Post #12 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Why I Do What I Do… And How I Do It
by Bettyann Schmidt
When orange and yellow leaves begin swirling in funnel circles outside my windows and large pots of soup and stews and homemade bread ignite my taste buds, I begin thinking about holiday memories past and how I will inspire the new ones we will create this year. Among my creative friends, whether scrapbook ladies, writers, quilters, or family historians, we cherish the winter holidays.
This past week I opened my holiday album and couldn’t resist sitting down and getting caught up a little. When the family comes, it’s fun having the albums out and ready for viewing. I’ll hear exclamations from, “Look at that hair. What was I thinking?” to “Oh, look how little you were there. This was your first Christmas.” I love being the holiday memory creator and keeper for my family.
Triaging. When I print my photos, I inspect them for the best. This is called “photo triage” in the book Big Picture Scrapbooking by Stacy Julian. Those pictures chosen as worthy for my albums go into my 3-up storage album in chronological order. Any prints I feel I will never use go into my “big box,” which is photo safe, because you just never know. I let the grandchildren go through the big box when they want to get creative, and I also use it to find prints I can cut into shapes, make cards with, all different kinds of projects.
As I explained in an earlier blog, I also have a smaller photo-safe storage box with dividers for “theme” photos and photos filed by season that I might likely use in one of my albums. The point is that I like to know how to put my fingers on a particular photo when I want it.
Last week, as I flipped through my 3-up binder of photos needing to go in albums, I found 2007’s Christmas prints. You’re probably thinking I’m behind, but I don’t see it that way. I work on what I feel like in my albums, and on what memories I choose at any given time. This way, I keep the interest going and don’t feel overwhelmed. I stay excited, and this is intricate to motivation.Creating Scenes. After I choose some pictures to create a“scene” in my album, which is how I like to refer to my page layouts, I then begin the layout process. I’m not always a creative dynamo when it comes to this aspect, and I don’t need to be. My main goal is to provide enough room for writing about the memories, and that means I can just line the photos up on the page with this in mind. I also use layout books and magazines for ideas and internet sites that offer tons of good layout examples. Sometimes I will have to trim my pictures in order to include the number of photos I want and still leave the room for my journaling. There are also times when prints just need a little fixing, for instance if we didn’t zoom in on our subject and there’s too much space, or the photo includes too many distractions around our subject. This is where my handy-dandy personal trimmer comes in. Adding colors and mats. Once my photos can be placed on my page the way I want them, and I’ve planned my journaling space, I play with colors a little bit. Here is where I might mat a photo or two, usually to give it that stand-out appeal if it’s one I want to highlight more than the others. This is where my 12-inch paper cutter does the work simply.
Adhering photos. Now I’m ready to adhere my photos to my album page or a sheet of 12-inch scrapbook paper, depending on how I’m working in my particular album. You can see the different album types by going to a local craft store. Some use thick pages with hinges that are held together by straps and use plastic protectors that slide over the pages. This is called a “strap-hinge” album, a fairly old style that continues to be made, and the one I use more than any other. There are also albums that come with clear plastic sleeves, usually called “top-loading,” and with these you create your page on scrapbook paper or cardstock which you then insert down into the plastic sleeve.
Additionally, you may choose to just use a notebook, maybe a three-ring binder. There are no rules in this game. You are the director of your memory projects. No matter how I do it, I always use photo-safe products that will last without discoloring or ruining my pictures or pages.
Above, I chose to adhere my photos to a sheet of simple patterned, medium-thickness photo mounting paper. I’ve used a favorite layout scheme, one of keeping the pictures close together instead of spreading them to the corners or the edges of the page. This technique is pleasing to the eye, with the thin, 1/8-inch margins separating the pictures. It also keeps the page simple, providing a more clear canvas for your storytelling.
Journaling your memories. I journal on my laptop computer in MS Word almost always these days. I like the neat and orderly appearance of the fonts, especially the scripts that look like one’s own handwriting. For years, however, I wrote in my albums with pens made especially for that purpose, and family members appreciate seeing familiar writing, even if not perfect, because it’s a personal reminder of their loved one. To this day, I treasure a particular birthday card signed by my mother because I don’t have many reminders of her handwritingThis little Christmas scene for my album was printed out on a linen textured white cardstock, one of my favorites. I then matted the journaling box with a black cardstock, bringing out the black of the shirt colors in the photos, for eye appeal.
Decorative elements as final touches. Once my journal box is adhered, I use a few simple enhancements on my page, a long sticker strip in a holiday motif and a few other small decorations for festivity. Adding page to permanent album. Now I’m ready to add my finished page to my album. I create regular family albums of just day-to-day activities as well as theme albums. But the holiday albums are my favorite because they show our family traditions, those we continue year after year, and the new ones we start as our family grows.
Sharing with future generations. I picture these holiday albums someday on someone else’s coffee table, being passed around, shown to the small children. “Oh, look,” someone might say, “there’s your mother when she was little, making cookies with your Aunt Erica in Grandma’s kitchen on the farm.”
Just like the beautiful handcrafted quilts some of our grandmothers passed down to us that we will treasure forever, my albums are meant to live through the years, telling my stories. I’ve found it’s a wonderful way to craft family history in the making and preserve our precious photos at the same time.
What You Can Do.
If you’ve been reading my blogs here on the Women’s Memoir site, you know I love to write family stories and remember the important people in my life. This week I’ve shown on an album page other people who are centric to my life: My children, their spouses, my grandchildren. And I’ve depicted one of the traditions and yearly events in our family. Most importantly, I’ve shown how I combine those two aspects into writing memoir. I find photos help tell the stories and highlight them for my children and grandchildren. And I want them to know the stories and “get” the lessons I sometimes pass on in my stories.
How can you do this? How can you do it your way? What traditions do you cherish? What do you want your family to know about you, what you treasure, what’s really important to you? What will you leave that lives after you? Little things. Like I want my granddaughters to know that they made Christmas cookies while they stayed with me over the holidays one year here on the farm.
These are “now” memories, and they are as important to writing memoirs as going back years and years and writing about the ancestors. Being recent, they also stimulate your writing and make it flow easier. It’s good practice for memoir writing. You could think of it as writing your memoir as you live it, and that makes it a lot of fun.
See what you can do with your present memories that will become a memoir for your loved ones, your personal life legacy
Let me know if you need any help, especially with the scrapbook part, the how-to. I’ll be glad to assist. Leave your comments below or contact me on my website.