Friday, January 30, 2009

Freebie: I have a heart after all

DJG_Valentine Frame... Suggested Serving (above)

A while ago, on the Scrapbook Max forums, I said I wouldn't be doing any Valentine-y kinds of things.

Then I ran across a neat card design and decided to 'improve' it... or at least take my own swipe at the idea - a frame around a cluster of hearts. It's in the Suggested Serving above, at the bottom right.

But with built-in extras
Then I decided I could pull out each of the hearts and the frame alone. These could then become embellishments... see above, upper left, and lower left.

Upper left is a photo of Kittie and me on our 45th Anniversary trip that included stops in Montana, Oregon, Washington state and Vancouver Island. This is us in front of Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gap area, Oregon.

On the lower left, I've simply rotated the frame-plus-hearts and added a few more hearts, spilling them over into the background.

SMB format
You can download it (2.1 MB) here . The file is an .SMB for Scrapbook Max.

Now for those of you without Scrapbook Max: the file is really a ZIP file. You download it, change the file extension to .ZIP and use any ZIP utility to retrieve each of the PNGs.

Foster + McKeehan types (see this post)
  • eclectic
  • hip & trendy
  • anything goes

Style-ish book worth getting

A long time ago (some time before 322 BC) Aristotle wrote his Poetics.

Wait! Wait! Don't stop reading, even though I'm delving into dead Greeks....

In Poetics, you see a fine, fine mind carefully noting the playwriting practices of his day. Aristotle categorizes the conventions of his day and makes some incredibly astute observations on how plot lines develop.

Since then, directly or indirectly, Poetics has helped millions understand works of fiction... all because a bright guy could make sense of a welter of contemporary practics.

It turns out that the Greek plays observed by Aristotle express the more or less universal need to pursue a pattern of living through experiences, thoughts and emotions to reach some sort of resolution or conclusion.

Same Same for Scrapbooks
On a smaller scale and around a much more circumscribed universe, Kitty Foster and Wendy McKeehan did a similarly fine job of categorization of the welter of scrapbook approaches and types that are floating around us.

Their book is Find Your Groove, A Guide to Discovering Your Scrapbook Style (ISBN-10: 1599630060; ISBN-13: 978-1599630069).

The book presents 7 basic styles:
  • clean lines
  • graphic
  • eclectic
  • classic
  • shabby or Old World
  • hip & trendy
  • anything goes.
There is an eighth, journalistic, which is more an approach than a visual style, and can partake of any of the previous graphic styles.

The whole tome is a veritable graphics arts and design course in miniature, and it's really helpful if (like me) you know what you like but you don't know where to begin assembling layouts.

You can get this book used (or even new) at very low prices, and you should. And that's even though there's a bit of confusion around the differences between classic and shabby/Old World.

I like it so much that I'm going to reference Foster + McKeehan styles in any scrapbook kits or embellishments I produce... the first a random collection of Valentines goodies that together fit several styles: eclectic, hip & trendy, and anything goes.

The collection should be my next post.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scrapbooking... polymer clay...a blog at 66

Here's where it all starts. First blog. At age 66.

And here's how I got here:

A while ago
I (or, rather, we, Kittie and I) made a living with stoneware clay. With the effort, I bought a house, a car, then supported two kids.

We did OK, but burnout finally got me some time in 1979. Experimental glazes failed and I didn't have the trouble-shooting skills to determine what was going wrong. My standard glazes became boring.

I noticed more and more how hard it was to drag 50-and 80-lb bags of clay and minerals down into my basement shop. It was ever harder carrying 20- or 35- or 50-pound ware boards up the back stairs to my kiln. It became harder and harder to keep concentration during the 18 to 24 hours to fire the wares. You get the picture. I burned out.

From there it was freelance writing... a strange group it was, but then I'm strange, so it worked out, for a while... then corporate life, then magazine life (the most satisfying and engaging of my careers), then high-tech startup (back to strange), then advertising agency life (where I finally took a graduate degree, a veritable PhD, in strange workplaces), then... back to freelance writing.

Freelancing never boring

No, it wasn't anything you're likely to know about, unless you are deep into manufacturing, plastics production and formulation, and a few other arcane subjects. But it is never boring.

The need for graphics in magazine articles and brochures led me to acrete various graphics programs. I passed on the biggies (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator) unless a client would cover the cost of the software and opted for 2nd tier offerings (Corel PhotoPaint) and free.

With a sort of background in design and handwork from clay, and a fair grasp of graphics program operation, I idly played around in off moments. But nothing really gelled.

After discovering polymer clay (a mere 70 years or so after its invention in the 1930s), I began playing with it. I thought I could just carry over my mineral clay experience, and still take advantage of the color and capabilities of polymer clay, but I've never progressed past the for-personal-use stage. Probably won't. Doesn't matter.

In which our blogger discovers scrapbooking

Then I discovered scrapbooking because my daughter Jennifer had done some outstanding books. She uses real paper and real objects and puts together real albums.

From there, I discovered digital scrapbooking... a perfect use for all the skills I developed dabbling in graphics software. No harm to trees. No big bucks for punches and tools and papers and embellishments.

Ways to assemble digital scrapbooks were all over my computers. Adobe InDesign, Serif PagePlus, Microsoft Publisher, Mediachance Real Draw Pro, even PowerPoint and Word. But they had drawbacks, one or another.

Then, in 2007, Scrapbook Max ( somehow came into my purview, and I downloaded and tried it.

I'll have more to say about Max on other days. It does some very sophisticated stuff with minimal hassle.

Anyway, bottom line, here we are.

We'll be producing some embellishments, papers, shapes and kits over the next little while. There will be a store sooner rather than later (still deciding between etsy and eCrater).

History, grungy, nostalgic-romantic

I've decided on a style, more history than cute, more grunge than daylight, more nostalgic-romantic than edgy.

Watch for freebies

Freebies will be available through this blog -- and now and again on the Embellishments forum in the Scrapbook Max community site.

Anyway, welcome to my world.