Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Learning new things

(2011) P.Lynne Designs
I recently decided that I wanted to learn something new every month this year.  In addition to my many skills that have been taught to me over the years (both crafting and non-crafting), there is still a lot I do not know how to do.   I do not know how to bake bread, even though I begged my mother for a bread machine a few years ago, I now find the skill useless, because experts in the field say that bread is bad for you, and besides that, there is no one in the house but me.  I always wanted to know how to do that perfect cartwheel, but I never had strong enough arms to hold my weight for a second (and the reason why I could never make a great cheerleader or gymnast), and the skill now does not look good on a 50-year old.  But I can stand and execute a perfect (well almost perfect) Forte on Pointe in ballet.
I am not saying these things to brag (hate bragging, it does not produce anything), but I am saying it to prove that it is never too late to learn, and when it comes to crafting, there are tons of courses to choose from, and I have a short list of places you can learn how to craft (or anything else) from making ravioli to programming a computer, and then some.
Warning: there may be affiliate links ahead.  I will be compensated if you make a purchase through my links.
First the Cheap and free….
The first and perhaps the cheapest way of learning a craft is from family and friends.   Yes, I had to go that route, and I will tell you why.  Older people love to show the younger generation how to do things other than the “latest and the greatest”, and I finding that true as I inch closer and closer to that side of the fence.   When I was 6, a friend of the family taught me how to knit and to make candles.  When I was 13, my paternal grandmother taught me how to crochet (although I never want to crochet another darn hat for as long as I live).  My mom taught me how to sew a straight stitch on the sewing machine.  These are the moments I cherish with these people, and I am forever grateful that if I need any extra money, I can knit or crochet a blanket, make a votive, or sew pillows for a craft show.
When you do not have a family friend or relative to show you these things, the next cheapest way is to hook up to your nearest library and check out a book on the subject.  Many books are for beginners, and if you get that one good book, it will show you the materials needed for each project, reading instructions, and pictures on what your project should look like at any given stage of the project.  It is called self –teaching.
If you are not a reader, the next best thing to cheap are videos.  I am going to break it down into two different kinds of videos, the cheap and the not so cheap.  You can find them on your computer, and the first two are You Tube (YT) and Vimeo.   You tube is perhaps the oldest of the two, and it does not cost anything other than your connection.  If you are not sure how to get You Tube, you can access it here.  I have learned so much about how to advance my scrapbooking and card making, learned about new tools, and even followed my favorite You Tubers once I got start learning how to do that craft.  I have even set up a channel myself, even though I do not have many videos on it. 
Vimeo is a little different but it does the same thing as You Tube and is gaining in popularity.  To me, the only different between the two, other than Google having their hands on the once independent video site of YT, is that you do not have to worry about not seeing other results on a search term.   What do I mean by that?  With YT, when you search for a term like, “how to make a simple greeting card”, YT is can quickly narrow it down to the resul
t of 60,700 videos, but all of them are not videos on the subject (remember, this site is run by Google).  Vimeo, on the other hand has a result of 7 videos, but all of them are not on the subject of the term “Greeting Card”.  When person uploads their video, it is put into a category by keyword or SEO (a technical term meaning the same thing), and to get the most hits, sometimes that person just throws in any old word to get a lot of hits on their video, which is another subject on one of my other blogs, not here.  In other words, be careful what you search for.  Tip:  use the word “tutorial” or “tut” after the search term for best results (example: how to make a simple greeting card tutorial)
Take a course…
No, you do not have to earn a college degree for these classes, but they do come in two forms:  online and offline, and each has their pros and cons.
First the offline courses.  Your cheapest way of taking an offline or physical course is at a rec center.   They used to be your “how to make an amazing flower arrangement” type courses.  In other words, the course is very basic, which is good news.  Everyone is on the same level, but your instructor should not.  One sign that your instructor is on the same level as you is when he/she is trying to figure out a basic tool needed to make something.  These courses are usually free or very little money.  The next cheapest way to take a course is through a retail store.  Think of your Home Depot, Lowes, Michaels, and local scrapbooking store (LSS) type stores.   Most are offered free, because there are no materials to hand out except instruction manuals, and paper is still cheap.  Most of your craft courses in a LSS, however, does require a fee.  Another problem with offline course is in the cancelation by you or the venue. When that happens, you may not get a refund if it is hours before the start of the class. 
When I worked at Archiver’s, there were a couple of courses that were free, and they were your basic introductory courses, such as Scrapbooking 101, and Cardmaking 101.  You basically sat through the course, not making anything until towards the very end of the course, and it was a 45 minute class and the class was equal to that of a class you got at a recreational center.   You also learned what you can get while you are at Archiver’s, so there was a store tour.   Most classes were $15-$20 ($22 when I left), and it included all of your materials to make a card, altered piece, or scrapbook page.  Most classes lasted about an hour to an hour and a half.  The end result is you got to take home your finished project and an instruction manual.  It was worth the value of the course.
The last way and perhaps, in my opinion, the most expensive way to learn how to do something is online courses.  This is not your 15-minute course on YT or Vimeo.  These courses are usually intense and very detailed oriented.  These sites include Udemy, Craftsy, and countless others.  I am will only concentrate on Udemy and Craftsy.
Craftsy, according to their website has a motto, “Learn your craft, your way: when, where, and how you like it.” You can learn how to do needlecraft, papercrafting, woodwork, metalwork, and all else in between.  To start, take a mini course, they are free.  Once you get your feet wet, you can move ahead to the ones that cost more, but first, you must sign up for an account.  It is the only way you can keep up with the courses you have already taken, so you do not duplicate and pay for it again.  The best part is you learn at your own pace, and you can stop and start a video at any time during the duration of the course. 
Udemy also requires that you set up an account, but this site is broader based.  Udemy also is more for those who want to learn technical courses, such as Photoshop, photography, or set up a WordPress blog.  With that comes a hefty price of $50-$300, but there are often sales on a good thing, such as “take a $10 course” that would normally be $250.  This is another good reason for signing up for emails, because if there is a sale, and you do not have the money to buy it at the regular price, this is the perfect time (there’s that word again) to take the course.  What I like about these courses is there is a 5-10 minute preview, so you can see if the course is for you.  If not, you do not have to pay for it, and you learned something in the process.  Each course comes in chapters, so you do not have to search all over the place for a continuation of the subject matter.    I did find some crafting courses, but not a whole lot, because of the nature of the site itself.
Finally the end…
Experts say that in order to stimulate the mind, a person has to learn something.  You are never too old to learn something new.  When you stop, you die, I am not going to lie about it.  It has been proven that when a person stops learning, they are dying, at least in a mental sense.   Learning and remembering is said to prevent Dementia, diminish the effects of Alzheimer’s and other mental degenerative diseases in older persons.  For the rest of us, learning a new skill may provide us of extra income, and a whole new way of communicating by getting out and socialize.  Who knows where your new found skill will take you, including touching someone else’s life, but it has to be something worth looking into.   One thing I forgot to mention in this long post is Pinterest.  I know it could be addicting, but it free, and if you know how to use it well, it could lead to you all kinds of craft tutorials, because many people who write blogs do post on Pinterest to gain traffic and a new friend who shares in the same passion they do.  

If you have a skill that is worth teaching on YT, Vimeo, Udemy, or Craftsy, you can also upload a video and get paid for it.  Each site has their own instructions on how to upload a video and other tips of the trade.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What are Albums, Mini Books, Folios, and Journals

(c) 2015 P.Lynne Designs
A mini book I created in 2012

(Warning:  The following activity may cause you to cry in happiness, do lots of ahhs and oohs, joys of laughter, and may spark that part of your brain that has not been active since you were a child.  Proceed with happiness. J )
I am starting to make more mini books and journals.  I think they are fun and can be as interactive as you make them.  Today, before I give you what is called a cross posting of journaling, both from a writer’s view and a scrapbooker’s view, I want to give you an overview of the differences between all these books.  
First of all, I think it is important that you know the difference of these books (also called scrapbooks) in terms of size, content, and elements in each of these books, so you can determine for yourself if you want to make more of a traditional style album, or an interactive one.
What is it?
A traditional photo album (TPA) is just that.  Think of your parent’s photo albums.  They are commercially made, and only come in a handful of sizes.  Back in the 1970’s, magnetic albums were introduced, but the only problem is after 20 years, the photos start deteriorating.  Today, magnetic albums are just as safe in preserving photos as the others by using paper that is photo safe.  The only thing you can do on a TPA is look at photos, that’s it.  There is some reading involved (journaling) but that is it. 
A mini book is usually handmade, with some interaction.  In fact a mini book, folios, and journals all run in the same category, which is homemade.  All of these terms can be used interchangeably and they basically mean the same, a photo book of your memories.
Size does matter with photo books (which what I am going to call them throughout this post).  For your TPA, you can use any size to be considered a TPA.  For mini books, a tiny book to an 8 x 8 album is considered a mini book.  A folio and a journal is larger than 8 x 8, but no bigger than 12 x 12.   So the sizes in all of these albums do overlap.
Of course, there are photos involved, as well as journaling, and I will go more into depth on the journaling part in a separate post (as a crossover post with my other blog, My Ambiance Life).  In a TPA, the photos are arranged in either a photo protector page with no embellishments or in a layout page with embellishments. 
The other books have interactive pages.  You can make a pocket, flip up or down, waterfall (which is basically a different take on the flip page), a book within a book, and pull out pages for starters.
Themes and types of books
To me, all photo books need to have a theme, even if it just the year in which the photos were taken.   With TPA, people are use to the fact of just throwing photos in an album, no chronological, personal, or theme, but I want to challenge you to this:  Try at least putting your photos in chronological order by year, you do not have to go by month and year, unless you do a timeline of events.  Also with any photo book, you can make the following types of books (in both a TPA and homemade)
·         Smash book- add pictures, event tickets, a label from a soda you drunk in a different city or country, a card from a dear friend, a lock of hair from your baby’s first haircut, just about anything.
·         Baby book-highlights from birth to the first or second birthday.
·         Travel adventures-highlights from a cruise, family trip, or country exploring trip.
·         Event book-highlights from your event from start (planning stage) to finish (the fun times)
·         College years
·         School years- from preschool to graduating from high school
·         Wedding book
·         Adoption book (also called a life book)
·         House book- highlight from start (planning stages) to finish of a remodel or house hunting
·         Spiritual Journey book-from baptism or acceptance into your journey and your walk with God, including moments of clarity and understanding. (Can also highlight pages from your written journal, if you like)
·         Business book-highlight moments of your business, from making the decision to have one to making your first dollar.
There are many, many more themes I could have placed in this post, but these are the ones I have seen and done.  I am currently working one for a friend of the family, whose matriarch is 105 years old (also a friend of the family, who I consider my grandmother), so this is a very special album to me.
I place this last, because it does not matter rather you place pictures inside a traditional photo album, or create a paper bag album, and you can be as creative as you want to be.  I used to hear this all the time when I worked at Archiver’s, a Memory Store, the words, “But I do not know how to scrapbook.”  The next words that came out of my mouth were, “you can put photos in a photo sleeve”, then I would instruct them on what products they need to make the book.  Scrapbooks, photo books, and others do not have to be fancy, just orderly.  You can go online and copy a simple layout, as long as you use the layouts for personal use only.  I even invite my readers to copy a look I have, as long as you abide by my copyright rules.  If you decide to do that, please give credit where credit is due, and ask permission first if you wish to mention the look you have recreated.  I do not mind and I am sure other designers do not mind as well.  I always acknowledge the original designer when I am stuck on a design.
I hope you try to make an album from scratch.  For me, it is very therapeutic, and you exercise the muscles in your brain that very few adults use after the age of 20.