Totoro Paper Piecing

Welcome to Tanoshii Crafts! For my first post in this blog, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite scrapbook pages. This is part of an 8×8 scrapbook dedicated to the time I spent living and working in Japan, and I have to admit, 8×8 is more of a challenge than I expected. I’m learning how to make an impact in a smaller space with less photos. In a way, it’s good that it forces me to edit; I have a bad habit of taking several hundred photos per day when I’m traveling.

The photo I chose for this page is one of my favorites. For anyone who has seen the film Tonari no Totoro from Studio Ghibli, the cat-bus (and, for that matter, the totoro) will probably look familiar. This is a display in a toy store in a popular tourist area in Nagasaki. I visited this shop on several occasions (everyone wants a picture with the cat-bus!), but this was my first visit, with two new friends from the JET Programme.

Since the focus in the photo is the famous cat-bus, I decided to continue the theme of the animated feature by devoting most of the page to a totoro paper piecing. For those who haven’t tried this technique before, paper piecing is a method of creating your own embellishments by cutting shapes from different papers, and layering them to create an image – easy! Depending on what shape you want, you can often find great templates online specifically for paper piecing (I like the selection at Scrapbooks Etc., they’re updated frequently and often inspiring on their own), but sometimes your ideas will require a little extra digging. I find that a google image search including the words “coloring page” with the object you’re hoping to create will often get you a nice template. That’s exactly how I found the one I used for this totoro.

Once you have your template pieces cut out, trace them on the backs of the papers you’re going to use and cut them out. Since I was mimicking an animated character, I stuck to solid colors, but patterned papers often have a very cool effect. I always use chalk in a slightly darker shade to add definition along the edges – you’d be amazed how much extra dimension this adds to the page. In this case, I also used googly eyes to give the totoro a sense of life… And fun! It seems like every time I turn to this page in my scrapbook, he’s making a new face at me.

The photo really called for bright color, which I achieved by slicing up some coordinating paper strips for the background. Those small, 6″x6″ or 4.5″x6.5″ coordinating paper packs are great for little pops of color, or even inspiration – when I get stuck, I just flip through the ones I have on-hand, and often I will find a fun small print or a bright color that gets me started again. These strips came from the a day at the Beach pack by the Paper Studio.

Hopefully you picked up some ideas, or at least some inspiration, from this Tonari no Totoro themed scrapbook page. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and if you want to be notified of new posts, feel free to sign up via email using the link on the right side of the page. Ja ne! (See you later!)