Pretty not Perfect

I don't do perfect.

I rarely use the word "perfect".
I don't strive for perfection and in most things, I don't really believe perfection is possible, so long as members of a broken humanity are involved and heaven remains at bay. In fact, I'm drawn to imperfection and things that are on the verge of being discarded.

I'm a rescuer of things that, unless you choose to look closely, their value and beauty isn't obvious at first glance.

It's easy to like perfection...doesn't take much depth to embrace something that's perfect. Doesn't take much grace to accept something that doesn't challenge you. 

I love pretty things but my definition of "pretty" doesn't really include perfection. In fact, my definition of pretty is anti-perfection. 

Let's talk home decor, for example.
I like easy.
I don't like fussiness. 

This makes my heart skip a beat.



old...loved but discarded...crumpled...
These are my things.
I crave things that have had life before me and will probably go on after me.

I love antique malls and junk stores, especially those in sleepy little towns with a town square and a cafe that's not a franchise...where they serve sweet tea in Mason jars and biscuits made in cast iron skillets.
I enjoy the fine art of thrifting and going to estate auctions with my brother. Old stuff, out on display. Old frames, old glasses, old books, vintage cameras, Bibles that are tattered and well-read.

I love a house with years on her bones and 6 layers of paint on her walls. If she has a deck made of wood that's gray from the weather, all the better.

I love old songs, old hymns and old music.
I like the smell of old maps and faded books with deckle edge pages.
I treasure old letters and lists, notes and pictures of old people and greeting cards from decades we haven't seen in a long time.

I'm a girl with scars and I don't hide them.
Scars are proof of life.
There are scars on my body and scars on my heart.

I love a man with some gray in his beard and some years in his hands.

Yep, I don't do perfection.
I do pretty.
Keep your Pottery Barn and your Anthropologie.
Give me salt-water washed wood and faded, yellowed, authentic things.
Any day or the week.



My new workspace

In the past two years, I have moved my scrap space 7 times between two different houses. When we remodeled the Nashville house, I completely packed up my scrapbook space in the bonus room and moved it to a bedroom. A month or so after the renovation was complete, we suddenly decided to put the house on the market, so my scrap space got packed up and sent to storage (some call it decluttering)...except for a few small totes of crafty things that I used to stage the newly renovated craft room downstairs.

I think the fantastic craft room staging contributed to the sale of our home **in three days**. I'm jus sayin'.

In the new house in Texas, I started in a large walk-in pantry, moved to a small bedroom, moved to a different bedroom, and now I have finally come to create in the sunroom.

Empty, the sunroom looks like this: 



It's a long skinny space that is at the back of the house. It's off our dining room and kitchen (the French doors connect the sunroom to the dining room) and it overlooks the back deck.

I love the Windows!!

So my husband took a few days this week to work from home and he so generously provided the needed muscle to get this space transformed into my new (and hopefully final) scrap and stamp workspace.

I love the light from the Windows!


I'm taking up a little more than half the sunroom and using the small bookcase as a divider. In the unused part of the room is the treadmill (folded up) and the access to the deck.


The best part of this space plan is that I can work in this calming relaxed area while retaining the bulk of my supplies stored in the walk-in pantry. 

I really like a space that can be kept clean and organized easily and that won't make me feel like I should be embarrassed at the state of my crafty crazy, if/when others see it in use.

Mind you, I'm not denying that I do, in fact, have plenty of crafting crazy...just that its stored in a closet and not out in the open where everyone can inspect it. 

I have three rolling Raskogs for transporting certain tools from the closet to the work space easily and for quick clean up of the work space. Each Raskog is dedicated to a certain task--stamping and embossing, die cutting equipment and the last is the punch center.

My Stampin' Up stamps are stored in the corner on this rolling shelf. This stamp collection is arranged alphabetically and makes me very happy. 


When we have company or family dinners, I can easily roll the carts to the closet and slide the table out from the corner and have seating for four extra people! 


The view facing the opposite direction. 


And finally, the Gayla Pugh art that hangs in my window. 


I think I'm going to be happiest creating in this bright sunny space...I hope so because pretty much the only remaining space in this house that I haven't tried is the attic. :)



No design team work for me

So I've been paper-crafting for twenty years.

Twenty years! Wow.

Seems like forever.

In that time, I've done many related tasks in addition to scrapbooking--just because I might be a little obsessed. I have:

*made scrapbooks for other people

*hosted scrapbook weekends for friends

*had my pages published in national magazines

*taught scrapbooking classes in local stores and conventions

*sold scrapbook supplies for a direct sales company

*created scrapbook pages for manufacturers to display in trade show booths

*created scrapbook pages for online displays for manufacturers of scrapbooking supplies

*displayed pages in on-line galleries for fun and for pay

I have worked on a couple of design teams--for the uninitiated, a design team in the paper crafting world is a group of maker's who make projects for a product manufacturer, using specific products and demonstrating how specific products can be used in paper-crafting. Sometimes, design team members are compensated with a paycheck and sometimes (especially back in the day) they work in exchange for product.

I learned a great deal while working on each of these design teams but after much thought, and reading some other blogs that have discussed design team intricacies in-depth, I have decided that the days of design teams are over for me.

Scrap Gal Tracie Claiborne wrote about design teams here.

Here are my reasons:

1. I'm done working for product. There was a time when product boxes arriving in the mail made my day. It felt like Christmas once a month! I had a lot of space and enjoyed creating with products that perhaps I wouldn't have selected  were I shopping in person for myself.

Those days are done. I've become super picky and my space is limited. As Dave Ramsey says, "cash is king".

I have worked for two teams that paid in cash.

In my experience, the teams that paid on a cash per project basis seemed more straight-forward and were more clear in their expectations and directions. Efficiency matters to me, as does communication. With one of my teams, I felt incredibly respected, was inspired by my fellow teammates and was treated well in terms of timely communication. Unfortunately, the other one--not so much.

2. I like to mix product lines and companies. I am not loyal to one company and I believe that generally the only people who are, do so because they have a financial incentive to do so.

I get a little jazzed when I accidentally discover a super collaboration between products manufactured by different companies. It makes me very happy when I see a design team member say "I just realized that our 123 product works super well with this product from XYZ company." But let me tell you, it's not a common occurrence. And that bugs me.

In my opinion, it shows a lack of actual real-world usefulness. That kind of single-minded devotion doesn't help the everyday scrapbook consumer see how product can work in her creations along-side the other product she probably already owns.

We've all seen those design team projects that are clearly design team projects. The flower company that sells seven dollar packages of flowers sends ten packs of flowers to their designer and she puts all ten packs all on one page, because she didn't have to shell out seventy dollars for all those flowers.

Normal scrapbookers don't spend seventy dollars one a scrapbook page very often    

I've said before--most design team work can be compared to shopping from only a single aisle at the grocery store. That just doesn't work for me.

3. Social media has changed everything! Individual scrapbookers (those not working for a manufacturer or company) now have direct and immediate access to a wide world of other scrapbookers just like themselves and having a blog, a following on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest makes one an instant member of a community that embraces all design styles and all levels of skill. I think the days when a manufacturer needs a stable of designers to create on their behalf are rapidly coming to a close.

Manufacturers need a social media specialist...not a designer. OK, maybe one designer.

4. It's not about the product. Finally, my beef with most of the design team work I see is that it's primarily product driven.  As much as I enjoy the shopping and treasure-hunting aspect of scrapbooking, in the end, the layouts I love the most were supported by the product, not started by them. 

5. I'm selfish with my scrappy time. I don't have a ton of it and I want to spend what time I do have for scrapbooking pursuits working on that which I choose--not what someone else has assigned to me.

Because I have said "no" to design teams, I am free to work at my own pace and take on projects for others that I deeply enjoy and yet never share with anyone else or on-line. 

6. Inevitably, at best, the relationship between the blogger/maker and design team is one of mutual use. You know this going in...the manufacturer is primarily looking for design team members who already have a dedicated social media following. They are looking to add your followers to their own. And as a designer, you are looking to add the manufacturer's users to your own following. Everyone is using everyone and she with the biggest following wins. 

I get that this is how it works. 

I just don't like it. 

I don't want attaining a large following to be the driver of my bus. 

Most of my favorite scrapbookers are also people who aren't seeking professional design careers. They are just ordinary scrapbooking enthusiasts like myself and I love to learn from them. Some are scrapbookers who have had the "diva dot" career as a scrapbooking expert and gave it all up in order to get back to creating from a more genuine place.

I liken design team creating to the genre of another creative industry--fashion design. Some designers create fashion for the rack that has wide appeal and will sell to the mass market in many sizes and colors. Conversely, some designers do avant garde pieces that are an exercise in creativity for creativity's sake. They are experimental. No one besides a model can even get into these pieces nor would they ever want to because while they are interesting to look at, they are difficult to wear, to function in and cost a fortune. 

So now you know. 


Where the Wild Things Are

So as my scrapbooking style continues to be fleshed out, (it's a lifelong process) I can tell you that I love a page with a really good title and if that title is a phrase that already exists in my cultural lexicon, I'll just love it even more.

Such is the case with this layout called "Where the Wild Things Are". 

"Where the Wild Things Are" is, of course, the title of a world famous book by Maurice Sendek. I love this when I wrote this bit of journaling, I started with the title and applied it to my love of antique hunting.

The title is hand stamped using Stampin' Up! Layered Letters Alphabet. This alphabet has to be the easiest to cut out of any alphabet stamps ever. Since the letters are kinda sloppy, the cutting doesn't require much precision. I love that!

Happy scrapbooking!


Flowers are a copout and other observations about scrapbooking

I'm as guilty as the next scrapbook or of placing a pretty picture on a pretty paper, surrounding it with flowers and calling it good. It's easy. It's pretty. It's pleasant to look at briefly but what does it say?

Are flowers a cop out?

For me, pretty flowers have become the lazy girl's answer to page embellishment. It's true I can do flowers to paper in my sleep.  And a quick browse through my favorite on-line galleries of scrapbooking layouts and creations show me that I am so totally not alone. 

When I haven't fleshed out enough story or when I haven't given enough thought to my design, flowers are the easy answer.

About ten years ago, I attended a class with a very popular scrapbook instructor--at that time we would've referred to her as a *scrapbooking celebrity*. Oh how that term turns me off now, but I digress. Her class was well publicized and many people attended along with me. And we paid a pretty penny for the privileged too. It was a good class. There was what I considered to be a nice amount of inspirational content and it was well-balanced with unique techniques that made me feel like I was learning something new as opposed to those classes that are just about copying the designer's project.

By and large, I was quite satisfied with the class, which is kindof unusual--I can be a little picky about classes.

However, there was one little thing that kinda struck me as annoying and less than professional. After completing one of the main class projects, one of the class attendees dropped a rather large stamp on top of her page and it landed inked-side-down, of course, right smack on top of the pretty part of the layout. She was understandably crushed. She gasped rather loudly when it happened and this caught the attention of the class instructor. The class instructor came over to assess the damage. When she saw the extent of it, she declared with a laugh "oh just stick a flower over it and no one will ever know. That's what scrapbooker's do--stick a flower on it."

The class attendee was quite obviously NOT going to be satisfied with the "stick a flower on it" advice and I admit, it didn't sit right with me either. A flower would change the entire composition of the page and this attendee had worked diligently to create the page just as the instructor had demonstrated--without deviation. Her disappointment was obvious.

Years later, I remember this incident vividly and those words ring in my ears. Is that really all we do? Just stick flowers on things and make them pretty?

I want to say "no".
But I'm not sure it's true.  

A pretty paper covered in flowers to me is the scrapbooking equivalent of getting all dressed up and having no place to go and no one to go with. 

I want more substance.
I crave a better mix of the story and less of "just pretty".


Pretty is just way down the list..


Talking Back: Episode 102 Guilt-free Scrapbooking

So this week I listened to Episode 102 of the Scrap Gals Podcast...and doing so really got my wheels turning. Tiffany and Tracie shared some very thoughtful tips for those in our paper crafting community who maybe struggling to continue scrapbooking. Having gone through a three year stint of being a "former scrapbooker", I especially appreciated their insights.

And you know it...I have a few thoughts of my own.

These are the things I thought about as I was listening to the show.

Tips for Guilt-free Scrapbooking and Relocating Your Lost Mojo:

1. Give yourself credit (generously) for doing any scrapbooking-related
task. Organizing, shopping, ordering photos, idea collecting, packing a kit, hosting a mini scrap party with a friend... Embrace these tasks because they prepare you to be creative.

2. If you are struggling to create a scrapbook page you feel satisfied with, COPY someone else's project. Don't apologize for copying. Do it because you love the project and you value the design.  Give yourself permission to not reinvent the wheel every time you create. 

3. Surround yourself with encouraging people and make your workspace comfortable. This one should probably have been divided into two but the thoughts were flowing and I was writing my list as fast as I could. Surround yourself with other makers or at least people who understand how much it fulfills you to make things. No negative nellies allowed. Scrapbooking (or making) is a sacred task. Don't allow anyone to rain on that. Ever. 

Make your workspace comfortable. Because I have spent most of my adult life living with three men, I take the liberty of girlifying the snap out of my scrapbook room. There is art on the walls that I like. There are pretty wooden letters that spell the word Create and there are items I have created displayed. My chair is comfortable. The Raskog army stands guard. There are flowy curtains and lots of reminders of our beach trips and painted furniture. It's my space. It's where I am most comfortable.

4. Give yourself plenty of opportunities to observe and embrace other types of creative arts. One of the most inspiring things I have ever done that had nothing to do with Scrapbooking but made me want to rush home and cut up tons of paper was visit the annual quilt show in my town. I was completely blown away by the artistry and the attention to detail demonstrated by quilters of every level. Of course, there are similarities between quilting and Scrapbooking, but the experience of seeing hundreds of quilts all at once was massively inspiring. Makers may end up with differing results but the need to create beauty from nothing resides in all of us. Don't neglect to fill your creative tank...look for what speaks to your soul in other areas of creative arts--for example, gardening, sculpting, painting, lettering, music and poetry.

5. Don't be afraid to just do something. If you break Scrapbooking down into individual tasks, you can achieve a successful page one tiny task at a time. This particular tip is my personal favorite. There are times when I feel like I don't have it together enough to commit to full-on design work. Narrowing my focus down from a whole page to single tasks--such as stamping images and cutting them out--allows me to be crafty without the pressure of designing. 

I keep a box filled with individual plastic bags of assorted ready-to-use elements right on my desk. 

6. Scrapbooking is more than just paper layouts...scrapbooking is a way of life! Incorporate photos into your life in other ways--especially in your home. Don't be timid. Find your favorite photos and blow them up. Make them big and happy!

I think makers are prone to experience ups and downs on occasion and being prepared to change things up to combat any creative blocks will save us all from just struggling through the difficulty.

So what do you do to keep going when you don't necessarily "feel it"?