Thursday, March 27, 2008

An honest look at scrapbooking (or, "How The Magazine Stole My Soul")

I know I haven't talked about scrapbooking on this blog, but let me assure you I have been an avid scrapbooker since 1996. In other words, I have been here since the beginning of the current obsession with glue and paper. And from my lofty height as a pioneer, I offer you the following journey through my own adventure, and the influence The Magazine has had on me.

In 1996, I was in line to check out at a craft store (I think I was buying cross stitch supplies) and my eye fell on a magazine whose cover promised me "13 ways to record baby's first year". I was a new mother, so purchased the magazine without really knowing what it was. At home, I opened it up and discovered this new world of scrapbooking. My earliest pages are horrid, photos cut in to bizarre shapes, adhered to sample paper we had lying around the house from a stationery (NOT scrapbook) company, and all journalled with whatever ballpoint pen was available. My earliest pages were baaaaaaaaaad, but they were well meant.

Fast forward.

Since that long ago day, I have subscribed to The Scrapbook magazine...that's almost twelve years. In the early years, The Magazine, like my best friend Kelly who is an amazing scrapbooker, inspired me to do better, to more fully embrace my hobby.

But then something changed. I don't know exactly when The Magazine stopped making me feel good about my hobby, and instead started insinuating that if I didn't follow the trends I was a big loser.... but believe me, it DID happen. The craft evolved, became more technically demanding (why? because The Magazine said it should be??). People like Kelly, who were inherently artistic to begin with, were able to follow along, and produce beautiful pages. Me, on the other hand? Not so much. I began to feel ashamed of my simple pages, simply because The Magazine no longer showcased pages like mine. Everything had to have the newest techniques, embellishments, patterned papers....all of a sudden, simply recording my memories in a meaningful way was no longer good enough.

I couldn't keep up with the Jones'es in the scrapbook world. Kelly could, not because she was a sheeple following the trends, but because she is so insanely creative she understood the new language, saw the new possibilities. Her pages have always been gorgeous in their photography, insightful in their journalling, and beautiful to see and touch.

I don't. I can't. Lord knows I have spent many hourrs wishing I could be as talented, but I'm not. I'm cool with that, the woman is my best friend, I love her pages and I wish I could follow her creative axample. But I can't. I just make nice, simple pages for my little family, end of story. And Kelly, who truly understands what scrapbooking should be about, sincerely loves my pathetic little pages as much as if they were cutting edge.

I received my latest copy of The Magazine in my mailbox the other day, and it finally occurred to me that I am paying good money each month to allow strangers make me feel bad about myself. I open The Magazine, and lament the fact that I can't do what they do. I don't understand the techniques, I don't have access to the products, I am not a great photographer. I am just me.

And yet.

And yet, when I do scrap, Husbandly One and Son will both say, "Wow, that's great. I remember that day! What a great memory that is...."

I, in my non-artistic, non-innovative way, am giving my family what they want. We want our photos. We want a few written musings about our memories. And hey, if the page surrounding those two things happens to be pretty, so much the better. At least I understand that the two first things outweigh the third.

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