Friday, 27 September 2013

30 postcards to myself : behind-the-scenes tips for making creative projects happen!

Hello you.

Over the last week or so I've been sharing the pages so far from my '30 Postcards to Myself' / 'Learn Something New Everyday' album.

[If you missed them you can catch the album contents here; Week 1 here; and Week 2 here].

And, as some of you might be considering making something similar or better still, if some of you might be scared to make something similar, then...

This post is intended to show ways you can not only begin ... but continue with ... this kind of extended/daily type of project.
  • These ideas might come in useful if you're planning to make a journal in the run up to Christmas this year. Perhaps you're planning to follow December Daily from Ali Edwards or Journal Your Christmas from
  • You've got plently of time to apply some of the principles which I'll set out today in your own festive book;
  • Or else use the tips to prepare any journal on any theme - such as a travel journal;
  • Basically what I'm saying is ... why not 'pin'/save this post to refer to when you need it?!
Right ... back to the post itself ...

Later on I'm going to suggest that 'organisation' will help you with these kinds of projects ... but to be honest that's too much like telling you to run before you can walk.

In my experience ... the storm comes before the calm!

Any large scale creative project  I tackle usually begins in complete and utter mess, chaos and, very often ... sheer terror and creative despair!!!

Even if [and that's a big 'if] I can decide upon which format to use [notebook or minibook? Tags or postcards? Junk journal or scrapbook? Somebody help me choose!! ... and so on ...] I'm someone who needs to browse through the majority my supplies in order to get a feel for what I want to use. [I wouldn't  want to overlook that perfect something or other would I?!]

And ... as I have quite a collection of supplies and like using lots of ephemera ... that can take me quite some time!

And some debating with myself.

And during that time, my house will invariably look like this [except this is after tidying!]:
My table and/or floor tends to look like this because, once I've narrowed down which stash to use [check out the supplies I set aside in my 'album contents' post] ... I daren't put it away!

Here's how I make a start on a 30 day-type project: [this is just how I do it ... it's obviously not going to be same for everyone ... but see if anything here is useful to you.]
  1. As far as is possible I set aside a whole afternoon / block of time to set everything up in one go ----- I  think it helps with momentum ... and prevents a simple craft project from taking over my entire week's worth of free time or even my life!
  2. I set aside enough supplies to complete the entire 30 day project from the start ----- the last thing I want to do is dive back into all my boxes again in the days ahead, so I set aside enough to do the full job from the kick-off!
  3. Barring the occasional extras I restrict myself to only using what I selected at the start ----- otherwise it could end up in an entire re-assessment of my whole stash once again. And that would mean more wasted time!
  4. I set out all those supplies where I can see them on the same table / across the floor / any available surface ----- if I can't see them I can't be inspired by them rendering all the time I've spent on the previous steps pointless! I'll admit that the sheer scale of the mess is sometimes daunting ... but I keep telling myself it's only for a day or so!]
  5. I decorate all 30 pages before the daily element kicks in ---- granted, this can take a few sittings, but I don't stop until it's done. I know that, once those 30 days begin, I'll only have the time and inclination to record the memories rather than getting involved with more 'titivating';
  6. Once completed [and this is where the 'organisation' tip comes in], I store the pre-decorated journal plus all my additional supplies together, in some sort of dedicated bag or box -  this makes it easy for me to grab before flopping down on the settee in the evening. Then I can add that day's wording to my pages while relaxing!
This year I'm using this cute little plastic tray I found in a charity shop last month:
When it caught my eye I immediately recalled that Carmen [of Whoopidoings] had mentioned that someone had suggested that old school lunch trays work well for organising craft supplies. And while this isn't quite that ... it's good as! And, for just £1.50 I didn't hesitate. Thanks for the idea Carmen!

While they're not in these photos I also keep my alpha-roller stamp; date stamp; ink pads, journaling pen plus scissors and glue [in case running repairs are needed] in there too making it super-easy to keep up-to-date with my 30 postcards when ever the mood strikes!
So I've talked through how I set myself up initially ... and how I keep everything together for the duration of the project ...

... but before I go let me quickly tell you about something I occasionally do when I'm crafting in general, but which I really made a concerted effort to do during this particular project:

I used up my scraps!!

Yep, I achieved the holy grail of crafting!
  • I used up my scraps. 
  • My leftovers.
  • My oh-no-I've-already-used-that-on-a-big-project-and-now-I -can't-possibly-face-using-it-on-new-projects bits.
Do you know that feeling? It's when you've used a particular paper for something that, afterwards,  it can get a bit: 'been there done that'. And then the leftover sections of it end up languishing in your stash for the next year?

So, with that in mind ...
  • after decorating my 30 pages I forced myself to sit at the table and not start anything else until I'd used up all the leftovers and elements I didn't get around to using.
And here's a selection of what I made:
I'll post a few detail shots in my much-neglected Flickr gallery, but these give you the general idea:
 They're basically just a lots of strips and scraps with a vintage image or a phrase as a focal point:

I'm not entirely sure what they are yet. They may eventually become ...
  • business cards [with my details glued to the back]
  • tiny original collages to sell [for a low price point] if I ever dare take a table at a craft fair!
  • tiny cards to pop into parcels;
  • ... and a few have already been used as birthday gift tags.
So, whatever they turn out to be ... at least all those scraps have a new lease of life already, while they were out on the table, while I could still bear to look at them! Where they escaped the recycling bin!

Do any of today's ideas alter how you might feel about tackling a month-long project?
  • does it seem more manageable now you've seen how a mini-book can eventually rise from mess, chaos and despair?!
  • would the mind-set of allowing yourself [and yes, I think it does take a battle with the conscience to just let go and trash the place like that!] to make all the mess that's necessary because it only lasts a few days ... help you to really make a dent in the project at the start?
  • does the idea of binge-crafting and really focussing during in the days that you do have a few hours spare, help you see there's a way to making something easy to keep up with throughout the rest of the month?
Whatever your reaction ... I'd be interested to hear ...

Julie :-)

p.s: Going Postal will take a tiny break from now until next Wednesday[Oct 2nd] so I can make room for September's My Month in Numbers and a new Communal Count which may or may not also be under a postal influence this time around!
So this weekend might be which is the ideal time for you to catch up on anything you've missed ... or to make your own contribution to the series.
If you join in with a posty post of your own:
  • let your readers know you're Going Postal [a few words of introduction is fine];
  • link up to my blog or the Going Postal Pinterest board
  • then - if you use Pinterest please consider pinning it to one of your own boards, link me up, and I'll 're-pin' it.
  • but - if you DON'T use Pinterest drop by here or my Facebook page and leave a link to your postal-themed project or story before Oct 27th and I'll add you to the board for all to share your contribution.
Any problems or questions - just get in touch. :-)


  1. Another really interesting post. Organisation is always my week point. I've done another post on the Going Postal theme but this time I've actually made a couple of items. I'll put a link on your Facebook page as well

  2. I have really been neglecting my blog reading recently due to various events which are now sorted so Im trying to catch up. THis is a good way of approaching a big project and is probably the reason why I fail at so many similar ones. I am going to save this post to refer to next time I have a similar one I want to do because I always fail at the first hurdle due to not being up to date. Im trying to keep my craft stuff all in my craft room but if it was rpe prepared like this how easy would it be to lift the box and take it downstairs to work on in the evenings. I just love the idea of your postcards and a great trick for the leftovers. I keep mine for so long then get bored looking at them. The cards you made are fab and so useful for many different things. You have given me much food for though with this post

  3. I love the tray that you found. You are right about being organised of course and it's absolutely why I have all but stopped doing these month long projects (29 Faces excluded as just been doing that in my sketchbook) Such a good idea to get prepared like this.

  4. When I do a paper project I do what you do, gather stuff together, I like the process. My box is a gorgeous strawberry tray 11"x7" (minus the strawberries!) that I had from my supermarket. Organised, such a great thing to dream about... Lovely post Julie.

  5. The only month long project I take part in is jyc when I gather everything together that I want to use. My dining room table pretty much looks like yours And I have to clear it then for Chris's festivities. The little cards are great, it's always nice to have something to hand for any occasion x

  6. Christmas festivities not Chris's... Predictive text huh!!


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