Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Must Admit it

I am not a card maker. I don't think I'll ever be. I like to stamp, I like to embellish, but I am not a card making kind of person. I struggle with cards and I have made some nice ones, but it's hit or miss with me. I write letters and notes, but making cards? Eh, not my thing.

Wow! What a relief to get that off my chest.

I've got a few sets of cards from Club Scrap that I'll finish up and then move away from card making. I have paper, I have envelopes, but I just don't see a lot of card making in my future. Aha! I don't see a lot of Club Scrap style card making in my future. I had more fun when I dug up my own designs and wasn't limited to the layouts provided in the card making kit from CS.

I don't think I do well with kits in general. Not for paper scrapbooking, anyway.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mess Reduction

I hate working in a mess. I have trouble doing it in fact. But, gradually, my workspace had degenerated into horrible mess status. At least, for me it was a horrible mess. I spent a goodly portion of yesterday tearing it apart and rebuilding it into neatness. I still need to take care of one or two last odds and ends, but the cleaned up space looks like this. As you can see, I've got more paper holders than I used to, but I have about the same amount of paper. I stored my Club Scrap paper under the table in the pizza boxes that it came in. There was a lot of wasted space in those boxes! I still need to get storage for the 8.5x11 paper. But that's currently in a pile on my table, next to the drawers of embellies and inks.

As of 1:50 today, that's what my scrapping space looks like. I wonder how long it will stay that neat?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chemist's Daughter

My father was a chemist. Not in the UK sense of the word, which would be a pharmacist in the US. He was the 'mad scientist' kind of chemistry major chemist. Some of that must have rubbed off onto me as I was growing up.

If you use EZ Mount cushion for mounting rubber stamps, you are repeatedly warned not to use acetate to store the stamps. The acetate and the EZ Mount have a bad reaction over time and the EZ Mount will glue itself to the acetate and become ruined.

I use Avery sheet protectors to store my unmounted rubber stamps when I use Aileen's TIOAO and I didn't know if they were acetate or not. So I went to the Avery website and checked. They are polypropylene which, to the best of my knowledge, is not the same thing as acetate. My EZ Mount foam should be safe. I can use the same system for all of my unmounted rubber stamps.

If given a choice, I'd use TIOAO for all of my unmounted rubber. I use a pad under my paper when I stamp, so I don't need a cushion and without the EZ Mount, the stamps are a lot thinner and I can store more in the same space.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Case of the Ahas, Again

I was driving home after last night's crop and talking with my wonderful Hubby. I'd packed my crop tote they way I used to pack it, with a selection of embellies, some paper and a pile of photos that I wanted to scrap. I had a wonderful, productive time and I didn't touch a single piece of Club Scrap paper.

While the Club Scrap Assembly Line ScrapBooking system might be fast, it might be easy, it might get me a lot of finished pages in a very short time, it isn't the way I like to work. So, I won't use that system any more. I'll go back to the way that I like to scrap, which might be slow, it might be more difficult and it might take me a long time to get a lot of pages done, but I love the way my pages turn out.

Wonderful Hubby doesn't care for the ALSB pages, either. So. Instead of finishing up the kits I've got stashed away using the ALSB system, I'm going to pull the paper out and file it by rainbow color and use the paper up that way. I've got a lovely stash and if I need colors that go together, I'll have them. The paper is excellent quality and I do not think I wasted my money on it, I was just wasting effort trying to make the ALSB system work for me when it doesn't. Not as well as my own style works for me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thanks, I'll Find My Own

A lady I know (only through on-line contact) who does Photoshop stuff for digital scrapping suggested that I get a Vizros plug in for Photoshop so I could curl ribbons and pages. It sells for about $20.

A book I got from the library suggested that I get AV Bros Page Curl Pro to curl ribbons and the corners of pages. It sells for about $50.

I wasn't sure where I wanted to place my bet. They both have free downloads I could use to test the functioning. I went to the Adobe site and got a link to a website that had reviews of the plug ins. The one suggested by the book received 4 out of 5. The one from the lady got 3 out of 5.

Page Curl Pro costs twice as much. It gets better reviews. An extensive manual is included in the free downloads. The website is in multiple languages, indicating an international audience. I'll download their demo/trial version first.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Different Answer

A lady wanted to know what to do with the patterned paper that she didn't like when she'd buy one of the stacks. The majority of the responses were, 'Give it to my kids to play with.' And the rest were about evenly divided between, 'donate it' 'trade it' and 'save it' as well as 'use it up in teeny little pieces where you don't notice how ugly it is.'

I was the only person who said, "Stop buying the stacks."

What do you know! The original person responded and said that she was going to stop buying the stacks because there was so much waste and she didn't have kids.

There are times when the best way to deal with waste is to stop buying in wasteful ways.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cover Art

All of the digital paper and embellishments came from lie fhung, of ZTAMPF! Can you tell she is my current favorite digital designer? I used her Balinesia, Phrench Phoebe, and Structure kits with the occasional element from elsewhere.

The digital part of the tissue box cover is done. These are going to be the sides of the box. I created all of my layouts at 4.375 inches wide and 5.25 inches high. Photo shop rounded my .375 to .38 for 3/8 of an inch. To get them to print out at that size, I then put my layouts on a 5"x7" transparent background and saved them as 300 ppi .jpgs. That extra step is important. If I'd skipped it, my photo printer would have cut the image smaller to get the correct ratio of width to length and then printed them at 5x7. Because I had white space surrounding the image inside the file, they printed out with a white border around them that I can easily cut away to get images exactly the size I want.

For my next trick, I will work on cutting chipboard to size for the sides and top and figuring out the best way to attach the photos without ruining them. I've had poor results with ModPodge; it left the surface tacky and things stuck to it. Lamination will not work. I don't want a clear edge around each photo.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Latest Addition

The most recent successful addition to my scraproom is a box of tissues. Not a huge box, one of the 'boutique' sized boxes. I didn't know how much I'd use them until I put them on my table. I will need to replace that box with a full one sooner than I thought.

Being a penny pinching crafter, I take the time to cut sheets of paper towel into quarters and put them in a stack, instead of tearing sheets off a roll. It doesn't take long because I use a big rotary trimmer and go through six layers at a time. The squares work better than the stamp scrubber pads I've tried to keep my stamps spanking clean.

An alternative to cutting up tissues and using smaller squares is toilet paper. Nope. My brain just shut down and refused to function. That is where I draw the line. Tissues. Tissues are good. Perhaps I'll create a cover for the box out of chipboard and patterned paper.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Convert

All of the elements and the paper for this layout are from lie fhung, of ZTAMPF!

I talk a lot about digital scrapping, but I was always only dinking around with it. I didn't have the complete set up that I wanted. I wanted the right software running on the right hardware and a nice set of digital files to play with.

Method, motive, and opportunity collided last night. The ZTAMPF! sale provided a lot of files. I finally have a full version of CS3 and Bridge on my laptop and the laptop itself is quite robust. I went to a local crop and took only the laptop, not a crop tote full of paper, trimmer, glues, inks, stamps, tools, and so on. I got four layouts completed and I worked on a fifth layout, but had trouble with the kit.

The kit I had hoped would be much nicer had a case of FAIL. The embellishments are appropriate for a toddler on a tricycle, not a NASCAR fan. Sigh. There was a checkered flag, but the person who created it didn't know how to correctly twist fabric, so the waves in the flag aren't quite right. And the flag was the wrong shape. It was a pennant, long and narrow, with points on the edge. The checkered flag that is waved at the end of a NASCAR race is 5 squares by 6. The whole kit was just a bit 'off' and I was not happy to have spent money on it. It was the only NASCAR/driving kit that I could find.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Case of the Ahas!

I was trying to create an 'explosion' of embellishments and layers similar to the one on the home page of Ztampf! and I was having an awful time. In my head, things should be cascading off the edge of the paper. On my screen, it didn't look right.

Aha! Instead of working on a page that is 12"x12", I need to open a new file that is 14"x14" instead. That way, when I put 12x12 paper on it, there will actually be an edge for the layers to fall over. I kept looking at that sample and wondering what I wanted to do next on my attempt to imitate it and not coming up with the next step. I'd boxed myself into too small of a space. And it's virtual space at that.

I always feel a little silly after an Aha! moment. It's so obvious in retrospect, but before I had it, I really was stuck.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Layout Guides

The local library provided me with a couple of reference texts. I solved the layer issue.

I've been thinking about layout guides like Page Maps. Most of the multi-photo layouts assume that you are going to crop or print most of your photos smaller than 4x6. For the 'average snapshot' about 1/3 to 1/2 of the photo can be cropped away because it is boring background. The multi-photo layouts for this type of photo will work very well.

I try not to take 'average snapshots.' Cropping them down to 2x2 or even 4x4 isn't usually possible. I'd rather not print them smaller, because I want people to see the photos. I can't use most of the multiphoto layouts available. I create most of my pages with three or four photos. That leaves me with room for a few embellishments, journaling and a title.

I'm a photographer and writer who scrapbooks, not an embellishment and paper user who takes pictures. For me, scrapbooking isn't about the embellishments and the paper, it's about the photos and the journaling.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Horrible Directions!!!

Agghh! I've gotten a set of directions on how to use a layered template along with my template. The directions are horrible. They are detailed, broken into small steps and there are too many variables that are left undefined.

For example, I must select the layer that I want to replace. But I don't know which layer I want to replace. Do I want to replace the top layer, the fold layer, the shadow layer, a layer on the template or a layer in my graphic? The variable is 'the layer' and it's defined as being 'the one I want to replace.' I don't usually replace layers. I add, edit, remove, or merge layers.

I have the feeling that I'm adding and then merging layers. That would give an end result of a 'replacement' but it isn't a replacement. It's a merge. To replace, one deletes the bad one and adds the good one. According to the directions, I never delete anything, but I do merge things. OK. I'll bang on this for a while and then, when I've figured out how these templates work, I'll write myself a better set of directions. I'm not going to go through this twice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Three Days!

I have signed up for a three day crop in October. I'll be sitting with a great bunch of people and it should be a blast, but I haven't ever done a three day crop. The longest crops I've been to were 12 hour crops. I'm expecting to be tired at the end of it, but I don't want to run out of things to work on or tools to work with. I also don't want to be one of those ladies who shows up with the entire contents of their scraproom, packed into multiple totes.

I'm going to use my Club Scrap kits that I need to assemble. My hope is to be able to use my tool tote and regular rolling tote for the usual amount of stuff and head out to my truck every so often to swap out finished pages for the next kit(s). I have six months worth of monthly kits that I can work on and I know that is going to take me more than three days. Especially if I work on the projects that go with the kits as well.

I'm also thinking about how to best use the four feet of table space that I will get. The trick is that I might not get a deep space, just a wide one. If the table isn't deep, I'll want to set up a shelf, to add some storage space on the top of the table.

All this planning and it's just a crop! I will have fun, it will be fine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why Digital?

I used to paper scrap in Recollections, which was all of three miles from my house. They closed. I have a nice studio, but I miss having an entire store to poke through when I needed an embellie, a stamp, some ink or anything at all. To duplicate that would require a stash of a size I'm not willing to have.

When I work in digital, I can shop as I work using the Internet. I download what I need and I can use it again and again. I can change colors and sizes, too. It is cheaper to digiscrap. Even adding in the cost of the computer, it's cheaper than buying the supplies and tools for paper scrapping. Not only did I have to buy all the stuff, I had to buy things to store it and to carry it back and forth to crops.

I like manipulating paper and creating physical objects. I'll probably never give up paper cropping. But I can see myself moving to more and more digital cropping. Especially as I use up the small stash I had from shopping at Recollections.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where do I Put It?

I had a coupon for 50% off one item at Michaels, so I finally broke down and got a Cuttlebug. Why had I been delaying? I didn't own any of the dies, as I jumped on the Cricut bandwagon early in my scrapping career. I also wasn't quite sure where I was going to store it. I still don't know, but I own the thing. I also own a couple of the embossing folders. They were on sale at 40% off at AC Moore. I'm about to head out of the house and check out the Michael's sale that just started this week. Cricut cartridges are $39.99 each. I want to see if they have the new Cars or Tinkerbell ones. If they don't, I'll just pick up a cuttlebug embossing folder at 50% off and head for home.

I've already got storage for my cartridges.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Parts of a Computer

I recently found out that there are a lot of digiscrappers out there who don't have any idea about the parts of the machine they are dependent on. Here is a brief description that might help people learn what is which and why.

The first and most important part is the CPU or Central Processing Unit. This is the brains of your computer and it determines how quickly it can respond to any command. It's a chip, or set of chips and the larger the numbers, the better. My little rocket of a laptop has two 2.15MHz chips in it. A modest computer these days would have a single 1.5MHz chip. MHz stands for megahertz. The CPU is how smart and fast the computer is at doing things. If the computer has a wimpy CPU, it can still do things, but it's going to take longer. It can juggle, but only a few things and slowly.

Next there is RAM. That's Random Access Memory, and it also has a great deal to do with how quickly a computer can respond to a command. RAM is where applications actually run and where files are opened. If there isn't much RAM, the computer has to juggle the things it's doing, stopping one thing, working a bit on another, then pausing that and going back to the first task. That means that nothing gets done very quickly and if there are too many things being juggled, everything stops with a crash. The CPU has to tell the RAM what to do and how to juggle. The RAM can't juggle on its own.

Then there is the hard drive, which is simply storage space for the operating system, like Vista, or XP, files, and programs.

If you imagine that a hard drive is a bookcase full of books that are the files and programs, the RAM is your hands. You can't read a book that is sitting on a bookcase, wedged in between other books. You have to take the book off the shelf and hold it as you open it. You are also going to use your hands to turn the pages, to write any changes down, and to close the book and put it back on the shelf. If you have many books out and open, you have to juggle them. When you shut down your computer, the RAM will go blank. There is nothing stored in RAM when your computer is turned off. The hands are empty and idle.

Then there is the video card. If you have a video card that is robust, with on board RAM, it would be as if your glasses had an extra pair of hands attached to them to turn the pages of your books for you. Some of the better video cards are smart enough to tell themselves how to juggle, freeing up the CPU and the main RAM for other jobs.

Did you notice something? Hard drives don't have much to do with how quickly your computer responds. But if you put so much stuff on the hard drive that there isn't any space left, your computer will slow down. Have you ever tried to find a book on an overcrowded bookcase, with things wedged in and no space left for even one more magazine? That's what is happening in your computer. If you leave 20% of your hard drive free, the bookcase that is your hard drive won't be too crowded to use.

What's a mother board? Everything plugs into the mother board. It's the home of all the parts that make up the computer. The CPU plugs into the mother board, the RAM plugs into the motherboard. The hard drive, the video card, they all plug into the mother board. Your monitor plugs into your video card, so the monitor is connected. Your network card plugs into the mother board so you can connect to the Internet. The mother board lets each of the parts communicate with the rest of the parts and pulls the parts into a whole, single computer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back in the Groove

I hadn't actually done any pages for a while and that was bothering me. I'd been working on note cards, organization, and a busted water heater, but I had not completed any layouts. I went to my sorted photos, pulled out a set and put them to paper. It isn't that Great Getting Up Time yet, so I can't haul out the camera and photograph the two pager yet. I'll post it when I do.

In the meantime, I've pulled out another set of photos and, with only a brief pause to label my paper holders, I found paper that I want to use for a one page layout. I still have to select embellishments, but it's a step in the right direction.

Keeping my photos sorted is a huge advantage. As I get them printed, I put them into sets; usually no more than 6-8 in a set, and tuck them into Cropper Hopper photo organizers. When I want to scrap something, I just grab a set and get started. Stacy even wrote a book on sorting your photos called, "The Big Picture" on how to sort out your photos and get some work done. It's really easy for me to sort recent photos into event sets, but older photos, not so much. I don't worry about it.

I have been working with the same CH photo organizer for quite some time now. I finish a set, I add a set. It never gets empty, it doesn't get full. I kind of like that. It means I'm keeping up with events and not falling horribly behind. We won't look too closely at the number of organizers that are full and untouched. Noooo. Those can stay right there on that shelf.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I've been slowly getting punches in the Marvy Uchida set and those beasties are large and annoying to store. The only reasonable solution is to put them into a shoe bag over the door. So that's exactly what I did. Thank goodness for Walmart's laundry and storage section. There are a number of different sizes and styles to choose from. I could have hoped for shorter pockets, but that wouldn't work if folks wanted to actually store shoes in them. I don't know anyone who uses these for shoes, though. I left empty pockets on purpose. I don't own those punches yet, but they are on the list.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ink a Dink, a Pad With Ink

I've been working my way slowly through a lot of brands of ink pads, seeking a favorite. I will work with an ink for a while, learning its properties and the way it behaves, then I move on to a different ink.

I've tried dye inks, I've tried pigment inks, hybrids, permanent, water soluble and non. I prefer pigment inks to dye inks and water soluble to non. Therefore, hybrid inks don't trip my trigger. Chalk inks I like, but the dark colors stain my stamps and I'm a clean freak. Some pigment inks come with a very juicy inkpad and I don't like to use them until they have dried up a bit. Some have a very soft inkpad and I can't control how much ink I apply. Some inkpads are too dry and/or dry out very quickly. I have re-inkers, but I'd rather not have to haul them out each and every time I use the ink. Some inkpads, like the Ranger Distress inks have a small inkpad and inking a larger stamp can be a PITA. I've found that many of my Adirondak pads aren't level and I have to make sure that I'm pressing firmly enough to flatten them to get a stamp evenly inked. Many pigment inks take a very long time to dry.

Versamark pigment ink has a firmer inkpad, is a pigment ink and it's water soluble. It also dries quickly. I really like using it. The pad I can find most easily is a standard small size. I've also got Archival Ink in jet black and sepia in the large pads. That's another ink I rather like. These are the ink pads with the monk using a quill on the front of the pad. Yeah, that one. The pad for both brands is firm, level, and not too juicy but will still ink up a stamp without requiring that you bang it against the ink pad for a while.

I used to see videos of people tapping an ink pad on a stamp, or just seeming to press the stamp to the ink gently and poof! there would be this perfect image. I was always fighting with my ink pads to get them to behave well. I tried the Versamark and the Archival ink pads. Go ahead, point a camera at me. My stamp pads now behave.

To Peek, or not to Peek?

When I get the first of each months shipments from Club Scrap, I have a choice to peek and see what it is going to look like, or I can wait and be surprised. When I first got my membership, I peeked each month, I just had to. I was eager to see what was available and I couldn't understand folks who didn't peek. Recently, I haven't been peeking. I discovered that it is much more fun to wait and be surprised when I open the box.

I think waiting and being surprised is an 'acquired taste' which would be a euphemism for something you do when forced to and grow to like. I had a crazy month and no time to peek, and opening the box was such fun, I realized that peeking wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.