Saturday, March 9, 2013

Well, hello all! It's been a while, I know - what a good thing I ditched the page-a-week goal for this year. Still, I haven't been entirely creatively stagnant; all the creative energy so far this year has been channeled into sewing instead. And it's been nice, actually, to sit back and enjoy other people's work for a bit.

But today I have something of my own to share. Yesterday I went along to my first ever scrapbooking class. Can I make a small confession? Classes have never been high on my list of priorities. I think I can trace that back to my Year 7 Art teacher (who, as brilliant as she was personally, nearly turned me off art for life). Art classes for the year consisted of a sketchpad, a pencil and a ruler, with her dictating instructions like, "Rule a 4cm horizontal line, beginning 2cm from the left margin and 12cm up from the lower edge." At the end of the year we all had identical A3 pictures, and a mutual loathing for art classes. Happily, a new teacher was employed by Year 9 who was AMAZING. The power of a teacher, hey?!

But it left me with a lasting aversion to classes, at least those in which everyone ends up with the same piece. But this weekend was a chance to have a day creating along with Mel and Kylie from Kaisercraft, so was guaranteed to be fun. Plus the instructor was a mixed media artist, Anna Dabrowska from Poland, so I figured she'd probably allow a bit of leeway, creatively speaking.

It was fantastic! VERY different to my usual style - in fact, it couldn't have been more different - but her approach or attitude was really similar. She advocated no planning, letting it all evolve naturally / organically, and just enjoying the creative process. That's how I work most comfortably too, even though I prefer a quite graphic, minimalist style.

Here's the end result:

I had a ball! And I really loved that everyone's pages, while obviously in the same style, looked completely different.

Since I really don't use a lot of different techniques in my work (I've always been more drawn to design elements than technical ones), it was great to experiment a little. And it was really helpful to learn how to put a heavily embellished page together successfully.

Will I continue in this style? The odd piece here and there, perhaps. But not all the time - I couldn't afford it for one thing! (At a very conservative estimate, there's got to be well over $60 worth of product on that page - yikes!) For me I think it's a bit like a lavish dinner out - wonderful to have occasionally, but too much for every day. As a general rule I'm always happiest with simplicity -  in every area of life, actually!

But isn't that just the best thing about scrapbooking? It really does allow for and accommodate every taste and leaning, from the sparest minimalism to the most sumptuous steampunk. And so it should - it's all about your own personal memories, after all, whatever they may be.

Have you turned your hand to anything new lately? What direction is your creativity taking at the moment?

Have a wonderful week :)

PS: If you're interested, you can see here how I last scrapped this photo - perfect example of contrasting styles!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy New Year!

...we're still in January, so I guess we can still say that. Maybe "happy Australia Day" is closer to the mark...

I've been thinking a lot about goal and resolutions for this year, and on reflection, I think last's year's system suits me perfectly. The One Little Word, rather than an elevated, exhaustive list of aspirations, kept me focused and motivated all year. Much more satisfactory than abandoning the whole thing by March!

I know it's supposed to be a different word each year, but honestly "SEE" is still inspiring me. I really want to continue to develop an artist's eye for life and the world around me, and I feel like I'm only just beginning to do that. So, "SEE" it is!

This year's going to be be a pretty busy one, so I'm actually not going to set myself any scrapbooking goals. I think, as much as I loved working at Kaisercraft head office last year, rather than the occasional work from home, I really didn't anticipate how much it would affect my own scrapping time. Sadly, often the last thing I felt like doing when I got home was scrapping! So given everything else that's going on, I plan to free myself from all expectations - keep it as fun as possible. Maybe just enjoy visiting other people's blogs for a while.

Plus, you may remember a post I did last year about the book "To Die For" on the global fashion industry, and how very personally it resonated with me. This year, I've decided to take the plunge ("SEE actively, if you like!) and forgo buying clothes - unless they're proven to be from certified ethical companies. Instead, I'm going to sew, refashion or buy preloved. (Bar underwear and shoes, as I mentioned. There is a point...) Basically, I want to see if it's doable! So that cuts into free scrap time too...
(For anyone interested in the journey, I've started up another blog, Wasn't sure how interested scrapbookers would be, so I'm keeping the two things separate!)

All that being said, I do have a couple of layouts to post. Here's One and Two for the year:

Gotta love school Book Weeks! Seeing them on screen though, I'm not loving the drab colours so much. Might be time for another cull, methinks.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A New Find

I've made a discovery. (I think I'm a year behind the rest of the world, but it's a discovery nonetheless.) It's a children's book called - enchantingly - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, and there are no words for how wonderful this book is. I came across a quote from it on Goodreads - my favourite online quotes bank - and was so hooked I ordered it immediately. (  Highly recommended :) ) As a booklover I'm always on the lookout for good books for my kids, and I wholeheartedly agree with C.S. Lewis' view that "a children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." I also like his rule to "never give a child a book to read that you wouldn't read yourself. (Was that C.S. Lewis? Might have been George Bernard Shaw.) One of the happiest days of my life was the day I discovered that my favourite writer as a child, Tove Jansson, also wrote adult fiction.

This is the sort of book you want to devour in one sitting, and annoy the people around you by making them listen to bits you read out. Which I'm about to do to you... This is one of my favourites:

"When you are born...your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once in a while you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again."

Glorious. And it got me thinking about my youngest boy. One of the things I love most about him - and, let's face it, find most terrifying as his mother - is how utterly fearless he is. I'd been about to do a layout for his album on our recent holiday, and this musing led to a completely different direction for the page. Here 'tis:

I remembered the e. e. cummings quote halfway through and decided it suited. I'd already stuck the little sun badge on, which echoed the quote's first line nicely. I love happy accidents like that.

I've managed to finish off a couple of other layouts too, so today's post takes us up to 35 for the year. I'm happy with that, even if it isn't the 52 I aimed for. Maybe next year....

Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year :)

PS: I've no idea why those first two layouts uploaded sideways. The computer is obviously feeling festive and whimsical  :/

PPS: Just checked. George Bernard Shaw  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting Reflective (and a wee bit heavy...)

                   "I am changing,
                    Less and less asleep,
                    Made of different stuff than when I began."

These Brooke Fraser lyrics have been echoing in my head lately. I think I've been undergoing a quiet revolution of sorts. It's not wholly recent; it's been simmering for several years now. But it's definitely starting to gather momentum.

I'm talking about living sustainably. The more I read about the gap between the first and third worlds, and the horrendous cost that a first world lifestyle has on the rest of the planet and humanity, the more troubled I've become by the way I live. Now, I know I'm not personally dumping toxic waste or cheating African workers, but I've come to realise that our culture is so engineered to function at the expense of the developing world that it's almost impossible not to enable that exploitation. There are alternatives though, and those are what I've been trying to track down and start implementing.

Like I said, this has been a gradually developing thing. But every so often there's been a big, jolting discovery. The most recent was coming across Lucy Siegel's book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? This was a real (and extremely uncomfortable) eye-opener. It covered the environmental, humanitarian and social price of the global fashion industry, which is absolutely horrifying. Every time I've been shopping since, I've started myself questions like "Who made this? Under what conditions? What am I actually supporting if I buy this?" (It's very inconvenient...) BUT, since the author loves clothes as much as the next woman, it also offered plenty of wonderful alternatives. And there are amazing people out there, creating clothes that are superior in every possible way to the cheap, looks-worn-out-after-three-washes rubbish that we buy (most of the time) simply because it's there and it's a "bargain".

Now this blog was only ever going to be scrapbooking-based, but I've got a vaguely formed resolution for the new year (and beyond, if it works). I thought I'd see how I'd go with making sure that every clothing purchase was as ethical a choice as I could make it. This can include new stuff from ethical designers, buying secondhand, upcycling old stuff, or DIY. I think I'll give myself some leeway on shoes, and I unapologetically draw the line at any kind of secondhand underwear ("If that is the price of the earth's survival, then I fear the earth shall have to die." Ben Elton). But I think it's doable. I might post some pictures of anything that I'm particularly happy with along the way. I have made a start with these two - the first was an old A-line skirt, and the second was another little skirt - sweet, but far too short (for me at least) to wear and still be unselfconsiously carefree:

Back to scrapbooking! I did up this page in my art/reflective/visual journal (I never know what to call it...) as a reminder. Think it's Number Thirty-One for the year.

Not sure how clearly it shows up, but those are third world workers under a layer of organza. Oh, must make disclaimer: just noticed that one of those tops is by Gorman, which has a stellar reputation for ethical manufacturing. Oops..

And here's Number Thirty-Two.

I think I'm on a bit of a page roll at the moment. It did cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, I could still reach the 52 layouts for the year, but then it occurred to me that there might be one or two other things happening during December.... We'll see!

Have a wonderful - and festive - week :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012


...or, Silencing the Inner Critic.

I'm starting off a little bit differently this time; here's the first ever layout my youngest son did, just recently.

It was so fun watching him. On reflection, he approached the page the same way his brother and sister did when they had a go: he knew exactly what he wanted to do (once I'd talked him down to four photos, rather than fourteen..."I'll make them fit!"). He had a ball too, and was suitably proud of his work. (My favourite bit? The little thumbprint people he did in the bottom corner. Bless!)

It got me thinking about the way kids approach art; happily, confidently, uninhibitedly. So different to us, most of the time! Picasso's words are so true: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Mike had no hesitations about colours, or coordination; he wasn't interested in what the latest trends were or whether anyone else would like what he was doing. He liked it, and that was all that mattered to him.

I was so struck by what I was seeing that I decided to go at it with the same joie de vivre as he did. I've been in a bit of a creativity rut lately, as far as scrapbooking is concerned, anyway. So I decided to play, and use what I liked as I liked. This is a hobby, after all - it's meant to be fun! Any time I felt the inner critic taking hold I walked away and did something else till it passed. So, minus any angst, self-critiquing or yes-but-is-it-good-enough-for-a-post, here are layouts 28, 29 and 30.

Are they the best I've ever done? Probably not. But I enjoyed doing them, and at the end of the day I figure that's the point. Thanks, Mike!

Have a wonderful week :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Well, two weeks on from last post and the two-pages-a-week-catch-up idea isn't quite happening. I do however have two layouts to post (I can see a pattern developing here...) so we are plodding along reasonably well. Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven here:

Still haven't got that pile of new photos developed yet, so these are some early 2009 ones. Got a bit nostalgic, actually!

It's funny, but I think the personality of my kids influences the way I scrap their pages. I've always been fairly conscious of not letting my 'voice' take over what is, at the end of the day, a record for them of their early lives, but I am noticing that Beth layouts tend to be sweet and harmonious without being fussy, Joel's are quite geometric and logically ordered, and Mike's are energetic and playful. Family pages are a bit of a mix of all three. These ones of Mike certainly fit that pattern, anyway.

Have a wonderful week (or two...) :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Oh me of little faith! When I wrote last week that I thought I'd try doing two pages a week till I caught up again, most of my brain was standing by with one eyebrow raised saying, "oh, yes?" And yet here we are, a week later, with two layouts to post. Better yet, they're of photos that have been sitting on the desk for nearly a year, waiting for inspiration to strike. Decided I'd just have to do without inspiration, picked a colour, pulled out some stuff I liked and started sticking it down. Here's Twenty-Four:

 I really love taking a photo and finding something a bit deeper to say about the subject. This was going to be a page about the way Mike spent literally hours on that beach holiday just running up and down the beach. But I think that's why it was so hard to put together for so long; it was a funny memory of the holiday for us, but got less significant as time went on. The photo began to mean something else to me - the sheer energy which which Mike throws himself into everything he does - but I was still trying to scrap the old idea. Once I let go of that, it was much easier.

Here's Twenty-Five:

Funnily enough, this was another example of holding onto an idea that wasn't working....Hello, my name is Danielle, and I can't scrap purple. Oh I tried, I really did. But the same layout with purple bits just made me want to chuck it all in and take up macrame or something instead. Why purple? Because of Beth's top in the photo. But here's the problem - I wasn't actually looking at the photo itself. I was seeing what I expected to see: purple top, beige fence, blonde hair. But once I had a good look at it, I noticed the some of the fence actually had a dull teal tone to it, which matched Beth's eyes. Problem solved! I jettisoned the purple stuff (why do I even have a purple section??) and gleefully pulled out all the teal and beigey-grey bits I could find. Much happier. Ooh - there's a neat little link into the One Little Word, come to think of it...

Oh dear. Just noticed my last post was closer to two weeks ago. So instead of catching up slowly, I guess I'm actually just holding steady. Never mind - at least it's not going backwards.

Have a wonderful week :)