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by Sara Horton

“Shabby-Chic” Style is a wildly popular decorating trend.  Rachel Ashwell, the owner of Shabby Chic and the 1996 author of “Shabby-Chic decorating” is credited for making the comfortable, eclectic and affordable  -- trendy and beautiful.

Rachel taught us to appreciate the glory of simplicity and imperfection.  Aficionados of the style give ‘found’ items new life and function, celebrating their less-than-perfect appearance.  They distress items, combine them, and make something cozy and stylish of ordinary old items that they love. 

Shabby Chic style is characterized by such colors as pastel pinks, muted greens, and washed gray or neutral tones combined with dark contrasting colors.  Think vintage, well-worn, peeling, and well-loved. Think comfort. Shabby chic is not intimidating – it is  warm, cozy and inviting.

Shabby chic is an easy style to achieve because it can include anything you love, mixing colors, patterns and textures.  They key is finding a grouping of things you love and making them work together.

So what does this have to do with scrapbooking?  

   

The Shabby Chic trend has moved into scrapbooking techniques.  It involves distressing papers and page elements to give a vintage, well-worn look to them.  It works especially well with heritage photos, black-and-white photos and sepia photos.  It is an inexpensive (imagine that in scrapbooking!!??)  way to add interest and variety to your pages.

Here are several techniques for giving your pages a tattered, antique, natural look.  These techniques work best on papers/cardstocks that have a white or light-colored core.  The distressing allows the core to show through.

   

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Technique 1:   Distressing Paper

Crumpling, Creasing, Wadding:

Feeling frustrated?  Try a little Shabby Chic therapy!  Take out your frustrations on some paper.  There are two main techniques for this technique:  wet and dry.

Dry:  Wad paper into a loose ball.  Gently unfold paper.  Wad again, unfold and repeat until paper is sufficiently soft and crumpled. .   A brayer or warm iron can be used to flatten paper.

Wet:  Sprinkle or mist paper/cardstock with warm water.  Crumple, and GENT L Y unfold, being careful not to tear paper as you unfold it.  You can either let it air dry or flatten it with an iron.  To iron, put several sheets of paper towel underneath and on top of paper.  Iron until dry or slightly damp.  Either way, let paper dry completely before using.

Note:  crumpling paper ‘shrinks’ the paper a little.  I like to do a whole sheet at a time, cutting it to size after it is crumpled.

   

Crimping:  Another way to age and add texture to your cardstock is to run it through a crimper, over and over in different directions.  This softens and creases paper for a worn look.

Now that you have aged your paper by crumpling it, you can further “age” it by applying some of the following techniques.

   

Technique 2:  Sanding and Steel Wool

This part is messy.  L ay a piece of scrap paper or an old catalog on your work surface.

Using a fine or medium grade sandpaper, gently rub the sandpaper over cardstock, scratching and marring the surface. Sanding paper or cardstock that has a light or white core will create a visually-interesting effect.

Gently rough-up the edges of the paper with the sandpaper, rolling to expose the white core.

To create the look of an old document, fold paper and sand over fold lines.

Try sanding over lettering (computer or hand-drawn)

Create an aged look on black and white photos  by gently sanding them in one direction.  This works especially well for computer-generated prints.

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Give new life to shiny paper stickers or pre-made embellishments by sanding the surface.

Try this with patterned paper – especially plaids and subtle country-style patterns.

   

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Technique 3:  Add color back

Now that your paper has been distressed, you can add color back to the lines with one of these methods:

Chalking:  This can be achieved with Craf-T chalks.  Just rub Q-tip into chalk and then rub on paper.

Inking:  Using a fingertip dauber, pick up ink and flick onto edges of paper.  This works especially well to create a ‘burned’ look to the edges of paper.  Just use a deep brown to ink the edges and flick very lightly outward while holding paper off of table.

Metallic Rub-ons:  Use your fingertip to pick up a little color from the palette.  Rub onto page in circular motion.  L ayer until desired effect is achieved.

Sponging:  Using a natural, art, or make-up sponge,  ink color onto paper.  A dye-based ink or Colorbox Fluid Chalk Ink are ideal for this application.   Try sponging with a wadded ball of Saran Wrap or Aluminum foil.  How about a mesh bath-sponge?!

   

Direct to paper inking:  Very gently press ink pad onto wrinkled or folded paper, leaving fabric lines.

Brush Marker Faux-burning: Who doesn’t remember making a map replica in school by burning the edges?  An easy way to achieve this look is to tear the edges of your paper and rub the edge with a dark brown marker.

   

Technique 4:  Staining

Another way to add color back to distressed paper is by staining it.  Staining is not acid-free, so be sure to buffer these items when using in scrapbooking.

Four methods for staining are:

  • Walnut ink:  Mix Walnut ink with distilled water (for archival solution) and paint on cardstock.  Iron to dry and flatten.

  • Tea Dyeing:  Boil water and add several tea bags.  Cool to lukewarm.  Place paper in a cookie sheet that has a lip.  Pour tea over paper.  L et sit until slightly darker than you want end-product to be. Spray or splatter paper with tea solution.

  • Coffee Staining:  Bathe a wet piece of paper in a mixture of instant coffee and warm water.  Put a few crystals directly on wet paper for variations in color.

  • Faux-staining:  Apply a light wash of light brown stamping ink (dye-based) which has been mixed with water.

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Technique 5:  Tearing edges

Rip edges of paper for further vintage-look.  For precision, run a water-soaked Q-tip down line where tear is desired.  Keeping your hands close together, tear towards your body. 

Torn edges can be aged with ink or chalk, if desired.

   
Technique 6:  Wire brushing

Using a wire paint-removing brush, gently brush paper in one direction.  For a plaid look, brush in other direction.  Be careful to lift top layer, but not to tear holes.  Magic Scraps metal brushes are perfect for this technique.

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Technique 7:  Handmade Papers

Handmade papers are wonderfully textured and inexpensive.  Use your scraps to create sheets of colored paper to give a  primitive or country look to your page elements.

Don’t  forget that you can add  “inclusions” - items such as dried flowers, dried pressed leaves, seeds, confetti, feathers when you are making paper.

   

Technique 8:  Alter photos to Black and White or Sepia

Black-and-White and Sepia pictures already look Shabby Chic.  This is especially helpful for photos that have difficult color schemes.  There are several ways to achieve this look:

Take photos using true black-and-white film.  This type of film must be sent to a lab for processing.

Take photos using C-41 film which is black-and-white, but can be processed in color chemicals.  Sometimes this turns out with a sepia tone.

Turn color photos into black-and-white or sepia by scanning them and printing them on your computer or using the Kodak Picture Maker.

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OTHER SHABBY CHIC TIPS:

   

Use several different papers together on your page.  Mix textures and patterns.

Use fringe or lace to add a touch of Romantic Shabby Chic to a vintage layout.

Hit your local flea markets and yard sales. Old jewelry randomly draped on the page adds an element of authenticity and interest.

 

   

Try: burlap, torn corrugated cardboard, kraft-colored lunch bags, jute, twine or rusty shapes.

Try stitching two torn pieces loosely together or tear a V into page, letting a patterned paper show through the hole.

For journaling and titles, try using antique-style letter stamps or antique fonts (typewriter fonts).

-- Sara Horton

 

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