Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Swap Ideas are Too Much Fun

Next week I've got all the gals of my stamp club, plus a few guests, coming for our regular STARS meeting. And this month we're quite ambitious, bringing one completed item to trade and one that will be decorated as our monthly project. I think this is such a good idea that I wanted to share the idea, especially since I just met so many stamp store owners from across the US and from Canada while in Cleveland.

Everyone brings their own composition book. Mine measures roughly 7x10". Ask them to cover both the front & back outer covers with scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, sheet music, old ledger pages, foreign newsprint, rice paper sprayed with Ranger's colorwash sprays, handmade paper, or any decorative paper they have on hand.
Going with a solid color, or a simple print will probably work best for this because the front cover will be decorated and no doubt covered completely by everyone in attendance.
All coming to play should also bring a bag or small box of ephemera, their scissors, and their adhesives. If they're planning to adhere paper items, they'll need a tape runner with a permanent adhesive. If they're planning to add Scrabble tiles, Bingo markers, or tiny game pieces such as dominoes, checkers, or Monopoly houses, they'll need a wet white glue that dries clear.

Please click on the photo above to enlarge it for better viewing. You'll see stickers, game pieces, alphabet letters & tiles, punched shapes from scrapbook paper as well as original artwork (tickets, arrows, stars), Inchies, real tickets, buttons, luggage tags, library pockets, clip art & quotes. But there are so many other things they can adhere such as foreign postage stamps, sections from a map, wooden initials that have been decorated with Dimensional paints...the possibilities are endless.

One guidline to stress to all players: this is a round robin project and time is limited. If they want to add stamped images, suggest that they pack several pieces of colorful backgrounds created ahead of time. Bring tiny stamps of words or faces. Once they see the color theme of the book, they select a coordinating background piece, stamp it, adhere it, embellish it, and pass it on to the next player. The second most important tip: if you've got a large group playing, do the math. You may have an area that's one inch square, or 1"x2". If you packed large luggage tags that measure 2"x5", you've just taken up the space of several players. Instead it's best to plan on a small elaborate item, leaving areas of the cover exposed. If it looks really sparse at the end of the play time, other items can be added or the book can be taken home for more embellishing.

Try to think of the person when you're pulling out your supplies. If you've got a girly-girl in the group maybe you'd like to adhere a silk flower with a button center. If she likes to work with textiles, perhaps adhering a strip of colorful ribbon along the spine would be appreciated. For my club we're the STARS (Stellar Triangle Area Rubber Stampers), so I fully expect to see some stars on our completed books, whether they're stamped on paper, punched from paper, or they're the little adhesive ones or confetti shapes.

We've done a composition book swap before and the above photo shows the one I received. Each person completely decorated one book to trade. If you're looking for a swap idea for your club or store, or if you're trying to think of gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, these would be perfect. I do gift baskets for a lot of my neighbors every year, tucking in home-baked goodies like loaves of pumpkin bread and party mix, a small potted plant, toys for the kids like Chinese yo-yo's or Kazoos. Why not include a small decorated book in a gift basket? Getting together with a group of ladies to play gives you the opportunity to see some ideas totally different from your own. And if you give this a try, I'd love to hear how it went, and even see photos if you're willing to share.
At Summer CHA in Chicago this past July I saw another cute idea, and this is our swap item this month. Purchase a note pad or legal pad that measures 5x8. These have no cover, so make one using chipboard, cardboard, mat board, or the back of a cereal box. Simply cover it with paper, (stamped, scrapbook, wrapping, etc) and then add a wrap from back to front of a sturdy cardstock. Then embellish as much or as little as you choose. Add a magnet to the back and it can be displayed on the fridge. Or keep it by the phone with a lovely pen.
These can be quick and easy, or elaborate and personalized. Again for a swap it would need to be decorated to appeal to everyone since you don't know who'll go home with what. But if you're making these for gift giving, by all means plan to personalize them for your specific recipients. These can be masculine of feminine, so they're perfect for everyone.
For the husband of a friend, or the dad that participates in the carpool, why not create a gift basket of candy bars, one of the new Sharpies that doesn't bleed through the paper, and one of these note pads? Even if he keeps it in the car for doodling, you've given him something he can use while he eats all the candy.

It's the time of year to be creative. I hope these two projects have given you some ideas, or triggered bigger and better ideas you can complete before the tree goes up and the guests begin to arrive. If you're all going to Mom's for Thanksgiving, why not pack several of these pads already covered, bring some ephemera, and after dinner let everyone decorate one to keep? If you own a store, why not advertise a shopping day for Mom and Dad with this activity to keep the kids busy in the classroom while they shop the aisles? The kids have a gift for their parents, a favorite teacher, or their babysitter, and you've given the adults a chance to review all the new inventory in the store.

Keep checking back in the days to come. I've got new paper techniques to post, a few more quick & easy projects, and a few gift suggestions as well.

Happy Stamping

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