I'm sitting here enjoying this COLD, rainy, very dreary weather we are having because it means I have an excuse (like I really need one) to sit in my house and scrap to my heart's content! Now, I know that I COULD be doing things like washing clothes, scrubbing floors, cleaning bathtubs and toilets, but I am working on the Flylady system which means that for every 15 minutes of concentrated cleaning, I get 45 minutes of scrapbooking. It's a win/win situation. My house stays clean and I get lots and lots of time to play. My flylady habits will be a post for another day, but seriously, go check out her site at http://www.flylady.org/. She's made me a believer!
So, one of the things I absolutely love about scrapbooking is there are so many different techniques you can use to create a layout. It's never the same thing, never repetitive (unless you want it to be). The best part is that most of the techniques are so simple to do and yet look fantastic - ideal for someone like me who is majorly artistically challenged! So, I have included a picture of my Love that perfect Smile layout that showcases a few of my favorite techniques (and products) that I am using right now.
One of the things I did was make all of the pictures but one black and white. I've found that having several black and white and one color photo or several color and one black and white photo really provide an eye-catching contrast. This technique is super easy, and you don't need a camera that will shoot in black & white mode. I have been using Picasa, a free download from Google, which I absolutely love. It's simple to use, it's free (did I mention that?), and it has a great effects selection, including black and white, sepia, film grain, and focal black and white (a current fave that gives you just a splash of color in an otherwise black and white photo). There is other photo-editing software out there so find the one that works for you.
Another technique I love is using different mediums for the title, which makes it more visually interesting and less like the "traditional" scrapbooks where all the letters are uniform and everything is evenly spaced out. I've used a combination of premade chipboard letters, two small word stickers and letters that I cut out using my cutting machine. Truly, though, there is no limit to the ways you can mix and match to create titles. I've seen combinations of: chipboard, hand cut construction paper or cardstock, stamped, handwritten, labelmaker, scrabble tiles, newspaper or magazine clippings, old cards, paint, felt, stitching. It all looks great!
And what do you think of my "o" in Love? I used a lollipop flower in place of the "o" which is so simple to make! All you have to do is cut out a few circles, crumble each cut up piece of paper and then straighten it out (this keeps the flower from being completely flat) and add a brad in the middle to hold it all together. I also run a distress ink pad around the edges of my circle pieces of paper because it makes the flower feel more finished to me. But I've also seen people sand the edges of the paper, use stickles or paint around the edges, and even doodle a line with a pen or marker around the edges. All look really good!
For simple shapes, I really love using a shape punch. Punches are great because you can easily and quickly make certain shapes using different papers. They are perfect for those leftover scraps that you might otherwise throw away. They are moderately priced, normally ranging from $8 to $15 per punch, but many scrapbook or art supply stores that carry them also frequently offer coupons for 25% to 50% off, which makes them very affordable especially since you can use them over and over again. On my layout, I used the Fiskars small heart squeeze punch - a great little tool that lets you see exactly where you are punching.
I put pop dots under my hearts and bent the edges of each heart up to provide more dimension. Pop dots are great because you can stack them on top of each other and create as much of a 3-d feel as you like to your layout. Next, I used one of my new favorite products, Smooch ink, to paint the paper hearts. Smooch ink is incredibly easy to use. It comes in a little bottle that looks (and goes on) much like nail polish. The only exception is that instead of a soft brush, the tip is harder and less flexible, almost like a stylus, which allows you to make thin, precise lines if you like - great for outlining! The ink dries extremely quickly, and I usually apply a second coat to really make it bold and shiny. I love shiny things!!!
A final technique that I included was adding fiber to my layout. Just like fiber is good for your body, fiber is definitely good for your layout! In this case, I used a rough-textured floss that I found at my local scrapbook store for 29 cents a yard (can't beat that!). I think it's a simple addition, it can be used in as many ways as you can imagine, and it really makes the layout stand out.
So there you go - some (but not all) of my current favorite techniques. What are yours? I would love to know what your favorites are - I'm always searching for new ideas!