The Grandma Party
Book Note: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Use Your Stuff #4: Patterned Paper

Its background was the palest of pale blues—almost, but not quite, white. It had a random sprinkling of stars as its pattern, pastel stars that looked hand-drawn, precise yet sketched all at once. It seemed then (in the dark early days of scrapbooking when almost everything you bought was some variation upon hounds tooth, gingham, or polka dot) to be the most perfect thing ever printed for baby-boy layouts.

I loved that patterned paper.

But I only had one sheet. So I carved into it carefully. I used it to back a photo but I cut out the part covered by the picture. I punched it. I cut it into ever-smaller shapes, the narrow rectangle, the oval, the heart. I used almost every inch of it.

And then my friend Brooke, who was then still, like nearly all my friends, also a scrapbooker, called me from a scrapbook store in California. Where she'd found a stash of my favorite patterned paper, and did I want her to bring me home another piece?

I had her bring me home five.

I carefully filed it away to be used again someday. You know—on the perfect layout. And there it stayed until a future purge, when I desperately hoped that someone else would love it as I once had.

It's a classic scrapbook supply mistake I think, buying too much of something you love. I still do it, I confess, only in a different way: if I fall in love with, say, yellow and grey patterned paper, I never buy six sheets of the same pattern. But I might eventually buy ten different yellow and grey pieces. (And eventually purge five of them, on that sad day in the future when I am tired of yellow and grey.)

Sometimes the allure of a pretty (elegant, chic, cute, trendy) patterned paper is impossible to resist.

But I've learned the hard (and a-little-bit-expensive) way to follow my cardinal patterned paper rule: only (unless it is a neutral pattern, a topic I shall write about another day) buy one sheet of it. In rare and desperate cases of total and complete adoration, buy two.

Of course, then you have to take home and use your paper, and honestly: I use mine. I long ago lost my fear of cutting into a pristine piece. It is just paper and no matter how much I love it I will always also find something else I love.

Lately one of my favorite ways of using a patterned paper is in small chunks. You can make entire sunbursts using only color-coordinated scraps; you can punch a surprisingly large amount of shapes from a leftover bit. (Currently, my curvy square punch gets the most use.) If you have a piece that's 8" wide, you can cut almost anything you want with your Silhouette. (Another topic I shall eventually write about.) One of my favorite recent layouts included these circle squares, which I don't really have a name for but which I love inordinately:

September write house amy

Using smaller pieces means you get to revisit something you love more than once, both when you’re making layouts and later, when you flip through an album and spot it here & there. But perhaps what I love best about all this cutting into patterned paper is that it gives me a sort of simultaneous happiness: I'm using stuff I love so I don't feel guilty about buying it, but I'm saving some of it for later so I don't worry about running out.

Pure scrappy happiness!

Here's another recent patterned-paper rich layout:

Amy sorensen patterned paper

I used six scraps of patterned paper; the circles are punched and the bracket pieces are cut with the Silhouette.

If you, too, are itching to use some of your patterned paper, here's today's Use Your Stuff challenge. Make a layout that:

1. Uses an entire sheet of patterned paper for the base.

2. Mixes patterns based on the paper’s mood. "Mood" in patterned paper is sort of a nebulous and individual thing, but it also is a great way of combining things. Start by finding a paper that feels to you like it connects to the layout’s topic, and then look for other patterns that have the same feel. Often it is color that creates mood, but size, repetition, and shape of the pattern do too.

3. Uses some patterned paper cut into smaller shapes. You might even try cutting just one shape out of an entire, pristine 12x12 just so you know you can.

For some other ideas on using patterned paper, click HERE.

Happy scrapping!

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