Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's good to have challenges in life

As you know I've had the great good fortune to work for Provocraft and been given the use of a Cricut Expression, Cricut Cake and Gypsy so that I can tell people about these wonderful tools.

Having been yearning for an Expression ever since I first gawped at the late night informercial, and getting to go to my local Mecca, Michaels, I feel like I've won the lottery. Just this morning I was telling dh how much I was looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

I find that in thinking about projects to make with the Cricut I am drawn to all kinds of home decor and paper crafting other than scrapbooking. I love making recycled packaging gift boxes. I'm very excited about the possibilities for the doll journals I can make. I've been working on collages and cards.

But...what about scrapbooking? For a number of years I've been reluctant to explore that hobby. In the absence of research I held what I ruefully admit was a prejudice - it seemed like scrapbooking was just a way to put fewer photos on to the page. It seemed like a lot of work being done just to close the album cover and put on the shelf. Plus it seemed like anyone could do it.

Scrapbooks meant something different when I was a girl. They were usually large scale books of cheap newsprint or butcher's paper, where people, often kids, could glue, with paste or rubber cement, news clippings, ticket stubs, postcards and other flat souvenirs for safe keeping. The more special versions had black pages. My mother had a scrapbook. It was filled with newspaper clippings about her or Dad's work and a few programs.

Photos, on the other hand, were kept in photo albums of various kinds, maybe with a note on the back or scribbled below a group of snapshots - "Robyn Age 6-7 months", "London May 1964". They call this "journalling" now. I have a lot of photos from my early childhood because my grandmother was assiduous in inserting the photos my mother sent her from overseas into the pages of the beautiful album with silk embroidered oriental covers that Mum had given her for the purpose. I also have endless photos from my husband's travels in his youth, wonderful vintage family photos from my grandparents' relatives, and a growing body of images kept digitally of us as we live now.

In other words I have plenty of high quality raw material for scrapbooking, some great tools and no excuses.

Except one. I've learnt scrapbooking is harder than it looks.

Making really good looking, creative and thematic layouts is harder than it looks. Choosing just the right cut out images and papers is harder than it looks. Combining the elements in a pleasing visual form is harder than it looks. Knowing what to include, that it is ok to include all kinds of extra stuff just because it is visually appealing - allowing it - is way harder than it looks.

No wonder there are so many scrapbooking magazines, blogs and websites out there with "sketches" - preplanned layouts ready for readers to use as templates for their own things.

I have a new respect for these designers. I don't understand why creating a journal for a doll character is so easy and fun, and then I find creating a scrapbooking layout of my daughter's trip to Disneyland to be so challenging. Perhaps if I imagined she was a doll with a story......

I'm still drawn to frugality - wanting to cram lots of images on each page, leaving very little room for ephemera and decorative elements. I am challenged by the idea of overlapping stuff. I am having a hard time mentally combining my old conception of a scrapbook as storage, all layers of paper and a certain fluid haphazardness, with my vision of a photo album, neatly regimented layouts of photographs in carefully designated spots. And as for tilting images off square....

So my first scrapbook pages are not fabulous.

Despite a strong urge to throw up my hands and return to my dismissive attitude, I will just have to embrace the challenge and keep plugging away at it. I bought a scrapbook album, 12x12 plastic sleeves and all. The great thing is that I can always pull up photos and remake a new layout as I get better at this.

It's good to have creative challenges in life. It's good to stretch. It removes complacency. It doesn't even matter that what I personally am finding so difficult and frustrating, with a steep learning curve, is something that so many others find simple and relaxing.

What matters is doing, learning, making - and persistence.

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