How can you create anything while on product overload?

What is your paper stash like? Do your eyes glaze over when you start to think of a card or scrapbook project?


What does your stash of rubber and clear stamps look like? Does the initial inspiration flee when you begin going through your stamps?


What about your embellishment stash? Do you look at it for inspiration and find that you have lost 3 hours of your life from being in a catatonic stupor?


How about your tool stash? Do you get excited about using a new purchase only to find you leave it and go back to the simple tools you are most comfortable with?


Do you spend more time shuffling, touching, stacking, and rummaging through your craft stash with absolutely NOTHING to show for the time you have spent trying to be creative and inspired?

Let me help you break this down into chunks to get you over the creative block. This analogy is a bit gross but it fits. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.

Think FIRST about the project you want to do. Do you have photos of a child’s first step, first day of school, High School Graduation, a vacation trip with friends or family? Do you have a friend or family member celebrating a birthday, recently admitted to the hospital, or just in need of knowing they are lived and thought of?

This post is for a greeting card but, rest assured, the principles are the same for a layout, journal, or card.

Our neighbor back home recently had a heart attack and had surgery this morning to install a stint. I want to make a “Get Well” card for him.

“Bite 1”:

How old is/are the person(s) you are creating for? This will determine the paper colors and print graphics. Also, another determining factor is the photo settings if you are doing a layout. Where were the photos taken?

“Bite 2”:

What is the emotion you want to convey in the project? Fun and excitement for a vacation that was exactly that? Traditional and understated for those school pictures? Celebratory for an upcoming birthday? Heartfelt care and concern for someone going through a difficult time?

“Bite 3”:

What are your favorite colors? What is the favorite color of your card recipient? Do you even know? Choose your colors for your project this way at first.

If you don’t know the color preference of your recipient use the standard colors of the feminine/masculine ranges. Pinks, plums, reds, and jewel tones for feminine projects. Brown, gray, black, and muted greens for masculine projects.

“Bite 4”:

What do you want to say? Have a title for you layout in mind? Have a rubber stamp with a great sentiment you want to use for the conveyed message?

Do you have die cut letters, letter stickers, alpha rub-ons, or word stamps you want to use in your layout or card?

“Bite 5”:

Gather your essential items. Papers, photos, rubber stamps, inks, and letters. Leave all the fancy items for now.

Think of this process as baking a cake. You wouldn’t clutter your countertop with the baking ingredients and cake decorating bags, piping tips, sugar flowers, measuring cups and spoons, and other stuff.

Just the the necessary items to get the cake started. The actual decorating will come later – after the cake has cooled.

Start the process by placing your photos on the paper you have chosen for your layout. You need to see how many of your photos you really want to use.

If you are making a card, you have to decide how big the finished size will be. Go bigger because the stamp you have chosen is large or go medium for a grouping of smaller stamps.

“Bite 6”:

Which photo or stamped image do you want to be the focal point?

This is where the switch-a-roo usually happens. Background paper change, alignment of title block, extra background mat for your stamped image, or even discard the image in favor of one that you like better.





“Bite 7”:

When you have your elements laid out the way you like them it is time to “assemble your cake” using the adhesive(s) of your choice.


While you are in the learning stage take pictures of your compositions. You will have easy reference to placement once you remove everything and are faced with a blank slate. Don’t need to give yourself creative block just after your inspiration too flight 🙂


“Bite 8”:

Now it is time to decorate your cake 🙂


I’ve added just a bit of Liquid Pearls to the flower petals. Now it needs to dry before I attach them to my card front.

If I don’t like the looks of these flowers on the card I can put them away for something else, a different project. They won’t be wasted.



Now, your project is nearly finished. Add a sentiment to the inside of your card and a place to write a note.


That is how you “Eat an elephant”.

Perfectionism is disastrous to your creativity. Fingerprints and glue spots can be covered over with an embellishment. Be kind to yourself as you learn this craft.

Remember this over everything else. A mistake is an opportunity to learn from not a club to beat yourself with.

This is art and you are expressing your heart and soul. You are learning about yourself and what you have inside you 🙂 to give to someone else.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gardenpinks
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 16:23:01

    Hello Leslie 🙂 Desperately trying to catch up with everything after having our telephone line down AGAIN!! This time we were not the only folks affected but it seems a large tree fell on the line on 2nd July and we didn’t get reconnected until today (Thursday). Still that is better than the end of the month we were all told!! So I have been slavng over a hot keyboard trying to catch up with 130 emails – mainly junk – and forums and blogs 🙂

    Love the card you made for your neighbour and hope his stent operation goes well and that he is soon back to normal.

    I made quite a few cards whilst I was “off air” – I gathered together a pile of card offcuts and some images that I had stamped and coloured and put in a box and turned them into cards! I now have a good selection for when I need a card in a hurry. As soon as I have caught up I will put them on my blog.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx


    • Message In A Fold
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 00:08:04

      Oh my! How frustrating having the Internet get cut once again. Bet you wondered to the computer several times out of habit and had your spirits dashed :-(. For your sake I’m glad it is back on so you can get reconnected to family and friends. The down side is a gazillion messages waiting for you to slog through.

      Oooooooh. I can’t wait to receive notice of a new blog posting from your site. Getting to see your creative genius and reading about your process through the cards. All the work you got done while the Internet was off was time well spent.

      Thank you Lynn for your sweet comment. It is good to get my fingers in the papers and ink sometimes while out on the road.

      Love you – Leslie


  2. Tracy :)
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 15:48:42

    You are making me hungry after reading your post, teehee.
    Great card.
    I really like the detail you added to your flowers.


    • Message In A Fold
      Jul 15, 2012 @ 16:21:57

      Thanks Tracy. Guys deserve a little bit of sparkle too, don’t you think? 😀

      Hope you enjoyed your cabin retreat the past few days and your girls were able to find a cool spot from the heat wave you guys are experiencing.

      Love you – Leslie


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