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.


Psssst. Let me tell you a secret.

Creativity is a process. It is a journey. Not everyone is gifted with the “Artist Gene”.

Are you new to card making or scrapbooking? Are you totally excited by all the blogs you read and YouTube videos you watch?

Does your heart quicken and your brain get amped up with ideas?

Do you come crashing back down to earth in a broken heap when you look at your craft stash? Do you beat yourself up when you attempt to recreate something you just saw and your results are far off the mark?

My own personal experience has been just like yours. I have days when things click and fall into place. Most days I struggle to get a spark of an idea to catch aflame.

Kind of like rubbing two sticks together over some dried grass in an attempt to build a fire for warmth. You know it works but it seems to take forever before the first wisp of smoke appears. The activity feels hopeless and daunting and your physical strength is about to give out.

Give yourself permission to experiment. You need the practice of inking stamps, finding out how the paper trimmer works, or the best way to crop a photo.

Yes, indeed, you will have a lot of waste in this process. You may even cringe at seeing the amount of paper you have “ruined” just to accomplish one thing.

Card making is difficult for me. Most especially rubber stamping! I smear the ink, don’t apply proper pressure, cause the stamp block to hop and ruin the image, and get frustrated with my results.

Case in point.


Jann Gray, of WhatYouMakeIt, has recently made some fantastic cards with a variegated floral background.

My traveling stash is small and I have to work with what I have. I’ve chosen to use the butterflies from Inkadinkado to create a similar background as Jann did with her florals.


My results? No where near the mark.


I did find a configuration and color I liked.


I’ve used nearly an entire sheet of 12 x 12 paper to get the results I am happy with.


When you find a configuration you like, stamp it another time with a different color(s) and do some further experimenting. I’ve added Liquid Pearls to the butterflies. One of the images didn’t quite get fully stamped but that is alright. I can cut these out and hide the oopsey underneath something.


Use the space you have available to experiment. There is nothing wrong with this process and the benefits are many. Most especially is your confidence and your self esteem. You are now on the right track. You are finding your “Voice” among the many and finding your style.

By experimenting you learn about your tools and your products. Each one has a learning curve and their own quirks to overcome for the best results.

You have your own surfaces to consider. Do you have a table that wobbles or is warped a little? You have to learn these things as well.

I’m working on a dresser top that is unfamiliar to me and I have to compensate for that. Press harder and longer than I would at home, and it is higher than my table at home.


The paper crafting industry is continuously changing and evolving. Rubber stamps were always mounted on wood blocks. Now you have a myriad of choices in red rubber or clear that are mounted on clear blocks. Some blocks are crystal clear while others are lined with a grid. There is no right or wrong selection. Just which ever you prefer.

Do you need a little guidance in color selection? Make a trip to your local paint center and pick up some of their paint sample brochures. This one I picked up at a Lowe’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico today. Valspar Paints has these brochures over at their paint chip section. They are free and are a good reference tool for you.



Keep in mind the colors shown are not the colors of your papers or inks. These will not be exact matches but can come close.

I used one of the swatch pages for my paper selection for a card I’m making for a friend who has recently had a stroke.


I used the Sizzix embossing machine I purchased in Dayton, Ohio last month to add a bit of texture to the card front. It got a little lost in all the dark paper.

I used a white gel pen to enhance the embossed design. At first I felt as though I had just gone and totally ruined a perfectly good card as I drew away. Now I like the effect it has made.


I added a piece of white card stock to the inside of the card and attached one of the large butterflies I made this morning.


Your crafting ability will get better as you experiment and get comfortable with the craft.

Don’t worry over much about your work. Some people will be totally delighted with your efforts while others will not. Don’t take it personally.

There will be people only a store bought card will make them happy. For them, don’t sweat it. Make your cards and give them to the people that appreciate your work.

A time will come when your creativity will be better than any store bought card any day. Just enjoy the process.