Creative Scrapbooking: the Building Blocks of Memory

By: Michele Cardello

The concept of creative scrapbooking has changed dramatically over the years. The word "scrapbook" used to symbolize a book (or album, if you will) of old snapshots. The photos were often mounted with little black corner pieces with room left between them on the page for some scribbled notations to identify the scene and those captured in the photo for the sake of posterity. Sometimes, the scrapbook included pertinent newspaper clippings or letters describing the life, achievements or even a secret or little known fact about the past of a particular family member.

But today that's all as passe as hula hoops, pet rocks and platform shoes. Make way for the modern era of creative scrapbooking, which has evolved into a most definite and enduring art form.

Creative scrapbooking as an industry dates back to 1976 and is attributed to the efforts of one woman, Marielen Christenson, who began designing creative pages for her family's photo memories by using sheet protectors and placing them within 3 ring binders. By 1980, she had assembled with love over fifty volumes of family memories and was invited to demonstrate her new concept (creative scrapbooking) at the World Conference on Records. In 1981 she opened the world's first creative scrapbooking store, called "Keeping Memories Alive." in Spanish Fork, Utah. The business grew quickly, and by the fall of 1993, "Keeping Memories Alive" opened the very first wholesale division in the scrapbook industry, providing a source for all related goods and products. In March of 1995, Christensen wrote and published the first idea book for creative scrapbookers.

The art of creative scrapbooking provides a strong social network, and today many large companies are involved in creating and selling all of the necessary supplies and products. Around the globe, scrappers unite at each other's homes, conventions and even on special cruises. Events related to creative scrapbooking are referred to as "crops." Many experts claim that this hobby has surpassed even golf in popularity, and that while one in four households has a member playing golf one in every three homes has someone involved in creative scrapbooking.

Unlike many sports and leisure activities, there is no wrong way to creatively scrapbook. Memories are subjective and as such are allowed to run wild, stay calm, be recorded or even shoved beyond the realm of recall within the mind's eye of the beholder. But for those who want to remember and have no hope of ever coming down with the luxury of amnesia, it may be time to consider posterity and your own particular place in it. Record your memories with your own unique voice for your children and grandchildren because time waits for no man or woman and no one else, no matter how sincere, can ever tell your life story from your perspective better than you can. Here are some creative scrapbooking tips. Read on, if you dare.

Memoirs take many forms, but they all share one common denominator: whatever the material utilized, it needs to be organized in some manner. Organization probably sounds as if it should be the first step along the way to creating a memoir/scrapbook, but actually it is the second. First comes the decision as to what it is that you want to organize. Most creative scrapbooking people have amassed a wealth of material for their projects, some of which may or may not be used. You may need some help in dealing with the mountain of material that stands before you, cries for attention and will not be ignored or shoved away into a closet, which already has too much stuff crammed into it anyway.

Take the time to research the Internet. There are many creative scrapbooking Web sites and chat rooms that offer a wealth of information about how best to organize ribbons, beads, papers etc. Store these ideas in a place you can refer to them later. Set aside the necessary time to organize your creative scrapbooking materials. Whether it be an hour or a few days, be prepared to dedicate the necessary time or you will never get it done. Without the completion of these first steps, progress will be halted indefinitely.

Another important consideration in the creative scrapbooking process is to decide if you need to purchase items that may not be used initially but need to be stored away. Make sure to measure your supplies first to insure they will fit into whichever container you decide on. Storage cases might be a good idea, especially those with expandable pockets. Develop a system that works for you even if it no one else understands the logic of what you are doing. (After all, no one has to. They are your memoirs, aren't they?) In each pocket, consider placing a 12 x 12 inch sheet protector so that small pieces of paper, etc do not slide underneath. You can further separate your creative scrapbook/memoir material by color or by the type of paper (card stock and patterned paper for example). Then consider alphabetizing paper ephemera by category, as that will help you when you need to find it again.

Probably the most important single piece of creative scrapbooking equipment that you will buy concerns the album itself, which can be either permanently bound or made to allow for the insertion of pages. Usually, the 12 x 12 inch or 8-1/2 x 11 inch are the most popular sizes but in recent times smaller albums (6 x 6 inch and 7 x 7 inch or 8 x 8 inch) have become very popular as well.

So don't just sit there and read! Get out there now and get what you need to start on your creative scrapbook journey! Don't leave it to do for tomorrow or next week or for that rainy day or whenever "you get a chance." No one knows what the future will bring for any of us. Life is too short and time is a thief who will not wait for even the most punctual among us. Begin to capture those memories for your children and grandchildren. Don't let them fade into the mists of time like sand through an hourglass. Do it...today!

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