Barb Wong's picture
By Barb Wong

Inspiration Chain

6 scrappers sign up for a creativity relay
eZine image: 

When I first started scrapbooking, I learned about design by copying (or very closely following) other scrapbookers' placement of photos, titles, and journaling on their pages. These days, when I look at layouts online or in magazines, I'm inspired not just by the structure of the page,

but by the color combinations, the way certain embellishments are used, the topic of the journaling, the composition of the photos, and so much more.

I wanted to delve into the concept of inspiration in scrapbooking, so I asked a few of my fellow Ella Friends to play a little game with me. It’s like that childhood game of Telephone, where one person whispers a sentence in the ear of another person, and she whispers what she heard into the ear of a third person. As the whispering (and giggling) continues, the sentence morphs.

We set out to do the same thing with our layouts, passing our completed pages along from person to person. It turned out to be great fun, and I also discovered some great scrapbooking tips and tricks along the way!

Being first in the relay, I got the easiest assignment of all. My task was to create a layout about whatever I wanted, using whatever supplies I desired. In the midst of the first heat wave of the season, I decided to dig into my stash of summery photos and supplies, and this is what I came up with.

The Original


patterned paper (Bo Bunny) • letter stickers (American Crafts) • brads (American Crafts) • ribbon (Michaels) • 12 x 12 layout by Barb Wong

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Monica's Take

When Monica saw my layout in her email inbox, she knew she wanted to do a summer-themed page as well. She wanted to stick with the grid/block design that I used, but she only had one photo, so she filled in the rest of the grid with patterned paper. She kept the horizontal strip of paper and title under the photo but opted for a journaling tag to tell her story.

Tip: Monica allowed her three tags (for her title and journaling spots) to run off the edges of the page, helping the overall design feel solid and well anchored.


patterned paper (Cosmo Cricket) • cardstock • stickers (Cosmo Cricket) • pen (American Crafts) • 8½ x 11 layout by Monica McNeill

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Katie's Turn

Katie was the next scrapper in our inspiration chain. Her job was to create a page inspired by Monica’s page, without having any idea what mine looked like. She stuck with the basic structure of Monica’s layout, but she translated it to a 12 x 12 design, substituting four photos for the one on the original. Katie placed the tag stickers on her page in a visual triangle to lead the viewer’s eye around the page, just as Monica did. Also notice how she included a band of vertically striped paper near the bottom of her page—very similar to Monica’s but in a different color palette.

Tip: Use alphabet stickers on journaling tags to create titles with more visual impact.


patterned paper (K&Company & Basic Grey) • journaling spots (Scenic Route & Fontwerks) • stickers (Making Memories) • letters (American Crafts) • 12 x 12 layout by Katie Scott

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Tami's Take

The next Ella Friend in our lineup was Tami. Like those before her, she was primarily inspired by the design of the preceding page. She arranged her elements in a similar fashion as Katie (photo on the left, journaling on the right), keeping that horizontal strip of vertical stripes that we've seen twice already. But the bright color scheme, horizontal format (11 x 8 1/2), and cute, girly embellishments she chose resulted in a page with a completely different feel from Katie’s.

Tip: Don't be afraid to take photos of inanimate objects to support the stories you want to tell.


cardstock (Worldwin) • patterned paper, stickers (Echo Park) • chipboard alphabet stickers (American Crafts) • journaling spot (Every Jot & Tittle) • twine (Divine Twine) • pen (Zig) • 11 x 8 ½ layout by Tami Morrison

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Jodie's Turn

Our next relay scrapper was Jodie, who garnered inspiration of all sorts from Tami’s layout. Jodie liked how Tami’s page documents one specific thing that makes her daughter special, so she decided to do the same by telling the story of how her own daughter insisted on beignets for her birthday (because she's too "uh-fisticated" for cake). Jodie also borrowed Tami's overall design, rotating everything by 90 degrees to suit the orientation of her photo, but she kept the edge-to-edge border and circular tag from the original design, inserting her own vertical strip of horizontal stripes.

Tip: Go ahead and be nosey! Read the journalling on other scrapbooker’s pages to get ideas for your own stories.


white paper (emancipation by fei-fei's stuff • leiko beck at • patterned paper, border, tag, ribbon (moonlight reverie girl by one little bird • emily powers at • alpha (signature alpha by taylormade designs at • frame, flowers (spring rain and for the birds by one little bird at • fonts (kravitz, pea paula pepin) • 12 x 12 digital page by Jodie McNally

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Katrina's Take

Katrina was the sixth and final scrapbooker on our relay team, and she finished off with a layout inspired by the prominent placement of the single photo on the layout before hers. She liked the way Jodie used a mix of sizes and fonts in her title to give the page a fun look, so she did the same to give her page a playful, energetic feel. Instead of using a vertical border, Katrina chose to use a doodled page frame to finish off her digital layout.

Tip: Fire up your creativity by scrapbooking your most recent, best-loved photos.


kraft paper, metal binder clip, doodle border, patterned paper by Gina Cabrera ( • sweet serenity alphas by Shabby Princess ( • 12 x 12 digital page by Katrina Simeck

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Phew! That was quite the journey! As I look at all six pages together, the only visual similarity I can find is our use of a single photo (or single photo cluster). We each chose color combinations that worked with our pictures, and we used products that suited the mood we were trying to convey. Some of us chose to tell our stories in great detail while others added only a few words to accompany the story the photos told. We were each able to borrow ideas (some very literally, others fairly loosely) from the one before us while still honoring our own individual styles.

Your Turn!
We asked readers to create pages inspired in any way, shape or form by Katrina's layout (the last in our chain) and post it on their blog or website with a link back to this article before August 15, 2010! Then we chose three random linker-uppers who each won a free Ella eBook. And our winners were...goldnuggt, lura, and Sherrie M., all of whom were awarded on August 19, 2010. Congratulations, winners!

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