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Scrapbookers, let's talk albums.

scrapbookers, let's talk albums.
scrapbook pages in an album
Serious show of hands: when you make a page, does it go in a stack with other pages or in an album? Because I really want to talk albums. Like honest truth about albums.

I’ve talked about my personal album process before – for a long time, my pages were in quite a mess. Some in albums, some not. Some in order, some not. I’ll be honest: when I was creating more than half my pages for books and magazines, it was hard to figure out how to keep pages organised because I wasn’t particularly amazing at keeping an inventory of what I had made and sent away to the publishers, so I had no accurate idea of my page inventory, so to speak. At that point, if you had asked to see an album, I would have gone straight to a Christmas journal, because those albums are made in order and kept in order and no matter which day marks the end of the project, there is always some sort of finished feel to that journal. It’s real and it’s readable from start to finish and I love how it’s cohesive without being repetitive.

But that was then. Now the majority of my pages are photographed here rather than sent away, so I don’t need a complicated spread sheet to remember the pages I’ve created. I set up an album system, I moved my albums to a place where they would be easy to reach every day, and truly if you walked into my flat and asked to see an album, I would point you to the shelf and let you pick any book that’s there. Because I am truly happy with each of them in their current state. Aside from annual Christmas journals, none of them are in an officially ‘complete’ state. As far as I can tell, they never will be. I like that I can go back and add more at any time, but I also like that there’s nothing that works out as a project that can’t be seen because it’s unfinished. You know those projects? I have minibooks like that – the pages all covered, and then only the first half completed – that sort of thing. But in my 12×12 albums, you wouldn’t really know there was a gap – you just wouldn’t be able to read what happened between page a and page b, because I haven’t added anything there yet.

Truly the system I use for my albums is totally beside the point – I don’t mean you have to follow the same system I use in order to be happy with your albums. You don’t. Not in the slightest. But the last few times I’ve written about albums, several people have come out of hiding to say they have scrapbooked for years and don’t actually have a single album. Their pages live in stacks or in drawers or in boxes, and once they are completed, they don’t really see the light of day again. And not in an I’m meaning to put them in albums when I get a minute way, but in an I don’t really feel any need to ever look at them again way.

If I’m being honest, I read those comments and my face dropped.

Yes, making a scrapbook page is this creative, enjoyable experience in and of itself. I love that our craft is one that can offer real results in a short amount of time. I don’t think I would enjoy scrapbooking quite as much if it took weeks or months to make one single page. (This is why I have never knit a pair of socks, for I am convinced I would give up before I turned the heel.) So yes, I love that we make pages and enjoy making them. But albums are this whole other level, just waiting to be discovered. Once you come up with the way you want to organise your pages in albums, looking through an album gives you a new plane of creativity. A new way to write, when you keep the longer format in mind. A new way to embellish, when you consider what pages you have already created on related topics. A new way to get the most from your supplies by looking at a range of pages rather than a single page.

If you really don’t have any desire to look back at your pages in an album, then I respect that. It doesn’t work for me. If you mean to put pages in an album but just keep putting it off, I really recommend taking a couple days and just making it happen. It doesn’t need to be perfect and it doesn’t need to be complex and calculated. Just find a way to let your pages be enjoyed after you make them, that’s all.

I don’t love this instead of making each page at a time. I love this as an addition. Like creative step one: make a page. Creative step two: look at how that page affects the album. Sometimes the album itself inspires my next page. Sometimes the next page comes completely on its own and making it a smooth transition in the album becomes its own creative challenge. That may sound a bit esoteric, but what I really mean is albums now make me more excited about scrapbooking than I have ever been.

And here’s a big bonus: if someone who doesn’t understand scrapbooking asks to see what I mean, I can show them an album that will make sense without needing to know about the crafty stuff. The story makes sense as you flip from page to page. I can still make every page as embellished as I want, with products I like and in whatever style makes me happy. Every time I finish a page, I love seeing how the album itself is coming together and it makes me relive the memories and think of more things I want to write in my very own words with my very own pen in my very own hand.

So in short, to me, albums are good. Looking at pages again and again is good. Enjoying both the single page process and the long game of curating all these individual moments into the full autobiography is definitely, definitely good. This month marks my thirteenth year of scrapbooking and I’ve never been happier to call myself a scrapbooker.

But if the short version isn’t enough, I’m teaching a workshop on this very principle of making albums take on that whole new level. It’s called Go with the Flow and it’s part of True Scrap 2. My class is live tomorrow (Thursday) at 7pm UK time/2pm Eastern time. But at True Scrap, there are also sixteen more workshops from instructors like Nichol Magouirk, Kristina Werner, Jennifer McGuire, Noell Hyman, May Flaum, Kelli Crowe and on and on. We’ve all selected topics on our very own scrapbooking passion, so everyone is sharing something they truly love.

True Scrap works like this: you sign up and have access to the whole event – both live and recorded. So if you can make the live sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then you can ask questions of any instructor and chat with everyone. If you can’t make the live sessions (or you can only make some of them), that’s okay too because you get access to the recordings and you can watch them (and rewatch them!) in your own time. Each class is presented by video and followed by a Q&A session where you can type in your questions for the instructor and she’ll be there live to answer.

The classes include a mix of techniques and philosophies – some things you can actually make right along with the video, others encourage you to think and process an idea and then make it work for you over the long run.

So yes, it starts tomorrow, but you can still sign up. You can find all the details here. If you do sign up, I hope to see you tomorrow night when we’ll be talking albums! And it’s concrete album discussion. Things you can follow and use, less of the idealistic I! Love! Albums!, I promise.

And if True Scrap is not for you, I’m sorry to miss you – but we can still discuss how fabulous this hobby is. Any time. I’m going to stop gushing now and close this post, but some days I am just extra, extra happy to make things and glue things and write things. Today is one of those days.

Sending much happiness to you and your scrapbooks!


19 October 2011

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24 Comments for Scrapbookers, let's talk albums.

  1. April W Says:

    I have every single page I’ve ever made in an album. Are they in order? No way! It totally works for me though because it’s how I scrap. I used to try and make this album and that album, but it just got crazy and didn’t at all make me happy, so one afternoon I sat down and took out every single layout I had made. I then sorted them into albums from earliest to most recent, in order of when they were made (which was easy because I always put the date I make a layout on the back). Since I scrap out of order, there can be a page of my now 11 year old as a baby and then one of her from last month, and I don’t care at all! I just love looking through them and seeing what I’ve created. ;) Plus, when people ask to see my latest work, I always know which album to reach for! – April W

  2. Ali Says:

    You are so right about albums. My LOs are mostly in albums but I have just put them in the order I have made the LOs and one day I will get to put them in the ‘right’ albums. So at the moment there is no continuity but I do love to look at them anyway and although they are really random, I show them to anyone who asks and am proud to do that. Just have to get them organised now! :)

  3. kate Says:

    I have just had a sort out as I’ve had a huge scrapathon this year compared to other years. I had my 8.5 × 11 and 12 × 12 pages in separate albums, I wanted my honeymoon pages to be in a separate album, then when I looked at them, they made no sense. I jumbled all the page sizes up, threw everything in together and organised it by chronology. It worked for me. It identified gaps in my stories which I don’t feel under pressure to make, I actually feel inspired to go back and look at what hasn’t been scrapped about very much. It is a wonderful record of what we have been up to in the last few years & I love it so much more than sorting by size.

    I still have my JYC2010, I still have our ‘house makeover’ album and that is fine because I will still make some pages of those things to go in my big album.

    Only problem of course is I now need more 12 × 12 albums!

  4. Pauline Says:

    My pages are in albums organised in chronological order (the albums are either per yea or per 2 years). Makes it so easy to put layouts away safely hen they are done!

  5. Jude Says:

    I’m afraid I’m in the ‘no layouts in albums’ camp but I agree with you entirely. It’s purely down to me not having got around to printing (I’m a digi scrapper) but I do want them in albums. I’ve even got the albums, just haven’t printed yet! I think I’m going to set a goal of having albums to show off at christmas :)

  6. Lisa-Jane Johnson Says:

    Yes yes yes!!! I’ve been scrapping for abou 2 years now and I started off buying any cheap album I could find as a way to store the layouts. I heard people talk about organising their layouts by child or by dog or by this or that but nothing felt right. Then I read your post about albums a while back and a light went on. Of course! I am gradually replacing my old albums with modern ones so I can add pages easily and it is so geat to see the story unfolding through the pages. It makes sense not to have to introduce the characters on each page again too? Thank you so much for giving me this extra element to this wonderful craft. Xx

  7. Dawn Says:

    I’ve recently found the benefits of D ring albums and have all my completed pages in them, in chronological order. Like you I love to read through them and know that I can add in additional pages easily!

  8. Fay Says:

    Great post. When I first started scrapbooking each page I made went into an album as soon as it was finished. Then I ran out of albums so the pages started to stack up in a pile. Now that I;ve bought some new albums I’ve got about a year’s worth of LOs to put away and I’m finding the task quite daunting. I think I need to tack some time real soon to sort it! Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Gina M Says:

    This is a great post. I keep a small stack of finished pages, and once or twice a year put them in their correct albums. It kind of messes me up when I do a two page spread, and it ends up next to a single page, and I have a gap that is so obvious. I need to do some random single pages to fill in those gaps. Hopefully, during the Pretty Paper Party, I can make enough singles to complete.

  10. LisaE Says:

    I put all my pages in albums. I use Creative Memories so it works best if I’ve done all the pages I want for an album before putting it together. In the interim , I have drawer but they never stay there more than a few months. I like CM because I don’t have to cover up my pages with page protectors. Lately though I“m thinking of trying a system like yours where I can add and move the pages around more easily.

  11. Kirsty A Says:

    I couldn’t bear to have my pages piled up in drawers! For me, layouts in albums is like books on shelves – it just has to be! I try to keep my pages in approximate chronological order (or at least in the right year’s album) but then I tend to scrap fairly chronolgically. I rarely use photos more than a year old, unless they are destined for my separate ‘Me’ or ‘Family Tree’ albums

  12. Alana Says:

    I am firmly in the camp of putting layouts away in albums as I finish them. So the newest is at the top. Otherwise I would go crazy trying to put them in different groups ESP when they come under two types eg christmas and family. I do leave the latest out for a while on an easel so I can enjoy them though and a few go on the Walls.

  13. tilla Says:

    I have most of my pages in albums – I scrap chronologically (except for the Rio trip of 2009 ! which is still untouched)
    My kids each have their own books and love looking at them and the family albums.
    Will the True Scrap classes be available individually afterwards ? Would like to be able to do one or two in my own time ?

  14. Melissa Shea Says:

    I love putting my pages in albums as soon as I’m done! Makes me feel like I’ve made progress. In fact, I don’t start a new project w/o the album, I buy it first. Love that binders are everywhere now too. I organize by the year. I have separate albums for Christmas and “me”, that’s the album that I just play and it’s only for me, so no pressure to be well done or in order!

  15. Jennie Says:

    Well Ms Shimelle you have touched a nerve here. The last time you did that was about my journaling or rather my lack of. You certainly didn’t direct it at me, but I felt a sharp defensive position and said to myself, well i don’t like the look of journaling on my page, it spoils it. Then I thought about why you had touched a nerve and hey-ho it was because I was dressing photos not scrapbooking. Now I love journaling onto the page, the photo, anywhere. I don’t find it easy but I do like it. Yes sigh and my pages look better too :)
    Now you have touched a nerve that has already been touched ny one of my teamies about how I deal with my layouts. The bottom line is that if I was knocked over by a bus tomorrow even my nearest and dearest (who know about my hobby) wouldn’t know what to do with my layouts. If they were in albums, they would look like I cared about them and was trying to tell a story and would value them more.
    So Ms Shimelle I will go away and examine the touched nerve. Dang you :)

  16. Barb in AK Says:

    Shimelle, Sorry I won’t be able to enjoy your video and discussion. I just found True Scrap 2 too expensive for me to be able to join. But I know there will be many others out there ready to enjoy what you will have to share. I love albums, too. It just makes sense to “hold a book”, you know. It not only protects my pages, but time and again, I can “re-live” my life by perusing my albums. I don’t scrap in chrono-order, but I put my pages in chrono order :-)
    Thanks again for your thought-provoking messages!

  17. Scrapdolly Says:

    Like in every aspect of my life I am quite anal about my albums LOL. I always used to scrap 12 × 12 (and still do often) but I also scrap 8 × 8 and 11 × 8.5. I have just redecorated and now have shelving for my dozens and dozens of albums and they are quite specific. I have albums that are cats, that are family, that are heritage, that are nature, that are holidays, that are events, that are ‘us’, that are Christmas etc etc and I have those categories in all three sizes. Many of my albums are not full (though the holidays and events are)and some categories have several full albums as well as one that is the work in progress (you’d expect, I guess, that I have lots of full cat albums) and they are not chronological in the most part. When I make a page it goes ont he easle int he scrap room for a couple of days and then gets replaced by the next and that page goes in an album. I never have pages anywhere other than one on display and the rest in albums. And I sit and look at the albums …. often, and so does Nigel.

  18. jo Says:

    I was that person who said their LOs never saw the light of day again! This was partly true – about half my pages are in albums (I have a couple for each of my sons and the rest are a mix of pages) and the rest are in pizza boxes. I would love from them all to be in albums but if I costed up what I would have to spend on albums and page protectors I would probably have a coronary! I do still have a look through the pages I have made in these boxes – but the bottom line is I would rather spend what spare cash I have on pretty stuff rather than an album which is pretty mundane by comparison. So until I receive a windfall that has got to be the way it stays I’m afraid.

  19. Sandra K. Says:

    I always put my LOs in a album. But I use to have those thin albums and after a few LOs it was full. I scrap mainly for my kids (3)but have a album for myself too. They each have there own album in there favorite color. For the youngest( 6 months) I began Project Life. So much easier and I also put her LOs in there too. It is so much more fun to scrap now.
    For True Scrap, It was simply over my budget. I am so glad I signed up for your class, Pretty Paper party. I am having a blast. I learned so much from you these couple of days my head is spinning. But I’m loving it! Thanks Shimelle. Have a great weekend.

    Sandra K.

  20. glee stormont Says:

    albums all the way! I wish mine were all D ring as they are soooo much easier to rearrange at will. Love to look at all my albums. I’ve only been scrapping for about 5 years, but love to scrap older photos as well as new ones. thanks for your inspiration, as always. aloha

  21. Michelle Clement Says:

    Oooh – I can’t wait til I finally get the albums I ordered to give my pages homes! It’s sad, the piles they’re in: I used to have a good system for a while, but the past few years I’ve let it slip and now it’s crazy! I really like to finish a page and add it to it’s place in an album, so I can’t wait… :) I definitely think they are worth looking back on, these pages: isn’t that the whole point of this scrapbooking goodness? :)

  22. Heatheranne Farley Says:

    I tend to sort my pages into two categories – my current year which is done more or less chronologically and goes into an album almost straight away and the other is a more thematic approach and they reach albums when I have enough pages to look like a book!

  23. uk dissertation help Says:

    I use to have those thin albums and after a few LOs it was full. I scrap mainly for my kids (3)but have a album for myself too. They each have there own album in there favorite color. For the youngest( 6 months) I began Project Life. So much easier and I also put her LOs in there too. It is so much more fun to scrap now.

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