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!
xlovesx19 October 2011