By Michele Skinner
Go to any scrap booking message board, scrapbook store, or gathering of scrappers and you will hear some common laments: “How on earth do I get out of my rut?” “What can I do to scrap faster?” “I’m tapped! How do I jump-start my creativity?” If you have ever wondered even one of those, know you are not alone! And take heart - there are a few things you can do to help yourself get back in the groove:
Look beyond scrapping
The easiest thing to try first to get back in the scrapping game is to scraplift. Look on your favorite websites galleries. Go through your list of favorite layouts. Flip through scrapbook magazines. When you find a layout that catches your eye, use it as a springboard for your next page. You can either do a total scrap lift, in which you use exact placement, exact or similar papers and embellishments, exact everything, or you can do a modified lift. Maybe there is something about another scrapper's layout that catches your eye but you don't want to use the entire look. That’s perfectly fine. Whatever gives you a boost, baby! Scraplifting is an easy way to complete a layout that you know you’ll love without having to conceptualize and create the entire page from scratch.
Look at my layout entitled “Perfection.” This is a scraplift of Ali Edwards layout “Joy” in the Creating Keepsakes Kids idea book (page 84). I loved Ali’s use of horizontal lines and strip journaling. When I was looking through some older photos that needed to be scrapped, I came across a collection of pictures from our family trip to the orchard last fall. The number and orientation (horizontal and vertical) of photos I had from that day lent themselves to Ali’s layout. So instead of pushing the photos back into the envelope like I’d been doing for six months, I chose to lift Ali’s layout. And you know what? I love how it turned out! I never would have thought of that layout on my own, but it fit the photos and the subject perfectly.
One caveat about scraplifting: if you are a die-hard submitter to publications or web site galleries, you need to make sure you give credit where credit is due. Never try to pass of a blatant lift as your own. And I would probably recommend against submitting a lifted layout to publications. That’s just not very neighborly.
The second thing you can do to get yourself going is to simplify the process. The majority of scrappers are also big time hoarders. We buy every new tidbit that comes onto the market, often without any layout or project in mind. So the scrap area becomes overflowing with tags and metals and fibers and papers and all sorts of ephemera imaginable. But having all that stuff can overwhelm when the time comes to sit down and scrap. So a logical option to get yourself scrapping some fast and easy pages is to simplify. Limit yourself to one or two colors of cardstock. Go with a monochromatic color palette. Pick two or three things you want to use and then don’t look at any other item. A friend of mine once challenged herself to do a layout in fifteen minutes. She took a single photo, a single 8x5 x 11 sheet of cardstock, one patterned paper, and one or two small coordinating embellishments, and her computer (for title/journaling). Then she set her timer for 15 minutes and made up her mind to create a layout in that amount of time. Her result was so satisfying and beautifully simple that she went on to create eight layouts in two hours!
When I have hit my scrapping wall I pare down to the bare essentials of a page: color, photo, and journaling. And oftentimes I choose a photo of something completely off-topic (to be quite frank, I adore my son with all my heart, but there are times I get tired of scrapping only about him!) so that my outlook and ideas are fresh. For instance, the layout entitled “Friends” was done in less than ten minutes but it has a classic, elegant look (even though the journaling is anything but!). I found an old photo from college of me and one of my best friends. I then dug through a folder on my computer that contains favorite quotes, poems, and other various inspirational thoughts I’ve collected. The poem I chose to use is a tongue-in-cheek look at friendship and it fit the photo and my relationship with Erin like a glove. And celery green and eggplant is one of my favorite color combinations, so I grabbed those two colors of cardstock. Voila. Instant layout.
To go along with the idea of simplifying to get you scrapping again, I must also mention the importance of being organized. You can’t feel free to scrap and be creative if you spend half your time searching through stacks and bags and boxes. Devise a simple system of organization that works best for you and your method. Do you think best in terms of color and color families? Group all your supplies of the same color together one paper stack of shades of orange cardstock, one paper stack of patterned paper that is predominately orange, one box or jar filled with all your shades of orange embellishments and markers, etc. Do you work best with like things categorized together? Keep a binder for all your letter stickers. Keep a separate binder of all your accent stickers. Keep folders of patterned papers, separated by color or manufacturer or theme. Keep a box just for tags. You get the picture. Find what system works best for you and then take a day or four to implement it. Keeping yourself organized will take much of the stress and frustration out of scrapping.
The final thought for kicking your scrapping rut out the window is to look out that window and see the world beyond scrapping. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and keeping a notebook just for those little things that hit you while you are away from your scrap table can be a great resource when you are looking for some ideas. Did you just drive by a stunning garden filled with raspberry pink tulips and lavender hyacinths? Jot down the color combination. Did you see a great striped shirt in the latest J. Crew catalog? Cut out the picture. Love the layout of an ad or article in a magazine? Add it to the book. Anything anywhere that speaks to you and inspires you can translate into a gorgeous scrapbook page. Just look at the world through scrap-colored glasses!
The next time you feel like you just don’t have another page in you, or you just can’t seem to scrap a page in less than three days, try one of the tips in this article. See if you can’t get your own creative juices flowing while you are putting together a page using one of the previous suggestions. Sometimes the actual process of doing is all you need to get your own creativity flowing again!