Sunday, 12 March 2006

Rose tinted memories - or are they black and white?

I know many scrappers do it because of the artistry and craftmanship of it all, but I would guess that most do it because of the memory keeping. I am definitely one of the latter ones (but of course enjoy the artistic side too!) and have recently been thinking about WHAT memories I'm saving for posterity.

My little boy is covered in awful spots at the moment, from his chickenpox. I can't bear to touch him for fear of hurting him and taking his clothes off for a diaper change almost brings tears to my eyes as he is so swollen and red. I have taken a couple of photos and will most likely scrap them in some lighthearted way because I don't think I need a trigger to help me remember how truly heartbreaking it is to see him as he looks right now. (For the record, he doesn't seem to care! He is quite happy and doesn't seem to be in any pain.)

So this means I'm "editing" my memories somehow - turning what is painful into something a bit more crowd pleasing. Call this the Disney effect. Is this right? Should my journaling include something about my feelings about all of this? Does anyone really want to remember that? Does it matter that I edit my life so?

Basically, I'm happy to amend my memories just a little bit so that they aren't too painful to remember but I have a real problem with "staged" photos. You know the kind - you dress up your kids/pets/family/whoever with some sort of outfit that just matches that lovely paper you just got, so that you can create a layout with the photo. Or the party that is thrown just so that you can use your Picnic Party stickers. Stuff like that. I don't really like doing it because - aside from the fact that you will end up with a perfectly coordinated page - it manufactures a memory that you may not have had if it wasn't for scrapbooking.

Is manufacturing memories that bad, though? I am now playing devil's advocate: maybe the memory you ended up with was lovely and you are happy to have done it. Or maybe you learned something about your family. Whatever. For some reason, I do find I have a problem with this sort of thing and don't really do it.

Now - on to one of my pet peeves: black and white photos. Don't take me wrong, I do love b/w and it is so flattering and makes photos looks so classy. Where I have an issue is when photos are changed to b/w so that the colors in the photo don't clash with the colors of the layout. This is almost as bad as staging a memory! I can understand that this could be a cool technique to be used every once in a while but I know of scrappers where a color photo is a rarity in their albums. Why is this necessary?

The range of products available these days mean that there can hardly be any photos that just dont' work with anything. Of course, this would mean shopping so if that is the problem - neutral colors should be the staple of any fashionable stash! In any case, does it matter that colors don't match perfectly? These are layouts made more for the love of art than the love of memory keeping and it's not what I do.

When you look at old b/w photos don't you wish they were color? So that you could see what shade of apricot is your grandmother's dress? Or what color is that car that your grandfather is proudly displaying? Life all around us is in color and feels unfair to take these colors away for the sake of fashion. Color plays an important part in memories and it may not seem like it now, but in a few decades your family might wonder why all your photos are in b/w even though color technology already existed.

Let your pages clash, I say. After all, life isn't like the pages of a magazine - glossy, perfect and ideal. It is more like the pages of my scrapbooks - richly colored, far from perfect and sometimes truly ugly. Like Samuel's chickenpox spots.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Once upon a time

How did I start scrapbooking? Well, the story of that is really the story of my journals...

I’ve kept a journal ever since I was in fourth grade – it started out as an exercise for English class. The teacher wanted us to write something, anything, every day but of course she would check it so it would need to be something not too personal. I soon forgot that and wrote about my life, my day, my hopes and my dreams. But I didn’t just write with blue pen on a plain journal: oh no! I used all the colors of the rainbow to write and covered my journal in fabric swatches, which I then covered in clear plastic for protection.

I really enjoyed the process so I kept going and when I completed one journal I would carry on with another. I wrote nearly every day, pages and pages, using all the colors I could lay my hands on and decorated the margins with a rainbow of doodling.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m in College. I’m still keeping my journal but not writing every day but still using all the colors I can find. But now, I find that I have photos that I want to keep, to illustrate the memories I’m collecting in my journal... so for a few months I added one or two photos occasionally to my journal entries. After a while I found that I had too many photos so I started a separate photo album.

This is the point where I can say I started scrapbooking - 1995. At the beginning I literally used scraps and photos and mementos, all “safely” tucked into magnetic albums (yikes!) I would use the occasional sticker as well, but mainly photos and memorabilia. I then spent a year working in the States as part of an international program run by Disney, where I met tons of people and had the best time. One of the traditions we had was to keep a “leaving book” which was basically a journal that you’d give to those about to leave. They would then sign it, add photos, drawings, whatever and it is a wonderful memento. This led me to visiting lots of stationery stores and little by little, I discovered Scrapbooking as an industry.

At this point my life became a bit more hectic with moving countries, getting married, etc. so my hobby got put to one side but I always, always, kept my journal and my photo albums.

I then moved to the UK and somehow re-discovered all about this hobby, the products available and the social opportunities this gave. I learned more about technique, suppliers, design, etc. and really fell in love with Scrapbooking as an industry. It allows me to keep my memories as well as use my artistic side and all the time enabling me to record our family history. What more could I ask for!

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