paper: pretty paper. true stories. {and scrapbooking classes with cupcakes.}: Right: Where were we?

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Right: Where were we?

scrapbooking about yourself

Friday night commitments kept, and now we’re back to the time warp and we’re up to 2002. And this is the project I mentioned earlier that brought me bouncing out of my scrapbook burn out.

You may have gathered that it was not always the done thing to scrapbook about yourself, but if you weren’t there at the time it’s hard to imagine just how outrageous it was. Before I had met many scrapbookers in the UK, I went along to a crop organised by a few representatives from a direct-marketing scrapbook retailer—we are rewinding a bit here to late 1999, I should think. Seated around a table of strangers, I had brought one of my albums and my scrapbook basics and some photos and expected to scrapbook at my very first crop. In getting started, the ladies at my table looked through my album and started asking me questions about my supplies and telling me there was no way that they could be photo safe and such…one went as far as to say there was no way to to make acid-free patterned paper. But really they were more interested in the fact that I was scrapbooking pictures of myself. And then the queen of subtlety had finally had enough.

“If you’re not married and you don’t have any children, then what do you have that’s worth putting in a scrapbook?”

In their favour, it was not the representatives who said this but one of their top customers. This was before I had ever been published (and these girls didn’t know of scrapbooking magazines anyway) and before I had much self-confidence in anything, much less scrapbooking. So while today I would retort with a mix of anger, education and careful wording, then I just cowered and cried. She may have thought she was asking a real question, but all I heard was the bit about my life not being worthy of a scrapbook page. Ouch.

So a few years later Angie Pedersen, who lives in the same city where I grew up but I didn’t meet until I lived in England, asks me to contribute some pages and ideas to the project she is working on, The Book of Me, and it’s like the perfect little moment designed to help other girls who may have sat at a crop and been spoken to without thought and left to think they were not worthy of a scrapbook page. Brilliant. It was such a dream to work on that project, getting to see the drafts and things come together, email by email. It felt like important work, and it was probably the first time I felt empowerment in scrapbooking and grasped on to a bigger meaning for paper and glue. There was also a surprise when my copy arrived: on the Amazon page you can see the original draft of the cover, but the final cover ended up with the image above—I had no idea that I would be on the cover and it just about made my year. I love that it was a layout that marked a real change in my pages as well—it’s a single page, a 12×12 page, it’s a bit more arty, it’s sparkly, uses an enlarged photo and everything is in my own handwriting. The year before, that would have been a page I guessed would have been kicked back from publication. To see it on the cover made it feel like it was ahead of its time, perhaps. And it’s one that hasn’t really dated—I’m still quite happy with that little snapshot.

As part of that project, I also started to field a lot of questions from people who I think had shared my thoughts but were too afraid to say anything at the time. Because the pages that graced the magazines usually had beautiful pictures of traditional families, it was often a little awkward to scrapbook something that wasn’t as perfect as a storybook. After several people asked me how I dealt with this in my albums, I wrote this article for Angie’s mailing list. To my knowledge, it was the first time something was published using the phrase “hidden journalling” (though there may very well be other sources first that I didn’t know about). To this day, when I see people talk about hidden journalling, I light up a little bit. Other people say it much better. I still think it’s an important moment to realise you are in control of your pages and you can decide what is seen, what is said and how much effort it takes to read your thoughts. I still think of that as my little contribution to the big world of scrapbooking…just to give a few people the push they needed to put something in writing when they felt it was too imperfect to be remembered. I love that this is a whole branch of the industry now and it’s not taboo to write what you feel. We’ve grown up a lot in the last ten years, haven’t we?

those who inspire layout

The other big event of 2002 was CKU. My friend Cheryl and I flew to the states to go to one of the first CKU events. We took classes with Becky Higgins, Stacy Julian, Lisa Bearnson, Rhonda Solomon, Tracy White and other crafty girlies. There were some quite stressful moments that weekend but I mostly remember the good stuff. I had never been in a room with so many scrapbookers before, and that alone was pretty magical. It was the first time that I actually met scrapbookers from magazines and it made me very shy and nervous and giggly. But I came home and scrapbooked pretty much every photo I had taken within a week or two, so I must have been pretty inspired. This page included.

So, the facts then…
In 2002:
I shopped at the few scrapbooking stores that had started to spring up in the UK. Hurray!
I still scrapped a la Harry Potter, under the stairs in the middle of the night, though I did go to about one crop a month.
My camera was still the Rebel 35mm. I bought my first zoom lens in 2002—a 28-200 that I found on sale.
I had pretty much transitioned entirely to 12×12, and I started to do some single page layouts, though the vast majority were still double page spreads.
At the beginning of the year, I was still very much about the cardstock. By the end of the year, I was quite liking distressed looks, so there was a bit of subtle patterned paper creeping in along with cardstock that had been wet, crumpled and ironed.
After several years of saying ‘I will not start stamping because I will have to buy so much more stuff’...I started stamping. And I bought so much more stuff. Maybe it was inevitable.
I started blogging, though my blog was nothing like this and was mostly written to a private audience of friends and most of my entries were me whining about something or another. I guess, like scrapbooking, my blogging went through an evolution between then and now.
I still typed most of my journalling.
I started putting quite a few interactive elements on my pages, often to cram more photos or words onto the page; other times to include hidden elements I didn’t want to put right at the front.
I finally bought a paper trimmer! Took me long enough, I know. It still works today too, which is a pretty good return on a £15 investment.
My favourite supplies were sparkly things like stickles and glitter pens, though I often thought they were too special to actually use.
I didn’t scrapbook nearly as many pages in 2002 as I did the year before…partially because my year of magazine contract was up and more because my day job had become very real and took up much of my time and energy. It felt worthwhile and important to spend as many hours as possible working at school. Which strangely enough, was a pretty important step in my development as a scrapper.

scrapbook layout with typewritten journalling
A more modern tribute to the pages of 2002: a stack of photos held in place with brads and typed journaling—albeit on my old typewriter rather than the computer. I’m still not going back to that.

And I think I can wrap this up in just one more post, believe it or not. So stop back for the final installment: a whirlwind of the last five years.

(Also, a few people have emailed some excellent questions as a result of this little series of meanderings and I am going to try to put together a Q&A post for the beginning of next week. If you have a question you’d like me to include, please just let me know and I’ll do my best.)


31 May 2008

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16 Comments for Right: Where were we?

  1. Michelle OKeefe Says:

    Shimelle, I’m enjoying this so much that I don’t want to see it end. Fabulous & inspiring. I think I want to go back & scraplist myself, too.

  2. Annie Says:

    This has been such an interesting read over the past few days. Scrapbooking as a kind of journal of your life (even when you don’t have kids!) is something I think a lot of people still don’t really ‘get’. The hidden journalling article was great, as something I have been thinking about recently is the type of subjects I choose to go onto pages. Not everything in life is pretty and happy, and yet these are often the things I (and I suspect, many others) choose to document. I’ve been thinking particularly about things in my life that have not been so great, but which have contributed to the person I am today (and therefore deserve documenting) and how to go about doing this. Otherwise, my books dont feel like a very accurate reflection of me. I’m waffling, but hopefully you know what I’m trying to get at.

  3. k8 Says:

    You look like a child in your inspiration layout – I thought it was about your grade school teachers – and thought one looked alot like Lisa Bearnson – how odd…...oh, duh….I supose you were rather young in 2002! This has been a lovely adventure. But I still don’t wanna go look at pages I did in 1997…...


  4. Kelly Says:

    Hi Shimelle,
    I have read your blog since joining you in December, 2006 for the ‘Journal Your Christmas’ project and I have enjoyed reading everything but this especially. I am new to scrapbooking and I am not a blogger (in fact, I am rather afraid of technology but very interested non-the-less)and I look back over my early pages and want to do them again because things have changed so much over two years, for me. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Liza Says:


    I started reading your blog after going to CKC Seattle in 2007 and taking your why I scrapbook class. I love this time warp. You are very creative and have really helped me to start thinking outside of the box. I love being stretched to try new things and the ah ha moments. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Carrie Says:

    Great topic! So interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Angie Pedersen Says:

    [preen] Thanks so much for kind reminisces (and links), dearie! It’s great to hop down that Memory Lane. :)

  8. Gemma* Says:

    Really cool to see some of your first pages . . . i didn’t start scrappin til 2004, and the very first pages i did were about myself!

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Do you keep your LOs in order of when you scrapped them, or in order of event/photo?

    2. Do you ever go back to old LOs you don’t really like and remake them, or maybe just make another page with the same photos?

    Off to take a good look back through my ‘old’ LOs! :)

  9. BethW Says:

    I am so enjoying this series. It’s given me hope to start scrapping again. It makes so much sense-you can’t grow if you don’t try. Thank you.

  10. Lisa Says:

    I haven’t been scrapping very long, only a couple of years. I mainly scrap about my family but thanks to you I have started putting my thoughts into LOs. It all started with JYC 07 and then again with No Place Like Home. I think it’s really important to document who you are for future generations to read. I would have loved to read all about my grandparents and great grandparents and to have seen the world through their eyes.
    Thank you for your continual inspiration !

  11. heather Says:

    Loving your trip down memory lane! Very interesting to read how your style and scrapbooking in general has changed, since I only discovered it this time last year. Been reading your blog for a while after seeing your LOs in SI. Love your style but also the fact that you aren’t just scrapping about kids, like a lot of others. As someone who doesn’t have or want kids its nice to see layouts I can relate better to. I just like to show off my photos, whether they are of me, my friends or my travels, days out etc I might take more pics now [and of some pretty weird things] but saying that people without kids/husband have nothing to scrap about is like saying they don’t need a camera! At least attitudes have changed now :)

  12. Cloclo Says:

    This has been such an interesting read Shimelle – I’ve loved seeing your early pages as, being new to scrapbooking, I’ve only really known your most recent style. Even looking back over my early pages from the start of 2007, I’m amazed at how much I’ve progressed but I wouldn’t want to change them for anything – they say as much about me as the memories they record! Can’t wait to read the next section, and I’m hoping I can improve as much as you have over the next few years too :)

  13. Annie Says:

    A question – if you were to encounter that lady with that question today, what would your answer be to her?

  14. Ladkyis Says:

    I started scrapbooking when my daughter was born. She is 42 now so I have a long way to go back and look. I suppose I was doing it before it was a hobby. I think the early LOs I did were awful but I don’t want to change them because that is the ME I was then. Now I am a Grandma I am more adventurous and have been known to use embellishments too.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, it makes me feel that I am part of something extraordinary

  15. washwords Says:

    Shimelle (what a pretty name!), I found you through a blogher reference to your work. I’m not a scrapbooker but I am a single woman (dating someone great now but still) and as such, this post totally touched me. The comment you got on your scrapbook of YOU is outrageous and horrible, one of the worst things I’ve heard said to a single woman (and I’ve heard it all). Lord alive. I’m sooo glad you kept at it. Living well truly is the best revenge. Kudos to you.

  16. Rhonda Palmer Says:

    You wouldn’t believe what Pittsburg State looks like now. There is an upper deck behind where you are standing on the fence. If you want pictures let me know.