Tuesday 28 February 2012

I Go Out Walking...

A little while ago I showed the sneakiest of peeks of a project I’m going to be working on all year. Well, today’s the day for the big reveal over at Gauche Alchemy!

I always knew I was collecting postcards for a reason. (Apparently I have a bit of a thing for them.) Turns out this is it. I used to have hundreds covering my bedrooms walls at university – you know, the kind they give out as flyers or adverts or art – but they were long gone, recycled in one of my fits of ruthless cleaning over the years. Now, each time we go to a bar or museum or someplace similar we pick up the interesting ones, and the collection was starting to add up again. So now is my chance to give them all a reason to exist! Read on…

My aim for this year is to make up a mini book, filled with 52 postcards, each of which is scrapped with a photo taken during a weekly walk, with each photo inspired by a weekly prompt. The idea’s not new, I know, but I did think that the Scrapbook Challenges forum could benefit from a year-long project like this, so that is where you can find the prompts and members’ responses to those prompts if you’re interested in playing along (some catching up will be required by now, but the load is not too much. Besides, the prompts are guaranteed to get you thinking!).

I WILL stick to this project
this Gauche Alchemy boot wasn’t made for walking, it was made for adorning my mini book

go out walking - you might find dinosaurs (or other exciting stuff)
I’ve been keeping to the programme on the photograph front, and I’m almost up to date on the scrapping, too. Here’s what I’ve done so far, photograph-wise:

Thanks to Gauche Alchemy and their eclectic array of products, I was able to pick and mix and create a cover for this mini book that was perfectly suited to the theme of going on walks and taking photos. Here’s how the cover came together:

Products I used (all from Gauche Alchemy)
Color Kits – It’s All Gravy, Blue Streak, Purple People Eater
PVC Punchinella
Ouchless Cardboard
Mail Art kit
Nearly Nekkid kit
Regular Punchinella

I can’t tell you strongly enough how easy it is to come up with projects from the GA Color Kits – with them, a project pretty much makes itself. For example, I’ve nearly used up the whole Banana Hammock kit (even though it’s a difficult colour for me), and I’ve got a project in the pipeline using the (peach?) kit which is a colour I NEVER thought I’d use. On top of everything they’re great value because you get a lot of bits and pieces and some really unusual items in them. (I’ll tell you a secret… when I applied to be part of the Gauche Alchemy DT, they asked me which of their products I liked the best. I spent a paragraph gushing about how inspiring these Color Kits were – and that was just from the product photos in the GA Artfire store! Now I’ve got my hands on them – wow. I have not been disappointed!)

Monday 27 February 2012

The Official Duties of a Bridesmaid

I mentioned here that I certainly asked a lot of my bridesmaids. But even though they had a lot of official duties on the day, I think they enjoyed getting ready with me in the morning. I enjoyed it too, at least until the timing got a little tight.

This double-page layout, made from the sketch below, shows snapshots of us doing our hair and make up on that special day.

Scrapbook Challenges sketch #284
Here's the sketch, up this week on Scrapbook Challenges:

The single pages:

Elements used: Echo Park's Happy Days, Crate's Emma's Shoppe and Cosmo Cricket's Early Bird
Elements used: Prima flowers, Gauche Alchemy stamps
Just want to say thank you again to the polka dot princesses who were so amazing on the day!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Oodles of Doodles

So the big news of this year for me so far is that I've gone back to the office. Part-time, mind. I'm still freelancing at home for the other half of the week, but we need a mortgage and the banks need a payslip, so this is what I have to do.

(You can sense my enthusiasm already, right?!)

As a result, I've been 'attending' lots of training sessions this year. The quote marks are because most of the training is issued online, via either CBT or presentations, so I'm not really attending so much as... sitting at my desk.

So, these last two months, when I've not been taking notes, I've been doing this:

they made a mistake by giving me a pen and a piece of paper

Which made me remember what I used to do when I was a lot, lot younger:

can't believe I still have this

It reminded me of this layout that I did recently for Punky Scraps, and how I said I wanted to begin to introduce more light-hearted, hand-drawn elements into my work. So, doodling. Does anyone else out there like doodling on their craft creations?

PS. I also found this from a very long time ago:

how are you? Oh, I'm vine, thanks!
It made me go 'HAH!' because it is evidence that I once was able to cut and rip and stick very, very neatly, and so I have no excuse not to regain those skills!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

A Day to be Proud

Such a busy month for layouts! - It's a good thing I have so many photos to scrap these days.

Scrapbook Challenges has another sketch up on the forum - this time, there's a bit of choice, with different photo formats and different size pages. It certainly makes for a good challenge!

I chose this sketch:

why was I scared of this sketch?

...which is actually squashed up a bit in order to make an A4-sized layout - something I normally like doing, but just to be difficult I stretched it out again to fit the regular 12x12.

My layout, I confess, came together very quickly. The reason? I was scared.

Scrapbook Challenges sketch #283b
Why on earth was I scared? Well... I talked (boasted?) here about how my layouts hardly reflect the sketches I take inspiration from these days. BOOM! That was the sound of me falling back to earth. I am trying to keep a 'togetherness' in my wedding photos - for example, I've used a certain Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge circle stamp somewhere on each page (even here, although you can't see it) - and in that framework I just couldn't see any room for manoeuvrability with this sketch. I didn't want to experiment and mess up the continuity of my wedding album. Perhaps I didn't want to distort the sketch too much because I wasn't feeling confident that day. Mainly I just didn't want a dud page in my collection. So I stuck to the sketch like glue and the result is a verrrrrrrrrry clean layout - almost boring, I find.

The colours work, and I changed the matting paper to a frame, but otherwise it's not much different. I get that the challenge isn't to take a sketch and interpret it to oblivion, but I guess judging by my recent interpretations I was expecting a bit more from myself.

At the end of the day, I am happy with it as a page in my wedding album, and since that was my primary objective, I can say I've succeeded! Perhaps a break from wedding photos is in order?

Saturday 18 February 2012

A Recipe of All Sorts

When I cook, I rarely follow recipes to the letter. Sometimes because I disagree with them, but often because I am lacking an ingredient or two and have to improvise. The only exception is when I'm baking - then, it's essential to follow recipes to the letter. That, I'm happy with.

But following a Punky Scraps recipe to the letter is a whole different story. This month, I really struggled to make a cohesive page... but that's why it's called a challenge!

I needed a helping hand, so I used this sketch:

I found on this very talented lady's blog (who I discovered via Scrapbook.com) and it was designed by this scrapper.

And I tried really, really hard to follow the recipe. Here is my layout:

Punky Scraps challenge #42
Now I can take a step back I can analyse where I think I went wrong with this layout - I started with a patterned paper, and had to work around the pattern on the base layer. In the end I did end up working it into the design - the idea is is that the raindrops are turning into hearts, or the hearts are flying up and stopping the rain, so I'm happy with the symbolism of that part. In the end it turned out fine, I guess, but it was a struggle when I was putting it together!

The recipe (and my rendering of it):
Hexagons (raindrops)
White paint (behind the title)
Make a grid (the background paper and the map paper)
Use small photos (yup - too small for you to see properly!)
NO PINK (ooops.... realised at the last minute that the background paper has pink on it)
Use three circles (two wheels and a button)
Use three squares (the letters)
Use something transparent (red flock transparency semi-circles)

As always, you can go find out what the other members made from this recipe on the Punky blog. We'd love to see what you might come up with too, so please join in!

Thursday 16 February 2012

Home is...

A looooong time ago I bought a sort-of printer’s tray in a funny shape. A specific shape, considering what I wanted to do with it - I wanted to celebrate the concept of 'home', which, for me, isn't a house, a town, a country; it's less tangible than that. It's a feeling.

Anyway, I’ve been working on it slooooowly and thought I’d finally share some of my progress.

I've used some of the ancient letterpress kit I found that same day to embellish
First I asked my husband nicely to sand it for me and stain it that dark red colour. Then I started collecting bits and pieces that I’d like to add to it. I cut some shapes for the wallpaper of the little ‘rooms’, and selected some photos to fill the spaces with.

'home is where the heart is' is so true for me
And that’s as far as I’ve got. Maybe in another 18 months it’ll be completed. When it is, I promise I'll share it fully.

it was a great idea, but I've been slow at completing it

Tuesday 14 February 2012

I'm in the Mood for Love

About a year ago, we started trying to decide on a song for our first dance. We didn’t necessarily want a first dance, but as we’d been taking swing dancing lessons (Lindy Hop, to be exact), we admitted that we were certainly going to dance, and that one of the dances would naturally have to be the first one. So we threw ourselves full swing (hehe) into the search.

Now, between us we have a lot of music. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. Not just in sheer volume, but also in the range of eras, genres, levels of fame and success, and sources and styles. Choosing from that seemed an impossible task. In total we were searching for 5 songs – 1 for our first dance, 3 for the town hall ceremony (entrance, signing and exit), and 1 for our own personal ceremony after dinner. The song for the first dance we thought we’d decided on by the time May came around (the others were finally settled on during the week before the wedding…how that stressed me out I can’t tell you). And it is the little story behind this song that helped me make my valentine’s card this year.

My parents came to visit at the end of May and, naturally, we told them about the song. We talked a bit about the artists and how we’d come to know them, and then practised our dance a little.

Cut to the moment on our wedding day after our first dance, when we were called aside by my parents and given a very special gift: the album on which the song appeared, on original, unplayed vinyl – signed by the surviving female singer. This surprise was an even bigger one than seeing my parents jiving – Where? How? When? – of course, we were amazed.

They told us that at a vintage fair they’d gone to in July, Keely Smith had been there signing autographs. She was old, and frail following an illness, but she was there and full of the edge she showed when she performed on stage with Louis Prima. My parents headed for a record stall, looking for one thing only – and found it. She was happy to sign, apparently punching my dad on the arm for giving her a pen that didn’t quite work, and happy to hear that some ‘young people’ were still interested in her music. My parents went home triumphant and full of glee.

Since all the DT at Scrapbook Challenges have been challenged to incorporate a love song into their projects this month, I’ve made an easy decision and gone for this one.

first card I've been happy with in a loooong time!
Don't forget, if you haven't already, get on over to SC, sign up, and get your share of the scrappy love!

Saturday 11 February 2012

Rockin' the Sketch

When I made this sketch I tried out something with a sort of multiway title... well, I've tried it again. This time it's a bit simpler, so it works better.

That's me, though. I never start off simple, and then work my way up to something. I always try the hardest thing first, and then cut back when I realise I can't quite make it. What does that say about me, I wonder?

Anyway, here is my layout for this week's Punky Scraps challenge - a very punky sketch from Nat.

it's not just a skull, it's a skull with a 'tache!!!

I actually had a really hard time with this sketch, because it was so white-spacey. I really wanted to stick to the white space, too, but as I worked the page just kept spreading. But in the end, I'm happy with how it looks because I love bright colour on black, even if it is all a bit tidy.

Punky Scraps challenge #41
There's that multiway title I was telling you about - 'he rocks my world' and 'she rocks my world'. I love the speech bubble feature on this page because it is playful and really works as the thoughts of the subjects in the photo.

Go and see what other DT members did - you'll love their creations - and even join in yourself!

Thursday 9 February 2012

Messing Things Up

For the design team at True XOXO this month, the challenge - get messy - was divisive to say the least... but what the challenge has shown, although tough, is that there are MANY different ways you can be messy, and that messy is ALL RELATIVE. I love some of the LOs on this challenge for the personal value - you might not necessarily look at a page and think automatically that it is messy, but once you read the artist's little summary of the page and get to know their 'usual' style, you see how they've gone through a creative process to arrive at the layout.

Mine was intended to truly reflect the messy state of my brain the other week - lack of sleep leads to some interrrrrrrrrrrresting artistic accents, that's for sure!

all kinds of messy
I wanted to get lots of layers on there without turning it into an art journal-style page or mixed media piece, but I think it just looks like I Jackson Pollocked it (I wish!).

Anyway, join in the fun this month and you could win a month-long guest spot on the DT!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Interpretation: The Debate Continues

Following on from my previous post on the Inspiration Debate, I’m going to talk a little bit today about Interpretation, since it’s loosely related to those aforementioned copyright laws and the difficulties involved with intellectual property rights, the internet and so on.

It is very often claimed that any given creation is not a copy of another, it’s an interpretation, which is pretty much like saying ‘it’s OK, I’ve put my own spin on it’. This is OK, until the claims start to be made over creations that are  in fact copies, or uncredited, or both. The problem is that all of this is subjective. You might think something is a rip off of something else, but I might not be able to see it. I absolutely don’t have any answers to this one. Again, it’s a situation that is developing every day, and we are just trying to keep up with the fast-paced changing world of instant online connectivity.

So to completely go the other way and run from the debate, I’ve kind of done the opposite with the layout below. It’s made from a sketch, but it is very loosely based on the sketch. For many reasons (two of them being printer related, causing me to feel like this) I switched things up and did my own thing.

In the past, before I was scrapbooking regularly, I did sometimes look at a layout that was supposedly based on a sketch and wonder how the artist got from sketch to layout, as I couldn’t see any resemblance. Now that I’ve been more active in scrapbooking circles, I see the interpretation process a lot more clearly. And frankly, these days I’m disappointed if a layout is too closely, too precisely based on a sketch – what I find inspiring, like the majority of us, I’m sure, is seeing different people’s different interpretations of a sketch (yep, I used 'different' twice there intentionally). More than that, I find it fascinating that a small group of people like a design team can come up with different layouts for a sketch and no two are even remotely alike.

This is the main reason I love sketches so much these days. Not so much because it takes out of my schedule that extra step of thinking up a design, saving me time; more because the process of getting from sketch to layout is an art in itself.

Look at what I’ve done with Scrapbook Challenges’ sketch this week:

hi, my name's Cheryl and I can't multi-photo scrap

Mine doesn’t look like that. It looks like this:

Scrapbook Challenges sketch #281

I turned the sketch 90 degrees, moved the title position so it diagonally mirrored the original, opted to go for one photo chopped up instead of multiple photos, tried to play around with the title in place of the journalling, and used wavy (literally!) lines instead of straight, moving them from the outside in.

trying to be too clever?
For the title I tried to do something a bit different. (In case you can’t see, there are Heidi Swapp Ghost Alphas on there that spell out ‘Dubrovnik’). It’s (supposed to be) a multi-way title, so you can read it as ‘I love Dubrovnik’, as ‘in Dubrovnik’, as ‘in love’, or as ‘in love in Dubrovnik’. I think I’ll try this again in the future as I didn’t quite get the positioning right on this one (the ‘in’ needed to be closer to the ‘love’, for example, and perhaps I needed to use smaller letters for the ‘Dubrovnik’).

What are your thoughts on interpretation? How far do you like to take a sketch?

If you want to see what the other DT members did, and submit your own layout for a chance to win a prize, visit Scrapbook Challenges. This month, because we feel like sharing the love, there are also extra prize-winning opportunities for new members, so come over and sign up!

Saturday 4 February 2012

Inspiration – The Debate

Everyone talks about inspiration – where theirs comes from, what they use to get inspired, whether it’s an overused term or an undervalued part of life, where it touches borders with copyright infringement and stealing…
… but as far as I’m concerned, human consciousness is one huge living entity anyway. It always has been. It just takes, now and again, one individual in the right place at the right time to stand up and put an amazing idea out there, and then other ideas will spark off of that one and other people will have their own ideas and… so on.

Everything we put out there – whether it be our skills, our talent, or even our personality or our words – is an amalgamated, processed version of everything we’ve ever put in. We absorb information (read inspiration), then we recycle it; or, maybe a better word is upcyle.

In the past this process has gone rather slowly. It went quite slowly for quite a long time, in fact; only in the last 200 years has it sped up. And the acceleration is exponential – now, with the web at our fingertips (and probably soon to be linked directly to our brains), the sharing, processing and reusing of ideas has exploded into a constantly moving, ever-evolving quasi sentient thing where if you sit still for one minute you get left behind. Lawmakers can’t keep up with it, that’s for sure. Intellectual property law has been acknowledged for centuries, albeit unnamed, but only became commonplace a few decades ago, and it and its counterparts haven’t moved fast enough to be effective in providing a good set of reactions to the changing environment.

So where do we turn for inspiration? I talked in my guest post here about turning more and more to sketches… although even this is a foggy area: with so many sketches from different sources each week, and a limited canvas, it’s inevitable that overlaps occur. What do we do, then? Should we be concerned?

I think, at least in the online scrapbooking community, that old rules should still apply and be applied: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Or, an it harm none, do thy will. It’s common decency, and common sense. Even though when I look around I think I see mostly people who do not live by the same values as me, I’m somehow still convinced that people willing to be part of a community act in that community with these values in mind. There are always exceptions, of course. But those people, I just keep away from.

So, again, where do we turn for inspiration? If we become too scared of breaking the rules, however fuzzy they are, that we can’t move, there’s no point in continuing. Stasis is… inhuman.

This week, Natalie of Punky Scraps picked out an image for us to be inspired by. I had a ball – in fact, such a good time making a layout from this image that I will return to it again and again as I begin to incorporate some of its elements into my own style. And it made me realise: since she’s been running Punky Scraps, Nat has always offered an inspiration image every month. They’re much more than a colour palette, more than a theme or a style. I don’t know where she gets them, but they really work for me.

big, bold and bright - I love it!
printed rainbows - thanks, Sass!
hand-drawn rainbows - thanks, Copic!

loving shadows and shading here

And so, I’ve learned something. We’ve all been told to always look outside of the box. But I’ve actually only just come to understand what this means. Like when you look up into the night sky, and you have to not look directly at a cluster of stars in order to see them all; like doing those magic eye posters; like trying to remember something so hard and then it comes to you when you're in the middle of something else entirely; well, this is the same sort of thing. So, to answer my persistent question of where we can turn for inspiration, I will say, for now, that not going in search of it is the best course of action. Just keep all of your channels open, and it will find a way in.