Sunday, 17 January 2010

*~* An Interview With Karen Leahy *~*

Many many of you will know Karen and her work from UKScrappers and various other online places. She has been a member of our Design Team since its inception and I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that her work, posted under the name Scrapdolly, has inspired hundreds of people to develop their interest in papercraft and become scrapbookers.

We sent Karen some questions about her and her scrapping and she has given up a little peek into her scrap room and some ideas about the creative processes she goes through. The rest of the Design Team received a questionnaire also so do look out for interviews with them in the coming weeks!

1) When did you discover scrapbooking?

I first saw and heard about modern scrapbooking in 2003. I didn’t have a clue what it was to begin with. I say ‘modern’ scrapbooking because I always kept old fashioned scrapbooks from being a young child and all of my photo albums were journalled and embellished too.

2) What subjects do you scrap?

I scrap anything and everything. We travel a lot and so I make a lot of travel albums and mini books. I also scrap my cats a great deal and love to try and find new and quirky ways of capturing them and their personalities. Although we don’t have children of our own I scrap my god-daughters a great deal. I am a great believer in scrapping the mundane as that is the stuff that actually means so much when you look back years later.

3) If you had to choose one scrapbooking format 12x12 8.5x11, minibooks, atcs etc and only scrap in that format for a year, which would you choose and why?

I think it would have to be 8.5” x 11”. I have discovered over the past 18 months that I am not naturally a square scrapper. I like rectangles – both portrait and landscape formats. Somehow that size and shape really suits me. Plus I love the fact that cutting down the cardstock means some scraps that are very useable on the same page as journaling or title blocks and I love everything to coordinate like that. I would, however, find it really hard to give mini books up for a year. Not sure I could do it.

4) Describe your scrapping style in 5 words.
  • Simple,
  • coordinated,
  • linear,
  • plain,
  • simple!
5) Tell us about your favourite ever layout

Gosh – I am not sure I have a favourite but I have picked one I like. I had to pick a cat one and I like this because it is what I mean by a quirky page – writing as if I am the Fiki monster himself. It uses some of my favourite papers – periphery - and is just a daft bit of fun.

If I had to chose one which was meaningful it would be this one. My parents both passed away before I started scrapping and it is perhaps my greatest regret. They would have loved it and I could have found out so much more.

6) If you could take a class or do a workshop with one scrapping celeb or teacher who would it be and why?

I would love to do a class with Tim Holtz because I just don’t really ‘get’ all the inking and aging and layers and things. I love that sort of work and can’t quite get the hang of it. I think if I was taught step by step it might make some sense and I could tinker with the things I have bought a little better.

7) Show us your scrap area (don’t worry we can handle mess!) – attach a photo and describe the area in which you scrap

I am very lucky to have a dedicated scrap room. (Well I share it – Nigel has his own computer and digital editing suite in there so we can be creative together). It was fitted out with furniture Nij altered to suit my exact needs.

Of course, I have outgrown the storage now – but the idea was there. I love that it looks out over open heathland and is very tranquil.

I am very anal and have to put everything away after each page or project, so it is always very tidy.

8) What is your favourite manufacturer and all time favourite range from them. Why?

It always was Basic Grey in the old days, but they have gone very bright and patterned and some of it just scares me. However, it is one of their ranges that I think is my all time favourite – periphery. I used it to scrap so many of my Canadian Rockies pictures. The colours were just perfect….. very me, very soft and not too patterned.

9) Why do you scrap?

Scrapping is my therapy. I have a very stressful job and it is a creative release. I love any form of creativity but was never much good at painting, though I still dabble. I love photography and am one of those annoying people who likes to write every little memory down. Scrapping fulfils all of those things. It combines my memories, my love of photography and my need to be creative. I can’t imagine ever not scrapping. We don’t have children so when I am gone I expect most of my work to end up in a skip, but that doesn’t matter. I enjoy the act of creating; what happens to it later doesn’t really matter.

10) What technique or style would you like to try or master but have not managed to yet?

I have already said I can’t do the grungy, inky bit and I would love to be able to. I’d also love to be able to make the pages where there is oodles and oodles of stuff and yet they just look beautiful and not cluttered.

11) Do you make cards as well as scrap? If so can you show us some?

I do make cards as well as scrap and I often go through phases where I challenge myself to make a card every time I have some scraps left over. That determination doesn’t usually last long! I make cards from scraps and also use digital kits a lot, printing them out and making layered cards as a hybrid look.

12) How long do you spend on average per layout?

I am a bit of an instant sort of girl. It is rare for me to spend more than an hour to an hour and a half on a page.

13) How often do you scrap?

Every single day. It might be paper or digi but it is something creative every day.

14) What does your husband think of your scrapbooking?

He is very supportive. He takes an interest in what I create, helps come up with quirky titles, sees things when we are out to take photos of saying, ‘ you could scrap that’ and is also my biggest …. kindest …..critic, urging me to take things a step further when I need pushing

15) Do you pre plan your layouts or just sit and shuffle paper til it looks right? Describe the process you go through when creating a layout

I am much better at getting going on the creative front when I am doing design team work because the hardest thing for me is chosing the paper. Coming up with the design/idea etc is the easier bit for me. I can waste hours looking through papers, so to have a kit to work from is a godsend for me.

I have to have a title before I can scrap so my process is normally …. Get the photo, think of the title, find the right papers and card (that can take a while!!!) then plan the design in my head and go. I never really think about embellishments until the end (yes it probably does show). To me it is the photo, the title, the journaling first and foremost and then I think of embellishing it afterwards.

16) What colour schemes are your current favourites?

I love muted tones and soft colours and have a particular fondness for aqua, teal and a sort of brownish pink.

17) What colours do you rarely use and why?

I rarely scrap with yellow or orange . I am not really able to use bright acid colours successfully. I wish I could. I have an aversion to yellow in all aspects of my life …. No idea why!

18) Tell us 3 random facts about yourself.

  • I shattered my ankle, broke my leg and damaged my pelvis falling from a third floor window when I was twelve
  • I am allergic to banana
  • I can still recite the poem I learnt for my Speakers badge in Brownies when I was 7
19) How do you organise your layouts into albums (e.g. chronological \ date you scrapped them \ random \ by subject)

My albums are all themed, cat albums, Canada, Las Vegas, Emily, days out etc. I have lost count of how many. Dozens and dozens. I recently gave Emily all of her albums (and there were quite a few) as I need more storage room.

20) What is your favourite design tip, style or technique that you use on your layouts?

My layouts always have quite a prominent title because I guess I am an ordered sort of person. I am also quite anal in trying to get my layouts balanced. The technique I guess I use a lot on pages is sewing.