Last month while down in Anaheim for CHA, I also had the honor and privilege of teaching at Play – a special event put on by Big Picture Classes. I was really excited about teaching at this event – when I got the call asking if I could do it I double checked with the family that an extra 24hrs gone was cool – then I accepted. They wanted me to teach a scrapbook layout – sounded good to me! I immediately knew I would use my “go-to” playful layout design and I sprung into action.
Today I want to focus on why this layout design was so meaningful and why it helped me so much. This is information I meant to share in class but when I realized there was NO way I could do so without bursting into tears I knew I couldn’t possibly have the courage to stand up and teach a class to so many people AND knowingly get myself into something that would make me cry so I just cut it out.
So I’m going to share it here, now, with you.
I wasn’t always a happy, “forget the rules” crafter.
There is a very serious reason why “Happy Crafting” is my mantra and I say it so much.
I used to be a very miserable, sad, hates herself crafter. I was a people-pleasing “if only I could be a little more like….” crafter. A girl who posted projects to on-line galleries for the SOLE purpose of trying to get comments and praise. Who made layouts not how she liked, but how she thought she could get the most praise. That could be picked for publication. That could win her a spot on a design team.
And, I was a girl who 100% of the time failed to do any of the above.
Nobody gave a crap about what I was doing. I did what I did for the feedback, for the hope of praise, because I needed someone to tell me I was good at crafting.
Pathetic. Freaking sad and pathetic. I am not embarrassed to own any of this though because it is a part of my story, and it is also something a lot of crafters struggle with.
It was at this time that someone I knew and trusted said to me words that burned in my brain, that were aimed to be so completely HURTFUL, and intended to break my spirit once and for all.
Yet they did the opposite.
They set me free and this very mean girl? Instead of breaking me and making me give up she was the turning point.
She said to me that I didn’t have my own original style or talent. That NOBODY, NOWHERE would ever want to take a class from me that was of my own making and that there was NO CHANCE I would ever “make it” on my own in the scrapbooking industry. That I just wasn’t talented like Cathy Zielske or Ali Edwards. That I needed to just give up, scrap-lift their pages, and be content teaching at a local store because it was lucky that they’d have me and they didn’t mind – in fact they encouraged – lifting ideas from the magazines.
Now I wasn’t able to snap my fingers and become a happy crafter that day. No, that took several YEARS of hard work and a lot of hours, swearing, frustration, and downright determination on my part.
I fought hard for my crafting freedom.
But what the speech that was intended to break my spirit did was two things:
1. My inner Taurus woke up after a way too long nap. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that once I’ve become set on something – that is just it. Deep within I heard the words “can’t” and “will never happen” and I heard a challenge. Challenge, ACCEPTED.
2. I realized I hated crafting this way. I realized that I’d rather quit than make pages like Cathy or Ali or whoever the next big trend setter was going to be in order to fit in.
For the record? I ADORE and ADMIRE the heck out of both of those ladies!! In fact they inspire me and I’ll share more about how some other time… at this point in time though, I just didn’t want to be their clones or be told to be like anyone else…
When I did start to really find my way, the layout that I shared at the Play event was one that really was the first “playful” and “I’ll do what I want…” page I found where I could go wild, mix things up, but still have a cohesive page that had some design elements that made it pretty, functional, AND fun.
I saw ladies embracing the spirit of it, but more importantly, I saw a lot of ladies putting their OWN SPIN on the thing and making it theirs. This was the greatest thing to see – truly I just can’t express how special it was to see them taking ownership of the idea and making it their own.
There are no rules in crafting (basic safety aside), but I do have some personal guidelines.
- Do what makes you happy. If you like your pages to look like you sneezed stickers all over them, if you adore neon, if you want to make it look very precise and measure with your ruler – just do it.
- Don’t think too hard. Getting up inside your head and over-thinking your craft supply placement will only lead to ugly pages. Sorry – this is just a fact. Be focused on the overall mood and feel, and remember there is simply no one way or right way to scrapbook anything.
- If colors + patterns are overwhelming to you, stick to one collection. The scrapbook companies want to make it easy – so let them!
- Don’t forget that it is YOUR project. Somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong or that it isn’t good enough? Stick your tongue out, flip them the finger, or give ’em a few choice words.
- It can be about whatever you want it to be about. Deep emotional outlet? Fun way to preserve a vacation? Daily minutia? Just because? There’s not a wrong reason or way to scrapbook or craft in general. Don’t forget that.
- Embrace your perspective. Everyone has a different path, past, and story to tell. So embrace yours and charge right in.
This class I taught had me walking twelve years down memory lane. It also reminded me that just as I was really getting comfortable in my crafting and truly having fun again one woman said “why not” and took a chance on a pretty much unheard of instructor for her new on-line workshop site.
Yes. I’m talking about me + Stacy Julian. I emailed her and asked to teach for Big Picture Scrapbooking back in 2006 and I remember a small doubtful voice in my head saying “no way… you have no chance…” and I kicked that voice in the head and hit send on that email.
to be continued…