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It's just a jump to the left

scrapbooks from the past

Please, please, please understand how very difficult it is to lead with that image. Please don’t run away! I promise these are not an experiment in my newfound scrapping style. In fact, these are some of the very first pages I ever made.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to teach a layout class for the Scrapmates in Enfield and in thinking about what we would do for the project, I stumbled upon a class page I taught on that very same May bank holiday Monday in 2001. The supplies for that double page spread included four sheets of cardstock. Nothing else. So I had a little challenge to see if I could use a few basics from that original double page spread while making it up to date…like adding a few zillion pieces of patterned paper to the kit. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

All this inspired me to go through my old scrapbooks. The ones I keep on a bookshelf in the spare room. The ones that are filled with pages that make me cringe…some a little, others a lot. And see if I could track where I have been as a scrapper. So over the next four days, I will possibly scare you a great deal with some images of old pages. But hopefully there will also be some things that make more sense…a visual evolution of a scrapbooker. And a little project at the end of it all that you might like to do too. I call it time warp week. And as there will also be a great deal of explanation, you might like to listen to the time warp in the background, for added humour and enlightenment.

I discovered scrapbooking in the autumn of 1998 at that fine American shopping establishment known as Big Lots. If you’ve never seen a Big Lots well…it’s called Big Lots because they buy giant lots of random close-out items and sell them very cheaply in stores that are big but basic. Every Big Lots I’ve ever been to has been housed in what used to be a Wal-mart before Wal-mart decided they needed a bigger, better building. There was a Big Lots store in the little town where I went to college and it was a huge hit with college students, as the pay cheques from our minimum wage, part-time jobs went a bit further when you weren’t paying for pretty store displays or correctly spelled packaging. And there in a giant box of random items, I found a scrapbook kit in a box for the princely sum of $3.99.

The kit contained a cardboard 3-ring binder, ten page protectors, ten sheets of white cardstock, a dried up glue stick, some faded construction paper and a plastic shape template. And I did actually use all of the contents of this kit to make my very first scrapbook, a gift from the cast for the director of a play I was in that term. So if you haven’t figured it out, that means I can not hide my very first pages from the world. They are in someone else’s house. Sometimes this gives me nightmares. Because I remember just how terribly frightening those first ten pages were. And of course I was already taking it seriously—I had to double my investment by paying at least another $4 for a set of Crayola markers to make the beautiful titles and clever captions in that book. Imagine the beauty.

Shortly after giving that album away, I discovered that there were people who used the word ‘scrapbooking’ with a real ‘ing’ at the end, almost as if it were an athletic event. I discovered that Wal-mart had a scrapbooking aisle where they were hiding all the good pens, far away from the Crayola markers in the stationery section. Then I found the scrapbook aisle (singular in those days!) at Hobby Lobby. It was there that I bought an out of date, marked down issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine and had the biggest scare of my entire life: I WAS SCRAPBOOKING ALL WRONG.

See, those pages at the top of this post…they are actually significantly less scary than my very first pages. They were made in late ‘98 and show that I had discovered some things (like the pack of coloured cardstock that had navy, hunter green, brick red and a yellow that didn’t match anything) and not others (all the pastel and brown papers are just typing papers…not at all from the scrapbook section). So I suppose this is where it all started.

In 1998…
I shopped at Wal-mart and Hobby Lobby.
I scrapped on my lap, while sitting on my futon in my just-off-campus apartment. I usually scrapped late at night while watching a strange combination of MTV and HGTV.
I kept my scrapbooking supplies in a small plastic file box. All of them.
My camera was a point-and-shoot 35mm I had had for at least six years.
I scrapbooked on both sides of the cardstock.
My favourite tools were a plastic template with a circle, square, oval, heart and star, deckle edge scissors (though I didn’t know they were called ‘deckle’. I called them ‘ripped’.) and my very first punch: a small star.
I journalled with the four-colour starter set of Zig Fine & Chisel tip pens.
My pages didn’t stand alone or have titles—I would just do a run of pages with a roll of film and move on to different colours with the next roll of film. ‘Different colours’ meaning a little more navy on the first roll; a little more hunter on the second roll.
All of my pages were 8.5×11. Most of them were navy, hunter green or brick red.
At the very end of the year, I bought my first patterned papers in a book from Hot off the Press.

And in trying my very best to take some inspiration from those pages to come up with something today, I ended up with this:
scrapbook page

It surprised me just how much I had to search in my stash to find navy blue cardstock when it used to be my staple. This was the only sheet I found. And I had absolutely none of that hunter green, so I had to opt for a springier shade (oh, what a shame, I hear you say!) of green. Before you think that’s the only thing I could ‘lift’ from those ten-year-old pages, I did include a tiny bit of patterned paper cut with my current favourite punch (the 2” scallop circle) as a nod to my melodramatic overuse of the star punch in 1998. But yeah, that is pretty much all I could do. I wasn’t going to crop anyone into a heart shape just for laughs.

getting better...

In 1999, I like to think things got a little better. But only a little.

In 1999…
I shopped at the giant chain craft stores and Two Peas in a Bucket.
I scrapped on my dining table, which was only once used for a meal, though it was sometimes used for studying for exams.
I learned not to scrap on both sides of the cardstock, so I could move my layouts around.
I started making pages with titles—pretty much all double page spreads.
My favourite tools were punches and the Fiskars circle cutter.
I journalled with a black Zig Millennium pen, but I hadn’t realised they came in different sizes.
All of my pages were 8.5×11. The colours got a bit more varied, but only to include derivatives like burgundy and baby blue.
I had a few more patterned papers, most by Keeping Memories Alive.
I learned I could cut titles by printing out fonts on the computer and tracing them onto paper.
And let’s not forget, I started making crazily random opera singers with viking hats out of paper. That had to be a real skill. Maybe even one that would get me a job someday? Surely not.

Autumn scrapbook page

In trying to find something from that opera page to scraplift, I had no choice but to try to paper piece something. Though I once spent hours and hours working on paper pieced figures, I really can’t imagine doing that today. It just wouldn’t hold my attention that long. But I managed to cobble together a tree…and I did my best to work with that burgundy cardstock, but in the end I had to relegate it to the very edges and brighten things up with the yellow.

So you can see where this is going…tomorrow we venture to the valley of the (paper) dolls. I know you can’t wait.


27 May 2008

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18 Comments for It's just a jump to the left

  1. kate Says:

    OMG I love it. Seriously, the viking lady rocks!

  2. KK Says:

    It was great to hear Time Warp again … I may pull my old books out for a good laugh.

  3. Marie Says:

    Now I’m going to have that song lodged in my head all day long!!

    This is such a great project to undertake. Thanks for bring us along for the ride :) I really enjoyed this post today. It’s so interesting to see how people’s styles have developed.

    P.S. Are you singing in the opera?? A woman of many talents ;)


  4. Lisa Says:

    You are a very brave lady!
    It’s been wonderful reading about your first scrapbooking experiences and what a fab idea to try and incorporate them into layouts. Can’t wait to see the next one!!

  5. Marie Says:

    You’ve inspired me to go back and revisit my first efforts. I think I might have to go for a lie down after that! LOL.

  6. LazyKay Says:

    How interesting to see this and to read ‘I was scrap booking all wrong.

    My first attempts (age around 9 onwards) are ruled notebooks with photos and handwritten (complete with ink blots) writing (now known as journaling).

    I recently considered updating these – but decided NO! These are ‘a moment in time’ and I don’t want to lose the flavour of the pictures or of me at the time.

    I think a lot of people get hung up on what’s right and it puts them off. If you like what you’ve done and it tells the story you want to tell – then it IS right!

    Thank you for sharing your journey – I love reading your blog.


  7. Alex Says:

    It is nice to know I was not alone. Unfortunately for my albums, I stayed in the beginning stages much longer and there is a LOT of white cardstock with shapes photos on both sides!

  8. Karen C Says:

    i loved seeing this.

    my ? to you is…can anyone evolve into a better scrapper? i have been scrapping for quite some time and still, it is ok…i just love the look and style of so many other scrappers. Mine is just plain and simple. Any advice on how to evolve?

  9. k8 Says:

    Yeah – sometimes I’m afraid to look at my old books… your hearts!


  10. lindschick Says:

    Wow, how your style has changed!! Loved seeing those first pages and that viking lady, well she is something to behold. Thanks for sharing these with us. I’ve really enjoyed reading the post. I love the paper tree it is cool.

  11. lindschick Says:

    Ooh forgot to say thanks, I love the timewarp!! So am now listening to it continuously!!!

  12. Beth Deckard Says:

    Love it, love it, love it!! I can’t wait to read your next post!

  13. debbie Says:

    You are right, I can’t wait! This post was so funny. I’ve been scrapping since 1996 so I really related to this post!

  14. Rosemary Says:

    I love you. Wow.

    I don’t even want to see what I scrapbooked like a handful of years ago.

    Opera-girl is quite impressive.

  15. Iara Says:

    thank you for the post Shimelle, the opera vikinger is very impressive :)

  16. Mary Says:

    So sad to think that we have to “revisit” and “criticize” how we documented precious memories rather than being grateful that they are documented…and I say this as a person fighting a life-threatening illness while at the same time scrapping as simply as she can so that those memories are there for generations to come…regardless of how they may feel about my “style” or “lack thereof”. I think ALL of your pages look GREAT…then and now!


  17. Natalie Williams Says:

    Loved this post! I was looking back over my first scrapbooking “attempts” the other day and I did a lot of cringing. I guess we all have to start somewhere :)

  18. Karla Says:

    I think we all have those types of layouts! I know my first ones are are scary to go back and look at!! I think it’s kind of cool to see where we started and how we’ve grown. But I would love to go back and change a few of those older ones!! But can I just say, I love your work and ideas and videos! You are truly an inspiration to me! Keep em coming:) Have a great day.