Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Zoom In ¦ Zoom Out: A binary quandary


Hi you.

I do enjoy joining Helena [of Helena's Creative Maven] in documenting a particular moment in time by the simple task of zooming in and out on my camera.

I like the way that, while the close-up shot might seem a little puzzling, by zooming out the story suddenly makes itself evident.

In the last few months I've shared a pairs of  'ZIZO' photos where, after zooming out, you might have responded with:
And, while all those moment were fun to capture and play with, I'm pretty sure that they did eventually make sense once you understood the wider [literally!] context.

But with today's photo?  Not so much!

 Here we go ...

Zooming In ...
As someone who's been documenting her life - in numbers - once a month since January 2010 there was no way I could pass by these stencilled numbers without taking a photograph. But what were they?

As I zoomed in on my camera I could see they resembled binary coding. But what did they mean? And why were they there?

Where's there you ask? Well, it's here ...

Zooming Out ...
On the side of a building opposite the Usher gallery in Lincoln.

And, probably like you like you right now, I was still none the wiser even when presented with the full picture!  So ... I did what all people who want to know an answer do ... I Googled it!

And seeking out: 'binary code graffiti building  Lincoln' eventually led me to the quite aptly named 'Binary Graffiti Club' [of course! Now why didn't I think of that sooner?] where I found a very similar photo as my close-up, so I'm pretty sure it's the same place.

As for the whys and wherefores ... I'm still a little in the dark although their site does state that they are 'Inspiring young people to see the city as canvas to create change'. So, make of that what you will.

As for what it says, or means [is it just me or do you feel like you've wandered into an episode of the X-Files?] ... I'll leave that up to any coders amongst you.

Or maybe it doesn't mean anything ... maybe the fact I photographed it and now you and I are talking about it was all they wanted ... who knows ...

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Visit Helena's Creative Maven to see more participating ZIZO bloggers ...
... and for more number themed storytelling drop in on me again tomorrow [July 31 2014) where I'll be sharing my regular community feature 'My Month in Numbers'. You can even join in if you fancy it!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Junk Journaling: Inspiration from my 'May 2014' journal. Part 1:: The collaged and scrapbooked pages


Hello there.

If you've ever looked at a Junk Journal 'Bits' pack in my vintagey/crafty supply Etsy shop, or if you've ever thought about making your own, but you don't know where to go with it once you've got all the items there in front of you ... then this post - filled with photos from one of my latest projects - is just for you!

By their very nature no two junk journals can ever be the same; the items are usually reclaimed, not mass-produced, plus we decorate them with our own unique photos, words and 'bits' and so ...

I've tried to make this post not merely about just sharing my project but also about the general ideas behind each page. That way the design elements should be easy to transfer over into your personal project, without you needing to have the exact same supplies.
However ... if you would like to begin with the supplies which formed the base of my journal ...  then you can pick up the 'Blue Sky & Blackboards' kit here in my shop.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/197929408/junk-journal-kit-blue-sky-and?ref=shop_home_active_1
Unlike the other packs I have on sale this one is a fully self-contained 'kit' which comes complete with pre-punched holes in a selection of the pages plus the book ring to join it all together. Do have a look at the full - detailed - product description here to get the full picture of what's included ... there's a lot! [Black and white chequerboard sticky tape anyone?].

Here are a some of the supplies I added to the base kit:
... mainly it's photos, ephemera [receipts, leaflets etc] plus a few vintage book pages, some scraps, and a few splashes of orange [which works so well with the aqua elements of the kit!]

If you're interested in or have bought the kit I'll point out which items are from it as we move along - LOOK OUT FOR THE **asterisks** AS THEY DENOTE THAT THE ITEM MENTIONED IS PART OF THE KIT.

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My May 2014 as a Junk Journal ...

The end result is approximately 17x11cm [just larger than the average 6x4" postcard] and it's a tag style book threaded on to a single book- ring*:
I chose to wrap the finished book with a length of woven banding* on to which I stitched a decorative crochet flower [a gift from a friend] and a button, adding a length of twine to hold it all safely shut.

The covers [above] are made from sturdy cardboard decorated with - but not hidden behind - number paper*, soft template paper from an old craft magazine* plus some splashes of colour. The overall effect I was aiming for was messy arty collagey scrappiness so there's no straight lines involved and plenty of torn edges.

On the inside cover I began with a brief introductory page; some typed wording, a chalkboard label* [similar, but not identical designs are in the kit] with cotton tape* that I coloured with spray ink:
The chequerboard sticky tape* and camera fabric* helped to reflect and balance out the colours of the label. 

So, now I've set the scene ... let's have a look inside.

While many of my pages feature photos [see below] - I am a lapsed scrapbooker after all - they're not by any means an essential part of junk journaling. So, if you don't use photos in your creative work maybe something here will inspire you ...

Examples of photo-free pages:
If there's a phrase, quote or lyric that reflects the mood you're looking to create, then make that the sole focus of a page. The other elements can act as a backdrop:
And even the smallest snippet of info is worth documenting to take you back to a particular place and time ... even without a photo:

* Scrap of mesh / 'Must Have' label + sticky tape - all from kit
And if you're not a fan of personal journaling then you can't go wrong with more of a list style of journaling:

As this list shows, you can continue the 'junk' / reclaimed feel by writing your journaling on something with an existing background design [such as this mathematical paper*] rather than on a personality-free blank sheet!

Other photo-free options include pure collage; which is really just using paper for the love of it! No need to even attempt to tell a story - not in words at least. Try expressing yourself with colour and shapes instead!
Sometimes people aren't sure what to do with items of vintage ephemera they have in their stash ... but really ... there's no need to tie yourself up in knots trying to be clever with it ... here I simply used a vintage Lotto board* as page:
Its lovely muted colours worked perfectly as a base to a little bit of collage; which is simply a line cut from vintage sheet music and a few scraps in my chosen colour scheme.

Below is a similar idea, only this time using new ephemera - a leaflet from one of the day trips I'm using the journal to document. Rather than keep it separate, tucked inside an envelope in the album, I simply cut it down and turned it into a page. What better way to give an album a very specific personalised theme?
*The 'Love This' chalkboard label and kraft luggage tag are from the kit.
In contrast ... this item of ephemera  - a swing tag from a coat I bought months ago - has nothing to do with the place we went to:
... but it did strike a note with me just the same!! I added the punched heart.

Now I've convinced you that you don't need to use photos ... let me show you how you can if you want to!

A scrapbooker does Junk Journaling:
If you're used to scrapping on 12x12" then the surroundings may well feel a little different ... a little smaller, more condensed, more relaxed even ...
... but you can still work with the familiar premise of photo + title + journaling as these pages demonstrate:
To get my photos small enough ...
  • I make a photo collage [in Picasa, but there are probably lots of other methods] using two images.
  • I then save it and print it out on to regular 4x6" photo paper. I then simply cut them apart into two photos small enough to use on this size of page!
Sometimes less is more ...
... especially on such a small scale, so I don't always embellish my photos:
And 'embellishments' needn't be 3D ones ... I personally like to use the smallest of scraps in a minimal arrangement:
*Tag [page base] and patterned paper from the kit.
I feel it helps me keep a collage feel even when I'm in scrapbooking territory! After all you can pretty much blend together any of your favourite techniques in a junk journal ... it's definitely the place to allow yourself to experiment!!
Another way of adding 'something' to a photo could be to journal over the top of it like I did here after typing on to self-adhesive fabric tape*:
Or ... by typing [or writing / stamping / using rub-ons] directly on to it as I did here [with the title of the sculpture 'Ocean Voices']:
And, of course, it wouldn't be one of my projects if there wasn't a snippet of words in there somewhere!

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Believe it or not ... there are actually more pages from this petite journal left for us to chat about! And, as they all share something in common - an element of interactivity - I'm going to allocate them their own dedicated post in a few days time.

Before then ... I'll be back with other stuff and nonsense ... and you can check out the new kit here ... or dig out an existing kit and get journaling!

If there's an idea in this post you'd like to try out please do save / Pin this post for future reference ... and maybe even share it with your crafty friends too! Thanks so much!

Julie :-)
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* Items labelled with the asterisk are included in the 'Blue Sky & Blackboards' kit available from my Etsy shop.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Junk Journals: Perfectionism VS the lure of the cardboard box


Hello hello.

I've been curating, compiling and selling Junk Journal 'bits' packs via my Etsy shop for just around 4 months and making my own junk journals / mini-albums made from recycled materials for a lot longer - about 6 years in fact and so ...

... if you haven't tried putting one together yet I'm going to try to tempt you to give it a whirl!

And I'm relying on this - the main weapon in my arsenal - to help me convince you:
Empty cardboard box
Yes, my main weapon is an empty cardboard box! And yes, I'm hoping that it will encourage you to try something new to you ... by reconnecting you with something from your past.  Let me explain ...

You remember how it used to go? [Actually I'm willing to bet your parents have probably never let you forget!] ...
  • you were a kid
  • it was your birthday / Christmas / special occasion
  • someone [usually those parents-with-the-long-memories] was kind enough to buy you the big shiny gift you'd dreamed about / written to Santa regarding / highlighted in the Argos catalogue
  • you were over-the-moon, took it out of the box, set it all up and played with it blissfully until tea time and then ...
  • ... you turned your attention to the cardboard box it came in!
Maybe you climbed inside it [of course you climbed inside it .. who wouldn't!?] ... and maybe it became the sailing ship in which you crossed the carpet ocean.

Maybe you put it on your head [again ... of course you did ... and if you're anything like me, you still do from time to time ...] and maybe it became the space helmet which protected you from an alien atmosphere.

Maybe you tipped it on to its side and drew windows and doors on it transforming it into a bespoke doll's house, or a shop, or zoo.

And maybe you cut it up and made wings, banners and all kinds of props for the shows you'd put on ... in front of parents who sat there slowly shaking their heads while mumbling wistfully "after all that we could have just bought her the cardboard box"...

Sound familiar? Good, because what I'm trying to say is this:
Remember when a cardboard box used to offer you a world of pressure-free creativity? Then welcome to the world of the Junk Journal.
Don't get me wrong, I love a brand new paper crafting supply, fresh out of the box, as much as the next crafter. But the thing is ... I like to use the box too!
 
Meet my newest complete junk journal, which documents some special moments from May, the covers of which were cut down from ... guess ... yep, that's right ... a cardboard box!
And yes, I've covered up the majority of it but I'm in no way hiding it.
 I love this style of mini-book journal call-it-what-you-will:
  • It's imperfect; in fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the mortal enemy of perfectionism!
  • It's eco-friendly; it recycles / upcycles all kinds of cardboard, paper, book pages and ephemera.
  • It's creative; there's no right or wrong way to assemble any of my packs - nor any of the supplies you pull together for yourself. You get to reinterpret all the reclaimed supplies in your own way, to suit your own photos or stories or favourite colour schemes.
  • It encourages 'just go for it'-ness; what's the worst that can happen? If you go wrong ... just find another cardboard box or old book page! This messy collagey style, using less-than-precious materials works best when it wonky and slightly shabby ... it feels more authentic somehow. Sort of like the crafting equivalent of Lieutenant Columbo...
  • Alternatively if you're more of a painty inky type who uses paint over their 'junk' bases ... it works on the same principle. There's nothing precious being 'spoilt' by any so-called mistakes.
Here's my attempt at journaling using my fairly new-to-me old typewriter:
 ... it's hit and miss ... I'm not denying it! I covered over some mistakes with patterned paper and white-out tape while I left others there because, really ... who cares?!

If I'd wanted 'perfect' I'd have spent time typing it into a text box [which I'd have had to have measured so I knew it would fit] in a word-processor, spell-checking, then printing it out.

But I didn't' want that. I wanted retro, nostalgic and edgy ... and I wanted it then and there. While I was in  the mood. When I had the chance. While it was fresh in my mind.

But if I had wanted to start afresh? Well, it would have cost me the price of a new index card. And that wouldn't really have broken the bank. Or my heart.

This page from my May album - made from a recycled clothing label with a scrap of patterned paper and a die-cut leftover surround stapled to it - embodies the whole idea of junk journaling ... it's just a more relaxed way to craft:
And often ... once you've let go of any fear about spoiling your new project by making a 'mistake' or trying to be perfect ... that's when you do your best work!

So ... how did I do? Did I succeed in tempting you over to the imperfect side?

Are you metaphorically [or even literally, I won't tell anyone!] climbing back into that empty cardboard box of your childhood?

Will you allow its attitude of 'you-can't-hurt-me-so-you-might-as-well-just-dive-in-and-enjoy-me' win you over ... again?

I do hope so!!  Make sure to let me know it you try your hand at junk journaling in the future.

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** 'Blue sky and blackboards' the junk journal kit I've used as the base of my May 2014 album[pictured here] is available here in my shop. [More than one kit is available with items varying only slightly between individual packs.]
  • Unlike the other packs I have on sale this one is a fully self-contained 'kit' rather than a pack of elements for you to assemble how you fancy!.
  • 'Blue sky and blackboards' comes complete with pre-punched holes in a selection of the pages
  • Plus the book ring to join it all together.
  • Do have a look at the full - detailed - product description here to get the full picture of what's included .. there's a lot! [Black and white chequerboard sticky tape anyone?].
If you love the kit, grab yours now and drop back here soon when I'll be sharing more images of my finished journal pages to inspire you to open up yours and start playing!

Julie :-)

Friday, 25 July 2014

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: The Steep Hill edition


Hi again.

If I've been a bit off the radar lately it's because, like Jack Skellington, I've been trapped in Christmas Town.

But I'm taking a break from my festive crafting commissions this weekend and turning up the heat again to share more of my Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt photos [the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is hosted by Rinda].

[Oh and ... thank you for the kind things you've been saying about enjoying my Scavenger Hunt posts over the 3 years I've been playing along. It's very good of you to say so!]

Right then ... get your walking shoes on ... we're heading up hill ...

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Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: The 'Steep Hill' edition.

Earlier this month we spent a week at a beautiful hotel called The Rest which overlooks Steep Hill in Lincoln [UK].

As you might have guessed ... the name of the hotel and the name of the road are not entirely unconnected. Put it this way ... there's a reason it's called Steep Hill.
Hence The Rest.
Each day, after returning from our treks and trails we returned to the veranda outside our room where we could sit with a cuppa and watch all the weary legged wanderers make their way up the hill!
It's a great spot to people-watch as there's always something to see such as ...
  • The people who just can't take it any more and are being dragged by the hand uphill by a more energetic partner ...
  • Plus those who are being pushed uphill by a friendly pair of hands on their shoulders or in the small of the back!
  • And then there's those who run up it ... who are either: super-fit [we saw one jogger run up it twice in ten minutes] OR else they're children [who then stand and wait for their older-legged parents.]
  • We even heard a tired-looking man and woman - carrying a large framed painting uphill [as if in a scene from Laurel & Hardy] describe their purchase to a passer-by as: 'It seemed like a good idea at the time!'. Presumably that time was at the bottom of a hill!
And from our raised vantage point we were pretty much guaranteed to see ...
 
No.4: A group of tourists
 So that was another crossed off the hunt list!
 
And, as the age old rule states,  'What goes up ... must come down' ...
 
... and people have various - equally watchable - ways of doing that too!
 
Like on an evening when party going ladies cast their eyes down the road ... and swiftly remove their high heeled shoes before even attempting a descent! And then there are those who you're best off watching through the gaps between your fingers as you cover your eyes in terror ...  
We can only wonder whether either of them had any rubber left on their soles by the time they reached the bottom!

While we're here, that door they're about to whizz past? That's the next item I can cross of the list ...

 No.9: A bakery
It had a fun window display featuring some unusual cakes which we watched lots of people stop to look at. After all when your shop is situated near the top of the steepest, most tiring, part of a hill ... people don't need much of an excuse to stop and pause!!
 
So a good window display can only help draw those gaspers in ... which leads me to this ...
... that empty building next door to the bakery - right opposite our hotel - used to be a second-hand book shop called 'The Reader's Rest' where we've spent many an hour browsing [and catching our breath] over the years.

And now it's for sale.

And yes ... I spent a week gazing at it, dreaming of what I could turn it into! And yes, I've even looked it up on the estate agent's website.

And no ... I can't afford it!

But if I did buy the Grade II listed building and move into the flat above? Well then I'd [a] be busy planning up a fabulous window display that would draw in all those breathless browsers, and ...[b] I'd be a lot fitter than I am now!!

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So, that's two more off the scavenger hunt list ... and a little more muscle on my legs. Win win!



I hope you enjoyed your brief visit to Steep Hill. At least you got to see it without the customary strained calves and gasping lungs ...
Have a great weekend.

Julie x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: the Airshow edition


Following on from my Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt / Zoom in-Zoom Out post last week, in which I captured a bear at an air show ...

... here are a few more items I collected with the sounds of plane engines ringing in my ears:

No.16: A sign in a language other than English
 This emergency information, found stencilled on the side of an Italian plane, handily came with its own translation:
Back in 2012 one of the categories on the hunt was 'Someone playing a musical instrument' and I photographed the bagpipers from the Scottish marching band that often livens up the air show. So, when the 2014 list included 'A parade', I thought that, if all else failed I could rely on the pipers once again. But I didn't need to as I came across ...
 
No.14: A parade:
 
Air cadets 'on parade'!

Next I found there horned hats on sale in one of the many market tents at the show. And while I'm not entirely sure what they are for ... I do know they're not exactly flying helmets ...

No.11: A horn
For a start you wouldn't get the cockpit closed ...

And lastly ...

No.20: A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides
One side of the air show provides a - vintage - bus service to ferry people to and from the car parks and when I spotted this one ... I knew it was going straight on my list:
Right then ... I don't know if that heraldic crest will actually count as a 'picture' painted on the sides but ...

... I'll take a juvenile smirk at the wording on the sign over Scavenger Hunt list accuracy any day ...

;-)

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For more details on the hunt visit Rinda's blog and I'll see you around soon.

Julie