capture life + create art | issue twenty five
November 21, 2007


What projects are on your creative list this holiday season? Are you overwhelmed already? There seems to be a fine balance between enjoying the opportunities for creativity and totally going overboard and ending up exhausted and frustrated. Read below for my top five tips for holiday craft sanity. Also, check out what holiday crafts I have been up to by following the links to the right.

Also in this issue, my new book came out this past month and I have been receiving some great comments and questions through email. This week I want to take some time and address a few of these in an extended question + answer section.


AE TOP 5 TIPS for Holiday Craft Sanity
holiday daily journal

1. Plan ahead + don't try to do it all at once. Most of the projects I have been working on for the holidays have been put together in a series of simple steps. Break the steps down into manageable tasks. Step one is always planning ahead - this includes making a supply list. Step two may be making a trip to your local craft store for supplies or shopping online. Step three is beginning the project. Often times I will do one thing each day - such as painting - and then the next night I will tackle the next piece of the project. Don't feel like you need to do it all in one sitting or all on one day - stretching it out a bit makes it manageable and lends a certain creative festivity to the season.

2. Gather up all your holiday supplies and store them together. In general I store products by manufacturer with the exception of my Christmas supplies. Christmas supplies are stored all together in a separate container that makes them easily accessible from year to year and when I find myself in the mood to create with my holiday stash.

3. Dedicate a small area to holiday crafts. Whether this is a corner in your bedroom, your dining room, or a corner of your scrapbooking room, clear out a little area just for holiday crafts. A designated space makes it easy to pop over there, do a little of this and a little of that, and then move on to other things you have going on at home. If you have little kids running around you may want to consider some sort of storage that allows for easy in and out (so you can store it quickly and safely away from little fingers if necessary). Right now I am using a portion of my dining room table and a corner of my dining room floor (supplies are kept in baskets on the floor and in a chest of drawers that sits in our dining room).

4. Don't try to do everything. Seriously. Pick a couple projects you want to put together and go for it but don't feel like you have to do every cool thing you see online or in magazines. If you see something you like, print it out or rip it out and add it to a holiday inspiration notebook (love Molly Irwin's example here). Do as much as you feel like and no more. When you feel like you are getting overwhelmed or going overboard, take a step back and a look at your overall holiday experience and priorities.

5. Make sure to enjoy the season. This time of year only comes around once - don't miss it by being too busy making stuff. Enjoy it. Savor it. If you don't feel like doing any crafty stuff then don't - and feel absolutely no guilt. Just because you are creative doesn't mean you have to make homemade gifts for everyone in your neighborhood. Focus on what this season means to you and your family rather than being bound to other expectations.

Creative Questions & Answers

Q from Lynette :
Are you "all" caught up and always scrap in the moment regularly? Here is what I mean...I have scrapped the big events in my twins lives up to age 3...they are 31/2 as of today...I am evolving as a scrapper and want to scrap more daily things and appreciate daily life...which again leads to my thinking do I not scrap the birthday, holiday stuff which can "bog" me down. Now that the girls are three I am working more on a family album than individuals. Yes, they still get a layout of them in their own book...but now I am NOT scrapping two layouts of fall pumpkin picking...does this make sense? How did/do you BALANCE this out?

A : Scrapbooking everyday life definitely does not mean you need to stop documenting birthdays and holidays. They are a big part of our lives - I especially love documenting holiday traditions. I think the big thing is to find ways to simplify the process for yourself so it never has to be an either/or situation. For some people simplifying may be following a sketch or using less supplies. For me, it tends to be creating layouts that are based on photos + words and not worrying about all the extra stuff.

Being "caught up" is not something I think about as I am scrapbooking - I focus more on the process of telling stories. Sometimes the stories are of today and sometimes they are from yesterday (or years ago). I scrapbook what is motivating me in the moment rather than feeling pressure to make sure every holiday is documented.

The one part I can't really comment on is scrapbooking the same page for more than one child (since I only have one). Readers, how do you handle this? Do you create one for each child or do they all go in a book together. Send me an email with multiple kids in the title and I will add some feedback to the next newsletter.

Q from Susan :
How many "unfinished projects" do you have hanging around? Are there any that you start and stop and never get back to (or have no desire to complete?)

A : I have lots of projects that are in progress. I actually have a shelf in my studio that is designated as a home for my "in-progress" projects. Most of them are kept together inside of a plastic project holder.

Sometimes I stop in the middle of a project due to time constraints, sometimes due to lack of inspiration and motivation, and sometimes because it just isn't going as I was hoping it would. Stepping away for awhile (and having some space to store these sorts of things) can make a big difference. There are some projects I come back to and decide not to complete - I may take it apart completely or change it all up and make it into something new.

Q from Heather : part one
Hi Ali! I just read your book for the 5th time and I love, love, love it!!! There is so much to learn, it left me breathless! I kept wanting to skip ahead pages to get to the next page! I love your style of scrapbooking. I love that you put the stories first, I love that whatever you do, it is Ok. You seem to have verbalized what so many of us think about or tell ourselves..."can I do this on a page", "is this ok?", etc? It is actually a little frightening, if that makes any sense. To challenge yourself and change the way you do things, to accept your work as perfect the way it is. So this brings me to my question. I am very intrigued with the whole different size pages in one binder approach. What type of album & page protectors do you use? Do you buy a bulk of different sizes from the same company so they will all work?

A : Currently I am using American Crafts 3 Ring albums (here's another style). I have been using them for the last year or so and am really satisfied. The page protectors I use include the ones that come with the album and a variety of others (usually picked up at scrapbook stores - they tend to be in the back, hidden among the organization and storage supplies). I am really loving any of the ones with pockets. It doesn't bother me if they are from different manufacturers. Most of the 8.5x11 protectors I have been using are basic ones from Staples.

Q from Heather : part two
Also, the age old question, what about acid free? I know you use a lot of ephemera in your albums, is this really ok? Can I cut words and phrases out and simply glue them in my books? Do you always use an archival spray? I have heard you say before that the preservation isn't necessarily important as the process, but don't you want it to last a long time? Will it anyway?

A : As with just about everything related to scrapbooking, crafting, and art, it is entirely up to you. On a regular basis I use bits and pieces of life that are not acid free. I cut things from magazines and junk mail and use them on my projects - this is "traditional" scrapbooking. This is what they used before there was a scrapbooking "industry." This is real life and that is what I want to see in my albums.

How long will it all really last? I have no idea. For me, I have come to the conclusion that some things will last and others won't and that is ok. Sometimes I use Archival Mist (a de-acidification spray), but most of the time I am just creating - for me it is about 75% creativity and 25% preservation. Again, everyone gets to make their own choice on this issue.

Q from Alyssa :
I was so interested to hear about your choice to limit the cardstock palette you choose from. I'd love to hear how that decision came about. (I can't remember where I got the info now - your interview with Lain or your blog?)

A : Ever since I started scrapbooking I had tons of different colors of cardstock. It was one of those things I think you just do when you start out - you acquire colors. Each time I visited a new store I would grab a couple sheets of different colors to add to my collection. A few months back as I was taking a creative inventory of my process and my supplies I came to the realization that I really only use about five different colors of cardstock: white, cream, kraft, black, and red. As I thought about it more I realized that any layout I did could begin with any one of those five colors and be just right. Why did I need a hundred different choices when any one of those five would work just fine? So I gathered up all the other colors and put them in my donation box and have not looked back once. I love that when I am getting ready to start a layout I have five wonderful backgrounds to work with - and I don't feel deprived at all.

LIFE ARTIST : autographed copies
Life Artist Book
Looking for an autographed copy of my new book Life Artist? Check out Cocoa Daisy for more details. While you are there check out the November Kit of the Month featuring the very talented Karen Russell - a wonderful collection perfect for a fall/Thanksgiving album.

Ali Edwards, author of A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking, A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking with Patterned Paper and Life Artist, is Lifestyle Editor of Creating Keepsakes magazine where she writes a monthly inspiration column called Studio A . She is a wife, mother, artist, writer, and seeker of balance. Owner of AE Design and Life Art Media, she conducts life art workshops around the globe. You can find her online on her blog or contact her through email at ali@aliedwardsdesign.com

holiday projects

Tis the season for all kinds of cool crafts. Check out the following projects I have been featuring on my blog over the last month:

#1 : December Daily Album
#2 : Night Before Christmas Spinner
#3 : Advent Boxes
#4 : Word Cards
#5 : Button Trees
#6 : Framing
#7 : Initial Ornaments




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