Finding your creative self (aka LOAD Blog hop 212)

Welcome all you blog hoppers! And any random non-blog hoppers out there. 😀

Hopefully you’ve come from Gayle’s blog on your trip through LOAD-world. If you haven’t, start with Margie, and make your way back here. 🙂

First, if you want to know what I think you need in order to successfully complete a LayOutADay, check out this post from last year. And! The post immediately before it talks about the first time I did LOAD, so it might help you figure out what to expect if this is your first time attempting LOAD. But that’s not what I want to talk about this time around. This time I want to talk about how, by doing LOAD, you become a better scrapbooker, and you discover your own strengths (and weaknesses) by committing to a month of dedicated creativity.

It’s true. It really is true.

Have you seen this poster?

I saw it on Pinterest a few months ago. And then, Stacy Julian linked to the interview with Ira Glass that this quote comes from, and everything clicked.

Do a lot of work. On a deadline. Create a volume of work. As you make more, and learn more, your output improves, until it meshes with your own taste and style.

That’s LOAD!

LOAD is how you find your creative style. Or one way to find your creative style. There are other ways to commit to a creative life, but this one works for me.

So this is what you need to do. Commit to making a page every day for the month of February. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses. No “I’m tired, I’m sick, I’m too busy,” excuses. If you really want to scrapbook, make, no scratch that, TAKE time to do it. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. In fact, having too much time can get in the way of finishing a page. Just make a promise to yourself to do it.

Of course there are things that can get in the way of finishing a page. Important, life altering things. Only you can decide if the excuses that get in the way of creating are important enough for you to walk away from the crafting table. But everyday life? You shouldn’t let that stop you.

Listen to Lain’s prompts. Do they speak to you? Do they inspire you? Then work with them. If the prompt isn’t working for you that day, work on something else. A project you’ve been working on for ages. A story that’s just begging to be told. A photo that just grabs your heart, and you need to showcase it. Do something. 

Some days you will love, love, love, what you have made. Other days, it will all seem to fall apart as you go, and you’ll be disappointed in the final product. Don’t second guess yourself. Just move on to the next page.

Keep everything you create in one place. Make a big pile. Keep it in a binder for your brand new pages. Your pile of pages will grow. You might even make a dent in your stash. (I’d have to do hundreds of pages for that to happen.)

And at the end of the month, look at what you have done. What pages are your favorites? Why? Do you have any pages that you dislike? Again, why? What are the common threads that run through your pages? How are they alike? What makes them different?

By answering those questions, you will discover what kind of scrapbooker you are. Are you a story teller? A technique lover? A fan of color or monochrome?

Only by creating a body of work, and then going back and examining it, will you be able to find your creative process and style. Only by committing to creating do you build a body of work.

If you haven’t signed up for LOAD 212 yet, what are you waiting for? This is the quickest and easiest way to build a body of work.

So commit. Create. Explore. Find yourself.

Next stop? Gina!

And here’s the links to everyone’s blogs, so you can hop and skip among them if you’d rather.

Margie
Kelli
Jennifer
Lisa
Monica
Kimberly
Eileen
Danielle
Pam
Katrina
Cate
Gayle
Heather (that’s me!)
Gina
Kristie
Janet
Lydia

Family News

So have I mentioned that my sister is expecting her first baby at the end of February? Well, she is. And she makes a mighty cute pregnant lady, if you ask me.
Both she and her husband are reading baby books and baby blogs and talking to all their friends with kids to get ideas, advice, and recommendations on what they need to have, and what they need to do, and what they can expect. Of course, you never really know what it’s like to be a parent until you have your own child, but it never hurts to be informed.
Our brother has started a betting pool on when the baby will come. I’ve called dibs on February 29th. My sister is hoping for the 15th, since that was our grandfather’s birthday, and he was a pretty awesome guy.
I’m really looking forward to meeting the next member of our family. I know my sister is pretty excited too.
belly!

Here comes December!

December is right around the corner, and I’ve filled it up with lots of inspiration. This is the fourth year I will be doing a December Daily, and I wanted lots of different ideas to keep myself going and inspired this year.
December Daily 08 cover

First of all, if you have no idea what a December Daily is, check out this post from Ali Edwards, who is responsible for me starting this project originally. My kids are responsible for me continuing to do this. They LOVE the books I’ve made, and are disappointed if I even consider not participating each year.
decdaily2010cover

The thing about great ideas is that they are fun to share, and modify to make your own. Ali’s project was originally inspired by Shimelle Laine’s Journal Your Christmas class, which she has been running for years. I will be joining in for the first time this year. I am so looking forward to it, since my favorite part of the December Dailies I have done previously was the words. Shimelle is wonderfully inspiring, and if you haven’t explored her blog, please do. She’s got so many great ideas.

I will be getting more inspiration and instruction from Katrina Kennedy’s Capture Your Holidays Through the Lens. My photos throughout all my December Daily books are okay. Some are wonderful, some are horrible, and some just are there. I’m hoping to improve the overall quality of my photos, as well as come up with some different ways to photograph the holiday season by taking Katrina’s class. She’s taught at the TrueScrap events, and her instruction is always enlightening.

Last but not least, I will also be taking BPC’s 12 Days of Christmas. I love the idea of spending the 12 days before Christmas gathering photos and ideas and product and then turning it all into pages beginning on the 25th. This is a great introductory class for people who have never taken a BPC class before, since twelve different instructors will be running the class.

In addition to these classes, I will also be following along with Tim Holtz’s twelve tags of Christmas. Each year he introduces new techniques and projects that are a great supplement to any holiday crafting project.

Wow, you say? How can I manage to fit all these classes into the normal craziness that is December? Well, these are all classes that will help me complete my December Daily project. There will be photo ideas, journaling ideas, and technique ideas. Any time I run out of ideas, I will have lots of resources to rummage around in. I don’t expect to finish these classes, but rather to use these classes to improve and expand my December Daily. It’s going to be fun!

Here’s a quick peek at what I’ll be using for this year’s book.
IMG_0332

Hope you’ll join the fun and play along!

I am the typo queen!

I make a lot of typos. I correct them as I go, but when I am chatting or texting, typos just proliferate and bloom and take on a life of their own.

At least I have yet to send out an email with my name misspelled. Which I do just about every time I type it.

Hetaher
Hather
Hetahr
Heathr
heather
Heather

See what I mean?!

10 Years

10 years ago today, I was very, very pregnant. As in 5 days late pregnant.

I went shopping with my mother, and everywhere I went, people asked when I was due. I took great pleasure in telling them, “5 days ago.” What is it about the idea of a pregnant woman going into labor that makes everyone so nervous?

The very last thing my mother said to me when dropping me at home was, “Don’t have him tomorrow. Then he’ll have to share his birthday forever.” I think that idea appealed to him, since I woke up in labor that night and finally met him mid-morning.

10_12_01 5.26.02 PM 12 (1)

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day I became a mother. Tomorrow is the day I discovered life is nothing like what I expected, but everything I hoped for. Tomorrow marks the day I began an entirely different set of classes, where you were my teacher as much as I was yours.

Tomorrow you turn 10.

Happy Birthday big kid.

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I love you.

Tips for Stamping Success and Chocolate Pudding Pie!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’ve made just about every mistake there is to make while stamping. Blurred images? Incomplete ones? Ones that just look awful, even though I know there was enough ink on the stamp? Done it. And I have been doing this long enough that I know why I did not get the image I wanted. It can be frustrating to be unable to produce a beautiful image. Here are some simple things you can do to increase your odds. You may think these are all obvious, but anytime you don’t get a good image, it’s probably because of one of these things.

1. Make sure your desk is smooth and clean. You don’t want glitter, or uneven layers of paper under the image you’re stamping. You will get voids and lines in your image if you stamp on an uneven surface.
2. Make sure you’re stamping on smooth cardstock. Even a little bit of texture can affect how well the image transfers to the paper.
3. Use ink that is appropriate for the surface you are stamping on, and the material your stamp is made of. I love Tim Holtz distress inks, but they have a tendency to bead up on photopolymer stamps. That will get you a splotchy looking image. Dye inks can bleed into very porous papers. Pigment inks take a long time to dry, especially on non-porous papers, so can smudge after the fact.
4. Press straight down, and then pull straight up. Don’t rock your stamp. Rocking will give you some ghosting around your image.
5. Don’t press too hard on photopolymer/acrylic stamps. They have a lot of give to them, so when you press hard, you get the sides of the image and not just the surface.
6. If you aren’t getting good ink transfer, put a foam stamping mat under the paper. That way you will be able to press harder without mashing the stamp. If it’s a big stamp, stand up and press all over the image, not just in one place.
7. Lastly, make sure your stamp is clean. Not every last bit of ink is gone clean, but no glitter/glue residue clean.

If you make sure you’ve got these basics covered before you start, you should have a wonderful image every time you stamp. Unless you’re like me. (Please note the remnant of glitter on the “n”, and the “e” I had to restamp when I did not press straight down the first time.)
choco pudding pie

Scrapbooking is important. Except for when it’s not.

You may not know this about me, but I LOVE scrapbooking. It combines so many things I love to do and think about that in some ways I think it has taken over my life. And that’s probably a good thing.

prompt#76

My own interests have been pointing me at scrapbooking for a long time. I have had my own camera since grade school, and I have been writing for just as long. I always loved hearing family stories and gossip, and I did a bit of genealogical research as well. And I wouldn’t be a member of my family if I didn’t make something with my hands. My particular bent involves paper and ink. If I can stamp on it, write on it, or stick paper on it, I am a happy girl.

The page that went bad ;)

The wonderful thing about scrapbooking is that it combines all those things into one big, messy, creative, expressive miscellany of personal meaning. And the thing about scrapbooking is that it is entirely personal. The reasons any of us do it, the techniques we use, the products we fall in love with, the stories we choose to tell, are all a result of our own personal inclinations and history. Which makes this a very inclusive and accepting hobby.

May 11 04

Which leads me to why scrapbooking is important. This is how you can tell your story. The story that matters to you. You get to decide how to present it, you get to decide what to emphasize, you get to decide how much or little to do. It’s YOUR story. And by your story I don’t necessarily mean that it is about yourself. (Although who else is qualified to tell that part of your story?)

may load 11 23

So it’s your story. But scrapbooking is also a way to become more present and appreciative of your daily life. Think about things like Ali Edwards’ Week In The Life project. Who knew minutia could have that much meaning? But it does. It all matters. It’s all interesting and valuable, if you look at it in different ways.

May11 03

Those are the two things about scrapbooking that really bring home how important it is to me. But they also help me realize how unimportant it is as well.

life is good

Living my life, and being there for my family is more important than a piece of paper any day of the week. While they may appreciate the pages I’ve made that share my love for them, they appreciate hugs, kisses and chicken nuggets a whole lot more. If I don’t share my love now, it won’t have any value to them later.

LOAD May 2010 Day 26

That makes scrapbooking so much easier. I don’t have to be perfect, or even pretty. I don’t have to agonize over which paper to use and how big a photo I should print. I just use what I have and go on. It’s just paper. It’s only words. And I can always go back and do another page if I don’t communicate my thoughts well the first time around.

 It’s only when a page is done that it becomes love.

LOAD May 2010 Day 31

Copic Markers vs Watercolor Pencils

I have loved stamping for a very long time. One of my favorite things to do was use some colored pencils and a dove blender pen to create lovely little scenes. As I used to say, stamping is coloring for grown ups! Until I had one student say to me she hated coloring. That is so sad. I have always found coloring to be very relaxing 🙂

At any rate, I like to color in my stamped images. I like color!
I have been hearing about copic markers for a few years now. Two? Three? A while anyway. And I wasn’t too interested. I have plenty of markers. And I love my Dove blender pen. Absolutely adore it. I didn’t need to spend more money on yet another set of markers, when what I have works.

Except I like to try out new trends and techniques. After all, I teach this stuff. I should at least have a passing familiarity with it, right? At least that’s what I told myself when I found myself at Hobby Lobby today looking for copic markers. I wasn’t planning on buying anything except some kind of craft project for the kids. But I noticed a how-to video on the clearance rack on working with copics. Hobby Lobby carries copics? Let me check them out!

So that’s how I found myself with a handful of copics in the check out lane today.

After I got home I puttered around, then decided I really should see if these markers are all that they’re cracked up to be. First I had to decide what image to stamp and color in. My favorite tree? Sure. The versamark chalk ink pad was a little dry. Tried my Distress ink pad. Much wetter! How do they stand up to a dove blender pen? They both bleed. Back to the drawing board. I couldn’t find my archival ink pad, but I did find my Palette. That did the trick. But when I tried to stamp them on the opposite side of the page, the linen texture kept me from getting a good impression. Okay then. Time for a different stamp. What to use, what to use? Oh yes! New stamp from Studio Calico. Love these circles!

A note about stamps and getting a good impression. You need a fairly smooth cardstock. I’m using the back side of a linen paper from marco’s papers that I absolutely adore. Rubber stamps give you a crisper image for the most part, but if you use a foam pad under your paper and do NOT press too hard you’ll get a nice image with polymer. If you look closely at the left hand image, you’ll see a little ghosting of the ink, from me pressing too hard.

Okay then, time to color!
I started with the copics, and used a pouncing motion to color in the image, light to dark for each group of colors. Then I went dark to light to blend them together. Two interesting things I noticed about copics. One, they spread a little as you lay them down, but not very much, so they’d probably be great if you wanted to get really detailed coloring. And two, as you lay them down over each other, they sort of pick up the other color, without muddying up your marker tip. That was nice. Oh and here’s a third thing. I went over them a number of times, and they didn’t raise the nap of the paper or tear it like markers can do if you get the paper too wet. Although they did threaten to bleed through.

The second circle I colored with watercolor pencils. The left side I used a dry blending technique, which let the texture of the paper come through. You can cover up the texture by using a heavier hand, but I was just being lazy and didn’t want to get my pencil sharpener out. The right side I colored by laying down three stripes of color, and then used my blender pen to blur them together.

Which technique do you prefer? I think I like them all 🙂

Oh, and you can blame this lady for me buying the copic markers. It’s all her fault! 😉

Status Report

My to-do list is certainly not shrinking. Last month was super hectic, and I managed to miss a number of things, in spite of having them on my agenda. (I suppose it would help if I had them in my agenda on the correct day.)
Every day has been very busy, but because of the nature of the things I am doing, I have to frequently switch gears. I finally got one thing on my to-do list checked off today: Ethan’s room has been decluttered. Well, except for the two boxes of books and the trunk full of toys that need to be carted up to the attic. But that’s 5 minutes work, unlike most of the other tasks that keep piling up.
So let’s list this month’s highlights, and see how I do getting them done.

1. More cleaning and decluttering. I think I’ll tackle Simon’s room next. And then the dining room and back porch.
2. Painting. I still need to paint the hall, but Jonathan put his last coat of spackle on today, so I should be able to get to that this week.
3. Replacing the paneling in the downstairs bath. What’s there now is just ugly. I hope what’s under it is okay, so I can have beadboard paneling on the bottom and paint on top, but we’ll see.
4. Yearbook. I’ll need to place the order this week, so we can have it before school gets out.
5. Another PTA meeting. And RIF, because last month didn’t work for the kids. Can you say state testing? I think I hate state testing.
6. My craft room! I have left this to last, and have been piling more and more stuff in there as I find more things that should probably live there.
7. There’s more, like this month’s open house and scrapbook social, but those are fun things comparatively speaking.

I just want to be done.

I think I need some curled up with a silly book time, but I’m under a self-imposed time crunch, so it will have to wait until all the big projects are on their way to done.

Speaking of big projects, can anyone recommend a good housecleaning company?

Josefine and Henry


josefine and henry, originally uploaded by Heather’s treasures.

This may look like a page about my niece, but it’s really for my sister. Now if only I had a picture of her playing with Henry…