Monday, September 22, 2008

CKC, part three!

Gasp! I can't believe it! I finally finished all of the mini kits they gave us at the crops at CKC Charlotte. I used them to make an album for my nephew, Drew. His parents don't scrap, and since I don't have kids (thank god!) it's a fun opportunity for me to do my fair share of kid pictures. It helps alleviate my angst about the fact that scrapbooking books and mags are so obsessed with child layouts, mostly ignoring any other subjects that child-free adults scrap about. Oh sure, they toss in a pet layout sometimes. Or maybe a "when I was a kid" one, but I get soooo tired of layouts titled "Surfer Dude" with a little kid in a Myrtle Beach t-shirt and sunglasses. Actually, there are a few good books that focus on subjects other than children, but that's another post. :)

So, sometimes it's fun to get to flip through the mental rolodex filled with thousands upon thousands of kiddie layouts I've seen in my lifetime. As I've mentioned before, it's kind of neat to get to try all these kits they gave us. The deal was that many of the manufactuers with booths at the convention donated 6x6 page kits to be given out at the nightly crops. They also gave us a lovely black canvas scrapbook to keep them in (though there were more kits than pages, which is actually really cool. It's rare that I need to buy refill pages, and it makes for a really nice gift album I'm excited to send to my sister in law. Many of the kits aren't really my style, but I like that--it forces me to do something different and makes for a cool, varied album. So...da ta da! Here are the final kit layouts.

Let's begin with my favorite. This kit was from Technique Tuesday. I was excited to get it in the first place because I couldn't get into any of their classes despite registering early. Next time I sign up the day they open reservations! Word got out that their classes are amazing and usually come with some nifty toys to take home, so who wouldn't want to sign up. This layout makes me want to go nuts ordering stuff on their website, but I'm doing a 100 layout no-shop challenge so that will have to wait.

This set included a mini stamp set (Time Flies), a mini stamp pad in Caribbean Sea, a bit of twill, and one of their Technique Tiles. The layout is entirely stamped, meaning nothing was pre-printed. How very cool. It was a great way to showcase their products and it totally convinced me of their quality and versatility. Probably the most interesting part was the Technique Tile since I had no idea what they were talking about in their literature when they mentioned these. I assumed it was just chipboard, and in a way it is, but it's also something very different. The surface is a nice clean white (no need to pre-paint), it took ink like a dream, and it's thin, yet sturdy. The price seems comparable to chipboard, too. Overall, I just love the look of this layout. The little extras, like the two step stamped twill ribbon, make this layout, and the "I did it myself" factor rules. I was really impressed with the ease of following their directions, too. Considering how much technique (no pun intended) went into creating this layout, it was incredibly easy to complete. It's hard to see in the photo, but the second page is double mounted. Not a big thing, but a nice touch that makes the layout feel "finished".

The next layout is lazer cut by EZ Lazer Designs. I'm not fond of yellow, but the concept here is pretty cool. The collage page, with windows for an assortment of photos is like an updated version of those collage picture frames from the 80's. :) The one tricky part I absolutely could not figure out was how to ink the edges of the mats as the instructions suggested. Clearly a stamp pad will not fit in all those little nooks, and when I tried a Stampin' Up brush pen, it slipped a lot and made a mess I had to cover with brads (hence all the metal on the first page. I had to add more to make it look less I like was covering mistakes, so there are quite a few. While I didn't feel like this theme was very "me", this page did get a lot of oohs and aahs from those looking at the finished project and I have to say that the stuff they have in their online store looks pretty darn cool. I wish now that I had checked out their booth a little more closely. Some products are more attention grabbing than others when you're in a crowded vendor room, and unfortunately, I did feel magnetized to it. Hooray for online shopping, huh? I think these cut outs just don't show well without being fully scrapped. They need embellishments, photos. The layouts on the front page of their site are beautiful. I may have also run into the unpleasant hunting, gun, and rodeo cuts and backed away. I just don't need to deal with that stuff.

They also gave us a little package of Phrase Plates that I have not had a chance to use yet. I'll be sure to post the layout when I do.

Overall? Cool stuff, neat idea for something really different in your albums. I wouldn't use it on every page, certainly, but sprinkled around, they're pretty fun.

This is another layout I really like, but I always expect to like Rusty Pickle projects. The paper rocks, and with an English degree focused on 17th century lit, I'm in love with the names. The background paper is Montague, and I desperately need more! The instructions were all but cryptic, though, and I kind of winged it on a lot of this layout, giving up on the instructions and finally just looking at the photo and figuring it out as best I could, so I apologize to the designers if this doesn't represent them well. Part of the problem was that it gave instructions identifying the paper pieces by design name, but the name wasn't written on the pieces so you had to guess. I ended up with some extra mystery pieces (hey, no problem, I'm happy to have extra rusty pickle stuff to play with!) and I think one completely different piece was missing. But, what confuses me most is how a company with such incredible product design and amazing project ideas (I wanted to take all of their classes but the fees were a bit too rich for my blood.) can have such a lousy website. I'm not kidding at all. It's ugly, it's difficult to find anything you're looking for, and it's completely disorganized to the point of uselessness. The first thing you see when you click it (and maybe it's somehow my computer's fault and if it is, I apologize) is a nearly blank screen with a Crash Bandicoot ad or something. You have to scroll down through some sloppy text before you even get a glimpse of their beautiful papers that should be the focus of the site. The blog is much nicer, but a pain to get to since it doesn't have its own link--every single page on the site has the same URL. The blog has contests, page maps, all kinds of fun stuff, but how do I put it in my favorite's file? It's time to spring for a web designer, guys. I know I sound bitchy as hell, but it's such a waste for such a cool company to display their product so poorly. Would you buy things if you walked into a scrapbook store and saw the most incredible supplies in the world stuffed wadded up in grimy boxes with creepy grease stains on the sides? It's like having a sales person sitting at the front of your store speaking nonsense while picking their nose. You can have the Hope diamond for $5 in there and you won't make a sale. I adore Rusty Pickle. It's just sad.
Back to the layout. I loved using the rudimentary (Xeroxed) template sheet they provided to cut out my own embellishments. It's good to be reminded that you don't have to have epoxy this, and felt that to make a great layout. I sidestepped the sweet eternal love quote, since it sounded a little creepy when used on a layout about your nephew, but the layout worked well without it. The assortment of buttons was a nice touch. I love that they went with a mixed bag instead of uniform ones. Some looked vintage, some very contemporary. They add a lot of interest to the page.

The final layout was a nice surprise from a company I had never heard of. Embellish It makes a mighty fine kit. Browsing their website I quickly found at least 5 more I want (100 page challenge, Veronica. Control yourself!) and a whole bunch of cool embellishments from companies I haven't even heard of. And believe me, I know a lot of companies with all the time I spend browsing scrapbooking stores online. Cool, eclectic candy store. I'm impressed.
I just like this layout. Because a piece was missing from the kit (arrgh! It's forgivable in this case. They warned us at the crop that many of the kits (not just by Embellish it) were missing pieces due to the massive number of kits put together on a deadline. I can only imagine the chaos and boredom. Anyway, the missing piece was the other half of the filigree strip across the bottom. It's kind of sad since the layout was so cool in its original form, but I did my best to make it work anyway. I did add a little extra sparkle in addition to the gems they sent to try to fill up some of the blank space and I had to find a replacement ribbon for the one wrapped around the photo mat because I totally screwed up the one they gave me, thinking it was supposed to be enough for both the mat and the word block. Oops. Luckily I had some leftover Wild Wasabi double stitched ribbon by Stampin' Up that just happened to match. Cool!
According to the website Embellish It produces two new kits on the third Sunday of the month, one product centric, the other all about the project. I know I plan to watch out for the next one. I wish they had a reminder system to send out emails on that Sunday, and maybe they do, but I didn't have any luck finding it to sign up. Darn.
Speaking of Stampin' Up, brace yourself for a shameless can now order from me online! Cool beenz! All you have to do is go to my site: and click on "Shop Now". It's just like ordering from me in person, but a lot quieter. :) May I recommend my favorite item that is on sale right now? I used Under the Stars to make these ATC's on acetate. I adore how guilty that racoon looks.
Yes, he is roasting a tiny can of beans.
The other product endorsement of the day is the rocking Halloween paper they came out with this year. I'm sure you'll see some projects using it soon. It's got happy skulls, jack-o-lanterns with fangs, black on black just rules. See for yourself! Spooooooooooooooooky.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

I have to say, I totally agree with you about Rusty Pickle. LOVE their product and classes are so much fun. The website however needs some SERIOUS help.