If you want to find out how true the phrase “A picture’s worth a thousand words” is, make a scrapbook. You can tell a whole story in pictures, whether you want to capture an event — a wedding, maybe, or a vacation — or a longer stretch of time, like a baby’s first year of life. Candid moments caught on camera can fill a scrapbook with visual memories, creating a story that might otherwise fade with time.
“[A scrapbook] will last. It’s something to pass down,” said Chris Sweeny, who teaches Paper Techniques at Rodgers Memorial Library in Hudson.
When Mary Anne Blauert, a reference librarian at the Merrimack Public Library, was little, she got her first bike for a birthday. She was a speed demon — and part of the reason she remembers that so clearly is because of a scrapbook that includes photos of her riding that bike.
Blauert is teaching a series of scrapbooking classes at the library, and she’ll be sharing those and other personal scrapbook pages to explain how scrapbooking can be fun and, in the longer term, a lasting home for memories.
“It’s a hobby and it provides a creative outlet. You take the things in your life and your accomplishments and you turn your ideas into a piece of artwork,” Blauert said.
Blauert noted that a scrapbook can display memories of anything in your life, from birthdays to hobbies to families.
“Down the road it will have meaning to your kids and your grandkids,” said Ann Carle, who co-teaches Paper Techniques with Sweeny.
Starting down Memory Lane
“You need to sit down and see what story you want to tell first and then develop a theme,” said Carle. “Then you think about what materials you need. I go on the Internet and see what others are doing and then I decide what I want.”
Blauert said there are two distinctions in scrapbooking: Picking a theme to attribute to photos already taken in your past, or developing a theme with photos taken intentionally in your future.
“Once you get photos, you need to think of a theme and what you want to accomplish within your book,” Blauert said. “When taking photos, knowing you’re going to create a scrapbook is beneficial, and you’re going to want to make sure to capture what you want to emphasize in the book.”
But Blauert said that whichever way you decide to proceed with your scrapbook, you need to do your research. She has spent hours researching ideas and reading scrapbooking books and magazines to create her visions.
“I went to Michaels and A.C. Moore several times before I bought anything,” Blauert said. “Being organized is the first priority on your list.”
In her research, Blauert came across some helpful tips for beginning a scrapbook, like creating thumbnail sketches of a page to bring with her to craft stores so she has a plan when she walks in. She also suggests keeping a notebook for writing down ideas when inspiration strikes.
The elements in a scrapbook reflect your life and the book should contain all your ideas.
“You need to show your personality within the pages,” Blauert said. “There’s no right or wrong in scrapbooking. If you like it, do it; if you don’t, don’t do it.”
Blauert does have some personal guidelines, though.
“The photo is the most important part of the page,” she said. “That is the focus, and you have to embellish around it.”
In her classes, Blauert explains how the color wheel works and how it will help you choose colors that work with your pictures. She also talks about negative and positive space and balance.
There are all sorts of embellishments you can add to your scrapbook, from stickers and glitter to patterned paper and paper frames. As scrapbooking has gotten more popular, even technology has been incorporated for a more modern touch.
“I think the cool thing with scrapbooking is that a lot of the different medias overlap within it. There are buttons where you can add your voice to insert into a scrapbook,” said Chris Sweeny, who co-teaches Paper Techniques with Carle.
If you prefer to stick with a more traditional, photo-heavy approach, Blauert suggests writing down who’s in the photos or even a description of what’s going on for more of a photo-journaling concept.
For that approach, “Make sure that whatever pictures you pick, you put in your journaling, because that is very important for yourself and others. Part of the story is your own handwriting,” said Sweeny.
Scrapbooks don’t necessarily need to be a collection of photographs. They can be a collection of your grandmother’s recipes, or a collection of your families’ wedding invitations. Other ideas include scrapbooks filled with awards, certificates, newspaper clippings, postcards, ticket stubs, letters, maps, menus and greeting cards — or a combination of any of those things.
“You need to have fun with it,” Blauert said.
As seen in the April 3, 2014 issue of The Hippo.