Creating with Mosaic Moments® for Beginners

With thousands of dies, hundreds of page patterns, and dozens of colors of grid paper, getting started with Mosaic Moments® may be intimidating. However, if you follow these steps, you can easily navigate through, slowly building on your collection and creating amazing layouts along the way.

Understand the System

First, let us explain how the Mosaic Moments® System works. It may look confusing, but it is simply a photo-centric collage system based on a grid. That means the focus is on the photos and dies, papers and embellishments are meant to accentuate the pictures.
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The foundation of all layouts is grid paper. This high-quality cardstock is printed with a grid pattern – 10 1-inch squares by 10 1-inch squares, with a 1/8-inch gap in between each one, and a border around the entire page.
Grid paper is 12x12 so your layouts will fit in any 12x12 album or frame you choose. So, if you are already scrapbooking, your layouts will fit in the albums you already started. If you are new, choose a quality 12x12 album you like to hold, and showcase, your finished layouts.

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You should also be prepared to cut your photos. There are no overlays in this system that cover a portion of your picture. Rather, you trim your photos and/or paper to fit the grid. The type of photo you have, whether it be a professional portrait, a snapshot, or a picture printed off your phone, will help dictate how you cut your photo and what types of dies you might use.

Note: Never cut a Polaroid. These should be scanned and reprinted or matted and placed on the page. Cutting it may release harmful chemicals into the air and will cause the photo to disintegrate over time.


That said, there is only one rule to creating with Mosaic Moments®. You must cover each of the grid lines printed on the paper with something so when you are finished, no one sees the lines that made it possible.
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Getting Started

There are many ways to get started, but the easiest is to try a few Mosaic Moments® Page Kits. These kits are created using Mosaic Moments® Grid Paper, quality cardstock, and printed papers from some of the most popular paper manufacturers. Everything is laser cut to fit the grid and a picture shows you how the design can be put together.

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You simply open the package, separate the pieces, and adhere each one in the place designated. Then, you trim your photos to fit and place them on the photo mats. It is that simple and can take as little as 15 minutes to complete.

Note: Be sure to use only quality adhesive designed for scrapbooking. Inexpensive brands may dry out over time causing all of the pieces of your page to fall apart. Learn from our mistakes! We recommend the Herma™ Dotto Dispenser and glue. It is re-positionable while you work on it and it becomes permanent over time. Most importantly, it has been tested for decades and it continues to be the best we can find.


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To get everything to fit perfectly on the grid paper, you will want to line up the top, left corner of your element, with the coordinating mark on the grid paper. You want to stay as close to the line as you can, without seeing the line. That way, when you are finished, everything will automatically be straight and evenly spaced.

Tip: Some find it easiest to place the element in the corner of the grid line, even with the top grid line. Place a finger there to hold it then gently line up the left side.

Start Die Cutting

The easiest way to cut your photos is with dies. These thin-metal dies, except for the colored bundles, are made in the USA of high-quality steel. Most must be cut apart using flush snips. They are not blades (although they may have sharp edges) and cut only when immense pressure is applied via a die-cutting machine.
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There are many machines on the market today, but all have either a handle that you crank or they use electricity and you simply push a button. We recommend a machine that can handle dies up to 6-inches wide.
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To use the machine, you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to create a “sandwich.” This is a stack of platforms, cutting plates, dies, and paper or photos. As a general rule, you should only use the plates and platforms designed for your machine, as every machine is a little bit different and improper use can break the machine.

Cutting plates are generally items that will have to be replaced over time. Each time you use them, they are being bent around a die and being cut into. Over time, they may become warped, but when they stop cutting cleanly, they need to be replaced. For this reason, select a machine that is still being made and one that it is easy to find accessories or replacement plates.

Note:  Because these machines use pressure to cut, you will get small creases around the edges of your photos when using thin-metal dies. Some people are bothered by this. If you are one of those, choose a machine that allows you to change the amount of pressure used. Or, select a Sizzix machine, like a Big Shot, Big Kit, or Vagabond and replace the top cutting plate (the one you do NOT cut into) with the Sizzix Crease Pad.


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Nearly all of the Mosaic Moments® Dies fit the grid perfectly. So, if you want to cover a space that is 2-squares wide by 5-squares tall, you simply grab a die that is also 2x5, cut your photo or paper with it, and adhere it to the grid paper.

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There are some dies that do not fit the grid. These typically come in sets and are usually colored on the packaging with either dots or pastel shades. These dies are meant to cut layers that go over another die cut that fits the grid.

Look at Set A, for example. The solid blue shapes on the packaging represent the dies that fit the grid. The dotted shapes are layers. So, you would use the solid blue dies to cut a photo mat and then the dotted layer to cut your photo, creating a perfectly matted picture that fits the grid.

Buying Dies

Most customers begin by buying either the Basic Die Bundle, or purchasing the basic dies in individual sets. If the budget does not allow for the entire Basic Die Bundle, consider buying sets A, B and C ala carte, as these are the ones used most often. These dies are used on nearly every layout to cut your photos and photo mats.

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Next, you will want to look at dies in the Explorer Level. These dies are the quickest and simplest to use and include alphabets and numbers to make titles, as well as decorative dies to add seasonal touches, interest and borders to your designs.
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When you are comfortable, or wish to make a spectacular or unique layout, look in the Discover and Adventure categories of dies. The dies in these categories require a little additional planning, sometimes even before taking photos, as well as multiple steps in cutting. They are still easy to use and still fit the grid, they just take a bit more time.

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Horizon Dies - Level 2

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Crisscross Dies - Level 3

Explore the Pattern Gallery

There are hundreds of patterns already in the Pattern Gallery, and more are added each month. The colors of elements used on the patterns match the colors on the packaging of the dies, and/or the dies themselves, depending on which set of basic dies you chose. So, if you see a bright pink rectangle, you will look in Set C for the die that fits that space.

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Decorative, border or specialty dies can be substituted for a die of the same size. For example, the Hand Bell Die can be used in place of a 2x2 blue space on the pattern and the 3 Rings Die can be substituted for the orange 1x4 space on the pattern. The inserts show the color you would match with on the page patterns.

Image below shows the Star Flower 1x3 die, which is purple on the insert. For this die, you would look for patterns with 1x3 purple design spots, such as pattern #100 below.


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Shapes on the pattern gallery can be filled with anything you wish – a picture, a matted journaling block, a title, a decorative die cut, patterned paper, cardstock, etc. You simply cut it with the die that cuts that size and shape, and you are ready to go.

Note: Should you choose to cut by hand, rather than using the dies, the sizes of each element are listed below the pattern.


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Choosing Photos

As you work with Mosaic Moments®, you will see some things you never noticed before. Tiny details in photos will become more obvious. You will see that you likely need both horizontal and vertical photos for each layout. And, you may also need pictures that are close-up, as well as those that are father away to tell your story. You may even find yourself taking close-up pictures of flowers, Christmas décor, pinecones and other elements to use instead of pattern paper.

There are two ways to go about this … the first is to choose dies that fit your photos. Most likely, these will be the Basic Dies we have discussed and your pages will be closest to that of traditional scrapbooking or look similar to kits. These are great ways to scrapbook memories, especially school portraits, family reunions and travel photos.
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Many of the dies are open, meaning you can see through the center of them. Flipping the die over, so the cutting edge is against your photo, allows you to quickly get an idea of how the photo will look if you use that die. This is a handy way to choose the perfect photo for the die before you cut.

Note: Try not to cut any faces into small pieces. The end result is never flattering.


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The second way to select the correct photos is to think about the layout you plan to use while taking the photos. So, if you plan to create a faux panoramic, you can take photos along the horizon that can later be pieced together. Or, you might take pictures of a brick wall to fill in the frame around a picture of person. And, you may take extra photos of shrubs to use to fill in the blank spaces on your floral mosaic.


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We find the brain eventually starts thinking this way as you use the system more. However, to give it a bit of jump start, look closely at a sample page you love. Mentally note the space available inside the dies used. Now, examine the photos.

Note which ones were taken close-up and which were taken at a distance. If you are not planning on printing your photos at home, imagine what the original 4x6 photo looked like. Was a lot cropped off? Was nearly the entire photo used? Was a tiny portion used? Since most of the designers who make the sample layouts work exclusively with 4x6 photos, imagining what the photo looked like before any cutting can help you frame the picture when taking it, so it will fit in the layout you planned.

Many of the dies, especially those in the Adventure Category, often require less zooming in or getting close to a subject. These are ideal when you are naturally far away – like at the beach or an amusement park or sporting event. They also work great for travel photos where you want the mountain or monument or skyscraper behind your subject to be included in the photo.

Regardless, with the ability to take unlimited digital photos that can simply be deleted, take extras from different perspectives, at different depths, and of virtually everything. Then, choose a pattern or die set to work with before you have them printed. That way, you can decide which photos work best before you have them printed, and then delete those you do not need.