It's Just Scrapbooking--You can't really do it wrong!

 "It's such a waste." 

I sat across the table a little while ago from a fellow paper-crafter and scrapbooker.

When someone in our small group mentioned using a single picture on a layout, she said "I don't understand doing that. I have too many pictures. It's such a waste of supplies."

Um hi. My name is Sarah. 😬

People murmurred agreement with her and we moved on. I stayed quiet--I'm the new girl in the group. 

I made a mental note to never subject her to the "wasting of supplies" that I call scrapbooking. 

I've been scrapbooking for 20 years. I'm pretty confident in my skills and abilities and I know what I like. By and large, I appreciate it when someone says "that's a beautiful page" but I don't need anyone's approval.

Over the course of those twenty years, I have used most every technique known to papercrafters, every kind of album, and every brand of supplies. Very little intimidates me. I've taught classes, I've had my work published in magazines, I've sold products, I've been on design teams for manufacturers and websites. I've hosted crops and worked on national projects. I love this hobby and all the experiences it has brought into my life. 


And I do love a well-designed page with a single photo on it.  Judge all you want. Call it a waste. It's still what I like. 

See, here's the deal. To my eye, a good scrapbook page requires 4 elements:
-A photo. Hopefully a good photo but it doesn't have to be perfect.
-Some journaling--might be a lot, might be a little.
-A snappy title. Bonus points if the title is alliterative.
-A bit of embellishment. 

I like a page that tells a story. Newsflash: most of the time the best parts of the story can't be found just by looking at the pictures. It's true. Hence the need for the journaling. 

I like a page that is calm and includes visual resting space (I get overwhelmed easily) and has a focused message (I get distracted easily).

I don't scrapbook every photo. Not every photo deserves a scrapbook page. I only scrapbook the photos that have a story that I want to keep. Scrap the best, store the rest. That's my motto.

I take about 8000 pictures a year. There's no way I could ever even begin to scrapbook all of them, nor do they all deserve the scrappy treatment. I would have to add on to my house to store them, if I did.

This is my approach to scrapbooking and I'm comfortable with it. Craftiness makes me feel happy and helps to keep the clouds of depression at bay when life is difficult. That's never a waste. 

Creating with paper is not about efficiency. It's a totally luxurious activity to me. I don't see my supplies as things that need to be conserved or "not wasted". When I make a fantastic scrapbook page, I have given a pretty paper the life it was designed for. It doesn't have to be used efficiently to be enjoyed. Far from it! For me, the success of a page is not based on the number of photos it holds. Ever. 

If you scrapbook too, feel free to do what appeals to you in your own books. Use 34 pictures and 16 different patterned papers on a page if you want. I'm good with that too. 

There's room for all of us in the scrappy universe.



Start with the Story: When I Can't Fight These Feelings Anymore

After listening to a recent episode of The Paperclipping Roundtable with Noelle Hyman, featuring Ali Edwards, and a discussion of scrapbooking and mental illness, I spent some time thinking about the stories that go untold. 

In the scrapbooking world, there's a whole movement of "scrap yourself"...started many years ago by Angie Petersen's Book of Me series. Scrapbookers of that time were commonly the mother class and were, by and large, constantly leaving themselves out of much of their scrapbooks. There were many reasons for their omission, but most of them revolved around "I don't look good in that picture"..."I'm overweight"...and "I'm focusing on my children." 

This was obviously unacceptable and I think most people eventually got on board with being included more often, even if they felt the images of themselves would be judged harshly in the future. 

Why am I relating this bit of modern scrapbooking lore to you? I think it's pertinent that we become ok again with telling stories that reflect on us as imperfect strugglers. I'm mean...that's who we are, right? Shouldn't our pages tell the real truth? 

I have faced difficult things in my adult life and I have the scars to prove it. I stare down the twin dog of scary and difficult most every single day. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the snarly dogs win and I just sit on the porch. It's my story. 

I mean, who doesn't wish that every scrapbook-worthy moment of our lives involved uber-cute children playing idyllically on a sugar sand beach in the azure blue surf on a cloudless day? It would be nice, for sure, but that's just not where I live. 

If I scrapbook for myself, don't I owe myself the truth? If I scrapbook for the people who come after me, don't I owe them the truth?

I'm saying yes.

So this is my truth. It's not always about pretty flowers but there are pretty flowers involved. 

Here's the journaling:


With apologies to REO Speedwagon. 

Be scrappy.