Author Archives: Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie

About Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie writes, prays, laughs, loves glitter and will hug you even if you try to shake her hand. You can often find her behind her camera, striving to build a photography business. You'll never find her as happy as she is dancing around her kitchen with her daughter, son and amazing husband.


Getting Sketchy With Creating Keepsakes Magazine

CreatingKeepsakes.jpgThis article was originally posted on Home MagaScene.

One of the most common complaints from scrapbookers of any skill level is the time it takes to complete a page. From gathering photos to pulling out supplies, there is no denying this is a craft that takes time. But scrapbooking doesn’t demand near as much time as most think, or at least it doesn’t have to. Creating Keepsakes magazine consistently strives to solve the time issue by offering inspiration and articles to save you precious minutes in preparation and creation. The most useful column in the magazine serving this purpose is “CK Sketches.”

Page sketches have become increasingly popular in the scrapbooking world. There are entire books full of sketches to inspire page layouts. Deriving inspiration from a page sketch is not a new concept. Much like the page designers at a newspaper or magazine, establishing a page outline to work from before placing the elements on the page makes the process go more quickly, with much less stress.

The “CK Sketches” column shows a sketch along with full-color examples
of the execution of that sketch. This side-by-side comparison allows for
the most complicated page to seem attainable. Deconstructing pages in
this way showcases the evolution of the layout, which often inspires
confidence in beginning scrapbookers. The sketches also serve as a
springboard of inspiration. When I sit down to scrapbook, I no longer
stare endlessly at an empty page. I have a place to start.

sketches also demonstrate in their simplicity that sketches are
everywhere. Every magazine layout can serve as a sketch; it is just a
matter of looking at the page in a different way. At the end of these
“CK Sketches” columns, there is a feature called “6 Variations for You.”
This section highlights six variations of the last sketch shown.

Keepsakes magazine offers so much to scrapbookers to inspire and aid in
this wonderful craft. For me, “CK Sketches” is the most valuable tool
in this magazine and this column alone makes it worth subscribing.
Having a fresh selection of sketches to call upon each month is like my
own little scrapbooking ace in the hole.


Somerset Studio Magazine Offers Inspiring Look at Creative, Inclusive World of Mixed-Media Art

somersetstudio_may-june2010.jpgAs a lifelong crafter, I’m extremely familiar with the limits we put on ourselves and the desire to break down those self-imposed barricades that keep us from reaching our true creative potential. I’ve never considered myself an artist because I can’t draw things freehand. Yet I’ve spent my entire life creating. My favorite quotation/my crafting mantra comes from Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

In recent years, I’ve found more artwork that appealed to me than ever before in the pages of magazines like Somerset Studio magazine. I discovered in this magazine the art I’ve been drawn to is in fact mixed-media art. Whether it is the image of a girl with a dress formed entirely of newsprint or a painting made using silk flowers and paper scraps, this limitless art world feels like home to me.

Somerset Studio is subtitled, “The art of paper and mixed-media.” One journey through this publication gives the reader a beautiful introduction to this “come one, come all” art form. The magazine a great addition to any crafter’s library.

The appeal often begins on the first few pages in the “Letters to the Editor” section, where artists’ envelopes and packaging are shown along with their letters. I never thought I would spend this much time in this part of any magazine, but it is fascinating to see these vessels that are often as beautiful as the art found inside.

One regular feature is “The Business of Art,” where you’ll find various issues related to the business side of art. In the May/June 2010 issue of Somerset Studio magazine, for example, Quinn McDonald talked about “The Obligation of Art.” The article addresses the importance of exploration in the artist’s life. She sums it up nicely: “Innovation often comes in small steps. Start with a different color, shape, or work surface and see what you discover.”

In features like “With One Palette,” artists create several works with one color palette. It is amazing to see the beauty of what comes from such a simple challenge.

The “Lively Art of Lettering” is a section of Somerset Studio magazine that showcases an art form that rarely gets enough credit. Seeing the many inventive ways different artists manipulate and display letters in their work is one of my favorite parts of mixed-media art.

The “Artist Portfolio” feature might reveal the most about mixed-media art. Here we get a sneak peek at the work and process of a mixed-media artist.

Of course, the reason I’m drawn to any craft publication is for the projects and artwork, and Somerset Studio never disappoints in this department. In fact, the issue usually includes a sampling of artist’s paper designed by one of the featured artists for use in your own projects. Who can beat a publication that not only provides ideas but supplies as well?

The most important quality of mixed-media art that I’ve found exploring Somerset Studio magazine is an opportunity to be an artist right where you are, with what you have. I found this art form to be the most welcoming and inclusive while also providing the world with breathtaking and moving works.


Five Ways to Make Scrapbooking Magazines Work for You

creatingkeepsakes_july-august2010.jpgAs a scrapbooker, looking at another person’s completed scrapbook pages can often have the same effect on me as walking into their super-clean living room. My first thought is one of admiration, then that quickly lead to feelings of inadequacy and personal defeat. What is it about the success of another that can often make us feel bad about ourselves?

I find this happens so often with beginning scrapbookers when they look at completed pages. Rather than being able to look to the page for inspiration, it is typical to see all the barriers between them and a completed page. Whether it is a lack of creativity, time, supplies or desire, there is often an obstacle inspired by looking at a finished product.

Unfortunately, casually flipping through the pages of a scrapbooking magazine can lead to these objections and defeat the purpose of the publication entirely. That is why it is important to really read the articles and break up your scrapbooking into manageable segments, just like you would cleaning a messy living room. Here are five ways to utilize your scrapbooking magazine to lead you to finished page success.

  1. Find your favorite layouts and copy them. You most likely won’t be able to duplicate them exactly, but you won’t sit staring at a blank page waiting for a magical burst of creativity to sweep over your desk.

  2. Pay close attention to sketches. A sketch is the history of a beautiful layout. You can use the sketch as your own, but seeing sketches should also inspire confidence in your ability to create incredible layouts.
  3. Experiment with at least one new technique from each issue. Creating Keepsakes magazine and many others showcase new techniques in every issue. If you try just one, you’ll have fun doing it and will certainly learn some valuable tricks that will only enhance your creative process.

  4. Poach your publication for color inspiration. When a layout catches your eye, take the color palette and use it as a jumping-off point for your next layout. Using just one element from a layout you like as a starting point can significantly cut down your brainstorming time.
  5. Take it one step and one element at a time. Pay close attention to articles on improving your photography. No element on your page can ever outshine the subject in the photos. Utilize features like “Photo Ops” in Scrapbooking & Beyond magazine to help you improve your photos, from behind the camera all the way through to the processing.

My Art Journaling Discovery in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine

clothpaperscissors_july-august2010.jpgI found a box of my old journals the other day. As I flipped through them I felt a little sad. The thing that struck me was the progression of my relationship with the journals themselves. The entries from the teen angst years overflowed with pure freedom. I wrote everything in my heart with abandon. I even drew some pictures and really explored the limits of my imagination.

As I moved through the stages of the journals, the older I got the more I apologized and the shorter the entries became. In fact, for the most recent years each entry usually began with an apology to the journal for not showing up to write.

When my daughter was born four-and-a-half years ago, I stopped personal journals altogether and simply wrote in a book for my kids each night. Lately I’ve missed having a place to reflect for myself. Then I read “Art Journaling: Pages in Stages: Part 2″ in the July/August 2010 edition of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I could instantly see that my relationship to my journals would be forever changed.

This article is the second in a three-part series about how to create your own art journal. I’d read little bits here and there about art journaling and assumed it was more of a sketchbook for “true” artists. This article reveals quite the opposite to be true. The author, Dawn DeVries Sokol, presents the art journaling process in three articles to reflect her approach. She works in three stages: painting (featured in the May/June 2010 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors), collage (featured in the current issue) and doodling and/or writing (to appear in the next issue). In Part 1, she showcased ways to paint and prep the pages of an art journal.

The current article explores the process of collecting collage materials and ideas for what to use before giving the reader guidance for application. There are great tips and techniques to apply in the art journaling process and I loved how she breaks it into three stages. By far, the best advice in the article is, “It’s your art journal, there are no rules.”

On the surface, art journaling is a crafter’s dream. You take your journal and approach it like a project, rather than just an entry. Each page can include color, collage images, ink, stamps, rub-ons, glue, ephemera and more. It becomes the artist’s playground.

On a deeper level, art journaling is an unraveling of internal boundaries. It is an invitation to explore and reflect in full color. It takes the idea of self-reflection and gives it more than a voice; it gives it breath and a heartbeat. By starting a journal page with color, perhaps I’ll avoid that blank stare I sometimes get when trying to think of what to record. At the very least, I hope to stop apologizing.


Reading Magazines Outside the Box

familyhandyman_july-august2010.jpgI love magazines that cover my hobbies and interests–crafts, entertainment and parenting. When my issues arrive in the mail I have the same routine every time. I stack the issues by genre, sit down on the floor and start poring over them. 
The only time I ever seem to give magazines outside of my interests a chance is when I am forced to, like when I’m stuck in the stale waiting room of my doctor’s office. Since those magazines are usually from 2002, I rarely find inspiration for a new interest.

Recently, when a friend asked me to pick some magazines from a teetering stack headed to the recycle bin, I decided to take a new approach to my magazine selection: I grabbed titles I’d never read before and ones that I usually wouldn’t read. 
Imagine my surprise when I found myself, a stay-at-home mom of two young children, reading Family Handyman magazine cover to cover. I barely keep the laundry folded these days, so my interest in do-it-yourself projects is pretty far off my radar. When I saw a cover story titled “Triple Your Closet Space,” I was intrigued to say the least. Then I found myself immersed in the possibilities of building my own storage system as well as a variety of brilliant quick storage solutions. My eyebrows raised as I devoured an article about how to unclog my sink. I realized just how useful this magazine is to my everyday life.  
popularmechanics_july2010.jpgPerhaps the biggest surprise is how much I’m enjoying Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines. I have a degree in journalism and consider myself to be a strictly right-brained kind of gal. I never set foot in one science or math classroom I wasn’t required to be in. Yet, these two magazines captivated me.
Popular Mechanics presented fascinating bite-sized stories that kept me turning the pages. I learned in the span of two pages what made Missy the cow the most expensive dairy cow in the world, and that the USS New York has 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center towers integrated into its bow, among many other interesting facts.
Diving into these new subjects has awakened a curiosity in me I’d taken for granted. Now as I read, I feel excited about the new things I’m learning and I’m feeling ready to start watching “Jeopardy” again.
The next time you reach for your favorite magazine, consider taking one step to the left or right and trying something new. Finding a new interest and a magazine that serves it can be a great thing.


FamilyFun Magazine Advice Helps Parents Teach Children Responsibility, Reward

mccranie_familyfun_20100706.jpgNow that my daughter is 4 years old, we are eager to establish some basic household responsibilities for her. I approached the task of setting up this routine with optimism and enthusiasm. Armed with a fist full of stickers in one hand and a chore chart in the other, I sat my little girl down and told her how this glorious new system would be life-changing for us both.

On day one, my bright-eyed little angel folded laundry, put clothes in the washer, put clothes in the hamper and couldn’t get enough of doing chores to help Mommy. “Yes! This is what I’m talking about,” I thought gleefully.

Then the earth made one measly rotation and when I called on my new little helper to start the laundry folding she’d taken such pride in the day before, her first words–with shoulders down–were: “Do I have to fold it all?” I could see the dream starting to die. As we pressed on, I realized in just a matter of days that neither she, nor I, had what it takes to maintain and work the chore chart system. She needs a little more freedom in her choices and I need something that doesn’t require me to micromanage.

Then I read the article “Don’t Lose Your Marbles!” by Malissa O’Brian in the June/July 2010 issue of FamilyFun magazine and I began to feel hope for my home and sanity once again. She describes a wonderfully simple system of jars and shiny gems and marbles that she set up for her five children. The system involves a list of chores, each carrying a different marble/gem value. The chores are initiated by the child and upon completion, they report to mom for the marble/gem dispersing. Finally, when the jar is full, each child has three reward choices to trade for their work. Bad behavior or poorly completed chores may cause for loss of marbles/gems, but the children have control over what they do and when they do it. This may seem like a little too much freedom to some… but for me it seems like a perfect solution.

This system seems to hold many rewards, but its greatest strength is that it is almost completely maintained by the child. For any busy mother, keeping up with one more list or schedule is just not all that enticing. By transferring this responsibility to my child, I can give her some freedom and build her confidence while also providing a visual measure of progress.

We implemented the jar system about a week ago. We bought some super-duper-awesome stickers–because Momma loves stickers too–and added them to an old applesauce jar. Then we bought the shiniest plastic gems we could find and are using them to fill the jar. Since my daughter is only 4, I bought large gems so that the jar would fill pretty quickly. We reward for more than chores, giving gems for manners and politeness.

Our biggest struggle with her is bedtime, and the jar has been helpful in getting her to go to bed without complaint or tears. We’ve also removed gems a few times and she has not enjoyed watching that happen, which makes me think this really could work for us. When her jar is full, we plan to reward her with a little cash or a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s with Daddy. I have a feeling she’ll choose the latter.