It may be Thursday, but it’s still Time Warp week. And we’re up to 2001: A Scrapbooking Odyssey. And while it wasn’t a year of my life filmed by Kubrick, it was a pretty shocking year for me in scrapbooking terms.
In 2000, I put together an entry for CK’s Hall of Fame but never sent it in. Don’t worry: it was filled with many paper dolls. Back then you had to select your eight best unpublished layouts to be considered. And I actually just enjoyed going through my albums to find my eight favourites, so I decided I would do that every year and keep a copy of my little ‘entry’ so I could see how I changed as a scrapbooker. Except in 2001, I got up the nerve to actually send the entry in. I was really, really hoping to get an honourable mention. I thought that would be a fabulous achievement and then I could enter the next year with a bit more respect and maybe someday I might make it, but that was really a pipe dream. I really, honestly just wanted to be forced each year to select my eight layouts, print them out on index cards and keep them as a little highlight scrapbook. Except CK went and thwarted my plan.
I am very, very glad they didn’t record the phone calls with the winners then like they do now. It would be so cringeworthy. But screechy phone calls aside, I was shocked and thrilled to win. And I knew some other girls that won that year (well, I knew them online, through a scrapbooking forum) and that was lovely. And I knew some people who entered who I thought should have won and didn’t, and that wasn’t very lovely. But then there was the second phone call that made 2001 the most confusing year of my life. A phone call from Paperkuts magazine asking me to be on their Power Team. So all of the sudden I went from having the odd paper-doll page published to actually making pages just for articles, and no matter what year that happens, it is strange. You take this thing that you’ve done just for fun and now it’s serious and it’s going to be judged and it’s so hard not to take any criticism personally.
And there was a lot of criticism back then—one scrapbook forum that was pretty popular had an entire section dedicated to issue reviews, and as soon as the new issues hit mailboxes, posters would go through page by page and offer commentary on the entire issue, layout by layout. Sometimes they would say nice things, sometimes they would say funny things and other times they would be downright cruel. I wasn’t very thick-skinned then and I wasn’t about to fight my corner, so I inevitably read what they had to say and any criticism would really affect my scrapping, from just not using a certain colour of paper to being unhappy with a week’s worth of layouts. Trends were moving very quickly as the industry started a huge growth spurt, and there was a lot of pressure to keep up with products, improve photography and make each page a masterpiece.
The funny thing is that when I look back on the layouts from that year, they are actually the most timeless in all my albums. When I look at them now, I think they are quite plain, but because this was just before so many products expanded across the US and came to UK shores, there isn’t much trend involved. CK published seven of my layouts in the Hall of Fame book: all double page spreads; all entirely cardstock. Well, one had a bit of patterned paper but it was the most subtle patterned paper ever so really, even that looked like all cardstock. (Interestingly enough, I did send in layouts with patterned paper, pop dots, metal embellishments and even cinnamon sticks, but the seven that made it into the book were the seven that were as minimal as I ever made.)
See what I mean? Really simple. Lots of wide-open space (sometimes in odd places like this layout) and the vast majority of the page space is either photos or empty expanses of cardstock. And although it doesn’t have the punch of today’s minimalist-graphic-styled scrappers, there’s nothing here that I can make fun of. The paper dolls were gone. Stickers and cheesy titles were pretty much gone. I was just about cardstock and photographs. My supply lists by each layout were so very short. But there’s just nothing there to offend. It might not grab your attention, but this is the point in my albums where I don’t look at the pages and laugh. The first concrete step of my evolution.
The trouble was that this was the point of my evolution of style that I became a scrapbook academic. I no longer played with pretty paper. I didn’t take the time to make fun little doo-dads and play with silly designs like paper dolls. I didn’t buy products I thought were too ‘fluffy bunny’, and I made my pages with a pencil, a ruler and a spirit level pretty much all the time. I had taken a few courses in page design for newspaper and magazines while I was in college, and I started abiding by those principles, more or less. At one point, I actually got out my old textbook and reread it with a highlighter and tried to invent my own formulas for scrapbook page design. It seemed like if this was going to be work (and it certainly wasn’t my full-time job but getting assignments and deadlines sounded like work to me), then I needed to treat it like work. Every once in a while I would try something out of my box for an assignment and inevitably it would get kicked back for me to do something in all cardstock or maybe with one sheet of patterned paper, but never, ever two. So back to work with the cardstock I went for a solid year of magazine issues. I also started teaching little classes at a monthly crop—and the supplies were usually just cardstock with the odd bit of thread or chalk. I remember teaching a little three-stitch triangle tree as part of a Christmas page and having several scrappers in the room look at me as if I had three heads when I gave them a needle. All of them still scrap, and I guarantee they have needles in their tool kit right this second.
I basically shopped at my own scrapbook store. Long story, but suffice to say I had plenty of Bazzill cardstock to hand.
I scrapped at a desk under the stairs, not unlike Harry Potter. The desk was too small to have both pages of a two page layout side by side, so I would do one side then walk into the hall to hold them side by side and see how they looked. I swear it didn’t seem strange at the time. I still scrapbooked in the middle of the night—sleeping wasn’t a particular talent of mine.
I kept my scrapping supplies in a Crop-in-Style Navigator rolling tote (which also went with me on the train and crossed the Atlantic a few times) and in the desk drawers. But I no longer kept a paper stash at all.
I used my Hall of Fame prize money to buy a Canon Rebel 35mm SLR camera. It was my pride and joy. But often I didn’t have the photos I needed for assignments, so I was constantly borrowing pictures from other scrappers just so I could get the ‘work’ done.
I still only did double page spreads, but I had to scrap a mixture of 12×12 and 8.5×11 for assignments.
I wrote a great deal on most of my layouts, usually typed on the computer and printed out. All of the journalling was very much like factual reporting—all told in complete sentences in chronological order without the slightest attention to lyricism. If I put the pages together, I have a near-complete commentary of where I went and what I did for an entire year, but not the slightest notion about how any of it made me feel.
I designed almost all of my pages by holding my photos in front of a rack of cardstock and choosing three colours that coordinated—one light hue, one medium tone and a dark shade. And at crops, I helped choose sets of three colours for other scrapbookers. Sometimes people even posted me their photos in the mail and I would pick three colours and post it out to them. I had a real job, but when I wasn’t doing that, I was thinking in cardstock colours.
I made about 150 layouts that year—for some reason, I kept track. Two-thirds of them were published. A big handful of the rest were for classes. And all of this made me absolutely ecstatic for about ten months, before I came crashing down in the last two.
Every single layout in my hall of fame entry used colour blocking in some way…although without any patterned paper. I had a little try today to see if I could still make colour blocking with with patterned paper and pretty edges. Does it work? It’s not amazing but I quite like it. Will product and style date this more than cardstock and a spirit level? Probably. But not quite like paper dolls. I have some more theories to share about that soon.
So the conundrum: the pages I made that year are probably the ones that will date the least. And I had to pinch myself every day because people were paying me to scrapbook, which was nothing short of amazing. But by the end of year of scrapping like that, I was totally burnt out. What’s a girl to do?
Never fear…there was something entirely new in 2002 that brought all the good back. Shall we talk about that tomorrow?
But looking back at these layouts, there is one last thing I have to say about 2001 before we move on. I really think it took three to four years of scrapping for me to develop any sort of consistency. When new scrappers pick it up these days, I think they are brilliant from their very first layout because it often seems to me that they are developing their own style quite quickly. And sometimes, they are. Lucky girls! But to those of you who are relatively new and don’t feel like you’ve caught your style just yet, I felt lucky to find it in four years. And all I’ve done since then is change that style to something totally different. So if we did this retrospect again in ten years, it might look like it took me eight or ten years to develop any style. It’s all relative. And it’s all part of the fun.
Don’t worry about the scary being over just yet: I think I can still find a fright or two in the albums to come.
ETA: closing comments on this one as it seems to be target of the day for spamville.29 May 2008