Monday, July 28, 2014

A Different Kind of Blog Hop

Happy Monday!

Today I'm pleased to be a part of a different kind of blog hop -- it's a blog tour, really, continuing from week to week as one crafty blogger tags another.  Last week, I was tagged by Amanda Reddicliffe, a brilliant scrapbooker whose pages are full of rich color and lovely details. I'm not quite sure how she does it, but she captures a sense of energy on every one of her pages. Amanda is also a photographer for Scrapbook Creations, and I was so flattered when she asked to interview me for a feature in the magazine a few months ago. 

There's also an interview component to this blog hop, as luck would have it. Amanda answered these questions last week, and now it's my turn! 

1. What am I working on right now?

I put the final touches on my most recent project yesterday, and it's up on the October Afternoon blog today. Every Monday a member of the design team poses a challenge for the week, and this week,  it's my turn! I chose to go with a five-part selfie challenge, extending the idea of a selfie to make it apply to an entire layout, not just a photo. Part of the challenge includes using one's handwriting to create a text-based pattern. 
2. How long does it take me to create a project?

The answer to this depends on four "s" words: the supplies at my disposal, the subject matter, my schedule, and self-doubt. The more freedom I have to create a layout about anything, using any supplies that I wish, without worrying about a deadline or whether the final product is meeting someone else's expectations of quality design, the smoother the process will be; however, smoother doesn't always mean quicker.  I suppose a layout like that could come together in as little as thirty minutes, if I have a clear focus of where I am going with it, or it could take hours, if I just want to try different things and see where the process takes me.  Efficiency does not matter to me; it can actually impede creativity at times. 

It's usually the layouts attached to firm deadlines and specific topics that come together more quickly for me, usually in about an hour, maybe because they force me to take a more disciplined approach to what I can include on a page.  When it comes to these kinds of layouts, most of the time invested involves generating ideas, gathering supplies, and considering the creative possibilities of different products. Assembling the layout becomes easier once there is a clear sense of direction. Efficiency probably does play a greater role with these layouts, but even though I acknowledge that I may need to pick up the pace at times, I know that I can't force a layout into completion.  I still insist that every page have heart. If that means that one hour becomes two hours, then so be it. 

3. What are my favorite things to create with at the moment? 
  • vellum and glassine 
  • my black Uniball pen 
  • ledger paper, dictionary paper, and book pages
  • Freckled Fawn's wood chip cursive words 
  • found objects/ephemera
  • cream-colored paint 
  • my October Afternoon date stamp 
  • mist/spray ink and ink daubers 
  • my favorite typeface, Typenoksidi 
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I talked a bit about my creating process in #2 already, but as for my writing process, it depends largely on the emotional connection I feel to the subject of a layout. The most powerful journaling comes about when something resonates within. For instance, take the journaling on the OA layout mentioned earlier: 
I assembled the entire layout, drew the lines for the journaling, and then, realizing that I did not yet have the words to say what I was hoping to say, I walked away from the page for about an hour. That time away made a difference, as my brain began to make associations between the physical products -- the book-themed Public Library collection -- and the focus of the page, a genuine "selfie." I started thinking about books, and how people's lives can be like books...and then I started thinking about life stories...and about books that I hadn't finished, and why...and about people who become comfortable living lives without the story...and then...just like that...I had my idea. A distinct sentence emerged from the muddle in my brain: "I don't want to be a book one abandons upon realizing halfway through that there is no story."  I returned to the page and wrote the rest in minutes. 

The process doesn't always work this way, but the point is, I accept that there is a process. If there are no words, I don't force the words. I find the words. Had I rushed the journaling and not given myself the time and mental space to let the words come, then my journaling might have been reduced to the act of simply filling the space, scribbling, in effect compromising the meaning and the value of the page. 

5. How do I become inspired and stay inspired? 

There are a few avenues that I explore whenever I need to jump start my creative thinking. Pinterest has been a godsend, making curators of us all, and teaching us that if you love something, you don't have to let it go. You can pin it. Usually when I am seeking a spark, I take a moment to browse the images in my "Artsy-Craftsy Inspiration" pinboard.  That usually does it for me. 
I'm also endlessly inspired by my fellow scrapbookers. Being a believer in the adage, "There is nothing new under the sun," I'm in awe of those who have the ability to see with fresh eyes and to enliven their layouts in innovative ways. 

Staying inspired is a tall order, but I think it's possible by surrounding myself with words and images that stimulate the senses, and by keeping myself open to the new and the different while also honoring the tried-and-true. 

6. What is my signature style? 

The "style" question is always the toughest to answer for me. You would think that after all of these years I would be ready for this one.  

When it comes to writing, style is basically how one writes, so when it comes to scrapbooking, style is basically how one scraps. With that said, my scrapbooking style can best be described in terms of convergence. I think in layers and work in layers -- layers of color, texture, and meaning. I pull together bits and pieces with a sense of intention until they click for me, and say what I want them to say, collectively.

Whew! 

Next week, the blog tour continues as I pass the torch to three of my favorite crafty folk, all of whom possess magic scrappy fingers. 

I'm fairly certain that little golden sparkles from Ashley's soul are infused in every one of her layouts.  Her pages have a soft, dreamy quality, and even when a layout is not about her, she is always present on the page. She has a gift for summoning a sense of wonder through her layouts. 

"Wow." This is what I said the first time I saw one of Sasha's layouts, and this is what I still say each time I behold one of her creations. There is something so strong and solid about her pages, but at the same time, there is a sense of something whimsical, even experimental. That's Sasha, I guess -- a mind at play, a steadfast heart. 

On every page, a white background, and in the foreground, a stunning color combination -- you would think this sounds like a formula, but Kim's pages are anything but formulaic. She does for color what Willy Wonka does for candy, exploring so many permutations and combinations of it, rendering something so delectable that I always find myself wanting more. 

Next Monday, please be sure to stop by the blogs of the talented, always-inspiring crafters tagged above, as the blog hop continues! 

As a token of my appreciation for taking the time to learn a little more about me and my scrappy inclinations, leave a comment below by Wednesday, July 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I'll randomly pick one person to receive a sweet little giveaway of some scrappy supplies. Be sure that I can contact you via your blog or email. Good luck! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Adventurer

"I'm not sure how to properly express how much everything has changed in just a few weeks. My world view has shifted drastically, and even as a person, I feel different." 
These are my daughter's words, written just a few days ago, as she begins the last week of her stay with her host family in Russia. It's strange to think back to her first week away, when she called me, homesick, her voice wavering. That kind of call only came once, though. She quickly became acclimated to life in another country as she formed friendships, developed her language skills, and embraced every day as another adventure. Her summer away has changed her in immeasurable ways. 
"It feels like I've been away from home for a year already, though I'm not homesick, nor have I been since the first week here during the initial shock. The thought of going home is bittersweet to me: I do want to continue with my life at home and see my family and friends again, but I've fallen deeply in love with this country. To say goodbye to it is to say goodbye to a part of my heart."
I don't know where she gets it, this wanderlust -- maybe it's a result of living on an island -- but it is a characteristic that is most definitely compatible with her bravery, her curiosity, and her resilience. She's my hero. 

Though I won't get to see the photos on her camera until she gets home, she has been taking some pics with her phone and sharing those. I compiled a few from her first week traveling and created this page: 
The journaling is hers, folded and tucked into the map paper. It's a composition that she wrote for the program pre-departure. Her writing skills have likely grown quite a bit since then. 

One of the reasons why I splurged on the July SC kits was because of the travel-themed accents and paper, which I knew I would put to good use. 
I stamped the wood letters from the SC Penny Arcade kit with a cloud stamp as well as a text stamp, and then filled in the letters with a neon yellow ink dauber. I also used some older supplies from my stash, like the Cyrillic washi tape (from Freckled Fawn, I believe), the Ormolu fabric tag, and the transportation icons from a Moleskine travel journal. 

This has definitely been a transformative experience for both my daughter and me this summer, as she learns to make her way in the world, and I learn to accept that she is ready to do so. 
"I'm sure that I speak for all of us when I say that we will cherish each moment that we have left here and will carry our time here with us for the rest of our lives."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Blurb Book

Before I began this blog, I had a personal blog that I shared with my friends and family members, to keep them updated on our everyday lives. A few weeks ago I learned about a blogger who had lost all of her content -- unthinkable, right? -- and I decided to take action, in the form of converting my blog into book form.

I considered the options and put a few feelers out on Facebook and the SC message board, and finally settled upon Blurb.com.  The process of creating the book was a bit of an ordeal, I must admit, but the BookSmart software was ever so helpful. Since my blog contained two years of near-daily posts and almost 800 images, the content did not transfer easily in the "slurping" process, so I had to move posts and images in smaller groups.  It wasn't hard; it just took some time and patience.  Once I had copied the content, I didn't want it to appear just anywhere in the book, so I pulled an all-nighter (and then some), working on the book page by page, ensuring that the photos that were with the original posts would appear alongside the accompanying text. Here is a sample of one of the layouts-in-progress:
One thing to keep in mind when transferring from Blogger is that the time stamp and author's name will appear at the end of each copied post, along with a "no reply" comment. I went through each post and deleted that "no reply" bit, but I'm sure a few fell through the cracks.  By 4 a.m. I was a bit fried, after all. I didn't have to finish the book in one sitting, of course, but I was supercharged about the project. Even after that all-nighter, I only got four hours of sleep before I was back at it again -- I was that psyched about it.

Would I do it again?  Heck, yes!  I learned a lot in the process, and looking back, it may have involved a lot of time, but it was so worth the effort.  My Blurb book arrived today, and I love it so very much.
The book is a hardcover, standard portrait size (7.75" x 9.75"), and it is just short of 240 pages. That number matters, actually, since once a book hits 240 pages, the kind of paper that can be used becomes limited to "standard" paper. Because I managed to keep the length to 236 pages, I was still able to use premium paper with lustre finish. After looking at the book today, I am so glad that I made the cutoff for that paper. It's beautiful.
This book is a treasure. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lately-ing

Dealing with a sore throat today. No fair. Isn't there a law against getting sick in the summertime?

Learning to use clipping masks in Photoshop. 
Believing every word of that. I could use a rainstorm right about now. It's insanely humid and still. Did I mention the sore throat? How can my only comfort -- hot tea -- be making everything worse instead of better? 

Digging my daughter's Instagram pics from Russia, like these:
The graffiti in our neighborhood doesn't say anything as sweet as that above: "Anya, I love you." Most of the scrawls around here translate to "Obviously, I opted not to pursue a college degree." 

Reading the third installment in one of my favorite series ever:
So far, so good! It's engrossing.

Oh. Wow. What's that I hear? Rain? 
Would it be bad for my sore throat if I went outside to dance in the puddles? Just a little? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'll Tell You Why I Love Him

It's because when he calls my name,
and I turn, I see that he has donned zombie glasses.
Though this face makes me crack up,
it's also completely irresistible to me.

Love really is strange. I so dig that.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Finding the Words: The Self-Portrait Page

I say it every year, so it's about time for me to say it again: summer scrapping really is the best kind of scrapping. I am all about the flow right now.

A few weeks ago, I splurged on some goodies from Studio Calico, and yesterday, I created this page.
It's been a while since I created a self-portrait layout. I always feel a little awkward creating pages that are focused on me, especially in a world of selfies gone wild, but from time to time, it is important to turn that gaze around and take a look within. I can't just be the scrapbooker-as-spectator. The self isn't static, and thus, periodic "snapshot" layouts should be welcome -- even necessary -- additions to one's albums.
I spilled the random contents of my head here, taking a fragmented approach to the journaling.
What unifies the fragments is that every thought is genuine, emerging from my muddle of a brain, and each one was recorded as it popped into my head.
A stream-of-consciousness technique works wonders on a self-portrait page, especially if you don't consider yourself/your self as a subject about which you can generalize simply or easily.  Plus, it's honest; it's direct. Just spend a few minutes jotting down your thoughts (and even your questions), not worrying about the order or the coherency. You aren't telling a story or writing a summary; you're just sharing a peek at what the journaling card on this page refers to as "the weird and wonderful."

To jump start the journaling, ask yourself questions; it's almost like having an interview with yourself.

What have you noticed lately? What's been bothering you? What have you been back-and-forth about? What made you smile last? What little things have delighted you in a big way? What have you discovered about yourself recently? What's on your mind?

What lies on the other side of these questions deserves to find its way onto a page or two or ten, don't you agree?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Fourth, One Week Later

Just one week ago, we were celebrating the Fourth of July with barbecue, fireworks, and family.  I pulled together a few snapshots from the day and a few of my favorite Crate Paper goodies, and created a layout to document our celebration. 
Rather than stick to a standard red, white, and blue theme, I added a few more colors to the mix. I went with a listing approach for the journaling, compiling a series of moments from the day. When it comes to journaling on holiday layouts, I find that concentrating on specific images and sensory details makes it easier to avoid generalizing or stating the obvious about the holiday. The more specific the details, the more personal the layout. 
More details can be found on the Crate Paper blog. 

Thanks for visiting!