Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Waiting for a Sale

Ya'll know I love, love, love the digital scrapbook supplies created by Lie Fhung of Ztampf. I've got a whole lot of her stuff and use it frequently. I recently went through her website and put a bunch of things onto my wish list. At one point my wish list of Ztampf items was three pages long. She had a sale and my wish list got short. It's only one page long now, but that one page would cost me about $55, should I get everything right now.

I'm going to wait for a sale. I might have a long wait, but I can wait. At last count, I have over 60 of her kits and packs and add-ons.

I spent time today going through a couple of sections in my Renee Pearson books. I'm going to have to double check her instructions against CS3, because some of the things she is talking about are from Photoshop Elements 4.0 and they are not at all the same. There are things that she has you do from scratch, that you don't have to do from scratch and there are automated things that no longer work the way she describes them.

There are also a few times in the text that Renee guides you through steps to set up your workspace. But the settings she gives are personal preferences and not the way that I work. I've crossed them out and written notes to myself. She also will do mini step by mini step directions and then suddenly there's a direction that isn't in mini steps, but is simply a 'get this end result' direction, with no help at all as to how to get that end result. Kind of like, 1. Open box by pulling red tab at left side, just below top of box. 2. Remove lid and set aside. 3. Build structure from pieces contained in box.

I was reading while walking on the treadmill at the gym, which is pretty darned bright. I had difficulty with the tan text on camel background. Nil for contrast and a PITA to read. Very, very annoying!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Fool so Feelish

I did not know that If I had the drivers installed on my laptop, plugged in the scanner and used the Photoshop File > Import function, I could use my scanner with all the bells and whistles.

Now I know and I am a happy woman. I can do all of my computer work from my laptop. If I really wanted to, I could carry the darned thing around with me, since it is a relatively small scanner and it weighs about the same as a laptop battery.

I haven't had time to do a lot of work on digital layouts today, but I have had time to learn one new thing.

Gotta Have Photos!

I have a hard time getting motivated to do any scrapping if I don't have any recent photos. But, I've been lucky and have been able to get photos of three recent events, so I have photos to work with! When you add that to the new books, which are triggering all sorts of ideas, I'm dying to sit and work on digital scrapping.

I need a plan, or I will just flail around and not get anything done. Usually, I go in chronological order and that's the easiest way for me to stay organized. This time, I've got so many different technique ideas roiling around in my head, I'm not sure that I want to go by chronological order.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Used Bookstores Rule!

I have a rather good, almost local used bookstore. It's about a 40 minute drive away, so I save up a stack of books before I head out. Today, it was rainy and chilly. A perfect day to hang out in the house with a book. I found for the nominal sum of $10, Renee Pearson's first book on digital scrapbooking, complete with the CD. Go me! On Amazon, the book is only available used at prices ranging from $39.69 all the way up to $186.22. Her first book is not to be confused with the book with the number 1 in the title. That book isn't released yet, and according to Renee, it won't be released.

While I have a few issues with Renee's books, I'm reading through them to see what I can glean. No knowledge is wasted.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Aha Nikon!

Wonderful Hubby has an inexpensive Nikon point and shoot that wasn't giving me a very good photo. I was irritated with it. I finally looked at the settings and took it off auto ISO and set the quality up to the max. While I am still not thrilled with the results, they are somewhat better.

If you have a choice, do not set the ISO up much past 800. And that's pushing it. 400 is pretty darned fast. If you set the ISO for 1600, you are going to have a much higher chance of getting a grainy photo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Feel like Sally

Not only do my husband and stepson like the digital layouts that I do, they have asked me for copies to put on their own computers! And the kewl part is that they have asked! Remember when Sally Field said, "You like me, you really like me" as part of her Oscar acceptance speech? I feel a bit like Sally.

I copied a set of layouts onto a thumb drive for my stepson and I'll do something similar for my husband. But it is really nice to discover that they like my work to the point that they want their own copies of it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Paper Cropping?

I went to a friend's house to do paper cropping. I was amazed. I haven't packed up paper and stuff to crop for a long time, I've been doing digital. I got 8 pages done and had a lovely time. But I did not like packing up a lot of stuff. I forgot my solid colored paper. I didn't have the Boot Loopy brads and string that I knew was right there, in the top right hand drawer of the cabinet on my cropping table at home.

I'm going to a crop at a store tomorrow night (Angela's Happy Stamper) and I'll be going digital. I'm just not into hauling all that stuff. I'm spoiled.

I'm going to do a little shopping for more digital stuff from Ztampf! before I head for the crop. Fhung has released some new kits of embellishments and I'll have a lot of fun with them. I'll also be heading right out on Saturday morning after the crop and I'll have something to play with while in the car, if I can only get my laptop to run off the car converter. I had battery issues last time I tried, but I have a new battery now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I refuse to pay that much!

I hit our local Jo-ann's today, to get fabric and a pattern to make some comfy lounging pants for my husband and his son as they visit and hang out this weekend. The fabric was on sale, but it was still a little more than I had thought it would be. When I got home, I dug through my pattern stash and realized that I didn't have a pattern!

Back I went. I picked up the pattern. I knew it was on sale. But the pattern rang up at over $10.00. I asked how much it was regular price and was absolutely flabbergasted. $15.99 regular price? Who are they trying to kid? It was a loosely fitted pair of sweatpants!

I didn't buy it. The idea that I'd be expected to pay $10 for a sweatpants pattern, just makes my frugal soul shudder in horror. I have more than enough pattern drafting experience to create a pattern for a pair of sweatpants. I am not willing to spend $10 to purchase a pattern.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Twitchy Paper

I was trying to use the greetings to go collection with Matrix paper, from Club Scrap's July 2008 kit. I like some of the design of this kit, but I don't like the colors of the paper, or the ink. Just not at all my style. I had a lot of trouble with making much of anything from that kit. I sat down with the G2G, as they are called and I just did not want to do anything with the paper. Not even touch it. I tried. I got out the inks, I planned a card and it's sitting on my workspace in pieces, I just hate that paper that much.

It's time to get rid of it, then. I can't stand to use it, so I shouldn't keep it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Back to Cards

We went to a birthday party Thursday and I went through my basket of cards and found one that I'd made that would work well for the person having the birthday. But I also realized that there were not nearly as many cards in my basket as I'd thought there were. I've got several 'Greetings to Go' sets from Club Scrap that I have not even started working on sitting in a box under my worktable. I will pull that box out and get to work on a set of two, to replenish the basket.

I'd been delaying because I find it very difficult to create cards that I like from the paper and supplies that have been provided. I'm not that much into die cuts. Since the paper is pre-cut, I have to use ideas that will fit on that pre-cut paper and a lot of times, I don't have ideas at all. At other times, I've got the ideas, but then I fail in the execution and I can't try again, I've run out of paper. I do not do nearly as badly with the cards as I think I do, but I'm always struggling.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Digital Designs for Scrapbooking 2

Renee Pearson's book arrived in the mail, in good condition and I opened it up and then set it aside. It wasn't where I was in scrapping at the moment. I haven't gone cover to cover, but I have gotten most of the way through it.

Renee is writing for Elements users and she gives almost too much detail in her steps. For example, Renee's directions include steps like, "STEP 2: turn off the grid by opening the View menu and clicking grid." For CS3, Grid is a sub-menu under View and it's much faster to use the keyboard shortcut. For a beginner, her complete instructions style would be wonderful. They aren't always flipping back and forth and losing their place and getting frustrated because they are being asked to do something they know must be simple, but they don't know how to do it.

Renee must have artistic vision. This means that as far as she's concerned, text in pale colors on a white background is perfectly readable. She chose it. It's difficult to read for me. It matters not that she's chosen a sanserif font and a relatively large size. There isn't enough contrast and it does not show up well. I'm using a combination of natural, incandescent and fluorescent light in my studio and if the sun went behind a cloud, I noticed it.

Would I recommend this book to a newbie digital scrapper? Nope. It isn't right for a newbie. It's right for a person who has done some scrapping and wants to be able to to do more with the things that she already owns. That user might also be annoyed by the detailed instructions, but they might find that Renee is showing them different ways to perform some basic tasks. Renee's book is targeted towards a person who wants to create their own elements and not always download them. It's a whole lot more than the 'change the color of an element' tutorial that you can find all over the web, but it didn't expand my skill set so much as remind me that I could use skills I've already got.

Where am I finding my best support and instruction right now? I've got the Photoshop CS3 Bible and I get Photoshop User magazine. Some of the magazine articles are way over my head, but I'm finding a lot of the tips and a few of the articles to be very useful.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Sketches!!!

These sketches are for layouts to fit the 7 Gypsies photo carousel, when you use the 5.5" x 7" stamp protector sheets, not the 4" x 6" photo sheets. I'm printing my photos 2 up on a 5" x 7" piece of photo paper. I don't sketch in embellishments, but if you look at the layouts I took photos of, I certainly add them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More sketches to come

I spent a goodly chunk of this weekend doing another set of sketches for my 7 Gypsies spinner. I haven't fired up my scanner yet, but I'll try to do that tomorrow and post another set of sketches for 5.5 x 7 pages. Some are pretty rough, because I was working while riding in the truck again and hubby's truck rides like a truck. Road construction didn't help, either. But I finished about 24-28 sketches and I'm very happy with the set of them. I don't go into detail with embellies most of the time. I'm usually working on just getting the bare bones of a layout sketched out. I added more notes on how to deal with the bare sketch, so I can better remember the general plan I had when i sketched something.

I didn't really think I was going to fill my sketch book, but I can see the last few pages already. I tend to create sets of sketches for specific projects or sets of pages for specific events. I don't create a sketch for a random page and save it for later. I'm too goal oriented and I don't have a goal of 'stash of sketches' I have goals of finish the pages for this event, or that project. The 7 Gypsies spinner is such a huge project that I'm actually getting close to creating sketches for use later.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lovely, But Not Me

I got a Basic Gray calendar kit for 2009. It's a pre printed calendar, with planned out pages for you to create using provided punch outs, rub-ons, chipboard and so on. They have complete directions and a hard to see set of black and white photos. It's all color and pattern coordinated and the only thing I must add is my own 4x6 photos.

I don't like it much. Many of the embellishments are not ones that I would have gotten otherwise. They also want me to use a black permanent marker and draw in embellishments. On just about every page, there are directions for me to add lines, add mock sewing or add outlines. I do not use that technique in my own scrapping. Ever. Or so extremely rarely that it might as well be never. When you add in paper choices that are not at all my style, I'm looking at having to complete another month with distaste. I'm finding it to be really limiting and annoying.

When I do my calendar pages, I look at what we did the month before and I create this month's page based on what we did last month. I'm looking at a March page that has swoops and swirls and the word 'wind' on it. The photo I want to use is one of the two of us standing in front of Donald's Tusker House at Disney World. The colors in the photo do not match the paper; in fact the paper makes the photo look worse.

Live and learn, die and forget it. I won't get another calendar kit. I'm now debating if I really want to use it up for the rest of the year. I probably will. I'm too cheap to throw it away, even though I got it on sale. In my head, this calendar is a 'wisheye' project. As in I wish I had never started it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Are You an Artist?

I was at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore last weekend, looking at work from the top artisans in the country. I stopped to look at a vase, and spoke with the artist that had created it. As I was struggling to explain the emotions that vase called up, he asked me if I was an artist.

I answered, "I like to think that I am," and while he was gently seeking what media I worked in, I distracted him back to the topic at hand, the vase he had created.

But the truth is no, I'm not an artist. Not really. Not of the caliber that I'd like. What I am is a technician. I can carry out the steps of a process and I can even control the results pretty well. But I am not an artist. I have designed and created objects from the raw materials to the completed item. But ever since I was in junior high school, I've known that my strength is not in design, but in execution.

I'm fine with that. For the things that I do, it's more than enough.