International Scrapbook Day: Thoughts on Mixed Media and Instructions for Stamping Titles
Today is International Scrapbook Day, and I am playing along with the Scrap Gals' iNSD adventures. Welcome to my blog!
I have a confession: until I made my layout for iNSD, I hadn't scrapbooked for almost a month! I somehow caught a quilting fever and instead of scrapbooking I used my crafty time to make three baby quilts, finish one quilt for myself, and make some more half-square triangles for my half-square triangle quilt which I am actually perhaps a little bit afraid to finally put together (even though I now have almost 300 4.5" half-square triangles. It's time!).
Whenever I take a little break from scrapbooking, it almost feels like I've never scrapbooked before, so to get myself back in the groove I use one of my tried-and-true techniques. And one of my favorite things to do is a mixed-media title. "Mixed media" is a term I also use when I'm quilting; in fabric it means I like making quilts with a mix of cotton, flannel, maybe a bit of lawn and some minky and perhaps some satin. In scrapbooking it means not just using one type of alphabet- or word-based product for my title (only alphabet stickers for example), but mixing it up (alphabet stickers and a printed die cut word).
Here's the layout I made, to show you what I mean:
In the layout, I used an alphabet stamp, some alphabet stickers, and a word I cut with my Silhouette machine. I really like taking this sort of approach to my title, partly because it means I get to use a variety of my supplies. But I also like it for the way it allows me to add contrast in color, font, and size on my layout.
It's sort of a learned skill to mix different letterforms, so here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when you're making a mixed-media title:
1. Use size to create emphasis. I tend to think of part of my title as "little words"—the, of, and, for example. Sometimes the little part is a sort of introduction to something else I want to emphasize. Try to use a smaller media for these "little words," whatever form they take, and a larger media for the words you want to really draw attention to. In my layout, for example, I almost used a different alphabet stamp for the "thoughts on being an" phrase, but it was nearly the same size as the alphabet stickers I used for the word "Allman." I went with the smaller font to allow "Allman" to stand out. And then I went ahead and made "girl" pretty darn big.
2.Mix type styles with an eye for contrast. But not too much contrast! Again...you learn as you do this more often. Think about both the letter shape and its mood. Two different sans serif fonts might not have enough difference for the contrast to be noticeable. A serif and a sans serif is almost always a good mix. A smooth script and a rougher brush script would probably feel like just a bit too much. In my layout, I think the mood of the alphabet stamp and the stickers is pretty similar; mostly a basic sans serif but with a swirly flair.
3. Choose one flamboyant product, and keep everything else more simple. This helps limit visual confusion and gives your title a cohesive feel. The script font I used for "girl" in my title (it's called Cheddar Jack and I use it quite a bit) is great for one big word, but much more and it might feel too cluttered. (If you want to set everything in a script font, use the same one and then vary things by size.)
4. Repeat the colors you mix. You'll notice that my title has purple, pink, and aqua colors (which is one of my current favorite color schemes; that quilt I made for myself uses that scheme), and that the flowers I used in the layout are also purple, pink, and aqua. This not only creates cohesion on the layout, it helps it feel like the colors are used with purpose.
There are a million other tips on mixing letter media, but these four are the ones I always think of when I make a mixed media title. Now, those stamping tips I promised!
I used to be in the habit of buying alphabet stamps but not using them much. Then I decided I needed to use my stuff and that included stamps. Over the past two years or so I've fallen in love with stamping part or all of my title, right on the background of my layout. I've got a method that helps it be both fast and easy to stamp a title:
1. Write the words on a piece of scratch paper first. This way I make sure I get the spelling correct before I start stamping, and it gives me a reference to keep my letters in order. This is especially helpful because quite often I start a word on the right side of the title space and then work backwards...it's easy to make a spelling error when you're stamping backwards. I glance at the handwritten words with each letter I stamp, just to make sure.
A friend gave me this cute notebook and I keep it on my scrapbooking desk to use as scratch paper. I like that it's sort of a record of my memory-keeping. It also has notes about quilts in it, and times for doctor appointments.
2. If I'm unsure of how much space I need, I do a test stamp with just one letter. I think of this as my stamping draft. I pick a letter that is an average width for the stamp set I'm using, and then I stamp it as if I'm stamping out the words. There's not actually any reason to stamp the actual letters to figure out the space unless you are concerned with being EXACTLY correct. I'm usually not (raise your hand if you, too, are more of a wing-it kind of scrapper than a perfectionist), so it's usually close enough. Keep in mind that some letters are usually much narrower (I and J, for example) and some are wider (M and W) than average.
Here's an image showing you what I mean: that long row of Ns is the space I needed to spell out the longer part of the "little" section of my title, "thoughts on." I stamped it first, and then I got a bit worried that the "being an" part wouldn't fit...so I did a draft of that, too, which is the shorter row of Ns. Since there is an I in the word "being" I knew I'd need less space than I measured for that part, so I could then see I had plenty o' space.
3. I use TWO acrylic blocks. One I stamp with, and one (I think of it as my collecting block) I stick the letters on as I finish with them. I put the letters I know I'll use more than once on the top left corner of the block I'm not stamping with. This makes it both easy and quick to stamp a title. I just get into a fast rhythm: grab the letter, stick it on my stamping block, glance at the handwritten word, ink and stamp, then stick the letter on the collecting block and start again. An added perk to this approach? When you're done it's easy to clean your stamps because the dirty ones are all collected on the block.
It's sort of hard to photograph my two-block system because acrylic blocks are transparent. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what I mean. Letters I use more than once in the upper left hand corer. Also, please note that asterisk...I left it on the block the last time I stamped and now I'll have to figure out which set it goes with!
4. I give myself space for imperfections. I personally think part of the beauty of stamping is that it is, in fact, done by hand and thus isn't perfect. If I smudge some ink, or I don't get the spacing between letters or words exactly right, it's OK. I look at it as proof that I made this, not a computer or a robot. If you're really wanting the stamping to be exactly right, you can always stamp on a separate piece of cardstock or patterned paper and then adhere it to your layout, but I confess: I almost always just stamp right on the background.
I like to live on the wild side.
Hope your iNSD is full of fun new layouts. Make sure to link me up in your preferred method if you take on my challenge. Happy scrapping!