I hopped into the craft store for paint supplies and found myself staring at a display across the aisle as I was checking out. “Designer Scrapbooking” said the banner. Little cellophane pockets were filled with cardstock flowers with little glittery plastic jewels nestled in the center, a paper child with joints that moved, and fabric stickers in three dimensions. Buttons and paper and stamps, fancy-shaped whole punches. And I realized as I was staring, that scrapbooking is no longer scrapbooking. For one thing, there’s no scrap.
Once upon a time, I found a scrapbook in a dark corner of our storage shed. I chewed the stem of an oversized grass stalk while browsing a book put together by my mother’s mother, an ornate collection of photos, wrapping paper, pressed flowers and ribbon. I read letters, studied postage stamps and handwriting, marveled faded photography.
What weren’t on the page were little metal brads with things that spin or puffy letters announcing what each page was about. There weren’t die-cut shapes, stickers or rubber-stamped flowers.
There were photos cut around the figures, there were little blossoms of gift tags with strings threaded through a button, with stems of ribbon braids. Wrapping paper photo frames were adorned with a little note about the package that it had wrapped, and flowers pressed with all their vividness tucked behind clear overlays, also with wrapping paper photo frames, kind of like little windows.
There has been a long evolution since the days of my grandmother, where ladies’ groups shared ideas on how to reuse common items into clever, even sellable objects, to today, where such practices are considered crafts, and are catered to through chains and manufacturers so that you can buy new bags of popsicle sticks and shapes already cut out from papers, where reuse has changed from everyday living to an environmental movement.
Today, scrapbooking is about the combination of personal memories and art. Craft stores also carry everything an artist might need. In fact, I am happy to include crafters under the umbrella of artists, and therefore the scrapbooker as well. Whether or not you make and design the pieces yourself, you are designing and assembling the pages. You are taking in hand the aesthetics of collage art. Creativity portal describes collage as “compositions of various elements (such as paper, wood, fabric, feathers, leaves, and other found objects) pasted down with an adhesive glue or paint.” Scrapbook artists put their collages together in a binding and call it a scrapbook, or memory book, or they frame it as a one-of-a-kind, made-just-for-you gift.
Serious scrapbookers, like any serious artist, spends thousands each year on supplies and materials. Unlike an artist, who continues to use the same methods and supplies as the thousands of years of artists before him, a scrapbooker can go back to scrapbooking roots and save these thousands.
One way is to just stop throwing things in the garbage but into your scrap stash instead, but that’s the extreme “green” version which requires quite a few stretches in creativity. The scrapbooking supplies at stores allow those less-creative types access to this art. Here are a couple of investments and ideas for paring down:
- Buy your own die-cutter and dies and cut them yourself instead of buying them, or cut pre-printed shapes from old greeting cards, or do both: use the die cutter on the greeting card. You could also die cut sticker sheets.
- Buy your own cardstock and print your own scrapbooking pages. Here’s a couple of printers that print larger-than-standard widths: Epson Stylus Photo 1400 and HP Photosmart Pro B8350
- Paint your own papers for different effects: Bubble Painting and Marbling
- Bring back the art of Scrapping with scrap paper from other projects and tissue and wrapping paper from gifts.
- Other serious scrapbookers’ ideas on the web can be found at ScrapJazz
Though the memory is the treasure, the scrapbook is its velvet-lined box. The art of a scrapbooker is not the art of the Louvre but just as timeless. You don’t have to limit yourself to what scrapbooking products they have in the stores, for the true art of scrapbooking is the art of what can be done with the imagination. It’s a bonus that the imagination costs less, too.
Image courtesy of lars hammar