO team. If you like the sound of creating something for a monthly scraplift challenge, go see the DT application post and apply!

Friday 4 November 2011

No Regrets

Often it's too easy to dwell on the past, to go over things that didn't quite happen the way you expected and analyse them for how they could've been changed or avoided... I'm guilty, sometimes, of this - like most people. But I do make it a daily challenge of mine not to live this way. This year one of my resolutions was to stop worrying about the passage of time and see how much it slows down (it works, by the way), and an aspect of this change was adopting the 'No Regrets' mantra.

this project is subtitled 'my tidy catharsis'

This was put to the test almost precisely two months ago today. Awake at 7.30am on my wedding day, and with 6 hours ahead of me in which to get ready, I was blissfully unaware of the stress that would bring the morning to a close. The car (you've already heard that story, about which I have no regrets, by the way) was due to take us away at 1pm. So, in a leisurely, calm mood, I had my nails painted, and had some coffee, breakfast, and then some champagne. Then it was My Turn - I sat in The Chair and began to have my hair and makeup done. From there, I was facing a clock dead on. I watched with anticipation as both hands approached the 12, then with discomfort as the minute hand hit the 6, and then with rising panic as it passed the 12 again, and passed the hour hand pointing at the 1.

Five minutes later my makeup girl finally gave me a Murray Walker-esque 'Go GO GO!' and I ran downstairs, literally jumped into my dress, had my bridesmaids zip me up, and ran back upstairs to grab my bouquet and my shoes. Outside there was just time for a quick photo and then - uopa! - into the car we squashed, and sped off into the busy centre of Brussels.

It would be two hours later before I realised that I'd completely forgotten to put on my veil - the first accessory I focused on in my wedding planning to embody the image I wanted - and a further 5 hours after that that I realised I'd completely forgotten to write up my vows for our personal ceremony - leaving me with a scribbled piece of paper of half-remembered things and huge gaps where I had wanted to put the love in.

Today, these two issues are still smarting. But in the grand scheme of things, neither caused the world to end, neither ruined the wedding, and neither were unfixable after the event. We will have a 'Rock the Dress' photo session next year, and I will wear the veil. I have written up my vows in full and in the way I wanted to read them, and will give them to him soon. I'm moving on, with no regrets.

...none whatsoever.
For more similarly themed projects, get yourselves over to the Punky Scraps blog this week for the first challenge of November. You'll love what the team have done, and you'll probably love the challenge, too. Thanks for reading my stress story. Now it's out there it feels much, much further away and an entirely tinier problem. See? No regrets!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Autumn: It's Here

Where I am in the world has gone through a bizarre six months of weather changes. In May we had our summer; in July and August, storms and flooding; in September, a heatwave and more flooding; and in October, we had a week of winter, then summer, then finally - finally - the season settled on what it should be: Autumn.

What better than a long afternoon walk in the woods?

the park's still looking green

finally! a legendary toadstool to photograph!

oh the colours

somehow he's arranged our walks so that the halfway point is a tavern

Time to scrap some of these beautiful colours!