Thursday, November 10, 2011

Preparing for a Crop

By, Becky Higgins

September 2003, creating keepsakes

It’s six-thirty. You’ve fed your family, and you’re in a mad rush to gather your scrapbooking supplies before your seven o’clock crop. You wonder which pictures to scrap, which supplies you need, and if you should bother taking your entire album. Most of all, you wonder, “Why, oh why, didn’t I think about all of this earlier?”

Imagine being able to waltz out the door, completely organized and ready to tackle several layouts. Imagine not having to transport boatloads of product to and from your car, but making it in (gasp) just one trip! Imagine your cropping friends’ admiration when they see you actually completing several layouts instead of sifting through a dozen envelopes of recently developed pictures. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your precious crop time.

On your mark, get set…

Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish at this crop?” Remember that this is a social gathering. If you’re going for just a few hours and plan to catch up with your friends or admire other people’s albums, you’ll be lucky to finish a page or two. On the other hand, if you’re attending an all-day scrap-a-thon, you’re probably anxious to get down to business. Depending on your preparation and how fast you scrapbook, you can even set a goal to complete a dozen layouts. Regardless of your time allotment, be realistic. Do as much pre-crop planning as you can so you won’t waste crop time.

Plan your pages

The key to crop success can be summed up in one word-preparation. You can do that by finding your focus. Envision your end result. Perhaps you’ll work on completing a theme or gift album. Pull together any papers and embellishments you think you will need.

For example, at a recent crop I knew I wanted to finish the layouts for my family’s Disney cruise album. I wanted the layouts to have a similar feel, so I chose coordinating papers, cardstock and tags for my titles. I imagined my layouts as fresh, simple in design, and- most importantly- completed by the end of the evening. I achieved my goal because I planned ahead and envisioned the completed pages.

Knowing is half the battle

Scrapbook pages involve two types of tasks: mind-oriented and hand-oriented. Determining how to position your pictures or figuring out what to include in your journaling are tasks that use your mind. Setting eyelets, cutting out template letters and chalking die cuts require hand-work but not a lot of brain power. Try to do your “mind” tasks before the crop. When you think of layout ideas, sketch them! Keep design notes with the pictures and papers you plan to use for each layout. Trust me-when you’re ready to create the pages, your job will be easier. “Hands-on” tasks like matting photos and punching are perfect activities while you chat with your neighbors.

The bottom line? Know what you can handle during distracting times and what needs to be thought out before the crop.

Gather your supplies

Now that you’ve grouped your photos, papers and embellishments, you need to gather everything else. What are the basic supplies you use every time you scrapbook? For me, it’s my paper trimmer, a small pair of scissors, a journaling pen, ruler, eraser, pencil and adhesive tabs. Make sure you take any additional tools that could come in handy for these specific layouts, such as chalk, templates, punches or eyelet-setting tools.

Decide which items aren’t necessary. Ask a friend if she will share her colored pencils. Offer to share your paper trimmer. Sharing saves you space and hassle. As tempting as it is to haul all of your new gadgets, a bin filled with fiber and your latest 13 rolls of film, it’s just not practical if you’re serious about completing several pages. It’s distracting and you’ll lose focus.

Simplify the process

When I’m in the comfort of my home and every product I own is within reach, there’s no telling what I’ll work on.

At a crop, the environment is social and I’ll likely get side-tracked. Focus on completing layouts with the same theme, such as the Disney cruise album I mentioned earlier. If your chatting with friends and looking at their work, simplifying your own work could mean accomplishing your crop goals.

Save the best for last

Here’s my most helpful tip: Save the journaling for when you get home. If you’re like me, it’s hard to concentrate on meaningful journaling when you’re being distracted by conversations. Create your journaling block, even draw your pencil guidelines, then finish the writing part later. Or, if you prefer computer journaling, be sure to leave enough space for it.

Your expressions, feelings, memories and thoughts are just as important as the pictures. Reserve the “mind-ful” task of writing for when you can really dedicate your genuine thoughts to what you want to say. When I try to write journaling with lots of people and noise around, it ends up as meaningless chatter that states the obvious and doesn’t say what I really want to express.