Many people scrapbook for a lot of reasons. As I read a post by Ali Edwards, then listened to a recent Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, I was interested to note that they weren’t really taking the time to define their meaning of the average scrapbooker versus the industry insider scrapbooker. I think that lack of definition was causing part of the confusion.
So in order to define it for myself, what is the average scrapbooker? A person, usually a woman, who wants to record, in more or less chronological order, the events of her family’s life. Secondarily, this “average” scrapbooker wants to do so in a long-lasting (archivally safe) and attractive manner. But – and here is part of the big BUT that I think was causing the problem – this person is not necessarily interested in doing it as a major creative outlet. This is neither her art nor her craft. The aspect of hobby and creativity is, for many, actually secondary to the purpose, though not unimportant. The ladies in the PRT, and even Ali Edwards to a certain extent, do all regard this as a primary creative outlet. And that impacts how they think of it, in ways of which I suspect they are unconscious.
I would note that this is my perception of an average, and that the average may be changing. I, myself, do not fit that definition, since I am single and childless – but I’ll get into my purpose for scrapbooking in a moment. I am merely noting at this point that most of the scrapbookers I know are women, with a family, and the family is the trigger-point for taking up the hobby. And that the artistic aspect of it is actually secondary to the basic goal of recording memories.
Of course, nowadays, the chronological part is less true. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that people are doing themed scrapbooks. But I would assert that the idea of scrapbooking started with that chronological focus. And in a way, I think that is one topic the Roundtable hasn’t addressed. They themselves don’t really focus on chronology, so their discussions don’t really address it, but they are missing the large portion of their audience who does. I suspect that some of the feedback that complains a little is rooted in that sense of distance from the story vs. time focus. And here’s what annoys me about that story focus: somehow they have missed the fact that the story of my life is made up of those chronological records as much as it is the “story” that they want to record. In a weird way, it sounds like they are devaluing the chronological focus, although I do not think that that is their intent.
And that leads back around to why I scrapbook.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who had a journal. I’m talking about the people who actually write their thoughts down in a diary with pen and paper (or electronically, but they do write it down) – daily. But whenever I tried that, I lost interest all too quickly. It was too restrictive. And I would grow impatient with the task. I like writing, but too often my thoughts would race past my pen and my enthusiasm would fade. So eventually, I decided just to keep a journal for those moments when I feel a sudden urge to record something. Actually I still have that journal, and I do add things to occasionally, especially the things that I don’t really feel are appropriate to share with the world via a blog, but I still wanted to do something more regular.
Back about eight years ago, I started scrapbooking. I had done some back in college, badly, and always felt that if I took pictures, then I needed to do something with them so that they could be looked at and enjoyed, and so in 2002 (I think), I started up with a friend via Creative Memories. And with time I started to develop my habits and way of working, and my scrapbooking grew in to a regular event, about once a month. In 2005, I started to blog, although it is still somewhat erratic. And after a while, I began to realize that I was journaling, the thing I had always wanted to do. Apparently a text-only journal was the limitation.
So for me, scrapbooking is my way of journaling my life, and because of that focus, there will always be a large portion of my scrapbooking that is exclusively chronological, because I want to remember that in that year, we all went to Mom & Dad’s for Thanksgiving, and I received this gift from my sister, and my niece was this tall and had her own computer for the first time, etc. I often write a good bit on my pages – many of these scrapbook layouts that I see that use minimalist writing are totally uninteresting to me. It is the combination of picture and words that make the journal important. And as I mentioned above, the pretty part is actually secondary. I have become much more minimalist in my creation of pages, rather than more decorative. My creative outlet is the fiber arts, as you might have guessed from all the projects I talk about on this blog, so when I started scrapbooking, I placed a deliberate limit on the products I would allow myself to collect and use, and that has worked to my advantage in some ways. In fact, I’ve been thinking about purging even the small amount I do have, because there are certain things I bought thinking I would use them, and, well, I don’t. Paper just isn’t my creative outlet, so I don’t even try to approach it that way.
The biggest change for me – and this is triggered by things like listening to the podcast and reading some scrapbookers’ blogs, as well as just learning to appreciate that my daily life is just as important as the “events” of my life – is to try to record some of the simpler things of my life. It started with the fiber arts, as I started to record my finished projects and works in progress, and so on, and what I grew in my garden each year, and what I am cooking these days (food bloggers, you know), and now I am beginning to realize that I want to record some more self-reflective things as well, with pictures. It is still journaling, but less exclusively chronological, though time is emphatically a part of it. But I do want to take some pictures of the beautiful fall colors and share the fact that I think it is beautiful and I try to appreciate the colors as I pass them each day.
Journal (from Merriam-Webster online): Etymology: Middle English, service book containing the day hours, from Anglo-French jurnal, from jurnal, adjective, daily, from Latin diurnalis, from diurnus of the day, from dies day — more at deity
Date: 15th century
: a record of current transactions; especially
: a book of original entry in double-entry bookkeeping b
: an account of day-to-day events c
: a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use d
: a record of transactions kept by a deliberative or legislative body e
log 3 f
I think next I’ll try to reflect on how I scrapbook. I need to think about it, because I’ve been realizing there are some barriers in place to achieving some of the goals I have in mind.