Thursday, March 26, 2015

Anxiety & Art Journaling - Let It Go!

As a lot of you know, I have issues with anxiety. My mom's nickname for me is "Chihuahua" because I worry about everything and "what if" myself to death. Over the course of my personal growth journey, I have been trying to find ways to decrease my anxiety level and focus that nervous energy into a productive and creative outlet. This led me to my decluttering adventures which are still ongoing and it also led me to the world of art journaling. I've never considered myself to be on the artsy side, more so on the crafty side. But, lately I've been diving into the world of paints, inks, stains, mists, stencils and so much more! Creating in my art journal has become part of my nightly routine to de-stress my mind. I love art journaling because I can sit down for 20 minutes and create something small and be able to go off and do something else without getting into an overwhelming project. It's just what I need at the end of my stressful work days to clear my head and quell the anxieties that come creeping up.
For my birthday, I took an Art Journaling class with May Flaum at Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley, CA. I love May's techniques of getting messy and experimenting with all sorts of mediums. I have taken classes from her before and I was excited when I saw that she was teaching here.

In her class, we got to work with stencils, modeling paste, gesso, watercolor pens, Gelatos, stamps and we got our own small Dylusions Art Journal to let our creative minds go to town! I had so much fun letting myself go! I'm a traditional scrapbooker with  a very linear style, so this was definitely out of my comfort zone. But, I enjoyed creating with comparison or boundaries. I just had a blank page in front of me and tons of possibilities! I LOVED IT!

So, I carried on the creative flow and I've been trying to dig into my stash at home and do at least two pages every night. Here are a few of my backgrounds that I created. I plan to turn this art journal into a book of inspiration quotes.
 Paints and mists

 Washi tape strips covered with a light coat of white Gesso

 Scraps of cardstock covered in Matte Medium and then a thin coat of white Gesso

 This started off as a just a pink background and ended up being layers and layers of paint!

 Pigment inks with the Tim Holtz Honeycomb stencil

Letters and washi tape strips used as masks covered in black Gesso and then peeled off

I truly love the freedom of creating anything I want on these blank pages. My mind runs wild, but all in a good way. My anxiety levels are under better control when I'm able to create and get messy. That's not to say that I don't worry about things anymore. I still do, but I'm able to handle them better. Art journaling has truly helped and I hope that my experience can inspire others to find a creative outlet and ease their anxieties too. Get messy and let it go!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Have You Lost Your Mojo?

As crafters, we are always trying to improve upon what we create. We’re constantly looking for sources of inspiration to either get us out of a stagnant rut of repetitive patterns or enhance our current projects. But, are we looking for that spark in all the right places? Here are a few tips on how & where you find that lost mojo:

1) Attend classes! Research your local art & crafts store, Park & Rec Center, Community Center or nearby colleges for classes relating to your hobby. Learn a new technique, brush up on your skills or embrace a whole new adventure!

2) Attend events related to your hobby! Venture out to the Expos & festivals and roam the aisles of new products. Get to know your hobby again by seeing the new trends. Organize retreats & getaways with your friends for that dedicated time that you deserve!

3) Dive into the vast sea of Social Media! There are thousands and thousands of references pertaining to every hobby known to humankind on social media. YouTube offers videos on millions of topics related to your hobby. There are how to videos for everything! Facebook has tons of groups related to your hobby that offer support, challenges & a vast array of inspiration. Not to mention, the wealth of knowledge from your fellow crafters! I’ve learned so much from the groups that I’m involved with on a daily basis! Pinterest is another gold mine of creativity! You can create your own boards and pin ideas to them for future reference! Amazing stuff is out there!

4) Get messy! This is my favorite thing to do at home. I just get out my paints, inks, stains & mists and just create! The best way to see if something works or not is to get out there & do it!  Don’t be afraid to try something and not like it! At least, you’re trying! That’s what is most important! You’ll never know until you try! Find your apron or a smock and get messy today!

5) Get to know your stash! We all get overwhelmed with tons of products and we find ourselves becoming more of a craft hoarder, than an actual crafter. I’m right there in that sinking boat with you! But, if you take the time to get to know what you have, then you can get around to using it. Organization is the key! Purge your stash every few months and you’ll get excited all over again with what you’ve found!

6) Make time for your crafting! We all lead super busy lives and have responsibilities that come first, but we all need our creative time too. Time management seems to be one of the biggest complaints with crafters. But, we also need to understand that we don’t need a huge block of time to get small pieces done. Take small steps to incorporate a limited time slot each week that is dedicated to getting a small goal done on one of your projects. You’ll see your project coming along, slowly but surely, and you’ll gain that renewed sense of accomplishment & renewed inspiration!

7) If all else fails, take a break from your hobby! It’s okay to step away from the craft table for a while and exhale. You’re in charge of your own deadlines, but don’t make yourself crazy! 
Crafting is supposed to be fun! Incorporate a few of these tips & you’ll be on the road to new skills & inspired creativity! 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why Do You Scrapbook?

Scrapbooking is defined by as "the hobby of creating complitations in scrapbook albums, such as keepsakes, pictures, periodical articles, etc." The word origin is dated 1879 which means that our ancestors have been telling stories for hundreds of years. It means that we have important stories to pass on to future generations. Our stories are why we scrapbook.

We all have different stories to tell. Beyond all of the holidays, birthday parties, vacations and firsts of life, there are stories of fanily trees and traditions to document. Scrapbooking is more than just paper and glue. It becomes the glue that keeps stories rooted in families. Without photos and stories, how do we know who we are and where we came from?
Take the time to snap those photos and write down the stories. Dig out the box of old photos and ask your family to make them come alive once again. Listen to the past and tell your story to the future.
I scrapbook to preserve my memories and share bits and pieces of who I am with those that I love.
Why do you scrapbook? Take a moment and share with me....

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Top Ten Scrapbooking Supplies

Scrapbookers often get asked what their favorite Go-To supplies are when they're creating, so I thought I would do a quick Top 10 List of my personal favorites!

1. Fiskars Paper Trimmer

2. ATG Gun

3. Fiskars Scissors

4. WRMK Corner Chomper

5. WRMK Crop-A-Dile

6. Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher

7. Glossy Accents

8. Scor-Tape

9. Glue Dots

10. Foam Squares/Dots

I have a ton of other favorites too, but these pretty much get used the most when it comes to my scrapbooking projects. What are your favorites? I'd love to hear what supplies you can't create without! Leave a comment below. Happy Scrapping!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How To Pack For a Crop or Retreat

If you’re anything like me, you love to attend crops and retreats. That dedicated time to work on your projects is just what you need! The date is on the calendar and you’ve talked about it for weeks with your friends. But, the week before has arrived and panic has set in! How in the world do I pack for a crop/retreat? What do I take with me? How much is too much? What if I forget something? Lions and tigers and bears…OH MY!!

Take a deep breath. You can do this. Over the years, I’ve attended many crops and retreats and I go through the same steps to prepare myself. Here are a few tips that you can use to make getting ready for the crop/retreat as easy as getting there and having fun!!!
1) Make a list of what you want to work on while you’re at the event. Don’t worry about getting anything together yet. Just make the decision on what you’re trying to accomplish with that dedicated time. Is it layouts, cards, mini albums, paper crafts, home d├ęcor, etc?
2) Go through your projects and see if you already have some unfinished ones that you can finish up. I tend to do this for the “instant gratification” factor. If I start off by finishing an unfinished project, then it gets me into the creative mood and I already have a completed project under my belt. Then I can tackle a new project with motivation & inspiration flowing!

3) If you’re going to be working on layouts, be sure that you have your photos picked out, organized and printed. I see so many scrappers spending time at crops/retreats going through photos. As a time saver, I do this ahead of time and put the photos that I’ll be scrapping either into plastic sleeves to be paired up with paper/embellishments later or into my photo tote. As a reminder, I put a Post-It Note on the front of the photo pile to let me know the event, date, place & any other important details to be used in the journaling.
4) Once you’ve decided on the type of projects that you’ll be working on, then you can start gathering your supplies. If you already have kits purchased for your projects, put those next to your tote/bag. If you’re going to be gathering supplies from your stash, then go through your paper first and decide on your color schemes. For me, my photos come into play here because I like to match my scrapping paper with my photos. The idea of putting the photos into plastic sleeves works great because I can slide in my patterned paper, cardstock and any matching embellishments and ultimately, make my own kit which is ready to go when I sit down to scrap!

5) Always check your adhesive supply! This is the most important tip, especially if you’re in a remote location away from any nearby stores. Be sure that you have enough of both wet & dry adhesive.
6) Once you’ve packed your photos, supplies & adhesive, don’t forget about your own comfort! I always have comfy socks/slippers to keep my feet warm or flip flops to let my feet cool off. Always bring a light sweater/jacket to be prepared for any changes in room temperature, especially if you’re at a hotel/conference room. I always bring my cup holder to keep my plastic tumbler off of the scrapping table. The plastic tumbler cups with the screw on lids and hard plastic straws are the best! Check with your hostess to see what snacks & drinks will be provided, so that you can be prepared with your own stash too.
7) How much is too much to bring? What if I forgot something? These are the biggest panic questions of them all. I bring enough to keep me busy, but not too much to look like I’m moving in for the weekend! LOL! I usually have my rolling tote with all of my kits, cardstock, Thickers & paper trimmer. I have two plastic cases that hold my bling, inks, stains & embellishments. Those fit into a square tote that also holds my cup and drink holder. Then, I have my tool kit with all the basics (ATG gun, foam dots of all sizes, glue dots of all sizes, journaling pens, scissors, ruler, paper piercer, Glossy Accents, Crafty Tape, tweezers, Xacto knife, Crop-A-Dile, corner rounder, Tiny Attacher and a few other odds & ends. That’s pretty much what I personally take. If I forget something, I always remember that I’m surrounded by crafters! Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow crafter! She probably has what you forgot! Never been let down yet!
8) Once you’re packed up and ready to hit the road, don’t forget about getting there safely! Be sure that you have directions to and from your destination. Take off with a full tank of gas, in case you get lost. Be sure that your cell phone is charged or charge it in the car on the way. You’d be surprised how many of us forget the little things when we’re worried about what to pack!
9) Take a deep breath. Exhale.
10) HAVE FUN!!!!

*I first published this article for Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine's blog. Thanks to Carrie for the opportunity to share it with them too!

Feel free to share your best tips with me. I'd love to hear from all of you!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Adventures in Art Journaling

Lately, I've been intrigued by the mixed media trend of art journaling. I've never been the artsy type when it comes to drawing and painting, but I do enjoy expanding my creative horizons by trying new techniques. So, I gave in and bought one of the small Dylusions art journals from Amazon. I'd been taking notes from the works of Stephanie Ackerman in the Documented Faith project and from the lessons in May Flaum's class on art journaling, as well as many others online.
I treated the first page with a coat of white gesso. This gives the page a prime coat and doesn't allow any other paints or inks to bleed through to the other side. I played with different brush strokes to create a wave pattern on the front. After letting that dry overnight, I misted the page with lavender Glimmer Mist and blotted it with a paper towel. I then misted one more time to give a splattered look. I chose my quote and my stamped image and used Memento black ink. I added a piece of lace patterned washi tape as the border and finished off the inside cover page to my very first art journal!
 On the first double page spread, I again prepped the pages with a coat of white gesso. 
 Then, using Jenni Bowlin's Acrylic Paints, I started making a polka dot background. 
 Adding more color...
More color...
 I loved the way that the background came out! I'll probably come back and use this page to add my favorite quotes and sayings. Not bad for my first try at a background! I love polka dots!
Next, I prepped another set of pages with gesso and dried them with a heat gun this time. I dove into my stash of Tim Holtz Distress Stains and used the different colors to create a striped background. The gesso prevented them from bleeding through to the other side of the paper.
After the gesso coat dried on this page, I used Memento ink to stamp an image of a dress. At first, I wanted to use my Smooch inks to make swirls around the dress, but that quickly turned into a big mess and not what I wanted at all. Gesso to the rescue!
The interesting thing about this page was that the Smooch inks weren't completely dry and they got absorbed into the coat of white gesso which actually turned the page into a pale blue. I experimented with the brushstrokes once again and painted all around the dress. I may turn this into a Cinderella like page later on. What was once a messy page may turn into something good after all!
I continued to use the bluish gesso to spread onto the opposite page. After drying both pages, I used a flower from a Unity Stamp set that I had in my stash. I just repeated the stamped image all over the page using the Memento black ink. I might go back later on with colored pencils or pens to color in the flower petals later and maybe add some word art too. It's fun to see these pages come to life!
You know that the creative mojo is flowing pretty well when you end the night with inky fingers covered in gesso! I have to say that I'm having fun creating with different mediums and finding out what works and what doesn't when it comes to my artistic vision. Stay tuned for more Adventures in Art Journaling!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cleaning & Creativity Continues!

Happy February everyone! January sure went quick! Yikes!
My organization activities continue on with some more purging of drawers and closets. I also did some purging in the bathroom and reorganized with the addition of a new tray (on the left). I also added some decor to match the Parisian theme in my main bathroom. I think it spruced up really well!

On the creative end, I attended a super fun weekend retreat with the Scrappin' Glitter Galz! I had a productive weekend creating layouts and we had a ton of laughs too! I bought some raffle tickets and I ended up winning a gorgeous wall hanging for my craft room.
  We were spoiled with treats every day! 
We took over the Beverly Heritage Hotel with 60+ scrappers! It was a blast!

I'm trying to put in more creative time at home lately. I joined a small tag swap for the ScrapHappy Family. I misted manila tags with Glimmer Mists in shades of pink and silver. Then, I embossed the heart and adhered the stickers. I loved how the layers of misting turned out!
 Here is the start of my art journaling! I'm excited to try all kinds of new techniques with painting, stamping and doodling. For this first page, I started with a layer of white gesso. I painted the strokes in a wave pattern to create a textured background. I let that dry overnight. Then I sprayed lavender Glimmer Mist over the gesso and blotted it with a paper towel. Then I misted another layer and left the droplets to create a spotted background. Then I stamped with Memento Ink in black and finished the page off with a border of lace patterned washi tape.