{for the love of die-cuts & other cool papercrafting things}

Last Friday, I got to attend a late night Scrap & Crop at the shop were I'm teaching. I've never done this before, mostly because scrapbooking used to make my skin crawl, with all those pre-cut items and packed sets and planning. I love being random, being messy, so planning things out, trying to get things just right usually doesn't jive.

I had an interesting conversation with Jill, my bridge to the scrapbooking world. While going through the first class I'll be teaching, she found it difficult to just let go and put things down without thinking it through. And I find it hard to think out every little piece I'm going to use, move it around until it's right. I think there's something for both of us to learn, there, from each other, and lately, I can see a bit of this papercrafting sensibility bleeding into my own work.

So I'm at this late night crop, doing a demonstration of my upcoming class, and I've decided to go around the room and show off what I've made – a Valentine's Day paper because I couldn't find one I liked and kinda took it as a challenge. I've never done something quite like this before, and was pretty damn proud of what I made, so off I went.

my awesome v-day paper. or pretty pink one with hearts.

 [download the full-size PNG to print and play with!]

This was all really intimidating because I was an outsider who didn't know anyone, and I was walking around with my art in my hands hoping they'd like it. Really. On the internet, I can't see you – so it's not as hard to put my art and such out there for you to look at. But in person? Yeah. You can totally see their faces and they can ignore you or be like, “Oh, I don't like that.” (And I had one person say that and I was all mature and smiled).

Anyway, I'm wandering, of course, nervous and all that – I had a table with my work up on it and was on display, which still gets me, even though I've done it a few times before. And I find the nice big wall displaying all the die-cut shapes they have. And it's a long wall. It caught my attention a few days before because they've got tabs and scallops and all I could think was how awesome it would be to put some papers like that in my next journal.

And I've grabbed some new papers because there is nothing more awesome than to be working on a page and have an entire store at your disposal for that moment when you can't quite find what you need in your own paper stash. Really. This is horribly dangerous because you end up running around and grabbing all sorts of things and go home with more papers than you started out with.

So I have these papers. And I pick out a few shapes from the wall. And I put it all together and POP – there are my shapes cut out, just for me!

OH MY. Instead of searching for labels or journaling bits or shapes, I could make my own.

Of course, I used them as stencils, too, shapes to work around. I've been loving my regular white acrylic paint, the stuff that comes out of a tube – it's so smooth and creamy and blends awesomely. It's the only hard-body or whatever acrylic I have in my collection, and I've been using the papers I die-cut as stenciled to work around.

totally fun, right? see use of past journal page as scrap. oh, yes, i was making collage papers last night.

It's interesting how, even though I've been using scrapping supplies for years, I am now incorporating the basic ideas of paper crafting into my work. Something I didn't like is now opening up a new way of thinking.

And I think that's important. I felt stagnant, like I was just doing the same thing over and over again, and needed something new. Maybe not inspiration, but an unlocking of my brain.

I think we get put in a corner when we think of ourselves as art journalers or mixed-media artists, working with materials and such others have discovered. It's like when royalty wanted to keep the blood pure, they only married within their families. Gross, yes, I know, but I can't think of a better analogy than that to explain what I'm thinking.

Even at the shop I'm teaching at – the jewelry section has their own classes and such, and the scrapbooking section has their own, and no one crosses between the two because they're each entrenched in their own methods and materials. Except there's so much to learn. Even if it's not your “thing,” I think you need to open yourself up to what's out there because, as creative beings, we can boil it down to technique and intention and port it over to our own stuff.

see? ribbon and a little shape and another used as a stencil in the top corner.

So, now, when I'm working, I'm like, “Oh, what if I used this shape?” and inside, there's a part that says, “You're doing art and it needs to be messy and imperfect and better.”

And another part says, “STFU, you elitist bitch, we need to grow and you're acting like a priss.”

I am nice to myself, I swear. Kind. But being direct works sometimes. I like being direct and honest. It's just the way I am.

Anyway, don't listen to those voices. I play music because they can't shout louder than iTunes blasting from the speakers. Really. They can't. Oh, they try, but I totally ignore them and sing along and just go with the flow.

That seems like the answer to a lot of things. Go with the flow & have faith.

Oh. And tell people to STFU. You're working and they all need to just let you be.