Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little Project Life - Q&A

My friend, Wendy Antenucci, with Memorable Seasons asked me to share about how I got started with Project Life and my thoughts on it.

So this is a little Q&A.  I'll first say, I am not an expert or a Project Life Creative Team member...these are my thoughts through my experience doing Project Life.  If there are any more questions, I'd be happy to answer, just leave me a comment and I'll get back to you and/or make another post with another Q&A.

How do you keep up?  Does it get to be a burden?
I upload all photos from my phone and from my camera right away.  Of course, sometimes this doesn't happen, but before the week is over, I do it.  
This past year, I broke it up weekly from Sunday to Saturday.  Here is an example of how I save ALL of my photos (big camera and iPhone.  All my photos go here, scrap work, day to day, special events, etc.)
I had also made this video for a Lily Bee post on how I save my photos and pick and print them for the week.

I only look at that week within those days on my computer, and only pick photos that tell the story for the week.  Being new to Project Life in the beginning, I didn’t keep within a week and I included all photos.  It was too much.  So breaking it down weekly with just the photos that told the story for our week really make putting it together faster and less of a burden to do.

Another way I keep up is I do not give the attention to my Project Life spreads that I would a layout, card, or other project.  My focus is not on making it look good, but getting it documented.  So I work fast.  I pick products and put with the photo, if I like it, it goes down, if I don’t, I just pick something else.  If I start to do the hmmm and I wonder if this would look better feeling like I would do on a layout, I stop, glue the photo, put the card in the pocket, and move on to the next photo, it's done.  I do look at my photos for the week and decide what colors would work best, so I know which products I will be using, but I still don't give the attention to detail I would a layout or other project.

I will say this again, because I know it has helped me keep moving...I do a weekly summary.  I used to do a day to day, it was too much.  I don't have an extra notebook or take notes on my iPhone or iPad.  My life really isn't that exciting that I can't remember ;) but everyone should do what works for them...if you want a lot of details of the week, then carry a notebook or write down little things.  My thoughts tend to come together as I begin to journal and I get down what I want to.  And I'm never more than 3 weeks behind (that's my personality though), so the events are still pretty fresh in my mind, but like I said, there's not too much excitement around here ;)  I don't want this project to take anymore time away from other activities I want to do, so just sitting down in that one hour or less to do a week is all I want to spend.  When I feel like I'm spending too time much on it, then it becomes a burden.

I have found it can become a burden if you have too many product choices.  I started with the Becky Higgins core kit, but because of seeing how others did it, I gravitated to my scrapbooking stash.  That was good and bad because I focused on the "looks" of it rather than the personal documentation of our life.  I will preach to myself here...don't compare.  Some people want to make their spreads look amazing with tons of detail...nothing wrong.  That's what is so nice about PL is there is no right or wrong.  Becky Higgins started this and people have ran with the idea and made it their own.  Within the last month or two, I went back to the core products.  But I've found that the plain white grid cards are my most favorite.  They come in 3x4 grid, 3x4 white,  4x6 grid, 4x6 white to fit the pockets.  I'll talk more about products and supplies below.

Why do you do this when you scrapbook too?  Does it take away from your scrapping in anyway?
I will be honest, when I started my first Project Life (PL) this year, I was not loving it.  But as you can see above, as I kept doing it, I made it work for me.  Keeping within a week, doing a summary of that week, putting photos and product together, and moving on.  This routine ended up making PL a habit for me.

I have mixed feeling about PL now that I'm almost done with the first year.  There's a lot more detail of day to day events within each week that would have never been documented in a scrapbook page or mini-album.  I am a scrapbooker by feelings.  If I don't have a connection or feel something from a photo, it usually doesn't get scrapped.  That's where PL has been great because there's no pressure in making or designing a layout or a mini album, the photo isn't so extraordinary or special that I feel it needs to have clusters here and there all around it at the right composition...I just glue it down to a card, add a label and some journaling, a stamp, washi tape, and it's done, and best of all...our lives are being documented.

So why am I mixed about PL now, I do love to scrapbook from the heart, but I started this hobby as a creative outlet.  I don't get a creative outlet feeling from doing PL as I do anything else.   And that is the biggest reason why I wasn't loving this project.  There are times I just want to create, but I know I need to do PL to keep up.  So I've made it work for me by not giving it the amount of detail and attention I would any other project.  If you keep it simple, find a routine, use a limited amount of product choices, you can get it done fast, and move on to something else more creative and fun.  And again, these are my opinions and experience with Project Life. 

I will add one more thing about whether or not it takes away from scrapbooking.  It takes away the guilt of photos not getting documented and let's you pick and choose the photos you want to scrapbook.  So in the end, it makes scrapbooking more enjoyable in knowing you have no pressure to scrap every single photo or event.

Do you need special products?  If you were on a limited budget, what do you really need to make this work?
This is why Becky Higgins started Project Life, you only need your photos, a Core Kit (from Becky Higgins), and a pen.  After doing Project Life this year, I realize you don't even need a Core Kit.  You could use just plain white or neutral cardstock.  But for putting a PL spread together faster, using the plain white and grid cards Becky sells: 3x4 grid3x4 white,  4x6 grid4x6 white are great because they fit right into the pockets.  You can also use your stash.  You could use your pattern papers, which I have done as well.  So my suggestion would be to use your own stash, unless you really like one of the designs of the Core Kits, and if you can, at least get some of the white and/or grid cards to help get you started.  Becky Higgins has also teamed up with American Crafts for Project Life.  Those products will arrive in stores in April.  Studio Calico and Project Life have teamed up as well, selling a monthly kit beginning in January.  Other companies like Echo Park are selling what they call Photo Freedom in many different styles.  

Buy what works for you, there is no need in a lot of product (unless it will make the process fun for you)...just your photos, a pen or typewriter or even your computer, and paper.  

What I like to use besides the white grid cards is wash tape and stamps.  Lately that is all I've been using, and it makes Project Life even more enjoyable and faster to put together.  I've also pulled down my Mom's old typewriter.  I can type a lot faster than I can write, and my printer doesn't work with the smaller cards...so this is another tool I've added to make the process faster so I can move onto something else more fun.

One other product you don't need, but really is great to have is a date stamp.  American Crafts sells them with their different lines, Studio Calico as well.  And speaking of stamps, they are a great way to add a little something to your spreads.  Again, you don't need them to make Project Life work, but if you want to get a little creative with it, it can be fun.  Look for simple stamps.  Lily Bee has a great stamp sets out that I like to use with Project Life.  Studio Calico will have stamp sets out from time to time just for Project Life.  Here's a few I would recommend to just give you the basics and a good start:  Lily Bee Double Dutch, Lily Bee Autumn Spice, Studio Calico Oh Happy Day, Studio Calico Beautiful Project Life Clear Stamps.  There's a lot out there from a lot of manufacturers.  Pick the ones that best fit your style and you would use in Project Life.  And remember, search your stash, specifically look for sentiments, days of the week, months, etc.

The most important product that you do need are the protectors.  Becky sells them through Amazon, but Studio Calico will soon be carrying them.  American Crafts already has them at 2 Peas as well as Echo Park.  Decide on the format of page protectors that you like.  If you are concerned about keeping up, keep to one style.  If not, mix it up.  If you know you will have extra photos or memorabilia you want for that week, get smaller sizes.  The 6x12s are great for this. But you can also cut down a 12x12 and stitch to close it.  Becky also sells plastic envelopes which are great for memorabilia.  I use the 12x12 size for all of Emma's creations.  So I have one album and at the back of it, a plastic envelope with all of her creations from the year.

You'll also need to have an album to put all of this into.  Get the size you need, for example, 12x12 or 81/2 x 11, etc., depending on what protectors you are using.  If you use a 12x12 though, the great thing about it is you can mix up all the sizes into it.  Becky sells hers through Amazon.  Then there's American Crafts, which I use.  There's so many out there.  Pick one that you like, your preference.

How I put a Spread together:

As I'm nearing the end of my first Project Life, I have changed my approach to how I start a spread.  Based on the number of pockets in the page protector I have chosen, I will determine how many photos and how much journaling I will want.  So when I go to pick my photos, I'm selective about those that would tell the story of the week or that I really want in there.  When I print them, I make sure they will fit within the pockets.  I have been doing only a one-page spread and not the two pages per week.  Most weeks are not that full to have a two page spread for me.  You really have to make this project work for you. 

If you have Photoshop Elements, Photoshop, or some other photo editing program, you can add several photos to the size you need for a pocket.  I haven't used this technique awhile, only because I am using less photos, but it is great if you have a lot of photos that you don't mind being smaller to include.  If you don't like the smaller sized photos, you could just add the extra protectors in between your week.

Here's an example of using Photoshop Elements to add multiple photos to fit in the pockets:

For the small pockets, I open a document/canvas in the custom size of 2.88x3.88.
I drag and drop the photos (all of these are iPhone photos), I resize them to fit next to each other and so that I can at least add a little journaling.
Since upgrading my Mac's operating system, my Epson R1800 printer won't let me customize any size to print anymore.  So I trick it to print this 2.88x3.88 size.  I open a 4x6 document/canvas, drag and drop the 2.88x3.88 document/canvas and position.  I put more than one to save paper and print.
Opening a 4x6 document/canvas...I also use this for the 4x6 pockets.
I drag and drop...but I know the pocket is 4x6 (because that is the pocket next to fill), so I play with the size and position as if I were placing photos on a 4x6 piece of paper.  Once I like it, I push them together, add any other photos that will fit (to save paper), and print.  I usually make sure there is enough room for journaling and maybe some embellishing.
And here is a one-page spread using some of these photos form the above example.  You can also see, I like to use large photos (especially the ones taken with the DSLR that are really great photos) and either put them in a pocket all on their own, or across pockets.  Just make sure you don't split the photo across a face.
Here's a few more examples of some older spreads.  The older spreads used more of my scrap stash and more detailed.  This first year was a learning experience.  Now that I'm not including ALL or as many photos has helped to tell the story and keep this huge, year long project not a burden.
 This was a smaller page protector for the Easter card we sent out.
Just want to point out, some weeks, I would do a written summary on the first pocket, like I did here.  Then I just need to include the photos and anything else I want to the rest of the pockets.

You may not be able to tell the difference from the spreads above to the next few...and I want to point this out...these next two spreads are my most recent and use less product, but it doesn't look like it.  If you look closely, the base of most of the pockets are plain cardstock, with added stamping to them, date stamp, some Silhouette print and cuts labels and designs, washi tape, bits from pattern paper.  And if you notice, all the photos are the same size, small, and I knew they would fit in any size pocket.
This spread is a two-page spread from the last week before Thanksgiving, so I had more photos I wanted to include and larger ones as well.  I'm using the Clementine Core Kit in this spread, along with stamps, print and cut labels from the Silhouette, tags, washi tape, and a pen...that's it.   
Only a few weeks left to finish 2012 and will be posting those soon.  

Hope this helps give you a little insight into Project Life and at least gets you started.  I'd be glad to try to answer any questions as best I can.

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  1. Awesome, love it!

  2. This is a really great post, Patricia! Thanks for all the info- it's great to see your process & thinking behind it all!

  3. Wow, Patricia ! This is a fabulous post.-So honest and very informative. To be honest I don't think I have the discipline needed to complete a vast project like this. But maybe I will do a month in rewview spread or something like that. Better than nothing...
    I know I will definitely come back and have a closer look at your good advice when I do! Thanks sweets!!

  4. Your project life is so, so great! :)

  5. This is an amazing post! I am a huge fan of your PL and I loved reading more about your take on it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Thanks so much Patricia! Here is the link on the MS blog that just went live, as soon as I can get to it I will also have a post on my blog b/c I am GOING to take the dive too! http://memorableseasons.blogspot.com/2012/12/project-life-is-it-for-you.html


Thank you for taking time out to leave me a comment...hope you have a wonderful day!