Staying in Focus: Notes from a Scrapbook Fanatic

I wrote this as an assignment for a writing class. today.  You may ask why I enjoy making scrapbooks.   Well, preserving memories is certainly one of them, but the act of putting them together, seeing the pages emerge as embellishments are added,  fills my need to create.  It’s also therapeutic – keeping my mind and hands engaged keeps the old noggin from losing it  and the fingers stay nimble as well. Not to mention how much people enjoy paging through them, especially my grandchildren  It fascinates them to see what they looked like when they were one or two years old..And when they’re older, I will give them their books and they will have a nice chronology of their childhood. So grab some markers, stickers, photos and paper and feel like a child again, ready to embark on creating a masterpiece.  Have fun!

Bits and Pieces

“Nothing is ever lost to us as long as we remember it” – L.M.Montgomery

I have preserved many of my most cherished memories by collecting bits and pieces and arranging them in a way to record the memory visually.  Or, in other words, I am a self-taught scrapbooker.

I began making scrapbooks long before the craft and hobby stores began to devote aisle after aisle to stickers, fancy paper, die cuts and doodads  too numerous to mention.  My first scrapbooks were really visual travel journals, my way of preserving the memories of family vacations, and I began my first one when I was a teenager.

I would literally collect bits and pieces to make my scrapbooks – post cards, brochures, ticket stubs, photographs, even the bags my souvenirs were placed in at a gift shop. When we returned home the first step would be to get my film developed (this was long before the advent of that most wonderful of inventions – the digital camera).  I would  assemble them into a visual  journal, using colorful paper, and those paper bags as backgrounds. I would add written anecdotes and comments to recapture the feel of the experience.

Over the years my scrapbooks have become much more sophisticated, with the advent of computers and an infinite variety and color of fonts, home printers, Photoshop and other wonderful tools.  I make them for friends we vacation with; I have made one for each year of my grandchildren’s lives – 10 so far; I make them to showcase my photographs and poetry and most recently, one to document my journey with Parkinson’s disease.  This IMG_9761may sound morbid, but I fill it with positive quotations, my poetry and a diary of the ups and downs of this journey.  It is a catharsis of sorts, and will be helpful when I write my life story.

In addition to preserving memories, making scrapbooks takes us back to our youth – creating masterpieces with crayons, construction paper and scissors.  And making scrapbooks encourages our creativity.   Nowadays, with all the supplies available at craft stores, each page can be a work of art.  In fact, frames are available in the standard size scrapbook page (12 x 12) for display on a wall.  And best of all, making a scrapbook lets us extend our vacation!  We find ourselves reliving the experience as our bits and pieces come together to form a special memory. and they make great gifts that your friends and family will treasure.

This summer, my husband and I joined two close friends for a cruise to Alaska.  I did not want this vacation to end, but ever on the lookout, I was collecting my bits and pieces for my scrapbook.  We happened to wander into an office supply store to get a camera battery when I spied a binder with the state of Alaska on the front cover.  It was like discovering a treasure! The day we returned home, I got to work, and guess what?  Thanks to those magical bits and pieces, I was back in Alaska again!

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