Meet Scrappy Kathy — A Journey Thru the Pages

Kathy McElfresh
Kathy McElfresh

Introducing ScrappyKathy aka Kathy McElfresh

H. O. O. R. A. Y. !!!!
I was SO excited about being named to the ScrapHappy Creative Team, I made this layout for one of my video series collaborations, Mixed Media Frenzy. It may tell you more about my style than the rest of this post!

To see the process for the layout above, click here

I’m so thrilled to be introducing myself here on the  ScrapHappy  blog! ScrapHappy is my first scrappy group of friends and they’ve since become family to me!  The page above should tell you just how over-the-top excited I am  to  be sharing my scrappy journey with you on the ScrapHappy Blog!  That journey may have started in elementary school when I got my first camera and felt the absolute NEED to paste the photos down in books, some of which I made myself by tying string through the holes in notebook paper.  


Modern "scrapbooking" -- on a poster!

It wasn’t until 50 years later, give or take, that I caught a glimpse of “modern” scrapbooking on a poster that one of my employees made to document a team outing.  She’d trimmed the photos with decorative scissors and added stickers and doodled frames and arranged them on the poster to illustrate the progression from one activity to the next.  Still I didn’t get the connection — I just thought it was a pretty poster and I wondered where she’d gotten the stickers!

Granny buys an album -- what next?

While living in Brussels and working in Singapore I learned I had a granddaughter on the way and I bought a “scrapbook”.  It was a photo album with pages permanently bound but I knew I wanted to do something special with it — and it took me about 4 years to decide what!  I’m not sure why I picked up that first Scrapbooks, Etc. or Creating Keepsakes magazine but my world changed when I did.  I’d honestly never been into a craft store at that point and I was still working so I didn’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to get some photos into that album for Katie so I lifted a few ideas and began making pages. 

My first pages -- the start of it all

These first two pages using “modern” supplies were the start of it all.  I cut 12×12 papers down to size for the pre-bound album and used stickers, journaling blocks and metal brads!  Big time!

A 12x12 Scrapper is born!

When I retired in 2008 there were lots of scrappy stores around including a huge, amazing store called Lone Star Scrapbooking in Houston where I discovered another level of products assembled into what they called “collections”. I was hooked! But we moved away from Houston to a tiny town in Georgia where my google searches directed me to Archiver’s over 50 miles away.  In 2011 we moved closer; I couldn’t wait to go there, and on my first visit  I signed up for a beginning class — making my very first 12×12 page!

I may have gone overboard with the paper flowers (and introduced a few too many “accent” colors!) but I was thrilled with the page and I went home with a feeling that I could design pages and have great fun with paper and glue!  But I wasn’t quite finished with hard-bound books and I completed those types of albums for all 4 kiddos who called me Grandma before completely committing to 12×12.  Along the way I made mini-books with cereal boxes and did a couple summer fun 6×8 books with the kids, and I even dabbled in Pocket Page scrapping for a few years, but I’m definitely a 12×12 kinda girl!

How I learned to "Scrap Happy"

I really can’t say how I came to know about ScrapHappy except that it must have been something I saw while online shopping.  I participated in some of Lain Ehmann’s all-day events where product designers did demos and taught classes, and I kept hearing her talk about LOAD — LayOut A Day — and I just couldn’t imagine that kind of pace!  When Lain decided to move on from ScrapHappy, I signed up for her final LOAD just to see what it was all about.  I LOVED it!   Alice Boll took the helm after that — I fell in love with the event, the group and Alice herself — so I joined the family — my very first scrappy online friends.  I’ve completed every LOAD since, and I was thrilled when Alice took on hosting Calvinball, the wildest, craziest event in scrapdom!  I’d heard about Calvinball from Tina Campbell, one of my first LOAD buddies, and I joined in that first time without a clue as to how it worked.  I discovered then and there just how competitive I really am!  LOAD and Calvinball certainly sped up my process and led me to the style I’m currently known for — “more is more”.  I do love a nice clean minimalist layout as much as the next gal, but it takes a LOT of restraint for me not to pile on all the pretty things!

Overembellishing, anyone?

This is an example of a layout that was easy and fun for me to do recently, although I’ll admit it’s a bit over the top, even for me.  It would have been perfect for Calvinball!  And it perfectly represents the chaotic event that a double birthday in the family turns into when we’re all in quarantine.  I started with a diagonal grid and used photos and blocks of journaling to tell the story of a very unusual birthday, complete with a puppy that doesn’t quite get the concept of social distancing. Bonus:  I got to use SO many pretty things from my Vicki Boutin stash!

Experiments in Minimalism....

Every now and then I make a decision to swing wide in the other direction to do a really minimalist page like these.  One is white-on-white texture paste and the other brushed ink and stamping.  One is personal and introspective and the other is pure fun.

It's all about the grandkids.....

I sometimes do “family history” pages, including scrapping memories of my childhood and other stages of my life and career, and I do other pages focusing on travel with my hubby of 39 years and even some “day in the life” documentation.  But my true love in this hobby is scrapping about the grandkids,  some “pretty” pages and some just plain “fun” pages.  I’ve even done heartbreaking pages about how we all felt the entire year of 2019 when our youngest grandchild Ava was diagnosed with leukemia and went through chemo and all that that involves.  Here are a few of my early favorites about the kiddos — all showing a bit of experimentation with design and embellishment and capturing the characters that these kids are!

Recent Family Pages -- Strange Times....

I’ve done SO many graduation pages to illustrate  the socially distant handing out of diplomas  and neighborhood parades to honor graduates.  Barrett and his friend worked out together in a socially distanced gym and Katie got a hug from her dad… Ava was allowed to accompany Katie onto the stage while the photographer stood across the parking lot! WE had to stay in our cars!  I made the boys’ layout as part of my first class as a faculty member at Scrap Academy and you can watch it here: Awww Yeah!

But sometimes you have to look back to when they were little....

And sometimes it's all about me...

The two above are very different “me” pages — the first meant to be artsy and reflective and the second meant to tell the story from Day 1 to present in snippets of photos and a few meaningful embellies.  There’s even a pic of me with Alice in there and a pic of me with Khristina Sorge. Fun to make every now and again….

.....or the two of us! (and the dog but that's another story for another time....stay tuned!)

ScrapHappy Family Reunion 2017 San Diego

I had never been to a scrappy retreat before but I really was excited to go to my first ScrapHappy Family Reunion in July of 2017 — it was a chance to meet some of my “imaginary friends” in person!  So I soaked it all in and even wrote a blog post about my experience putting together a “kit” of supplies that would be manageable on a cross-country flight. 

The Merry go ‘Round page is one of my all-time favorites because I made it at the retreat!  The beautiful sunset photo is just here to show off how much fun my scrappy sisters and I had in San Diego that year!!! Scrap HAPPY, indeed!!!

Scrappy Kathy Makes A Video....

In early 2018  I enlisted my granddaughter Katie (aka KatieBug, the one with ladybugs on all her pages…) to help me create my Scrappy Kathy identity and to make and edit a process video. We created a scrappy-only Facebook page and Instagram feeds and a YouTube channel! Then I asked her to pick her favorite picture of herself as a child and challenge me to make a page on camera with that photo.  It was a pretty intimidating exercise — I had problems balancing the tripod arm that held my camera (aka my phone), and I became acutely aware of how potentially boring a lot of the process might be to viewers.  That necessitated editing and speeding up and trimming and over-dubbing and re-filming and inserting — all activities that I’d love to know how to do, but which I have very little desire to do because it takes time and attention away from what I love — actually scrapping!  So I put that video out, posted it in a couple spots and then gave up after trying a couple more that never made it to YouTube.  Here’s the layout from that first video:

Challenge Accepted! (A Star is Born?)

Over a year later I met Shannon Allor (aka She’s Crafty on YouTube and ShesCrafty20 on Instagram) whose work I had always loved for its whimsy and color.  She was my table-mate at the Rediscover Your Stash/Secret Not Secret Kit Club Retreat in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and we hit it off immediately.  Before the retreat ended she asked if I might be interested in collaborating with her on a weekly YouTube series (which absolutely floored me!).  After a few phone calls and text messages we came up with a name, set a schedule and Challenge Accepted! was born…Each week we select a challenge from a variety of sources and we do our versions of the same sketch or scrap lift or grab 5 — whatever we’ve found that strikes our fancy and challenges us to stretch our creativity a bit.  It’s been such great fun, and it has led to my joining in with other groups doing series and to creating my own for regular weekly posts or limited run events.

Gettin' Messy just for fun....

A few years back I got interested in mixed media art, although I primarily worked in art journals, experimenting with mediums and techniques and layering with tissues and fibers and metallic findings, etc.  I branched out to canvas pieces and book covers and the like, acquiring LOTS of paints and inks and glazes and pastes.  I took a class at a local scrapbook store and for some reason I wasn’t suited for the instructor’s teaching style, and instead of moving on, I just abandoned that aspect of my artistic endeavors and went back to paper and glue.  As with many other things that send me off in different directions, I saw a scrapbook layout with mixed media/artsy/inky/messy stuff all around and I decided I LOVED that look and I set about trying to recreate some of my favorite art journal looks onto scrapbook pages.  This has become my new passion!  I have been leading a challenge at The Secret Not Secret Kit Club monthly scrap parties called “Gettin’ Messy with Scrappy Kathy” where I try some techniques on camera and issue a challenge to the party-goers to create something using their interpretation of what I’ve done…. And almost always it’s something I know nothing about and am trying for the first time.  And sometimes it works out well! 

After playing with stencils and paints and inks and sprays in my art journals, I began incorporating such foolishness on scrapbook pages like this one.  It was a perfect combination of artsy experimentation and memory-keeping!

Mixed Media Frenzy!

This led to my being asked to join Mixed Media Frenzy, a weekly YouTube series where several scrappy friends all take on the same sketch or scrap lift chosen by the group.  It’s amazing how much it stretches me to look at a piece and try to figure out a) how the artist did it and b) how on earth I can do anything that will evoke the same feeling or look that I see on the page.  But I love it and I find those some of my favorite pages!

Video Links :

I have videos up on my YouTube channel for these and others in my Mixed Media Frenzy playlist.  Individual links are here:Photo Op , Be Awesome , 3 Fishes  and Rollin’ on the River 

More (and more!) Challenges....

All this leads me to talk about challenges.  LOAD was my first — scrapping a new page every day using prompts that are inspired by a theme and that lead me to more introspective story-telling, which I love!  Since then I’ve discovered so many different challenges, each of which stimulates my creativity in different ways. I absolutely LOVE the monthly Secret Not Secret Scrap Parties hosted by Khristina Sorge for kit subscribers and the Mind the Scrap CyberCrops hosted by Emma Clark — and Mercy Tiara and so on and so on….  I promised Melissa Shanhun a couple years ago I’d write up a blog post for her about the different challenges — where to find them, what I like about them and how they inspire me.  I haven’t done that yet — I actually did a draft a long time ago and by the time I got around to finalizing it, I’d gotten involved in more challenges and I was almost too busy to take time out to write about them!  So I’m hereby declaring to all that I definitely WILL write that post for Melissa and I’ll post a link here when it’s published.  Meanwhile I have some challenges due tomorrow!!!

Where to find Scrappy Kathy in cyberspace

I’d love for you to follow me on Social Media to see where my work takes me on all those challenges. My scrappy Facebook page is  ScrappyKathy and my scrappy Instagram is scrappykathyy and I hope you’ll visit my  YouTube Channel Scrappy Kathy and subscribe to see more.  

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