Sunday, July 31, 2011

Design Elements – My Style Journey

This is the final post in my style journey series.  I have already meandered through The Basics and Page Arrangement.  Now we'll talk about Design Elements.  Although there are nearly endless embellishments to use (and I own a hefty smattering of them), I noticed two elements in particular that frequently appear on my pages.


(This layout was inspired by the "Happy Parents" layout below!)

While I do have a love of straight lines, I tend not to love hard corners much.  I use my corner rounders a lot.  I think it helps to make my leading lines more fluid and continuous than choppy and abrupt.  I especially like rounding two of the four corners to create a little more design interest.

It really is a simple thing: nothing fancy in the slightest, yet still effective to me.  I’ve been eyeing the Cropadile two-in-one Corner Chomper and can’t wait to have it.  I use both my ¼ inch and my half inch corner rounders with regular frequency, so it will be nice to have one tool that cuts both sizes.


No lumpy bumpy layouts for me: no bulky flowers, no metal or charms and rare chipboard.  I don’t mind distressing edges but not whole pages.  My style is definitely not shabby-chic, vintage, grunge or steam punk.  (While I love the look of steam punk, it’s just not how I design.)  My go-to embellishments are cardstock die cuts (or punches), buttons and pearls/dewdrops.  I’m starting to get into stamps and a little bit of ribbon.

While flipping through my albums, I found I disliked the pages with stickers and pre-designed borders the most.  I prefer to "frame" my layouts, more than "border" them.

Guess that means I can give away my deco scissors (except the scalloped ones!) and put all my stickers in to the next LSS garage sale!  Some stickers are okay, if they are large focal ones or dimensional but no longer will I buy the ones that came in a pack or a large sheet just because I thought was getting more stickers for my money.

To recap, my own personal style is:
  • Big Titles
  • Lots of Cardstock
  • No particular colour preference
  • Good use of negative space, preferably via photo clusters
  • Straight-lines paired with corner rounding
  • Clean and flat

There.  Now that I have examined my own work, I know what I should and should not buy.

  • cardstock,
  • die cuts/punches/stamps
  • buttons
  • pearls/dewdrops/rhinestones
  • corner rounders
  • Patterned paper stacks
  • Anything just because I like the colour
  • Brads/Eyelets
  • Stickers
  • Ribbon (I have enough for the amount I use!)
I hope this personal guide can help you review your own style and cut your frivolous shopping in half too!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Page Arrangements – My Style Journey

Continuing on my style journey, we've already covered the basics.  Now we're going to consider page arranges: how do I like to place my designs?


I learned that I like white space.  My pages are not all about what I put on them; they are also about what I don’t put on them.  White space can be used to corral the eye.  I feel like my pages that make good use of white space (or negative space since it isn’t always “white”) look the most like magazine pages.

I find an easy way to make good use of negative and positive space is to use a cluster photo layout.  I like when my photos are somewhat bordered in a cohesive pattern.


I like straight lines and geometric shapes.  I do deviate from straight lines and block shapes with fair frequency.  In those cases, I find the use of symmetry helps bring back some definition to the layout when the clean lines are absent.  These techniques lead the eye around the page.

While I tend to favour straight lines, I do have a soft spot for circles.  I use these in smaller bits: pearls, dew drops, buttons, or stacked medallion-type embellishments.  I don’t use eyelets much, even though they are circular.  I bought a Crop-a-dile II to set them and it really does make it easy!  I’m finding, however, that I prefer circles that don’t have a “backing” on the other side of the paper the way eyelets and brads do.  That means, I'm allowed to buy buttons, pearls/dewdrops and rhinestones, but brads and eyelets are off the list until I am completely out of them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pattern Seeker – My Style Journey

I am the pattern seeker.  That’s right.  I’m transforming my scrapbooking and cardmaking habits from being the product seeker to a pattern seeker.  I was inspired by a question on the Two Peas in a Bucket scrapbooking forum.  Someone asked how scrapbookers found their style.  Someone responded with a link to a series of blog posts where another scrapper documented her style reboot.  Here’s my journey.

When I read the question on Two Peas, I already had an idea of my style.  “Clean and simple” is my style but that definition is pretty general.  So, while I have an idea of my style, it’s still a fuzzy idea.  Let’s see if I can bring some clarity.

Some people suggested looking at the layouts and designers you admire, follow or bookmark.  Others suggested looking back at your own work and choosing your favourite layouts.  I know that the artwork I admire is often not an artwork I can imitate.  I like it but it’s not my style.  So, I decided looking at my own work would be a better place to start.  I’d rather analyze what I actually do than just what I like to fawn over.

I went through my scrapbooks and bookmarked a lot of pages.  (I don’t think I marked ANY pages in my two oldest scrapbooks.  That made me a little sad!)  As I marked them I started to notice common elements and I began a list.  That list is what I’m going to share with you to help you see pattern possibilities in your own work too.

The first thing I noticed is that almost all of my favourite layouts have titles.  These are not just any titles.  They are BIG titles.  The title is a major element of my page.  They range in size but are rarely smaller than half the size of the photographs.  Often, they are larger than the photographs.  Some people don't title their pages at all.  They prefer to let the photographs take centre stage.  For me, though, titles are a must!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Handwritten Word

Is it still important to work on your penmanship?  Everything is typed nowadays.  Even the Uniform Final Examination that all aspiring Chartered Accountants across Canada must pass to receive their designation has gone digital.  You type all your case writing in MS Word on a laptop, your quantitative analysis is in Excel and your reference material is electronic and searchable.  You only get paper if your laptop goes kaput during the exam.  Gone are the days of crafting your answer on paper and triple checking all your calculations.

Before the exam went digital, many aspiring accounts failed because exam markers could not read their handwriting.  They often belly-ached how unfair that was.  I always said, "Is it?  Your ability to write clearly enough that another person can read it is a critical element to your ability to communicate."  They always replied, "When would I ever hand write anything to a client?  Everything is typed."

I just read an article summarizing the effects of handwriting on the development of different brain processes.  Using mechanized writing changes the processes used in your brain.  Handwriting may actually exercise your brain better.  The article reports on a study that indicates handwriting is more complicated than typing because it involves three brain processes:
  • Visual: Seeing what is on the paper in front of you.
  • Motor: Using your fine motor skills to actually put the pen to paper and form the letters to make the words.
  • Cognitive: Remembering the shapes of the letters requires a different type of feedback from the brain.

I know I still hand write quite a bit at work.  I do type everything in the end, but I usually start with pencil and paper.  I seem to organize my thoughts better and also sustain a higher level of focus when I am handwriting than when I am typing.  Perhaps there is a greater perceived commitment to your words when you put pen to paper than when you are typing and, therefore, there is more thought to it and more information stored, sorted and organized in your brain before you commit to physically writing it down.  I can't explain why, but typing feels like a linear process to me while handwriting feels more fluid and artistic - the page is a blank canvas and I can start writing anywhere on it with complete freedom.

Sometimes I type my sentiments to go inside my cards, and sometimes I hand write them still.  Sometimes when I send a card, though, I also send a mini letter on a small piece of paper.  That is always handwritten because I want my recipient to "know" me.  To know that it was me, and recognizably me, who thought of them and took the time to write to them.  Handwriting is personal.  And, now, thanks to this article, it's also smart!

You can read the full article here: Why Does Writing Make us Smarter?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'M FEATURED by Miss BittyKnacks

I have a feature interview over on MissBittyKnacks' blog!
Read the interview.

MissBittyKnacks has a shop on Etsy full of original art in mixed media collages, clay sculpture, paper mache, assemblage, and paintings of a whimsical nature. Click here to view her collection.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christmas in July 2011 – Cards for SOAR

My creative crew and I got together again this year to make some holiday cards for SOAR to use for 2011.  Each person made one goodie bag and at least one holiday card.  My crew got to take home instructions of how to make the goodie bag (that I found here) and had the opportunity to learn paper quilling.

For the cards, I used two sketches from Clean and Simple “Fall To Layouts”.  The reason I love their sketches is that they are simple.  The sketches start as the base model and you can keep them that way or ritz them up!  For example, you can replace a strip with a ribbon, or add a background mat, buttons, anything you want!

Each person was free to do their own thing or to use the sketches as inspiration.  I made these two samples based on the sketches to help them spark ideas.  I left mine simple so that they could be mass produced if one so desired.  One included a simple paper quilled angel if anyone wanted to learn the technique.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

All you need is love!

Love comes in many forms: you can love your family, a place or thing, an activity.  Love that you are born in to is easy.  Finding that special someone to spend your life with: not so easy.  How do you know when it’s love?  Well, clichés become cliché for a reason.  A saying becomes cliché when it is overused.  It is usually overused when there is an element of truth to it.  So, when I say that my husband completes me, it’s more than cliché.  It’s true!

Finding someone who compliments your personality and your way of going about daily life is rare.  There are billions of people out there – what are the chances that you will find the one that completes you?  Well, love also includes compromise.  When you love someone, you are able to accept that they are not perfect and you will love them flaws and all.  In return, they will love you flaws and all.  The one you love is the one with whom you can be your truest, silliest, goofiest, geekiest, clumsiest self and not be ashamed.  Why?  Because when you love them, they become part of you and you part of them.  There is no veil between you.  Love is complete trust and endless acceptance.  I chose our wedding invitation for the quote it had on it: “The path to true love is so narrow that two cannot walk it unless they become one.”