Thursday, August 31, 2006

When Scrapbook Layouts say Wow

By Christina VanGinkel

If your scrapbook layouts are all starting to look alike, and you want to bring some zest to the next ones that you make, maybe its time to spice them up a bit. You know how it is, you get comfortable using the same techniques and supplies, which are fine, but then you never try anything new. Before you know it, you have a first hand account of what a cookie cutter layout means, and it is not a cute rendition of you and your sister in the kitchen whipping up a batch of frosting! What you need is some life in those layouts, and I mean that literally.

Be realistic. Consider what each of your layouts has in common. Then browse some online galleries to see what others are doing. Take notes if it will help when you remember a style that makes you take notice. Like anything else in life, it is easy to get in a rut. We become comfortable in the sameness of our ways, and forget about all the other options we have for creating layouts than those we are most use to doing. Sure, we browse the galleries, but once we close our browser, we forget what it was we saw, even if it was something that we really liked. If we actually write down what it is we like about another person's work, and pull that note out and read it the next time we sit down to create in our scrapbooks, the more apt we will be to climb out of that rut. Once you have successfully created a layout different from what you normally do, and are inspired to go even further, try to define your own style, the style that you know is hiding in you, just waiting to be defined.

Begin by browsing the web in general and when you see a website that you like aesthetically, ask yourself what it is that caught your attention. Is it a combination of colors or perceived textures? Maybe they have the title of the website done up in a way that you never gave a thought to. Do they have interactive parts to their site? If they do, is there a way you could create your own interactive element within your next layout? Inspiration can often come to us from unusual places, and websites are just one of many places we Scrapbookers can gleam some motivation from. Because it is not just another scrapbook layout though, we are being forced to question what it is we like in a more general way.

Next, ask yourself what you like when it comes to other styles. Is your home furnished in a singular style, say Victorian or early English, maybe rustic country, or is it more of an eclectic style, with a bit of everything tossed together for good measure? What do you like about the style your home is furnished around? Ask yourself how you could transfer some of those same style ideas onto your pages. What type of vehicle do you drive? Do you think that this has anything to do with what you like fashion wise or was it just too good a buy to pass up? By going through these questions, you can candidly start to perceive a realistic look at what you like and why. Once you have built up some answers to these questions, and are starting to understand your own likes and dislikes, consider how you can transfer these things you have learned about yourself to your next layout, the layout that will make others say Wow, and be the layout that they want to copy from you!

Most importantly, do not be afraid to borrow elements from your own life when you begin to gain an understanding of what it is you like. Just because the latest designers are hot with everyone else, do not feel like you have to create every one of your year's layouts to fit their designs. Some of the best layouts I have ever seen are ones that began with nothing more than a basic piece of cardstock and embellished with pieces of this and that from the creator's life. Alter basic supplies to fit your vision, pound out metal, burnish paper, tear the edges off things, dip them in dyes, look over items before you toss them to see if there is anything you can salvage to use on a layout, such as buttons and rickrack.

When you let life into your layouts, you will find yourself on top of that rut looking in, amidst the sounds of growing Wows as others take stock of what you have created

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