Before I wrote this post, I accomplished a task I’ve been needing to do—and dreading—for years: I decluttered my desk drawer. The drawer in question is the short-but-deep middle drawer of one of my favorite treasures, an antique desk I inherited from my grandpa Fuzz. Inside it is where I theoretically keep all my metal bits and pieces, but really it was crammed with a hodgepodge of stuff I hadn’t had the courage to work through in far too long.
Mixed in with empty bobbins, printer cartridges, and packaging, long-lost sewing machine parts, a house key, and Jacob’s library card were three (yes, three, I’m ashamed to confess) divided boxes with metal bits: eyelets, brads, charms, chains, and corners. Grommets and hinges and ribbon pulls and even a few little buckles. Plus the various tools you’d need to use all that metal on a layout or two. This mess was only sort of organized. If by “organized” you mean it would only take me, say, ten minutes or so to find exactly the brad I want to use—then, yes, it was organized.
Because here’s the thing: the only metal objects I really ever use on my layouts are brads. Everything else feels too heavy or thick or potentially layout-damaging for my design aesthetic. As I sorted out my metal issues, I thought about trends. How they come and go in the scrapbooking world (as elsewhere, of course), how they influence not only what we buy but what we feel—about the layouts we make and where we fit as scrappers. It’s a delicate balance: we want to fit in and have the same fun everyone else is having while we also stay true to ourselves.
I was completely untrue to myself with the eyelet topic. I liked the look on other people’s layouts, but I hated setting them and never could get them to look right. Maybe I liked all the tools—that little hammer was irresistible. Maybe it was the eyelets themselves, the neatly circumscribed hole begging to be tied with something cute. But really: I bought eyelets because everyone else was buying eyelets.
(I was not 15 when I did this.)
You’d think I’d know better. I do now as I sit here, sorting through my metals. Here’s proof: I put every single eyelet—even the cute silver flower ones I’ve been holding on to now for a decade or so—into my discard box. The tools for setting them are also in there. In fact, I narrowed down all my metal options from three boxes into just one—and there are still two empty spaces in that box. I feel empowered and free; I’m also certain I still own far too many brads. But at least I know what I have and can find them, which is exactly what is needed so I can use them.
Today’s post isn’t only about brads & eyelets & charms. It’s about all the little bits and pieces that make layouts outstanding. Journaling cards and die cut shapes and ribbon and rub-ons and yes, even brads and eyelets and buckles. Everything that isn’t paper, cardstock, or lettering supplies.
Today, think about your reaction to scrapbooking trends. How have they influenced your layouts in the past? How do they continue to shape your process?
Pull out an older album—one you worked on about five or six years ago. Flip through the entire book, focusing just on the trends you followed. (By “trend” I mean a technique or a way of using supplies that is or was new, innovative, unseen.) Do they trendiest layouts feel dated now, or do they pass the time test? Jot down a quick list. Put a check mark next to the ones you stopped using but still like. Cross out the ones you know don’t fit with your current design style. Then ask yourself: how could you implement one of those trends on one of your upcoming layouts?
My list included: dry embossing, hand drawn titles, eyelets (yep, I did use a few!), water coloring, chalking, faux metal letters, fibers (anyone else remember fibers? That is the next drawer I need to conquer!), color blocked papers, sanded edges, doodled designs (I am horrible at doodling!), and burned paper edges. One of the techniques I still like is dry embossing, although I don’t do it very often. (I can only shake my head at the burned paper edges which have, of course, smudged everywhere.) I did, however, find all my dry embossing templates when I cleaned out that drawer, so I think the technique will show up soon.
The point of this exercise is to help you think about what you like, rather than what the current trends say you should like. Jack Kerouac said that “great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends,” and I think that applies to scrapbooking as well as it does to writing. The great thing you accomplish through scrapbooking is sticking down pieces of yourself alongside the pieces of your subject. This doesn’t mean you can't explore and play. It does mean that it is OK—more than just OK—to do things that you like, not because industry trends told you to, but because you like them.
In the realm of trends, it’s tempting to buy everything all at once. Instead, try to take it in small bites to see if you really like the trend. If you have a scrapping friend, consider going halfsies on things you can split up (like eyelets!) or sharing tools. If you shop at a scrapbook store, ask if they have a sample you can try before you buy. Or buy the very minimum. Here’s the kicker, though: when you get this new trendy supply or tool home, use it. Use it quickly! Don’t let the creative energy that builds over the new thing dwindle. See if the new trend is something you can incorporate into your style. Ask yourself: is this a trend that will pass, or will it become a staple?
decorative brads (by which I mean the larger brads, with images, that come stuck in those white foam rectangles): I tend to buy this kind of brads with a specific purpose for one or two of them, and I buy the coordinating paper or letter stickers. After I’ve used the brads I bought the package for, I take the rest of them out of the foam rectangle and sort them. The small, plain ones go with the rest of that color of brad in my (one!) metals box. The other decorative brads all get dumped into one central box. That way, I can see them out of the “context” of the rest of the coordinating items, which means I can see different uses for them.
ribbon: most of my ribbon is organized in small drawers, based on colors. But I buy long lengths of my favorites (black, white, pink, and shades of blue), and these get flung over the clothes rod that’s still in the closet of my office. They stay much less wrinkled this way, and plus: they brighten up that little corner of the room.
small, flat pieces: I have one central basket where I toss small things like punch-outs, rub-ons, and journaling stickers. Sometimes I do have to hunt through this basket to find exactly what I’m looking for, but during the hunt I usually find something I’ve forgotten about, too. Riffling through your products is an excellent way to spark your creative energy!
Use Your Stuff Tip
journaling spots/stickers/labels/cards: confession: I almost never use these for journaling—I have too much to say and can’t fit it all in that little space. But I also love the structured space you find on a journaling product. I use them quite often as the background of my title. I line up as many as I need—not all from the same manufacturer—then layer the title on top. Or, try buying multiples of the same journaling card (three or five) so you have more space to write your story.
brads: I keep a thumb tack in my box of brads. It will stick through almost everything—even chipboard—and makes the perfect size hole to slip your brad into.
rub-ons: one of the best things about rub-ons is their seamability. (That is not a real word, but it should be!) This means that if you pull the rub-on covering up too soon, while some of the design is not yet rubbed on all the way, it is simply a matter of matching up the edges and then seaming it back together by continuing to rub. It also means it’s easy to combine two different rub-on designs. They’ll look like they belong together because the seams just rub together.
Use Your Stuff Daily Challenge
Make a layout that uses the following bits and pieces: one die cut or punch out shape, two journaling tags, shapes, or stickers, three pieces of ribbon, two rub-ons and one brad. Alter the number of items if you want, but try to use each of the products.
And here are some challenge layouts from the WCS collective!
Donna made this sweet layout about her son:
She used all of the challenge suggestions, but found the rub-ons the hardest. "I almost never use them," she told me, "but, I also never buy them anymore. I sort of learned that I'm not a rub-on girl and I've changed my buying habits accordingly." This sort of realization—and the change in shopping—is just what I am talking about!
(if you're counting, the die-cut is the small yellow button, the two journaling blocks are the sticker that is underneath the title and the circle die-cut that is in the lower left-hand corner, the three pieces of ribbon are up at the top of the layout, the two rub-ons are a piece of rub-on stitching that I cut in two and are at the boundaries between the green and yellow or green and blue pp and the phrase "It's all about the memories," and the one brad is the little owl)
Here's Monica's layout (again with the shoes! I love this pair, too!)
(counts for Monika's page: die cut is the dress pattern, the journaling tags have journaling on them, the 3 pieces of ribbon are the butterfly print, the ball trim and shipping twine wrapped around the dress pattern die cut, the rub-ons are the zig-zag stitch on photos and at bottom right of cardstock and bracket shape, and the brad is by the ruffle)
And my stab at it:
(the punch out is the word "sun," the journaling tags—I used three—are under "warm spring sun," "sipping soda," and "grandpa's flowers," the three ribbons make the border, the two rub-ons are in the bottom corners, and the one brad is the word "play")
And, last but not least, today's card (I am happy to report I didn't have to make any extra cuts to make the card—it's completely scrap-made!)