Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sort It, Store It.... Scrap It!

Last week, I had great fun as I showed you all around my little crafty space. It was an interesting exercise for me to articulate all of that, as I realized even more how directly tied my organization (or lack thereof) is to my process. So, let's see how all that works in a real live start to finish, shall we?

I have chosen a photo that, for me at least, poses quite a few challenges when it comes to scrapbooking. At first glance, it is not very clear what you are looking at. It is a bit of a visual assault of color. And, to top it off, there is no real focal point. Oh my. Here's hoping this goes well!

I will warn you, this post is extremely photo heavy, more so than my usual. Two or three times more than my usual. But, the question I am most often asked is how do you choose which papers to put together and then what to add? And it turns out that to show you that, I needed a bazillion photos. And words. There will be more of those too. Perhaps a video would have been a better choice. But, I am not sure if I am fancy enough for that. I thank you in advance if you choose to stay with me here. Perhaps a bit of weekend reading for you. If this starts to put you to sleep... just scroll to the end for the finished layout :)

This is actually a picture of one of my eldest daughter's "set-ups." One of many. She arranges. She stacks. She "organizes." In her mind, they make complete sense and are nothing short of perfection. And, that to me IS perfection. Certainly worthy of scrapbooking.

Here we go!

When a photo is my starting point (which it is 95% of the time) I head to my patterned paper with said photo in hand.
I flip through.
I keep so few papers on hand that I am able to flip through my entire stash pretty quickly.
My goal is to choose my background paper.
When I have a photo with loads of different colors, I try to pick just a couple colors to focus on in the papers.
I like the idea of blue, but this is a bit too blue.

This tone on tone kraft from the new Amy Tan collection would certainly work.
But, I am not jazzed about it.

LOVE this paper.
Too pale for this layout.
The pink is not bad.
I like the idea of it.
But, perhaps for more of an accent.
Oooooh, the idea of the bold black and white graphic pattern excites me.
This one is a little more distressed than I want for this photo.
You know, this one is interesting to me.
I could do something fun with the journaling along those banners...
But, I am not convinced.
Moving on...

Now, this isn't bad.
I will remember this for an accent.
It could look really great with a strong black and white.
Ding... Ding... Ding...
Do we have a winner?
I like this so much it gets pulled and set aside.
I know what you are thinking...
That pattern is crazy! It's too much!
Stay with me here...

Hmmmmm, yellow?
I hadn't thought of that.
Since this paper is from October Afternoon just like the dot print above, I go ahead and pull it.
The cream tones are the same and it could prove to be useful.
Oh wait!
LOVE this!
The subtle yet graphic stripe.
Horizontal lines.
It speaks to me.
I pull it too.

And since the October Afternoon seems to be the ticket for today, I also pull several other papers that I have in that section.

Then, I head back to some of the other papers that I first passed by and grab some partial sheets. Remember, I file all of my sheets back in the paper stash unless they are smaller than 6 or 4 inches.

OK. Another big part of my process, beyond my control, is that I rarely have the ability to sit and scrap from start to finish in one big chunk. I grab little moments all throughout the day. Everything you just read? I did the other day while the kiddos were making their beds.

Later that same day...

Time to think about my overall design.
I know I want the polka dot as the background, mostly as a frame.
I want the stripe over that.
Now, I need to choose the color that my photo will sit on.
This is also the point where I decide if I will do any mixed media messiness under the layers.
I am deciding not to for this layout since there is already going to be a lot going on.

Or pink?

I like the pink!
Mostly I like the pink with the tiniest bit of red in it.
It pulls the colors in from the photo in a subtle way.

And later than night...

Time to figure out how all of this will be placed.
I figure I have two options with this photo.
I can keep the design and elements super simple because the photo has so much visual clutter.
Or, I can emphasize the subject matter and make the design a bit crazy and wonky too.
If you have been around The Purple Mailbox for a bit, I think you can guess which way I am going to go!
Yep, wild and wonky :)

Now for the rest of the papers.
I like the idea of "stacking" strips, similar to how my daughter "stacks" her set-ups.

When I look at the selection above, I wish I had just a touch more red.
I head to the scrap drawer.
I love my scrap drawer :)
It has lots of little lovely bits all arranged (loosely) ROYGBIV
I visit this drawer with 99% of the layouts I do:

Alright, I have pulled some scraps and now...
I remember at some point that I have these stickers that when I printed this picture I was thinking of as title elements.
Hooray to me for remembering before it was too late.
And double hooray that these stickers have a cream background just like my papers.
It's like I planned it or something... tee hee!

Now to place all of those strips!
I like the idea of the little duckies just peeking out and adding the slightest bit of yellow.
Just tucking the strips around, playing with the placement...

That sits on my desk for a bit as I go about my day.
When I get back into the studio...
I head for the scraps!
Those get tucked here and there.
When I place those around, I am careful to place them in a way that leads the eye to the photo and not away.
Now for those title stickers:
I am not sure if that should be the title alone or if I want to add in more lettering...
Off to the alpha drawer I go!
This is also sorted ROYGBIV ( I actually never thought to do that until one of my lovely readers, Laura, pointed this out to me. Seriously... the best thing!)
Oh, and if a sheet comes larger than 6x12, I just chop it in half.
If the letters on a sheet are in several sets of colors, those get chopped up too.
After a brief look, I don't think that I want more lettering, but I do like the idea of using an ampersand...
Perhaps this?
Naaah - that's a little wimpy...

OOOOOh, I think this might be the ticket!

And maybe with this layered on top. That way we will have white and cream to pull in from the papers:

Oh, cuteness! Love that!

And then it sits...
Later that day...
Time to embellish!
First up, a fussy cut arrow from the October Afternoon paper.
I love the shape, but the yellow is just too much:

Come to think of it, I believe the yellow duckies need to go.
I liked the idea of them, but they are just not holding their own here.
Now, how about blue?
Yes, better.

Next up... sticker land.
I have these in the same drawer as my alphas, just in the front.
They are not in any order.
I cut all my sticker sheets and chipboard sheets to fit.
Much like my papers, I try not to keep too much on hand.
That way, I can flip through everything quickly with each layout.

When I am flipping through, I keep the colors I would like to add to my layout in mind.
In this case it is black, white, blue, and pink.
I pull anything that catches my eye and hold it up next to my layout.
If I like it or think it has potential, it gets set aside.
If not, it gets put right back in the drawer.
This one got put back in the drawer:
I love the idea of this blue oval with the pink flower.
It has the colors.
It is somewhat unexpected.
But, it is slightly larger than the title stickers and that throws me off a bit.

Moving on...
I've pulled some stickers and now it's time to head to the die cut bowl.
I actually don't purchase a lot of die cuts.
My wallet doesn't like them very much.
I tend to do a lot of fussy cutting from patterned paper and put them in this whole lot.
They are loosely arranged smallest to largest.

I like the idea of a tag, but this one is also too much white:

But this one is not! YAY!

Now that I am ready to layer up some embellishments, I notice that my photo needs some more emphasis.
Back to the scraps!

Scraps layered up and now...
Our little tag needs some twine.
These are my go-to choices.
The one on the right is by The Twinery and has more white than black. Perfect when I want something brighter.
The one on the left is from Doodlebug, is a bit thicker and has more black than white. It works great for mixing with cream based papers or for when I want a stronger look.
Since I have mostly cream based things here, Doodlebug it is!

Now, back to those stickers.
Basically, I just flip through and play.
A piece here, A piece there...
My rule of thumb on this?
If I can see the sticker right away when I squint my eyes at the page, it is not layered or tucked in enough.
I want it to add a subtle bit of color and dimension.
Nothing more.

Washi time?

I am surprised that I like this bold pattern.
But, it seems to help draw the bold pattern from my background page into the photo.
Works for me!

I am about to call it a night on this, but first I will mist.
Then, it can dry overnight.

Nighty Night...


It's a new day and I am ready to finish this up.
Just some bling and finishing touches.
I buy bling in the jewelry section at the craft store.
It does not have adhesive.
It is SO much less expensive.
I dot them about near my photo.
Journaling added... Now it's time for pen work!
When I do my pen work, I am just looking for little areas on my pattern paper to doodle in.
One of my favorite places to put pen dots is inside or around my mist splatters.
I like the movement this gives to my page and the added element of "handmade."
There we have it!

And... thank you for staying with me!

I probably only spent about 1 and 1/2 hours on this page total. I just keep going back and forth, in and out of the studio. This is how I am able to fit crafting into my day. I love that!

I hope you enjoyed this (very detailed) peek into my process. And, I do hope I didn't bore you to tears! If you are a new reader, I assure you... I don't usually do posts this long :) And, perhaps I need to figure out the video thing - lol!

It has been so fun to get all of your questions about my space and my process. I think that I have answered most of them through this post. But, here are a couple of specific ones that I thought easier to answer separately:

Q: When shopping for paper do you pick up one here and there that appeals to you OR do you by all the papers in a collection?

A: Most of the time, I pick and choose. However, I LOVE paper above any other supply so I tend to end up liking a lot in each collection of my favorite brands. I rarely purchase collection packs because they often contain stickers or letters that I don't feel I need. The exception to this is when I have a coupon that makes buying a collection pack a smarter choice.

Q: Do you use all of your tools? If you do, how do you do that?

A: I do use most of my tools very regularly. The one exception to that is embossing folders. In fact, I think I may need to encourage myself to use them and do a little series on that. Hmmmm...

As for the other tools, the way I manage to use them all? I don't have that many. And, I keep everything where I can see it. Also, I rarely buy pre-made embellishments. It is so rare that I don't even have a set place to store them. So, when it comes to embellishing, I look to my punches first.

Q: I want to know how to put my own kits together.

A: I don't really "kit" in the traditional sense. If I have some papers that I really want to use, I just pull them out, stick them on my desk and only scrap from them until they are all used up. I love the limited choices this provides and it's a great way to make room for more paper :) I also learned a ton during Kit -Tastic from May Flaum, so if she ever re-runs that over at, I highly recommend taking that!

Q: I want to know how i can scrap like you.

A. This made me giggle :) First of all, thank you - that is quite the compliment. But, what I would say is just be free, be you. Do what feels right to you. Be the best scrapper YOU can be. Don't be afraid to try things. After all, it's your scrapbook. You don't have to keep a layout if you don't like it. You can do it again. No pressure. In fact, scrapbooking is one of the few areas in life where we are granted as many do overs as we see fit. LOVE THAT.

So, thank you all again! I hope you have enjoyed this peek into my crazy brain :) If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask! I am just an email away: Or, feel free to send me a tweet @soapHOUSEmama.

Talk to you soon!


  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing your scrapbooking process!

  2. Cute pictures with all her creative stacks! I enjoyed seeing the process - you take longer to pick your cardstock than me!

  3. Wow Ashli, this was indeed a very detailed look into your creative process! So cool to see! Thanks so much! Beautiful page! Hugs, Sandra

  4. Loved reading/watching your proces to create a layout!
    Your layout became fabulous, love all the colors you chose!!

  5. So nice to see how this came together, really from the bottom up.

  6. This was such a fun post. Makes me want to go scrap!

  7. Your page looks fabulous, well done for making all those patterns work together! x

  8. Loved the insight into your thought process. You make it seem very easy and fun. Love the page!

  9. I enjoyed seeing your entire process too! Have a wonderful weekend!!

  10. Such a great page!
    And fun to see your process.
    And so amazed it was such a short amount of time, too!

  11. So fun, and not too long at all! I was actually inspired by you last week to dive into my scrap box (it used to be a drawer, when did it turn into a box?!) and make my own "kits". I've gotten so much done so far, I hope to blog about it next week. Thank you, as always, for the inspiration. You're amazing!

  12. That was SO interesting...and a bit familiar about scrapping in bits and pieces throughout the day. Fabulous look at your process!

  13. Thanks for sharing your process its always fun to see how other people put their pages together

  14. Love your process...and how you just pull papers out and work from that stack. I need to try that. It might make my process go a little faster.

  15. Love this post! I love to see how you came to your conclusions of products to use. Your layout is so fun and fabulous!

  16. I LOve your pages and I LOve your blog. I was so excited to see you listed as on PRT and finally got a chance to listen today. Congrats. I LOve that your space isn't pristine because mine isn't either and I find it easier to create in the messy space where I can see stuff! You are an inspiration to me!

  17. Fantastic insight into your process... thank you so much for sharing that - Loved the photo-story!
    Alison x

  18. Loved seeing your process Ashli! Thanks for sharing another great layout!

  19. Great process Ashli and I LOVE the way your page turned out!! It all works so awesome together!! The way you did the title is my favorite and that triple layered ampersand is just too cute!! :)

  20. Oh Ashli this is so gorgeous! And thank you so much for sharing your thought process! Also love all of your previous posts but for some reasons I wasn't able to comment from my phone... And as I only log on the computer at weekends, well, it seems like I am not around here when in fact I am! Love your work as always! xxx

  21. I enjoyed seeing your process of putting it all together! Always fascinating and inspiring to see how others work. Thank you!

  22. I really enjoyed this peak into your creative brain, and how you think this process through. Great share!!

  23. Thanks for sharing your process to your beautiful creations! I too work in gives a fresh look when you come back to your page. Also,I totally changed the way I store my papers. I liked how you are able to flip through papers to find what you need. Thanks for the inspiration!

  24. Loved looking at the pictures of your process! I'm probably weird in that I prefer the pictures to video as it gives me a chance to really look at the choices. Thanks for sharing and it's another fun page too.


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