Take Five- Love this Idea

April 27, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith


My friend Steph runs “Be Positive Mom” (http://www.BePositiveMom.com). I love her idea of take five! Of course we all know what my take 5 would be- and no, of course, it is NOT cooking!!! And Sorry to say Dad, it is NOT doing Math problems either :)

I spend my 5 minutes doing something crafty. Here are some of the things I can get done in my 5 minutes:

  • adding an embellishment to a project I have already started
  • fixing up a photo for a scrapbook page,
  • painting or inking a background page
  • stamping some images to color in later
  • reading a chapter in a book
  • cutting some shapes out of Kraft Glassine
  • embossing some cardstock
  • edging some card mats

Get my drift? There’s a lot you can do in those 5 minutes! The problem is to avoid going to 6, 7, 8 minutes! However, with busy Mom’s schedules like they are, there is usually somewhere you need to be or something you need to do that will force that session to come to a close. But rather than eliminating it altogether, take those 5 minutes for yourself. Whatever your passions is, 5 minutes of fun will make your day a whole lot brighter!!

Here’s what I did in 5:

Ok- I lied &#59;). The title took longer that 5 minutes. I added the word “Take” afterwards in Photoshop. What do you think of the letters? Not bad for my first attempt at emulating the Kraft Glassine in Photoshop. I will keep working at it and when I get it the way I like it, I will post on how to do it.

P.S. I will also post on how to make those brackets. See if you can figure out which Tim Holtz Sissix die is used for those &#59;)

Scrapbooking Basics- Make a Brag Book

April 26, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

My husband makes homemade gnocchi. I would never even consider making gnocchi by hand. So I asked him one time why he would bother going through all that trouble when he could simply buy the packaged kind. He looked at me and said “I am willing to make the effort for homemade gnocchi for the same reason you make cards and scrapbook pages by hand.” Touche!

I must say I do enjoy the whole process of creating scrapbook pages, but one of the biggest reasons why I scrap,  is to brag. I love my kids, and think they are amazing, funny, beautiful, smart, athletic etc. But people who go around saying things like that to others are a tad annoying, don’t you think &#59;)? So to avoid having my friends run the other way when they see me coming, I scrap and brag to myself, and to my kids. I let them know how fabulous I think they are. They love to read about themeselves and I am happy to oblige. Sometimes the pages satisfy my need to create, but often they satisfy my motherly instinct that just wants to shout- I LOVE MY KIDS!! What better way then, to put it on paper and let them know?

These layouts don’t need to be fancy or uber-creative or have the latest whiz-bang products. They just need to be heartfelt. So go ahead and try it. Grab a couple of pictures of your child. Adhere them to a background page. Write a note to them telling them how FABULOUS you think they are, and put that on the page too. Make a few pages that outline their accomplishments. How about a page showing how cute they were as babies, or how grown up they were as toddlers, or how athletic/musical/gifted etc they are now? Then put those pages in a book, and leave the book on a coffee table. I bet your kids will love reading it! You can brag all you want and still keep your friends &#59;). And as an added bonus, scrapbook pages have a lot fewer calories than Gnocchi!!

Easter Egg Card

April 22, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

Easter was on my brain and I wanted to make a card for my parents (hopefully they won’t see this post til after Easter :) ). I was a bit dry for Easter Card ideas, so I spent a bit of time working on another project that I had already started. I had stamped Easy Scraps Flourish Borders onto an oval shape and thought- hmmmm that looks like an Easter Egg. So I pulled some Basic Grey paper that was mostly plain, but had some shading and scratches.

This is a tip I tell my classes- you don’t always need to use plain cardstock to stamp on. Many paper companies have designs that look like they have been inked or painted- they are basically plain colors with the distressing done for you. So by all means go ahead and use this type of paper to stamp on- it will save you some steps!!

I cut ovals out a few times using different colors in the Basic Grey. Then I stamped our Border Flourish pieces from Easy Scraps Flourish and Flowers Rubber Stamp sheet ( http://www.easyscraps.com/Rubber-Stamps/Rubber-Stamps-for-Scrapbooks.html ) in rows on the ovals. I cut one of them in half using a jagged cut motion to emulate a broken egg.

I still needed a background though and while looking through my stash of pieces from previous craft sessions, I came across a piece of cardstock embossed using the netting background from Easy Scraps Mixed Seasons Rubber Stamp Sheet. At that moment it looked to me like basket weave, so I decided to use that stamp for the background of my card.

Here is the finished card:

and here are some tips you can take away from this post:

  • You can use printed paper to stamp on rather than always starting with plain old cardstock
  • Sometimes working on a different project can help you break through a “block” you are experiencing on a current project
  • Always have a stash of half-done projects- even if you don’t use them in your current project, they can be an inspiration :)
  • Sometimes looking at a piece at a later time can enable you to view the piece differently. For instance, I never thought of using the netting stamp as basket weave until I had Easter on my mind

Tim Holtz Kraft Glassine Anti-Grunge Pocket with Embossing

April 18, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

The other day I was playing around again with Tim Holtz Kraft Glassine and I decided that I wanted a Grunge look, but this project was for a girl. So, I didn’t really want it to be the typically dark grunge look. More on that later.  First, I embossed the Glassine using a cool technique I came up with using paper. Here is the way I did it-

Use any die or punch (or scissors if you are a good cutter, unlike me :D ) to cut some shapes out of plain white cardstock. Do this 4 times using the same shape. I used the nameplate from the Tag die by Tim Holtz for Sissix. Stack the shapes together, and to make it easier for them to stay together as a single stack, use glue or tape to stick all the layers together.

Place this stack on to the Sissix die cutting system. You need to use a plastic cutting panel on top of the Sissix platform, then place the paper stack you created. This is then covered  with the glassine. You then need to place the Sissix embossing mat on top of the Glassine. Finally, a second plastic cutting mat is placed on top. You might need a couple of pieces of paper as shims to get a deeper embossed image, although the glassine can rip if it embosses too deep. This whole sandwich is rolled through the Sissix machine and the Glassine is embossed in the shape of the paper stack that you created from the die cutouts.

Note, you can do this same technique using other die cutting systems. For instance, the Accucut machine has a platform that fits in the cutting tray and this allows you to use thinner dies. Using this platform and the normal cutting pads all you need to find is an embossing mat. I have used a couple of sheets of thin “Fun Foam” although this does not give quite the same depth as a silicone based embossing mat. I have used the embossing mat from the Wizard or Sissix die cutting system and that works great.

The final step was the “grunge” step. Again, because this was for a girl, I wanted a lighter look. I decided to use white Stayzon to ink the edges and bring out the embossing. This made the Glassine look like it was sanded. Here is the result, a tag with a pocket that is perfect to tuck in a check for a Graduation gift…


Background using Tim Holtz Kraft Glassine

April 11, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

While playing around with the Kraft Glassine from Tim Holtz, I decided I wanted it a little bit lighter and a bit textured, and maybe not so grunge-y. So I decided to layer some plain white tissue paper on top. I used Gel Medium to adhere the tissue paper to the Kraft Glassine, allowing the tissue paper to wrinkle a bit.

I let the background dry and then used the Tim Holtz Distress Stains by Ranger to color the tissue paper, wiping some of it off to give it a more mottled appearance.  And here is the result:

I really liked the look and used it in a card with the Grunge Mirror Rubber Stamp here: http://www.easyscraps.com/blog/blogu.php/grunge-mirror-rubber-stamp-on-kraft-glassine.

Photo Collages for Scrapbook Layouts

April 10, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

Photo Collages are a great way to get a lot of pictures on a page. You then need to worry less about backgrounds and embellishments- the pictures take center stage and tell the story. This is a great technique for creating a scrapbook page describing a trip, or building a yearbook page that encompasses a number of years of school. However, just be careful not to go too crazy. You still want to be able to see the pictures, so make sure the pictures are large enough to enjoy.

Here’s an example of a page with so many small pictures, that it is hard to really see the details to get the feeling of the fun and beauty of a trip to Hawaii…

Photo Collage of Hawaii

By removing some of the scenery pictures, and enlarging those images that were left, it is a bit easier to see the pictures and get a feeling for the gorgeous views and the sites we saw…

And yet again, by moving things around a bit, cropping some photos and removing a couple more pictures, the images that are left could be enlarged. The images included shots of the things that we did, which are described in the journaling. This page is a lot easier to view and we can  enjoy the beautiful scenery and remember the fun things we did, without quite needing a magnifying glass :).

In some cases, like a yearbook, you have certain restrictions- like using a single page. So you really do need to weed out extraneous photographs. In the Hawaii layout, I was trying to cram everything in on a single page for this example, but in reality, especially for a trip like this one to Hawaii, I would generally create more than one page. Here is a sample of a yearbook page (another example created by a 12 year old), where he chose only some of the pictures that were available, so that the images that were left were larger.

Photo Collage of Yearbook Page

Balance on a Scrapbook Layout

April 10, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

bal·ance/ˈbaləns/ Noun: An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady: “she lost her balance before falling”.

In scrapbook layouts, balance can help a reader feel comfortable while viewing your page, and (for the most part) that is the effect you want. You’d like to draw the viewer in, and keep their interest as they spend time examining the pieces of your layout. You would like them to read your words and  look at the pictures so they can understand the story you are trying to tell. If the page is off-balance, the viewer may want to move on more quickly. If you are going to spend the time on a page, why not, then, make it pleasing to the viewer? Balance can help.

NOTE: I stated above that for the most part you would like the viewer to be comfortable while viewing a scrapbook layout. However, if the story you are trying to convey is meant to make the viewer feel a tad uncomfortable, than maybe having a page that is a bit unbalanced is what you would like to do.

Some of the things that you can pay attention to while trying to balance a scrapbook page, are the following:

  • Size
  • Color
  • Placement

For instance, if you have a page with a lot of pictures and you place them all at the top of a page, the layout can feel top heavy and not as appealing. As in real life, where gravity affects things, the denser, heavier objects should tend to be low on the horizon. If you saw a small item, say a bird, on the ground and a heavy dump truck above it, that would feel un-natural and you probably would not be as happy viewing that scenario- and the bird probably would not be too happy either :) . It is the same with scrapbook layouts. Generally, placing the larger items on the bottom of the page will feel a bit more natural to the viewer than if they were reversed.

Here is an example of a layout with smaller pictures on the bottom, and larger pictures up top with heavy black writing up high as well. There are a lot of other things wrong with this layout :), but for this post we are just concentrating on balance:

If all we do is move the small pictures up and the larger ones down, it can still feel a bit un-balanced because the images on the bottom are now not balanced left to right:


Now see what happens with the larger, heavier pictures on the bottom, and the addition of a third picture that adds balance horizontally on that bottom tier. This is a more balanced composition, and is more comfortable to view:



Now, it is not always the case that the large pictures must go on the bottom. Adding a number of smaller pictures together in a group can add weight, and that group can then help balance out larger pictures on top as is shown in this example:



Color can also help with balance, with darker colors acting as the ballast. The dark colors will feel heavier and can help to add balance. In this example layout, the heavy black at the bottom of the layout, is balancing the image at the top which, while smaller, is denser in color and could potentially feel out of balance in its position way at the top. However, the black at the bottom pulls you back down to earth, so to speak, and so the composition works.



My final example was created by a 12 year old! She has never taken a scrapbooking class, yet intuitively she created a well balanced layout. The  smaller pictures grouped together frame and balance the larger picture. There are a number of other great things about this page, including the fact that she used the school colors, included her name, the school’s name, an indication of her favorite sport, as well as a timeline as she grew up through the elementary school. My favorite part is her name. She draws you in as you read her name, right to the focal point of the page- her current picture. This is a great layout, and I am so glad Caroline shared it with me :).


Photos as Backgrounds for a Scrapbook Layout

April 9, 2011 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

One of the first things you might do when sitting down to build a scrapbook page is to consider the background. Generally, much of the background will not show and you certainly do not want to distract from the photos on the page. But what if you don’t have a lot to fill the page? You then might want to utilize a background that can be more than a piece of colored paper or a random pattern.

You might want to look at some of your pictures and use those as a background. Using photos as backgrounds can add more interest and convey a bit more meaning. For instance, if you are building a yearbook page, consider using photos from the school itself.  Here is an example where I used the floor from one of the classrooms as a background:

Yearbook Scrapbook Page with School Floor

The same idea can be applied to titles and journaling blocks. I scanned a copy of an orange note that we use at our school, and as shown in the previous example, I used that as the background for my journaling.

Here is another example where I used a scanned copy of a report card as the background:

Yearbook Scrapbook Page with Report Card

If your child is in band or chorus, how about using a photo of a music stand as the background for your page:

Yearbook Scrapbook Page with Music Stand Background

Another idea is to take a picture of your subject and blow that up to fill a large portion of your background. This can provide context, and is a great way to fill empty space and make an impact.

Yearbook Scrapbook Page with Baseball Player

So when you are faced with a page that you think is just a tad boring, try looking to photos to add some interest to your backgrounds. Enjoy!

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