You cannot win if you do not play

For a long time I’ve been a lurker online. I read blogs and shook my head, laughing at the funny things other crafters said. But I didn’t comment. I read product reviews and agreed or disagreed with the analysis. But I didn’t drop the reviewer a line about my opinion. I learned about scrapbook and card challenges and toyed with the idea of participating. But I didn’t send in my layouts for consideration.

However, with the start of this blog I decided that had to change. I had to stop lurking and start speaking up. And I admit that’s challenging for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to my husband, Matt, at his computer and told him what I thought of things I had read online. And after patiently (usually) listening to my diatribe, he would often say, “You should be blogging this stuff. Or at the very least you should comment on that person’s post.” At the mention of sharing my thoughts publicly I usually just turned back to my computer to read more of what others had written.

When it comes to the challenges and contests I really just haven’t thought I could compete with all the talent out there in the world. There are so many amazing layouts being posted every single day! But that was just a lame excuse for not having to expose myself to critique—or worse, to ridicule.

So I’ve ended that by starting to throw my hat into the ring every so often. It has been so motivating and much more fun than I expected it to be! I’ve even won a few times. Yay! But even more than the winning, I’m enjoying knowing that others are looking at my art. I just hadn’t realized how much that was missing from my process. I’m accustomed to finishing a layout, showing Matt for his approval, and then putting it in the appropriate album. Sort of a letdown, you know?

Well, last night I took the next step in this journey of making my crafting process more public and social. I submitted my work for consideration for a design team. Gulp.

The assignment was fun because it involved working with sketches, which I really love anyway. I liked the sketches, and I’m proud of my resulting layouts. So I feel like I won even if I’m not chosen for the team. Here are my submissions:

Baptized

Baptized

Sunset cruise

Sunset cruise

Sketchy at best

So I was puttering around the Web this morning when I remembered to go to the PageMaps blog to check whether a winner had been announced for the contest I entered. What a huge rush to see my layout when the page loaded! I was chosen as one of two winners!

Thanks to Becky Fleck for sending out her new book, PageMaps 2 to me. I cannot wait to pore over it and then get my scrap on!

PageMaps 2

The prize!

Scrapbook PageMaps 2 sketch contest

I love, love, love to scrapbook using sketches. I visit sketch sites online for ideas. I sketch my own ideas and follow them. And I use every nice book of sketches that I can get my hands on.

So, of course, I love Becky Fleck’s PageMaps sketches. She puts out new sketches on pagemaps.com at the first of each month, and she also publishes books of her work. I purchased her first book when it came out a few years ago, and I love it! Now her second book is out, and she’s holding a layout contest with her new book as the prize. Just try to keep me from playing along with that!

Here is the sketch:

PageMaps contest sketch

PageMaps contest sketch

And here is my layout based on it:

First days

First days

I really enjoyed using this sketch, and even if I don’t win the prize I’m thrilled to have completed another layout about my childhood to add to my album.

I’m a new Scrapbook Trends subscriber

I recently became a fan of Scrapbook Trends magazine’s FaceBook page, and I entered a contest they held called “I’m Grateful.” They posted three layouts about gratitude from their November issue and asked fans to contribute layouts inspired by one of them.

Although my layout isn’t about gratitude, I was inspired by the structure of the “So very thankful” page, which had photos over a collage of tickets. So I used a photo of the Halloween banner I had up on our mantel and wove a photo mat out of strips of the same paper I had used to make the banner. I was quite happy with the result … and I won the contest! I am sooo excited. They just announced today that my layout was the winner. And the prize is a year’s subscription to their magazine! I can tell you I’m a very happy scrapper tonight.

Quoth the raven ... Nevermore

Quoth the raven ... Nevermore

Stash strategy

I have realized that most of the time when I buy new scrapbook supplies I hold on to them for a long while until it feels like the “right time” to use them. I bring them home from the store and stare at them for a while, absorbing their colors and design and envisioning using them to create a glorious layout … someday. Someday, not today. And usually not next week or next month, either.

After I let them sit out in my craft room for a time and inspire me to dream of future artistic achievements, I dutifully file them away in their proper place in my organization system. Then I turn to my stash and pull out some older (and often less expensive) paper to use on my next layout.

What am I doing? It’s as if these pieces of paper need to mature like a bottle of young wine! Why can’t I just enjoy using these brand new supplies while they’re still brand new?

I’ve been thinking about the psychology of this for a little while, and what I’ve decided is that for me it’s about perceived value. I place a higher value on new supplies because they’ve just come out so they are “on trend” and being oohed and ahhed in online discussions.  So, because they seem more valuable to me when they’re new, I feel more intimidated by using them.

Now, there are two situations in which I will pull out my newer, cooler supplies to use earlier than my usual strategy dictates. 1. When I want to enter an online contest. 2. When I plan to scrap a photo that is more special than the everyday snapshot (vintage photos, for instance). I guess the value of those scenarios is in balance with my perceived value of the supplies. Kind of crazy, right?

Or are you just like me in this regard? Do you hold on to the cool stuff, thinking that your everyday photos don’t deserve them? Do you wait for the paper you purchased in 2009 to “mature” a bit so that when you pull it out in 2010 it doesn’t feel so special and intimidating any more? I happen to think that most scrapbookers hoard product in one way or another. When do you use your supplies—right away or down the road? I would love to have you leave a comment about your stash strategy!

This is a layout I did recently where I tried to buck my own strategy. I bought these Basic Grey papers and used them on a layout right out of the Archiver’s bag. And it felt really good. So I’m raising my glass to a little less maturity in my scrap stash!

So thankful

So thankful