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Some New Work...

Altered Items...? Some Thoughts

What is an altered item?

As an adjective, defines the word "altered" as: "Changed in form or character without becoming something else." As a verb, the word is defined as: "To change or make different; modify."

In the scrapping world, it has become an absolute "must" to be able to alter items. Some common examples include: clipboards decorated with patterned paper and scrapbooking embellishments, clock faces covered with patterned paper, and boxes of all sizes covered in patterned paper and decorated with all manner of embellishments. Most Design Teams require you to submit at least one altered item per month.

A second trend has started to enter the industry as well: using skills from other crafts on our scrapbook pages. This year's Scrapbooking Hall of Fame contest specifically asked for a layout which incorporated some other craft.

I feel that Altered Pencil Lines is responding to both these trends. I know I've explained it before, but I've written an article (which appeared on Altered Pencil Lines last week) that really goes into detail about how to take a scrapbooking sketch and turn it into an "altered item." Although, this is where I must note that these aren't really "altered" items. They're works of art that happen to be inspired by scrapbooking sketches. I think the "altered" should really be seen as "the sketch is being altered" rather than the item.

Anyway, here is the article:

When I first started scrapping, I had a lot of trouble using sketches for layouts, let alone altered items. I couldn’t understand why people were so hot to trot for Becky Higgins’ book. Every time I tried a layout based on a sketch, it was awkward and not my own. But then, I started doing an “ad inspiration” challenge online. My first few attempts were fun and easy – just follow the photo placement. Then, one day, we were given the following ad:


Huh? I’m not a digi girl and even though I consider myself a fairly freestyle scrapper, I was freaked out! So, I had to think about what appealed to me from the ad? What was the essence of this ad that was sticking out and calling to me? Here’s the result:


From then on, I just felt so much more free. I can now look at a sketch or an ad and instead of counting how many photos there are, I look at the overall principle. For instance, in this Pencil Lines sketch from Ali Edwards:


The sketch simply indicates to me that the intention is to have a block of smaller items contrasted with a similarly sized block containing only one item. Immediately, I see the following variations in this design:


As you can see, the possibilities are endless! Check out what the Pencil Lines team ended up doing with the sketch.

Armed with this new ability to look at the design principle, rather than the physical design, I felt excited when Anam contacted me about creating altered items from scrapbooking sketches. Nervous, but excited.

Creating an altered item from a sketch is different than a layout. It’s one more level of disassociation. What does that mean? Once you’ve got the basic design principle, you’ve got to get out of the box (literally). Check out the sketch below. It’s Pencil Lines #33 by Jo-Ann te Raa.


What is the basic design principle? Three identical squares in a row attached to something larger with straight lines. Here’s a quick visual guide to how I get one level more abstracted:


Easy as pie, right? Check out these simple sketches for projects, also created from the sketch.


Can you see how I got all those projects out of this sketch? I took the idea of three things protruding from a larger thing and simply changed scale and style while adding a few embellishments. It’s important to note that I simply doodled at first and then looked at each of the drawings and gave it a name. What does this look like? Aha! Once you give it a name, you have a brand new sketch for a brand new project. Easy inspiration!

Once you’ve got the idea down, you can even take a peek around your home and see all the things you own that follow the sketch! Here are a few from my home:


I hope that this has helped you to see one way in which you can use a scrapbooking sketch as inspiration for many other art forms. Here is a project I made using the sketch as inspiration:

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I challenge you to see how many you can make! Check out this week's inspiration at Altered Pencil Lines while you're at it!