Monday, June 6, 2011

Musings on New Product and Variations on a Set: Dot Spot Again

Two comments on yesterday's post really stood out for me. Take a gander:

Marty: "good news and bad news. good news...i LOVE these cards. bad news...i need BOTH of these sets and that is going to mess with my "no more ordering new stamps till i use the ones i already have" project."

Yoona: "My initial reaction: I wish I had those sets. My better judgement: Susan, you are actually showing me that I should and could use what I have to make totally different cards. And that's truly CREATING!"

Despite the fact that these two comments are polar opposites in meaning, they both reflect what I consider to be an essential truth about papercrafting: new product is both everything and nothing.

Whatever do I mean? Well, on the one hand, very little in papercrafting is as inspiring and satisfying as getting a cardboard box of new product on your doorstep. New product, if we have the discipline to use it rather than just collect it, is fun and necessary to keep us excited about what we're doing. It's like the rush we get when we buy new clothes...we feel pretty and hip and happy when we put them on. What a lift that is to our ego and sense of style! After a while, however, clothes stop being so wonderful and fresh. They start to look dated or shabby or ill-fitting. We get bored with them and start looking for something new, and the whole process starts over again.

On the other hand, creativity doesn't really need new product. Instead, seeing new product can make us look at our old product differently. What do I have on hand that would work in a similar way to the new stuff out there? How can I take something old and languishing and make it look fresh and new with a new color combo, embellishment, or layout? That's the essence of my Variations on a Set strategy: pull out old stuff and play around with it in fresh new ways.

My purchasing has slowed down considerably in the past two years. Partly, this slowdown is the result of my having accumulated a stash of stuff so big it stands as a lasting tribute to my obsessive nature. When you already have a bazzilion flower stamps, it's hard to keep buying more and feel fiscally and morally responsible at the same time.

But when too much time lapses between purchases, I find myself getting bored and creatively stale. It's time for an infusion of fun new things to stimulate my creativity.

The key, I think, is balance. After a couple of days playing with my new A Muse stamps, for instance, I found myself pulling out some paper that I haven't messed with in over a year and doing something completely different with it, something inspired by a set of cards in a magazine. The creative flourish that resulted will show up here, soon!

I guess the point behind these musings is to enjoy new stuff but don't forget about what you already have.

Now that I've typed that, it sounds pretty trivial. But I still think it's important.

Anyway, today's card using Papertrey's Dot Spot (an old set for me) really made me happy, mainly because it could be sent to a guy even though it has bling on it. The dark colors (Memento Rhubarb and Danube) work pretty well with all the white space, I think. Plus, the design is stable, solid, balanced, symmetrical, and somehow oddly serious. Just like guys can be.

How-To Tips: To line up the dot circles perfectly, use a gridded acrylic block. Stamp the center circle first, then the two smaller circles, and finally the outside blue circles. The sentiment is a horizontal one, so I stamped the Birthday first, then the Happy over it, also using the gridded block to get everything nice and straight and centered.

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Basics, Dot Spot
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, corner chomper


  1. Oh.
    CAN I relate to the strong urge to buy. Or to pull away and NOT buy. :) As a relatively new crafter, the balance thing is quite a tough card to play! :) Will live and learn I guess.
    Tks for these posts! Have ordered for the stamp and am glad you are showing diff ways to use it! :) Loving the colors on your cards lately! :)

  2. Thanks for this post, Susan. I need to find this same balance - both for my pocketbook and because of lack of storage space. You've expressed my feelings and provided some needed advice, ideas & suggestions. Please keep sharing your musings and your card creation ideas. ;-)

  3. Hi Susan,
    It feels so strange to see my name on your blog. Kinda exciting and embarassing at the same time. I hope my comment was not inappropriate in any way. It's just that my hobby of 'working with hands to create' became 'collecting' at some point. Since the realization 2 months ago, I am doing much better.
    Oh, I recently bought 3 ink pads all in white because I wanted to stamp white images on Kraft like the cards in 350 Cards & Gifts on p35. Stazon opaque in Cotton White and Martha S’s white pigment ink didn’t work. Color Box Pingment ink in Frost White is wonderful. Could you tell me the difference between the dye and the pigment inks? Is ColorBox Chalk a dye or pigment? If you already posted on this subject, could you email me the link? Thank you. (yoonashin@gmail)

  4. Great musings. Not trivial at all. Love the card. Very crisp. Very clean. My main struggle with design my cards is placement of elements. I don't have a good eye for it. I even use your "thirds" rule and have made myself a little template. The struggle goes on. Thanks for all you share with us. I've learned so much from you. And...I'm trying to love the stamps I have, more. I'm still on a buying freeze.

  5. That card is brilliant, I would never have thought to do that (always felt it needed to be random). Love your ramblings because they are so true. Perhaps those of us who aren't as disciplined as you should sign up to a pact of no new stamps for a (insert period of time)

  6. What a great card. These Memento shades of red & blue are just beautiful. And your card is so OC-pleasing! Everything is perfectly placed. Your thoughts are very interesting. I do love to buy stamp sets; I drool and long for certain new ones. But I keep a paper wish list for each stamp company I like, and let it sit. Then, weeks & weeks later, I'll either cave in and buy, or why did I want this set? and cross it out. So for me what works is writing it down and thinking a long time before I actually buy.

  7. Sue's wish list idea works for me, too. For years, I've made a wish list when the new SU! catalog came out. I can't order it all at once, which is a good thing, because I often wonder, "Why did I want this?" Also, after I see someone else use something, my feelings about it may change.

    I have learned to avoid "sneak peeks" of monthly releases like the plague, so I won't impulse buy.

  8. Today I really enjoyed reading your musing, especially because it's so true and thought provoking.
    I also try not to just buy stamps, and to use the ones I have. I must confess, I did spoil myself 2 weeks ago with a few tiny stamps that I've eyed for a while. They will be put to good use.
    Your card is so lovely...all your creations are very inspiring.

  9. I so agree with your new /old stamps. They both are vital in our creating and...they keep us "grounded" (old) and "excited" (new stamps). Love your card today! Please keep rambling!

  10. Hmmm. Very interesting. I'm afraid to let my demonstratorship lapse because then I won't use all I've purchased and I'll still be longing for all that's new. I could always rejoin at a later date. Yep. They got me. What a vicious circle! At some point ... soon... I'll have to let go because I will face the fact that I have more than enough paper, stamps, brads, powder, ink, etc., to be creative - the combinations are endless.

  11. I think you've hit my nail right on the head. I seem to 'need' to collect things I haven't got. I see a new stamp and even if I've got something similar I really, really 'need' it. And if it's part of a set then that's big trouble for me. I often refer to your blog for common sense (my personal 'cold turkey', lol) because while what you say may seem like the obvious to some people, it's just what I need to hear!!! I'm not saying I always successfully resist my urge to buy but I definitely don't give in as often as I used to.

  12. Oh, you are so right Susan; you sure hit the nail on the head. I decided recently to find a new way to approach my cardmaking and the almost unstoppable urge to add new things: I go and tidy my craft room - go through my papers - sort through some stamp sets or some ribbons. It's amazing how you forget what you have and for me, I get that same little thrill of excitement I get when I buy new things - which then sparks my enthusiasm. It's not that I will never buy anything new at times - but setting myself a budget each month and thinking about it instead of having an emotional response to what I see and then want. I think whether I have something else that I could use instead or some other way of using what I already have. I actually think carefully about it - rather a new process when it comes to cardmaking!

    I discovered that when my bank had to cancel my credit card recently due to someone trying to use my card number fraudently and I had to wait a week for the new one to come, that my whole world didn't come crashing down because I couldn't buy anything on-line! I was almost surprised that it didn't! Isn't that just plain silly?!! Sure, I love to get "new" things in the mail, but it's all about setting my boundaries. I feel some sort of odd comfort in knowing that others are going through a similar process :-)

    And of course, Susan, you card is fabulous! And please keep up your musings: I thoroughly enjoy them :-))


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!