How Design Rules & Originality Make Amazing Scrapbook Layout

journals and art books, Scrapbooking

There’s a circus in town!! An awesome scrapbooked circus in a tiny altered tin box. Learn how design rules & originality make amazing scrapbook projects – walk with me through this Circus -in-a-tin case study and you’ll see how it all hangs together and become blissful.

I caught her eyes… The clairvoyant told me to come hither and tell me my fortune. Scrapbooking delight. 10 out of 10. The muse, the art, the details of this tin alteration projects are sublime.

Design Rules and Originality in scrapbooked circus in a tin box

Some craft is just …so bad. Then, there are a lot of ‘ok’ crafts. Some crafters are good. But just few souls make excellent art while crafting. To me, paper crafts – scrapbooking artist Susan Killam is amongst the rare few artists who reach excellence. What made me say this, is the fact that she made this delightful altered tin box circus.

Design Rules for Artistic Excellence in Scrapbook Layouts and all other Crafts

I rarely promote someone singularly without any lesson in it for all of us. So let me help you study this artwork and explain why this is so excellent. First, it’s because this project follows our Design Rules.

Fine Craft Guild’s Design Rules

While this does not come with a pack of scrapbooking papers, any art and design student is taught to apply design rules to their creative work, similar to I have developed here:

1. Stick to 1 theme.

2. Stick to 1 mood style or look (contemporary vs romantic, etc)

3. Stick to a limited color pattern of either harmonious or complementary colors.

4. Create a cadre for attention, which is akin to the 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 rule: whereby your core attention grabbers should be at approximately 1/4 to 1/3 in from the edge of the artwork.

5. Create a path for the eye to follow.

6. Use white where you want the attention to go first.

7. Repetition of smaller design elements to create unity within the work (thumbtacks, polka dots, etc)

8. Creation of 3D though a) layering, b) smaller blurred elements to create distance, c) larger, lighter close-up elements to create a foreground. d) shading.

9. Last but not least: Tell a story.



Pure Originality

The second reason why this project stands out is pure creative power. This is not a copy, this is authentic. You can see it, you can feel it, you can sense it. Make yours too 100% authentic.

photo credit | source: Susan Killam
( is not a safe site so I can’t link to it any longer, but you can still visit if you wish.)

OK.  Hopefully, with our design rules and advice under arm, plus Susan’s inspiration, you will have a very creative and productive weekend.

Materials Needed

Notice how this project can be made with recycled / found objects, inexpensive materials, common supplies like stamps and glue you most likely already own, and rounded out with just a few of the best circus scrapbook papers, which can be purchased here:


More Craft Projects & Ideas like This

Click here for other paper art – decoupage – collage – scrapbooking work, ideas, free downloads, templates and project plans.

More Circus Inspired Projects: Circus Tent Embroidery Pattern (currently free)

Original article published October 18, 2021; updated 2022.

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