Yesterday, I referred to ye ol’ blog as a patiently waiting home for my stories. I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately, the who, what, where, when, why and how of them, because I’m just finishing up Ali Edwards’ class, Storytelling with Project Life. Ali’s basic philosophy is fill your pockets, create homes for your stories, tell your stories. Simple, right?
But, what about when your stories are hard, like your father died, your parent/child roles are reversing, your niece has reached teenage, dark and grumpy years? I can’t really blame hard times on my Project Life stalling out – I blame that on excess, but I’ll get to that in a second – but I can blame it for my lack of motivation for starting it up again – who wants to slog through those “good times” again? But, surprisingly enough, Joe was really insistent that I resume documenting our lives, and finding homes, in his mind, for our photographs, and in turn, their stories.
So, at the end of last year, I signed up for Ali’s class, and started going back through my two completed albums, and the half started year, to see what worked, what didn’t, what went wrong. This turned out to be the first week of the class, as well, so I already had a bit of a head start. I found some interesting things. First, having a gazillion photographs and trying to use them all was a real stumbling block for me. I look back on some of my digital layouts, where I had full control over the number and size of pockets, and I’m overwhelmed – why did I use so my photos? Would it have been so terrible to just pick the best one? For instance, at my niece’s birthday party a few years ago, I took a series of photos with Danielle and my parents, and used a collage in a 4 x 6 pocket. The photos are pretty tiny, and two of them are just eh photos – why didn’t I just pick the best one? I look at the mini photo of Danielle and my Dad, and wish it were bigger, wish my hard drive hadn’t crashed, and I could just redo it. The one perfect photo is completely diminished the collage. And, to really put an exclamation point on the idea that too many photos is too many, the last full spread I did in my half complete album was our week long beach vacation, which is spread out over four pages! Too much. Step one, simplify my photo process.
Next, I compared the completed digital album to the completed paper album. There were things about both I liked, but the bottom line was I liked the simplicity of Design A of the Becky Higgin’s line of Project Life products, and I liked the physical process of putting things into pockets. However, on the other hand, I liked the look of typed journal cards so much better than my own handwriting. So, if I liked the paper based version better, what was the problem? Stuff, that was the problem – too much stuff, the need to use all of the tools and products I had purchased. And, it was really a pain in the neck to use my Silhouette. We have no room on the desk in the computer room, and the machine lives in its box. When I want to use it, I have to take it out of the box, hook it up, etc. and there really isn’t a very good space for it even when it’s in action. And, what did I really need it for anyway? When I look back at the pages that had Silhouette cut embellishments, that at the time I thought were just brilliant, I don’t even like them. It had all become just too complicated. And, I think the final straw was the Letterpress platform for my Evolution machine. What was I thinking? I was thinking it would be fun – but it so wasn’t – messy, messy, messy, and zero fun, and not such great results. Big fat fail.
And for whatever reason, at that point, I just wasn’t able to walk it back – wasn’t able to trim back the photos, abandon the embellishments and the machinery. I guess Ali gave me permission to do that – put the card in the pocket, tell you story, call it done, and whatever else is icing.
And, that’s what I did.
But . . . everyone has to have some product, right? So, I pretty much put away all of my previous core kits, and in the first few weeks of the year, I tried a hybrid thing, with The Lilypad’s Monthly Pocket kit, and typing my journal cards. I quickly abandoned that — not simple enough, and I was guzzling printer ink, and I bought One Little Bird’s new Project Life Core Kit, Currently , and for the most part, that’s what I’m using. Here and there, I’ve got an old Studio Calico card from my kit club days, and I do like MAMBI stickers, and photo overlays, and I’ve learned to live with my handwriting. Oh, and I buy this teeny die cutting machine from HSN.
Cute, right? And, it’s so much easier than hauling out the Silhouette – and it’s really all that I need – labels, arrows, tags. It sits right next to me on my work space, I put the little dies in a small plastic folder, crank the handle, and done! And, so everything kind of matches, for paper I use journal cards from the Core Kit. There are so many doubles, its so not a waste.
So, here’s where I am – caught up! Well, at least as far as this year is concerned. I am planning on going back and filling in – I suppose, but I’m keeping current, and I think that’s a big thing.
This first month or so, like I said, I was experimenting with a hybrid system, but it was a hassle. And, I know at this point, if it becomes a hassle, I’ll quit. Better to simplify than have nothing.
As you can see, things started to go bad the third week, with the car accident, anniversary of my father’s death, etc. Oh, and look at poor Olive with her hood – she was chasing her ball and ran into the door of the t.v cabinet, cutting herself right under her eye. But, strangely, writing my way through it was a good thing – I think it would be harder to go back and revisit this period rather than just living in the moment, and moving forward.
And by February, my hybrid experiment was over. The above two weeks are the Currently core kit, some stamps, some tags I cut with the itty bitty die cut machine, and a few stickers. Easy peasy.
And, ta da – just like that, I’m current! This last week I used the kit that Ali Edward’s put together for the class – journal cards, chipboard stars, wood veneer labels, some tags and frames.
It’s all very scrappy, and it’s working for me. And, it’s done. I’m not making art, I’m just making a record.
And speaking of records, Ali talks about putting longer stories in Project Life, and she creates 8 x 12 inserts, mostly using her photo/story templates. For me, there’s some journaling, some longer stories that I don’t need other people reading when they’re flipping through my books. So, what I do is put a card behind the photo. The original Project Life core kits came with these tabbed cards, they were 4 x 6, scored so you could fold them in thirds, and tabbed on top. I’ve run out of them, and I can’t seem to find them anywhere, from any product company. So, I’m just cutting tabs with my itty bitty machine, taping them to the top of a 4 x 6 card, and slipping them in behind the photo. You can see on in the upper right corner behind the photo of Joe and I.
And for my next trick – the fuse tool! Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be walking it back, but it was on SALE. I mean a really good SALE. But, when I got it, the sale wasn’t as nearly as good as the bundle that’s on HSN now. If I had any local scrappy friends, I would total give them the one I bought, and buy the bundle, but unfortunately, I have no scrappy friends. The paper is fusible people! How cool is that!
Anyway, I’ll let you know how my fuse experiment goes. I can’t imagine using it very often. Every once in awhile I like to add a flap to card, and I guess I could experiment with some shaker pockets. We’ll see.
Have a great weekend!