(Long Island, N.Y.) So you think you can scrapbook? Don’t worry, neither can I. But I’d really love to start. So I asked scrap-booking extraordinaire, Angie Pedersen, to help.
She’s the author of The Book of Me: A Guide to Scrapbooking about Yourself, Growing Up Me: A Guide to Scrapbooking Your Child’s Stories, and The Book of US: A Guide to Scrapbooking about Relationships. If anyone can make scrap-booking simple…it’s her!
Long Island Exchange: I’ve been keeping a journal since junior high and I always thought scrapbooking would be a really fun way to capture my memories as a mom. But I just can’t find the time. What’s your advice?
Pedersen: Not enough time is one of the most common complaints among scrapbookers, who are also often wives and mothers. There are a couple of ways to get past this roadblock.
One is to break projects down into smaller steps that can be completed in little chunks of time, like 15 minutes. If you’re working on a layout, put a load of laundry in and then choose your photos. Change a diaper, and then choose the background paper. Swap out the laundry and then jot down some notes for journaling. At the end of the day, the layout is just as done as if you had sat down to scrap for an hour straight.
Another way to get more out of the time available is to *simplify*. Many scrapbookers think each layout must be some elaborate piece of art. But a lot of art is beautiful in its simplicity. Don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be. Scrapbooking is about preserving and documenting memories. However you achieve that is fine.
If you want to slap a photo on a piece of card-stock and jot down the story with a pen, and call it done, it’s done. That could be done in 15 minutes. So many people fill their heads with “you can’t do it like that,” and “it should look like this” — they end up paralyzing themselves. Turn your focus instead to preserving memories. Remember the advice your mother gave you — “write it down so you don’t forget it.” Jot down your memories, and you’ve accomplished something.
A simplified approach to scrapbooking is to use those photo albums that have the slip-in pockets. Slip photos in some pockets, and use the other pockets to house the story written on a scrap of cardstock.
You can see my example of this approach on my blog:
Long Island Exchange: My kids are getting big, and I lost so much time already. Where should I begin? Should I break [out] the pregnancy photos? (Oh dear).
Pedersen: There’s no “right” place to begin — pick some photos and scrap them. But advice that experts commonly give is to start with recent photos: “start current and work your way back”. The memories are fresher in your mind, and you’ll approach the project with less dread, because you remember the fun you had. Then, as you become more familiar with scrapbooking, you can start theme projects: your pregnancy, a specific family vacation, holiday traditions. You’ll eventually work your way through your photos — every page done is another memory preserved, and that’s “a good thing”.
Long Island Exchange: You specialize in scrapbook journaling. What exactly is that?
Pedersen: Technically, the term journaling means any writing or sentiment on the page, which can be the title, a quote, a poem, a caption, or a write-up of events. But to me journaling is more specific; it’s how you tell the story of the memory. It’s the Who-What-Where-Why-When-and-How of the story.
A lot of people struggle with journaling. They don’t feel like they know what to say, or they believe what they would say will sound “stupid”, or that somehow their writing will “mess up” the layout. But that’s all just a lack of confidence. You already know the story of the pictures in front of you; just describe the events like you would when talking to a friend. And even if you think it sounds “stupid”, chances are whoever is looking through your album won’t share the same opinion.
If your grandmother took the time to write down some of her memories, would you think it sounded stupid, or would you be grateful for the keepsake?
Long Island Exchange: Can you briefly explain what a “BOOK OF ME” is?
Pedersen: Very simply, a “Book of Me” is a scrapbook about yourself. It can include pages on anything you want to document and share about your life. People include pages on childhood memories, dreams & goals, personal quirks, beliefs & values — pretty much anything that helps someone else get a better sense of who you are as an individual. This concept has gained popularity among scrapbookers, because we’re often the ones behind the camera, and not included in our own scrapbooks. We tend to scrapbook about everyone else, and forget about ourselves.
Long Island Exchange: How long have you been scrapbooking and why did you start?
Pedersen: I made my first scrapbook layout on July 17, 1998. I know that because that’s the date on the check I wrote to the Creative Memories consultant! I started scrapbooking because I wanted a way to creatively display my piles and boxes of photos, and a place to document all the stories and memories that went with the photos. Scrapbooking allows me to do both.
Long Island Exchange: Scrapbooking is a craft and I’m so not crafty! I am creative though. What’s your advice for those who want to start, but feel intimidated?
Pedersen: Just jump in and start. Remember that scrapbooking doesn’t have to look like the examples you see in magazines. Looking at layouts done by experts can often be overwhelming. (You should ask to see those experts’ first pages — you’ll feel a lot less intimidated!) I strongly suggest trying a beginner’s class in scrapbooking from a local consultant or store — you’ll learn about safe products to use, and how to build a layout from scratch. You’ll see that it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.
You could also pick up The Idiot’s Guide to Scrapbooking — many beginners have told me it is comprehensive, yet not overwhelming. Finally, I teach a free “Scrapbooking Basics” class online at BarnesandNobleUniversity.com. It’s offered every couple of months in the Life Improvement campus. It’s a great, no-pressure way to start, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Long Island Exchange: Your website has such amazing information, tips, articles. What’s your most frequently asked question?
Pedersen: The most frequently asked question on OneScrappySite.com is probably how to install a font. Because it’s been asked so many times, I put together a tutorial, and just direct readers there:
Long Island Exchange: Do men scrap?
Pedersen: Yes, definitely! The majority of scrapbookers are women, about 98%. But there’s still that 2%. An idea book actually came out recently that’s authored by a man: Scrap City: Scrapbooking for Urban Divas and Small-town Rebels, by Paul Gambino. And another man recently shot a docu-drama about scrapbooking: http://www.scrappedmovie.com. Of course, there are hundreds of other men who scrapbook, and just don’t make a fuss about it, or become as addicted as women. They may also call their hobby something else, like “illustrated journals” or “photo journals”.
Long Island Exchange: What are three tips you would give to a beginner?
1. Take a beginner class at a local store, or from a local direct-sales consultant — it will save you a lot of time and shorten your learning curve.
2. Your pages don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be done. If you’ve told the story, and the basic questions have been addressed, you’re done.
3. Yes, you are doing it the “right way”. There really is no wrong way to scrapbook, pretty much any technique and material is ‘allowed’.
Don’t worry about doing it “right”. Just have fun!
I just want to thank Angie Pedersen for her great advice. Do I think I can scrap NOW? Why yes I do. But I have a feeling I’ll be visiting OneScrappySite.com quite often.