Using non-traditional colors in a Christmas layout

Color plays such an important part in our layouts. It gives our viewer a quick insight into its theme. It sets the mood for the story we want to tell. It brings all the elements together into a cohesive whole. It highlights the portions of the photos that are most important to us.

How do you choose colors for your layouts?

  • Do you pick a color from the main photo and build from there?
  • Do you choose colors that are traditional to the theme you’re covering (as in pink for a baby girl page)?
  • Do you first choose papers with colors that you want to work with and then select photos to go with them?

I generally start with colors from my photos rather than those that are traditional to the event/season. For instance, in my Christmas layout below I could have chosen red or green as my base color. But I decided that the strongest colors from these 1990 photos were the hot pink in my mother’s skirt and the gold of our family room walls. I felt that these colors should not be ignored, lest they distract from the final look and feel by clashing with a traditional Christmas color scheme. Lucky for me, I had a few sheets of Christmas-themed paper form KI Memories that included hot pink and gold! How great is it when that happens?

The result is a layout that has what I would call a “groovy traditional” feel. In other words, it still looks like a Christmas layout, but the hot pink, gold, brown, green and green-blue color scheme shakes things up a bit. So the layout stays true to the photos.

Jim's Christmas visit in 1990

My college best friend, Jim, visited my family for Christmas 1990

Try scrapping some of your seasonal photos using colors that are not the norm. It can give your designs the freshness of new-fallen snow. :-)

Vintage Christmas layout

Ho Ho Ho layout

A vintage Christmas layout of my dear dad in Santa garb in 1976

Vintage photos are such a joy to scrapbook. They evoke strong memories and give us an opportunity to tell stories that might otherwise be lost in time. They hold the key to who we were and who we become. They preserve forever the favorite fashions and activities of days gone by.

I used to be a bit afraid of doing layouts with my vintage photos. Of course I scan them in and save the originals, so there wasn’t fear of damaging precious photos. But I was concerned about doing them justice. They seemed more important to “do well” than the everyday photos of our lives right now. But then I gave it a try and scrapped a vintage photo from my husband’s family (I know, I took the safe route by trying it with a memory not as close to my heart). But I loved working with the combination of old photos and new products. So I tried some more. I now find myself turning to older photos quite often when I have time to scrap. It really makes me happy to have completed another vintage layout (about my husband’s family or my own).

So this post is meant to be a nudge to those of you who have bins, boxes and albums full of old family photos that you’re nervous to start scrapping. Just give it a try. Pick one photo or set of photos of an event from your past that was fun but not a pivotal, life-changing moment. Keep it light. Scan the originals and either color correct them before printing or don’t. I personally like to get rid of scratches and pump up the color a bit, but I know other scrapbookers who prefer to leave them aged looking. I think any way you use a vintage photo looks great!

And my advice is don’t feel that you have to use only products that look vintage-y or heritage-y. Use products that are bright and fun and relevant to your story and that you love.

In case it’s too difficult to read the journaling on my layout above, here it is:

This photo is so precious to me. As was our custom, we were in Beaver Falls visiting Daddy’s side of the family on the day after Christmas. We were at Aunt Doo Doo and Uncle Ron Schollaert’s house, and everyone was probably there: the Duffys, Aunt Rose Weber, the DeAngelises and many more.

I clearly remember that pine cone wreath and trio of singing nuns. I can even remember wearing that plaid shirt, corduroy pants and scratchy wool sweater.

Someone had brought the Santa costume, and Daddy agreed to put it on to humor us. Thank goodness someone also snapped this Polaroid photo so we can always remember our Santa Daddy.

Oh Christmas card, oh Christmas card!

I remember reading once that uber-organized crafter, Becky Higgins, designs and creates her Christmas cards in July. Then in December she just adds the family photo and they’re done. Wow. I would love to be able to get my cards ready that far in advance, but honestly I just can’t get into it in July. But every summer since reading that idea I think to myself, “I should design this year’s Christmas card now so I’m ahead of the game.” But who am I kidding?

I’m pretty slow at crafting, so when I announced last weekend that it was time to start my Christmas card-making project, Matt moaned. He’s been through this with me too many times to look forward to it! He suggested, “Can’t you just buy cards to send, like normal people do?” To which I proudly replied, “I’m not normal. I’m a crafter!” And I immediately began tearing my hair out over my design.

The right Christmas card design is not easy to conjure. In my opinion it should include the following characteristics, if at all possible (which is why it’s such a tall order for a scrapper who seldom makes cards, like me):

  1. It should use a good cross section of your many Christmas scrap supplies (so you feel justified in buying them all!).
  2. It should be relatively flat so that it’s easy to mail and doesn’t require extra postage.
  3. It should sparkle like the season.
  4. It should come across as heartfelt and cozy.
  5. It should be complicated enough to impress your receivers without being so complicated that replicating it in numbers is painful.
  6. It should make you feel proud to sign it.

So with my list of prerequisites in mind, here is this year’s effort. I went for a vintage/shabby look, combining the subtle distressing in the design of the patterned paper and the old-fashioned Santa image. The supplies I used include glitter patterned paper from the Oh Christmas Tree collection by My Mind’s Eye, stamps from the Classic Holiday set by Inkadinkado and a Martha Stewart edge punch.

Our 2010 Christmas card

Our 2010 Christmas card

Two tips for Silhouette users

I don’t tell people what I want for Christmas. It’s just not my thing…well, not since I was little and would spend hours spread out on the living room floor with the JC Penney catalog in front of me, carefully noting the page numbers and details about the items I hoped Santa would bring. It didn’t take me many years to realize, though, that I much prefer to be genuinely surprised when I open my gifts. I love the anticipation. I love to slowly, painstakingly unwrap the item that my loved one brainstormed, purchased or made and wrapped. It all takes thought, and I really appreciate that thought and love the feeling of it.

So, because I don’t create wish lists for my peeps, I don’t believe I can expect them to know the deepest desires of my heart (materially speaking). I mean, how could they? All I expect is that they will give me something that they believe I’ll like based on what they know of me. Is it so far fetched to believe that sometimes our deepest desires might intersect with what our family knows about us? Do you believe? I still believe.

In 2008 Matt was my Scrap Santa! I have one of the original QuicKutz Silhouette machines because my loving husband figured me out. I remember being so surprised when I opened that package that I started to cry. How in the world did he know how much I had been longing for one?

Well, I love my Silhouette…most of the time. But there are definitely ways that my experience in using it could be improved. I mean, how many of you Silhouette users who upgraded to the new Studio software really like the improvements to the interface but find that it crashes about every other time you use it? And every time I buy a new design or two using my subscription I have to go back in and re-download it. Oh well, those are just technical snafus; I still love using the machine and am amazed at what I can make with it.

So, I recently came across a few ideas for making your Silhouette crafting even better, and I think it’s only fair to pass them along to you, gentle reader:

  • Cardstock that is a bit “creamier” in texture is said to cut better. In fact, I’ve heard from several sources that American Crafts cardstock is awesome to cut with the Silhouette.
  • Once you’ve chosen your design and sized it the way you want it, mirror horizontally so that it is in reverse. Then flip your paper over so that it’s face down when you put it on your carrier sheet. This way once you’ve cut the design you can just apply your adhesive to the die cuts while they’re still on the sticky mat. Then just lift once and adhere to your page.

I hope these few tips are useful to your scrapping life. Every little tip helps, right?

Making a Christmas banner: Fa la la la la!

I really like to follow scrapbook trends. But I don’t always try each one because either it doesn’t fit my style or I don’t want to buy the needed supplies just to try it. But banners are a craze that I have been able to get into.

There are so many times when a banner is the perfect way to add a celebratory feel to the occasion or scrapbook page. And there are a million ways to make your banner unique.

I just completed a Christmas banner this weekend to grace our fireplace mantel. I’m including details about how I made this in case you’d like to make a banner for your house but don’t want to take time figuring out the measurements, etc. First is the finished banner:

Fa la la la la Christmas banner

The finished product: My Christmas banner

And here’s how it came together:

  • Choose two 12×12 sheets of two patterned papers (the Christmas trees are by The Paper Studio, and the distressed polka dots are by My Mind’s Eye).
  • Pull two colors of 8.5×11 cardstock for the letters.
  • Select two coordinating colors of ribbon.
  • Grab your dry adhesive as well as your hot glue gun.
  • Die cut the individual flags of the banner using the two largest dies in the Spellbinders Labels 8 set.
I cut out the flags of the banner using the two largest dies in the Spellbinders Labels 8 set and my Cuttlebug.

I cut out the flags of the banner using the two largest dies in the Spellbinders Labels 8 set and my Cuttlebug.

  • Cut out the letters to spell your chosen message. I set up my words in my Silhouette software and cut the pale blue for the letter and the green for the offset. I used the Arial Rounded font.
I cut out the letters for my version using my Silhouette

I cut out the letters for my version using my Silhouette.

  • Assemble the two layers of the lettering.
  • Assemble the two layers of each flag.
  • Center and adhere the appropriate letter to each flag to spell your word.
  • Use a hole punch in both corners of each flag, lining up subsequent flags to the first for consistent placement.
  • Lay out the banner as you want it to hang (in the correct order) on your work table.
  • Plug in your glue gun to start it heating up.
  • Cut ribbon into 12-inch lengths for each hole. I used 11-inch lengths and think it would have been easier to tie into bows with a little more. I also alternated the two colors so that every other tie was the other color. Tie each flag to the next one.
  • String a length of ribbon through the first and last holes to create hangers. Because I had already decided that I would be adding a rosette to the ties (which would cover my adhesive), I used a hot glue gun to attach the two ends of the ribbon to form a loop.
  • Create two rosettes, one for each end’s tie. For each:
    • Cut a 1.25×11-inch piece of cardstock and accordion fold it.
    • Glue one end of one strip to its other end to form a loop.
    • Punch a 1.5-inch circle out of a spare bit of cardstock and place it on your worktable. Put a good dose of hot glue all over the circle and immediately but gently “close” the accordion onto the hot glue. Hold your rosette in place until the glue dries.
    • Die cut or punch coordinating toppers for your rosette and use the hot glue to adhere them.
  • Adhere the rosettes to the ties of the banner. For each, punch another 1.5-inch circle out of cardstock. Slather it with hot glue, then quickly place it behind the spot on the tie where you attached the two ends earlier. Place the finished rosette right above the sticky circle and create a sandwich around the ribbon.
Create a rosette with leftover supplies to finish off the ends of the banner.

Create a rosette with leftover supplies to finish off the ends of the banner.

  • Hang your artwork for all to see!

If you played along and created a banner following these steps (even if loosely) please let me know in the comments. I would love to see what you made. And if my directions leave you with questions, post those in comments as well. I’ll try to clear things up for you.