Monday, August 25, 2014

Scrapbooking On the Road - A Guest Post for Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

The following is a post that I was honored to write for the amazingly talented Julie Fei-Fan Balzer at I just realized that I never hit 'Publish' to share it here with you...

I am a scrapbooker. I am a traveller. I am a photographer. I have an inborn need to explore this beautiful world we live in. I have multiple sclerosis. I have a poor short term memory and an even poorer ability to convert those short term memories to permanent memories. Therefore, I scrapbook. I take pictures. I write. I make art. The closer to the actual event that I can record my experiences, the more raw and authentic my art will be. Because no matter what I do, no matter where I go, no matter what I create, I want my work to represent me – bad, doctor-scribble handwriting, and all.

One of my favorite ways to document my adventures is a result of an Ali Edwards-inspired 'light-bulb moment.' I scrapbook on the road. I take pictures and collect memorabilia and add them together with items I have prepared at home and brought with me on my trip. I want these bits and pieces to be flat – to not take up too much space in my luggage (airline 50 pound weight limits + scrapbook supplies can be challenging if you actually need to bring clothes and shoes with you) or in my book. I know from experience that I will be collecting A LOT of stuff on my trips – admission tickets, pamphlets, flyers, subway tokens, gold flecks (ever panned for gold while learning about the California Gold Rush?), business cards, etc., and this 'stuff' can rapidly add bulk to my travel albums.

My family is planning a 2 month road trip to Alaska this summer. This scrapbook-on-the-road has the potential to be several volumes long. I plan to use Basic Grey's Capture Albums, along with my Instax camera and printer for my daily documentation. My prep work has included collecting letter stickers, page protectors, film, and blank Project Life cards along with several rolls of adhesive and inks and stamps and label stickers to embellish my found treasures along the way. I have used Julie's stencils from The Crafter's Workshop as the foundation of my album d├ęcor. Using the stencils with acrylic paint, distress ink, and gel medium has given my album a unique look that is All Me. The techniques are quick. They are easy. They look really darned cool, and by making them ahead of time, I can eliminate the need for paints and other messy, liquid supplies from my packing list.

1. The Album Cover:
I used some washi tape that I don't love (we all have a few of those rolls, right?) to hold my stencil in place on the cover of the album. I then used an old hotel room key to spread gel medium into all the empty spaces of the map stencil to create a resist of the United States map. After letting it dry overnight (I wanted to be extra safe and not mess it up), I used my Ranger distress ink to bring out the pattern and add some blue color. This effect could also be achieved with embossing ink and powder or even Mod Podge – anything that can create a resist on your background.

  1. The States Cards:
Using the same 6x6 USA map stencil and some blank grid Project Life cards, I placed the state I wanted to emphasize in the 'middle' and used my Distress Ink to highlight that state and a few of its surrounding neighbors at the bottom of the card. I then used a contrasting ink to stamp the state name over the stencilled image. I plan to use these state cards as title cards or journalling cards for each new state that we cross into.

NOTE: This is also how I created cityscape 3x4 and 4x6 cards, to be used for any major cities we may visit.
  1. Days of the Week Cards:
Using the same blank grid cards, I spray misted various colors of ink over the banner days stencil to create several weeks' worth of cards. I have not yet decided if I will use these as-is or if I will cut them apart and adhere the corresponding day to a place. Time on the road will determine how I use these cards.

  1. The Painted Patterns Cards:
I experimented with Distress Paint and these fun, funky patterned stencils. I dabbed the paint over the stencil onto the cards, and left a good old-fashioned mess, BUT being the ink and paint snob that I am, I immediately took the stencils, flipped them over with the paint-side down onto new blank cards, brayered over the stencils to transfer the paint and pattern, and made title cards that I absolutely adore. I honestly think these may be my favorite cards of the bunch. I'm planning to use them as title cards for the different portions of our trip (ex. Alaska cruise vs RV life vs road-tripping with and without my parents, because, yes, they are going to be with us for a month of this 2-month long adventure).

I hope that I have inspired you to pull out your stencils and inks and paints and art supplies and just play. I hope that you realize that you can use 'themed' (ex the map and the days of the week stencils) and 'unthemed' (ex the fun, funky patterns) products to make a project your very own. I hope that you discover the love of travel, be it far or near, and that you learn to appreciate and document this life you have been given. And most of all, I hope you know how truly honored and grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to share my passions with you today.

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