Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm a size 10 scrapbooker in size 16 pants...

Does that make ANY sense to ANYBODY? Sadly, I think it might.

One of my most consistent pet peeves with the online community (and the world actually) is the importance/significance/validation given to those who fall within a particular "approved" size range.

It would appear that there are certain scrapbooking character traits that are attributed to an individual's dress size nowadays. Color me befuddled; I just don't get it. Judging by the emphasis that is put on the weight and physical appearance of scrapbookers, the smaller you are, the more talent you have for paper crafting.

Don't believe me?

Go to the Scrap Smack Blog. Notice that when the rebel scrappers who post there are attacked by the industry 'trolls' one of the first insults that come flying out is usually a declaration of the all consuming jealousy on the part of the rebels. Then next insult usually refers to the rebels being fat and bored, or fat and lazy, or fat and *insert your favorite adjective*. Usually, the troll will wrap all of that venom up in a tidy little "you're untalented" blanket. All of this insight...and without having seen the person to who they are passing this assertion. Wow. Step back John Edwards!

Look, I don't care if people think that size matters. I don't...well...for most things...I'll leave it at that, thank you very much! All I'm saying is that the print media, hollywood and the other demons of the entertainment world have done enough to tear down the self esteems and sense of self worth of women to last a lifetime. Do we really need to help them branch into our hobbying as well? Really, does the fact that a scrapbookers' thighs touch have any impact on whether or not she can execute her layout in a way that is pleasing to at least her eyes? Does a deep seated appreciation for the life altering effects of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey (no irony intended...I promise) have anything to do with whether or not someone's opinon of the industry is valid?

My husband considers me as a REAL woman at a size 16... according to some of those in scrapbooking...I'm 2 real women rolled into one. According to some in scrapbooking, I am an untalented scrapper, regardless of my art and design education. According to some scrapbookers, the validity of my statements about the industry is directly proportionate to the proximity of my right thigh to my left thigh. Since they (my thighs) have a close personal relationship with each other, my statements hold no value. Somehow, the lack of airflow is depriving my inner artist of oxygen vital to a hieghtened creativity. I guess it's the free flowing air of those with chicken legs that allow the artist within the flourish.

For the record, I happen to like my asphyxiated inner artist, though I would like to buy smaller pants for once.

In the eyes of moi...the size of my thighs only impacts 1) the comfort level I experience when cramming my mass into those kiddie rides my daughter insists I accompany her on, 2) the number of options I have when shopping for slacks, 3) my ability (and/or desire) to where bikinis, spandex or mini skirts/shorts, and 4) the amount of food I shovel into my mouth.

My thighs have no vote, none what so ever, when it comes to my ability to raise my kids properly, my ability to pull off an aesthetically pleasing scrapbooking page, my ability to effectively voice my opinion, nor my worth as a scrapbooker.

This should be common sense...but it's not.

Why does it matter when it really shouldn't?

Because the online scrapbooking arena has been converted into a big competition. Because to some, the quickest way to hurt someone (or discredit them) is to strike an area that is perceived to be a weak point. Because the industry has been influenced by the film/media industry's veiw of beauty and worth and passed it off as our own. Because there are some who do gage their self worth (and yours) by the number that pops up on that bathroom scale.

But wait...this coin has 2 faces...

Equally as disturbing is the negative stigma that has been attached to the physically fit scrapbooker by those "less toned". According to some who fall into the more cherubic scrapbooking demographic, a skinny scrapbooker is somehow superficial, negligent, attention hungry and full of his/herself.

It's all just plain silliness that really should stop!

Imagine if the food preparation industry used the same rediculous parameters for it's personalities? Would there be a barefoot Contessa, a Paula Dean, a Rachael Ray? No, because the trolls would be telling them that they they need to toss a salad instead of grilling a chicken breast. While I personally enjoy the chefs that look like they eat their own food more so than those who look like they only eat while hitting level 10 at a 35% incline on their treadmills. That's just me. Does that mean that I think the slender chefs are somehow incompetent? No, all that means is that I prefer to watch cooking shows that allow me to follow recipies without feeling the need to workout.

Again...that's just me...

Monday, October 22, 2007

HOF-gate...dare I interject?

Anonymous said...
Hey Conscious Scrapper - what do you think about the Kristina Contest/Hall of Fame controversy? I am just surprised that so many people didn't know Hall of Fame has been rigged from the beginning
October 15, 2007 11:49 PM

Okay, I'll admit it. I was trying to stay away from this hot topic because I was waiting for CK's response to the uncovering of the scandal. I read CK's response, choked on my coffee, and then I read it again. I do just so happen to have a plethora of opinions about all of this and well...since ya asked...

I think that while we, the scrapbookers, have won a battle, we are only postponing the inevitable results of the war itself. Look, the damage has been done. Thanks to the money hungry moguls who saw our hobby as a means by which to make a quick buck, our hobby has been literally bent over and served. Sorry so crass, but that's it in a nutshell! People have abandoned scrapbooking because of the industry. What used to be a cozy community for sharing and celebrating a shared hobby has become a playing field for competition, and an unlevel one at that. The industry big wigs have lined their pockets and we are left periodically reaffirming our reasoning for scrapping because at one time or another we've drank the kewl-aid. We have cried out in protest about the amount of stash one is perceived to need to catch the eye of the mag editors and our cries have been answered with advertising for nifty (and expensive) ways of managing our rediculous amount of supplies. Our hobby was stolen and exploited and we are sitting here trying to make sense of the pieces that kinda sorta look like what we used to love.

Yes, we won this fight. The promise of justice has been put on the agenda and Kristina Contes has been disqualified. But, did anyone happen to miss the band of lemmings that flocked to her defense despite the amount of solid evidence and her own personal damning testimony? Those people are part of the reason that this victory is not a sweet one. As long as there are enough of us who will "take it like a big girl", we will never truly win. I must give a little credit to CK for making the decision to disqualify KC, but I'm far from the dumb box of bricks they think I am. Would they have come to the same conclusion if KC hadn't decided to respond to this scandal by rudely dismissing the protesting public as rabid and crazed? No doubt, CK would've found a way to sidle out from under the thumb of angered public opinion without having to accrue the addition costs that their ultimate solution will require. Big Picture did it with Stacy Julian and Heidi Swapp...but of course, they are not nearly as vocal as our Mrs. KC. In short, I think that KC did more to seal her own coffin than CK did. She pretty much forced their hands and made it pretty easy for them by behaving in a manner that had the CK legal department cringing and pulling out hairs. Unfortunately, I'm sure that her fandom will make sure that she is still treated as a celebrity...because shame and dishonor is the new black...didn't you know?

CK has promised to lend more attention to detail to the 2008 contest (after throwing nameless people under the bus for the 2007 debacle) and has issued new affidavits for the remaining 24 recipients to sign. The photography rule, that has been loosely enforced is not under scrutiny and CK is in full blown CIA mode. Any recipient who is found in violation of the contest rules will be "dealt" with accordingly.

Newsflash: Did you know that it's easier to lie when you are telling your fib to a piece of paper or to an email?

If CK really wanted to get to the truth, they could have their legal team visit each recipient and question them face to that's something for reality TV! As it stands, most of the questionable entries, if not all, will be defended by their submitters and things will go back to "normal".

CK has not clearly addressed is the atmosphere of favoritism and "celebrity" worship that has done little more than negate the importance of personal interpretation in scrapbooking. CK hasn't addressed a lot of issues...but were we really expecting to get the WHOLE brass ring?
So what does this silence mean? It means business as usual, folks. It means more contests, more publishing opportunities that only the elite are supposed to dare to try to take advantage of. It means more 'select' scrapbookers will be put up on pedestals and forced down the throats of the masses. I think the only real difference will be that CK will start gagging it's more "polarizing" golden children in hopes of convincing the rest of us that they ARE the best thing since sliced bread and not spoiled overly entitled children who can't handle the emotional ramification of 5 minutes of fame. CK's 2nd biggest mistake (destroying the true meaning behind the scrapbooking hobby being the 1st one) was in searching out a new demographic to keep their pockets full instead of listening to the whispers of contention coming from it's readership. Getting in bed with someone as abrasive and emotionally underdeveloped as KC was pure poor judgement, in my opinion. That was harsh, but I really haven't been allowed to see the nicer, more grown-up side of KC...and since CK stamped their logo on her forhead, they facilitated the mass exodus of many of their loyalists.

Almost as shocking as the public announcement that Mrs. Contes would be disqualified, was her blog entry in response to getting kicked to the curb. Suddenly, all of this scrapbooking stuff was just a convaluted hobby that robbed her of time and freedom. Suddenly, it didn't matter whether she was a HOF or not. I'm sorry, but anyone with even a fading remnant of emotional maturity would care if they were publicly disowned and de-throned and their shame was celebrated by the masses. Furthermore, Mrs. Contes continued to defend her actions on the basis of the age old "I'm not the only one who's done it" defense. Once again, she makes it so easy to dislike her. Instead of apologizing for allowing a shadow to fall on the heads of all of this years recipients, she attempts to throw them and past years recipients under the bus. Classy, I tell ya, just classy. She went on to say that she would never step down (even if it means saving face and maybe earning back some of the respect that she worked so hard to lose) because, again, she was not the only one to skirt the rules. I guess to KC, the whole 'it takes one person to start the pendulum of change' thing is nothing more than meaningless lip service for the weak spirited and untalented. If we all lived in KC's bizzarro world, we'd no doubt be sending those found in possession of moral aptitude and/or integrity to the gallows.

KC will never see the error in her ways...not when her fandom-ites are buffeting her with "luv" and encouragement. Do those women really think that the people that protested the contest are so far off base? When did it become alright for someone to cheat, lie, and steal? Yes, steal...she shouldn't have entered if she didn't plan on following the rules..I'm not convinced that she didn't know that she was a shoe in, so she entered under a cloud of fraud, knowing that she'd win if she submitted...therefore, she stole a title that she didn't earn. There wasn't an iota of eloquence in her blog entry, either one of them. She insulted the scrapbooking public, she insulted CK (I can abide that...I've done it myself) and she even insulted those who have been supporting her despite her dishonesty with her comment about the possibility that many of her email supporters just kissing up because of what they think she can do for them in the future.

So, I guess the real question that needs to be addressed is "where do we go from here"? Do we trust CK's decision and hold out hopes for integrity on the part of the company? Do we take this little win and move on to the next area of injustice? I personally think that we need to sit back for a quick second and rejoice the fact that the collective found it's voice and we, for once, refused to sit down and shut up. After that, we need to go back to scrapping the way we want to. In a perfect world, I would say that we should continue to flog the industry with our wallets until we reclaim what was ours to begin with, but for now, I think it's just best to sit back and see how CK's learning experience effects the industry. If the HOF contest goes away and takes that silly SOY contest with it, we'll know that our voices were heard deeply. But time is the only indicator to how much of a win it was.

We CAN move towards more unity and acceptance. The industry can only dictate the trends if WE allow them to. Yes, there will be people who will bow down and scrap anyway that the mags tell them to...but do we have to buy the magazine? CK wants our money, to me that means that they have a responsibility to evolve with the demographic majority instead of trying to force an evolotion of the demographic majority. If they had stayed the course that they started on years ago, they wouldn't be suffering the readership losses that they are now. Had they stayed the course, they wouldn't have had to try to pull in a demographic that is so entrenched in it's me-ism that scandals like HOF-gate are inevitable. If they had stayed the course, the need for blogs such as this one and Scrap Smack would've been nil. CK lost sight of who it was that gave them their power. They have been duly reminded, but there is only so much that we can do to make sure that the slap they've received from the collective fresh in their corporate minds.

We COULD move on to another agenda in the interim, one that is unrelated to the HOF-gate scandal. A good one would be to hold the manufacturers accountable for the amount of scrap crap that they toss out every few months. How? Well, when they start to chum the waters after the next trade show, we can turn out eyes towards our overflowing stash and keep our wallets locked up. We know now that when we want to, we can get our voices we need to learn how to channel that power in a way that doesn't require a scandal to motivate us. I know that I won't be wanting for any new scrap wares anytime soon...even if they came with voucher's for a bubble bath with Matthew McConaughey himself!

The industry has lost least for a good long while.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why would anybody scrap THAT??!!!

"Why would she scrap THAT!"
"Who would want to take pictures of THAT! I feel sorry for her kids"
"I wouldn't waste my paper scrapping something like THAT!"

I don't know how many times I've heard those comment being made about some other scrapbooker's choice of memories to preserve. If I don't include the numerous times I've caught myself thinking those exact words, I'm sure that it would still be safe to say that it's been said a lot more times that is justifiable. I'm not ashamed to admit that there's a small part of me that often forgets that scrapbooking is a personal interpretation of the multitude of episodes that make up our lives. I am a little ashamed, however, to say that sometimes I find myself forgetting that the significance of another person's "episodes" is beyond my right to control. Fortunately, I've managed to catch myself before my thoughts become spoken or written language...but I have slipped before. For that I apologize.

I chastise myself for 'judging' layouts whenever I become aware of it (or whenever I am feeling particularly guilty without provocation). That's just me. I can't even begin to dictate what other people should think or feel. I certainly can't tell them how to treat other people. All I can do is explain my standpoint on this particular scrapbooking faux pas and hope that I get a lot more yea's than neigh's.

In my own defense, I have to say that most of the layouts that I find myself passing unsolicited judgement on are those that strike a cord in my personal life. I think any psychiatrist will agree that our personal experiences help paint the way we interpret the world around us. As a person who was molested as a child, I have a severe sensitivity to seeing pictures of scantily clad and inappropriately posed children...especially when they are used in a layout that is provided for public consumption. I'm not saying that those bath-time bubble shots shouldn't be taken...I'm saying that the sharing audience should be strictly controlled...i.e., they really shouldn't be put on the Internet/sexual deviant playground. I share a similar view when it comes to layouts that glorify violence, drinking, substance abuse or sex...but that's just me. Call me a prude...but that's just me.

Now, I said "most" of the layouts because there are some layout subjects that fall clearly into the Miscellaneous WTH! File. They are as follows:

*Layouts that feature anyone, fat or fit, traipsing around in their underwear. Generally, I only take objection if the subject has been "captured" while in the process of "adjusting" or "scratching". I don't care if you're Channing Tatum, once you start scratching, you propel yourself, butt-first, off the "can-crush-crackers-in-my-bed' list. Not saying that scratching is wrong, though I often wonder how my husband has any hind skin left (sorry...TMI), I'm just saying that somethings should just be a given without photographic evidence of it's existence.

*Layouts that feature waste products. This includes vomit, doggy patties and cat chewies and even the so called "cute" baby poop. No form of waste body waste is granted a reprieve here. While we're at it, I don't particularly understand the toilet bowl's presence in layouts either. I feel very strongly that while waste products and the toilet bowl go hand in hand...there is no need to document 'proof' least not on a public layout.

*Layouts featuring food items that carry more calories than I'm allowed to a day/week/year/decade/lifetime. I find these layouts just cruel to those of us who have ass-sets that may one day be required to have their own passports to travel abroad. I know food like that is out there, it is written that there is real evil in this world... in my mind, food like that is pure evil. I cope with this knowledge by painting my mental picture of the offending food stuffs a nice murky grey and covering it with something inedible (like chickpeas or asparagus). The very act of putting a layout of that double decker, triple fudge, death by chocolate, life by cellulite devil's food cake would be sent before some Crimes Against Humanity Tribunal somewhere...if I ran the world. But again...that's just me...and my thighs.

*Layouts about blood, whether accident related or Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom related just make me queasy. Queasy is the last feeling I want to feel when I'm looking in a layout gallery. I'm sure that if God intended for blood to be glorified, he wouldn't have allowed for the creation of band-aids. Snapping a picture is the last thing on my mind when my husband's/child's/friend's/neighbor's/cat's body starts spewing the red stuff, but we're talking about someone who fought to have the boogers retouched out of her daughter's school pictures because it peaked her grossness quotient(how hard is it to tell the subject to wipe their nose before you snap the shutter?).

*Layouts that feature me (or any of my body parts). It's no secret to my friends and family that I am my own worst enemy. I don't like to scrap myself. I don't like to see my mugshot at all, but the act of adorning it with pretty papers and journaling is very difficult for me (so much so that the few "ME" layouts have only come to fruition because of some scrapbooking challenge somewhere). I consider it my responsibility to keep my likeness off of the WWW as much as possible. I know that sounds bad...but, be rest assured, I am actively working on my self perception...I plan to have my self esteem properly in tact before I die.

So...what the heck am I getting at? Well, I'm going to try to say this without using the word "should" or any other word that might lead people to believe that I'm playing judge:

All joking and TMI aside, I think that the industry's manner of labeling what is "beautiful" and "appropriate" for the scrapped page has opened the door for the judgemental spirit in all of us. It's up to you to decide whether or not to walk through that door (or stand with one foot on either side like yours truly). It's one thing to be curious about the motivation for the layouts that we share with each's something completely different to play judge, jury, executioner. I think that remembering that each scrapper is a different person who interprets her/his life's episodes differently would only serve yo strengthen the weakened bonds between others who share this hobby with us. I'm sure that somewhere out there is a person who loves to document the exfoliating benefits of scratching, has the metabolism of a squirrel on crack, is holding nightly vigils in hopes of the resurrection of the Vampire Slayer Chronicles, or simply likes me as is. It's not my place to judge them, it's not even my job to understand where they were coming from, rather it's my place to accept their individual interpretation.

Look Ma!, I didn't say "should"!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The "Average" Scrapbooker...

Let me open this entry by saying how much I dislike the use of the term "average" in scrapbooking... well, when it used as a measuring stick for skill/talent base.

When I say the "average" scrapbooker, I'm referring to scrapbookers who fall into my basic peer group. I'm referring to the moms (or not) with more things to do than the stingy hours in the day provide for. I'm talking about the scrapbooker who is scrapping for the primary sake of memory preservation (but if a publication comes out of her efforts, so be it) and thus, sets her goals with that in mind. I'm referring to the scrapbooker who scraps more than she surfs and who is clinging for dear life to the notion that scrapbooking is all about the pictures and the story behind them. Now if that goddess of paper and glue manages to crank out Louve worthy layouts, kudos for her!, but she's still the average scrapper to me because of the criteria that I attribute to that title.
I am an average scrapper.

It has nothing to do with my style of scrapping, my DT experience, or contest wins. It has to do with the fact that I resemble many of those attributes listed above. I live my life and therefore I have moments to scrap, I don't scrap so that I can live...if that makes sense. I now measure my success in scrapbooking on the basis of whether or not I can get a layout finished without a tiny chocolate laced finger print or kitten epithelials stuck to it. The only way that I would ever change my personal designation as an average scrapper would be if I were to make the decision to scrap primarily for external gain (i.e., magazine publication, manufacturer design teams).

It ain't gonna happen, at least not until I've scrapped all of the graduations, weddings, and births that I hope are coming. I should note that my youngest is it'll be a while.

"Average" does not, at least to me, mean "less than", mediocre in talent base, untalented, disdainfully simple, or any of the other derogatory definitions that many in the online community attribute to it.

Point please?

I was the Jolly Green Giant's outhouse when I came across a thread in which the posters were trying to make sense of the constant complaints about the content of scrapbooking magazines. There were a plethora of complaints about the mags losing touch with its readers and almost as many rebuttals in defense of the way that the scrapbooking magazines are doing things. In a nutshell, my opinion is that if your readers are complaining about the content and your readership is failing as a result of your ignoring the demands, it's time to stop trying to convince the readers that they don't know what they need and to start convincing yourself that maybe, just maybe, you don't know what the readers need. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, during the course of the thread, a couple of people (including the OP) made a comment about not wanting to see a magazine full of "average" layouts and that the magazine would be boring. The consensus of several on that thread was that, despite the fact that the majority is walking away from mags (those who had even turned to them in the first place, that is) their complaints were nonsensical, jealousy based, and otherwise invalid. There were two things in that thread that got my "goat", so to speak:

1. A poster made a comment about her "average" scrapping buddies who didn't use the magazines for the "inspiration" that "seasoned" scrapbookers did. She said that they instead sought to CASE the layouts that they liked instead of trying to pull design elements from it to inspire their own original creations. The impression that I got from her comment was that she felt that her buddies were somehow creatively crippled because of their desire to use representative layouts this way. Huh?

I sew, from scratch and from patterns. When I first started sewing with patterns, I would assemble the garment, exactly as the pattern specified. As I honed my skills, I developed the confidence and know how needed to modify those patterns and to incorporate my own design preferences into the garments. Until I mastered my confidence with a technique, I was operating under a cloud of confusion and apprehension and that's no way to make a pair of pants.

Why should it be any different with scrapbooking?

Does it really matter that someone CASEs a layout that they see in a magazine or an LSS? Is scraplifting really an affront to the people who created the original layout? Unless you are talking about getting into the publishing arena, I don't think so. The way I see it, that woman's buddies probably wanted to master those techniques used before venturing off on their own with it. Have you ever tried to pick up a technique and use it in your own way? Have you ever cringed at the end result because you're not sure you did it right? I know I have. Inking was one of the things that I failed miserably at simply because I bought into the myth that there was something wrong with copying a layout. I ventured, on my own, to gain mastery the technique and I messed up many a sheets of paper...and t-shirts because of my ignorance. It wasn't until I resorted to emulating inking techniques from other scrappers that I became confident enogh about the technique to incorporate my personal preference into the application. Now my inking doesn't look like I used my paper to clean my stamps; now I am happy with my technique.

I think that the whole CASE/Scraplifting as a means of developing as a scrapbooker is justified and acceptable. I wonder if the negative stigma didn't arise out of the proprietary attitude that a some scrapbookers have about their 'intellectual property'? Perhaps, the feeding frenzy over scrap fame and riches has people gnashing their teeth at the idea of someone borrowing their creativity for what ever the reason?
Imagine a preschool teacher trying to teach kids to write the alphabet but expecting that they use little more than a visual interpretation of the letter as a guide? The kids wouldn't be allowed to trace the letters to get used to the strokes, the would just be allowed to look at the representative letter and interpret it until they got good at it. Fortunately, it doesn't happen that way because 1.imitation is one of the better, proven learning tools, and 2. the kids need to gain confidence in their strokes before they can form them into letters...they can't all be doctors you know. As it stands, the little kiddies are allowed to trace those letters until they have confidence in their own pen/pencil strokes, next they are tasked with writing without the tracer dots...and ultimately, by the time they get to high school, they've managed to mangle each letter into their own personal interpretation of the alphabet. Simplicity is bliss i'nt it?

Scrapbooking has become so complex that I don't blame anyone for needing to copy a layout in order to understand how to use the wacky stuff that's bombarding the "average" scrap-shopper.
In a lot of today's product rich layouts, it's sometimes hard to get your mind around the design intent of the layout, let alone to garner any kind of confidence in your ability to maneuver that much stuff around a page without a map, a rope, and a loaded survival kit. The complexity of the layouts that many of the mags present to the 'average' reader have done much to make scrapbooking harder than it has to be. Is it any wonder that people who just want to preserve a darned memory run from them?

2. Throughout the thread, and throughout the online arena, the "average" scrapper is often seen as some poor soul who lacks what it takes to be a "real" scrapbooker. CM-type, uninspiring, simple, unpublishable, fugly, lame, and beginner are just some of the terms that get lopped on the "average" scrapbooker's head. That's average by industry definition and not mine. This isn't everywhere, but it's a point of view that is becoming more and more prevalent as people lose their ability to accept each other's differences.

One poster used the war-beaten jealousy card and justified it by saying that the "average" scrappers who complain about the complexity of the magazine layouts are jealous because they don't have the time or know-how needed to create the masterpieces that are presented to them. Thhhpppbbbtttttt!

I just don't think that it's all about sour grapes, not for everyone. Yes, there are a lot of scrappers who are jealous. But the majority? I can safely say that there are only two scrappers that I've ever been jealous of: K, because she set a goal for herself 3 years ago and has managed to work through all of her obstacles so that she could realize them, and J, who is so sought after by her LSS owner that the woman won't let her step down from her responsibilities. My jealousy has nothing to do with my inability to emulate their creative works...I've tried to and I almost wound up in traction for my efforts. No, my jealousy has more to do with the fact that they jumped life's obstacles like an Olympic hurdler and kept going until they reached their goals. It has a lot to do with the fact that my trail leg always hits my obstacles when I try to jump over them. It has nothing to do with the way that they scrap because we are as different as night and day. I refuse to believe that every person who's ever felt intimidated by a complex layout is intimidated out of jealousy. I really wish someone would just declare the "J" word off limits already.

I do however, believe that there is a little bit of truth on the part of there being a lack of creativity needed to create similar layouts. I'm not talking about creative skill in general. What I am referring to is the individual creative spirit that inhabits every layout we create. Anyone can copy Starry Night...down to the colors even...I's swirls right? But none but van Gogh can create that painting as an artistic extension of his/herself. It's his creative spirit that leaks from that painting, it's his mind that flows from his pallette.

So, where as I won't agree that average scrappers often have a problem with the magazine offerings because their lack of creativity prevents them from making sense of the layouts, I will say that the clashes of creative spirits can serves as a barrier between the incomprehensible layout and the average scrapper. Does this make the self proclaimed 'designers' better scrappers? I don't think so...nor does it put the "average" gal on a pedestal for her simple convictions. Rather, it puts them on opposite sides of the same fenced in to speak.

I think that as a whole, we (scrapbookers) need to figure out a way to communicate our differences without putting each other down, maybe that will be the key to the path of acceptance.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Do we REALLY know what we want enough to go get it?

We've all heard the cries of discontent, if not having uttered them ourselves:
  • Too many single photo, ambiguously titled layouts that leave viewers wondering if there is indeed a story behind the picture.
  • Layouts with too many pictures.
  • Layouts so cramped with product that they quite clearly force viewer focus away from the picture and towards the "latest & greatest" product offerings.
  • Layouts that redefine the minimalists' creed while taking "sparse" to a whole different level.
  • Layouts that flaunt a disregard for design principles and balance.
  • Layouts that follow design principles and balance a tad bit too closely.
  • Manufacturer's over saturating the market with their "hot" releases.
  • Manufacturer's who take a break to space out their product releases.
  • Magazines being inundated with an abundance of offerings from the more "known" scrapbooker while the "true" fresh faces are hardly recognized.
  • Magazines (the white elephant of the bunch) that give face to so many unknowns that advanced scrappers find them uninspiring.
  • Magazines that come affordably priced with tons of advertisement.
  • Magazines that fall just short of *what the hell!* expensive, but feature significantly less advertising.
  • Magazines that that only use in-house design teams.
  • Magazines that call for reader submissions...but fail to pickup layouts from very many of them.
  • People getting blasted for bringing to attention complaints/gripes about much loved products.
  • People sitting on their hands and accepting inferior product just because of the name stamped on it.
  • Contests that seem to cater to the over exposed contestant.
  • Contests that that turn a blind eye to the "known" scrappers preferring instead to lend spotlight to some of the newer talent...all at the risk of having their lesser known choices scrutinized.
  • People who are on too many Design Teams.
  • People who want to be on a Design Team, period.
  • People who don't leave praise on gallery layouts.
  • People who leave too much praise on gallery layouts.
  • People who leave generic praise on gallery layouts.
  • People who leave sappy praise on gallery layouts (some times called sucking-up)
  • People who scrap too linear.
  • People who scrap too non-linear
  • Design Team members who try to remain integral parts of the message boards that they represent despite being labeled "know it alls" by some.
  • Design Team members who shy away from having a continued presence on message boards that they represent.
  • Design Teams members that don't inspire or produce layouts that are different/better than the status quo.
  • Design Team members who think so far outside the box that the viewers sometimes feels compelled to toss them a map back to it.
Even a blind man can see that there is a lot of contradicting complaint bases here. So can there be any way to make the everyone happy? Quite honestly, No. Is there even a way to make the majority happy? Uh, no.
So, is it any real wonder that there is so little response to the rumbling of discontent? Is there any wonder why the wheel of change is turning so slowly? They're damned if they do...and their damned if they don't. We as scrappers are damned if we do, and yes, damned if we don't.

Perfect case in point:
Nothing torques my screw more than hearing derogatory comments being made about the "caliber" of gallery offerings or the worthiness of a contest winner's layout. The voice of support and unity is being drowned out by what some would be brazen enough to call "sour grapes", and it's not going to get any better.

In my honest opinion, it won't matter how carefully a site engineers its contests, there will always be someone (or a bunch of someones) who will be torqued by any winners that THEY deem unworthy of a win. There will always be someone to question how the judges could've possibly found anything inspiring about the winning layout. This will happen even if the winner isn't a "known" or "over exposed" scrapper. Even the people who congratulate the winner(s) will be accused of having questionable motives.

The negative attitudes towards contests, while often stemming from past impropriety on the part of the sponsors, judges, or site, have certainly been on a downward descent. But they are only the tip of the disgruntled iceberg. People who've been granted a glimpse into the "dark" side of online scrapbooking often can't help but cast invalidating judgment on anyone who willing partakes in the hobby on any level. I honestly can't blame them; it's ugly to an embarrassing degree. The day that a scrapbooker makes headlines in a homicide investigation will be the day that I will start to distance myself by introducing myself as the family archivist. I pray that it never comes to that, but given all of the negativity that is stewing and brewing unchecked, I wouldn't be surprised if things didn't escalate. It is in this instance that the critic blogs, though a double edged sword of sorts, serve as a useful release valve.

Does anyone wonder if there is anyone in the industry who is actually concerned about the current destructive path that online scrapbooking is on? Have they seen any impact from the 2007 trend of spending less and using more? Do they see a tie-in between that trend and the current negativity quotient? Have they given any consideration towards trying to figure out why things are the way they are, what they can do to fix it and whether it is in their best interests to try to do so? Do they too see any attempts to change the current course as an exercise in futility? Common sense would dictate that in the face of all of this tourmoil, any manufacturer/retailer/magazine with a sense of self preservation would be walking on eggshells. Unfortunately, there aren't very many who value longevity because, for them, the scrapbooking "phenomenom" is a "money wave" that will eventually crest and fall. For them, it's best to get as much as they can while they can and get out with their pockets full.

What does that mean to the scrapbooker?

It means that we have to fix the fractured community of scrapbookers. We have to get to the root of the problem and force change by our actions. We have to redirect the current with our wallets and voices. The problem is a multi-faceted one that will need an equally multi-faceted solution. However, the community can't begin to fix itself until it becomes honest about the reason behind the fracture. This will require that we (as a community) ask the hard questions (of ourselves) and be honest enough (with ourselves) to delve deep enough to get (and own) the honest answers. This will require that we once and for all embrace the spirit of acceptance and celebrate our differences instead of using them as spears onto which to impale each other. We need to see the value in not seeing what is different as a threat and to find value in every nuance. We need to reject the stereotypes instead of using them to sucker punch each other. We need to tap back into the original spirit of scrapbooking and take it from there. Call me pretentious. Accuse me of humming 'kumbaya'. But if the way that things are going isn't working, how can I be roasted for suggesting an alternative?

We are the ones that are being hurt by the industry's practices and by our own indecisiveness, and yes, there is currently a rising voice of rebellion, but the battle drums of change need to beat louder and the tactics need to be less emotional and more effective. This is our hobby...and they are the proverbial squirrels on a nut hunt.

So, why, does someone who has been so vocal about getting away from the online community care about all of this? Isn't it obvious? I'm a lone scrapper, correction, I'm a lonely scrapper. I like viewing online galleries for ideas on how to use some of the product that I really shouldn't have bought without a firm knowledge of how I would use them in the first place. I don't have anyone to bounce creative ideas off of... I've tried to get my husband to help me, but he seems to be under the impression that I would poison his food as payment for a "wrong" response. I miss sharing my ideas and asking for help. I miss the sense of community. I miss a lot of things...but one thing I don't miss is shopping, oddly enough. I probably won't buy anything other than adhesives and albums for the next 1 or 2 years, ... as a matter of fact, I'm coming up on my 1 year anniversary of my last real scrapping purchase. I honestly miss having people that share my love of my crafting and after being asked if I "Pea" at the local LSS (and being subsequently snubbed for telling the Pea-er that that her question very personal), I have concluded that I won't find it my small town. Now that I've regain my focus on why I began scrapbooking, I've remembered why I came to the online community in the first place, plain and simple. The need has not evaporated, the means by which to meet the need has just become a lot more treacherous.

Blast me if you like, but I am only human and I'm just trying to be honest.

Flying off my soapbox now...and I'm donning my raincoat.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why does Scrapbooking need validation?

I had the pleasure of reading 2 stories that covered the now "old news" introduction of the Martha Stewart line of scrapbooking products...and I am pretty much dazed and confused:

Wall Street Journal Article


Mind you, I've had my own personal crisis to deal with so I am a little behind the ball on this one, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't put my 2-cents worth of grumbling out there~

First of all...the whole notion of the "white trash" and "frumpy, time frittering" stereotypes are simply ignorant. Who the heck are these people and why do they feel the need to debase a tradition that dates back hundreds of years? The fact that I am commenting on these articles months after their release is irrelevant when you think of all of the scrapbooking stereotypes that are still flying around the arena:

  • Scrapbookers are primarily SAHM who have nothing better to do with their time or spouse's money.
  • Scrapbookers are fat, homely, and living a life vicariously through their pages.
  • Scrapbookers are people who lack substance in their lives and therefore fill that void by reliving the past memories in Technicolor.
Ever heard those? If not, you've probably heard something similar. I don't often hear such things about people who sew for a hobby, or paint in their leisure time. Why?

Is it that the end product of our scrapbooking is so personal (to ourselves) that others have a hard time making a connection and therefore seeing the beauty and value of what we are doing? Is it the typical "those who can, do and those who can't, criticize" thing again?

I've seen the looks that some people give my pages and I think that there really is an underlying failure to understand the true essence of scrapbooking festering out there. I have some of my favorite pages cycling across my computer monitors as a screen saver at work, the reaction is mixed, but mostly positive. I've been asked how I find time to do what I do, WHY I do what I do and why don't I just put my pictures in an album like "everybody else". I don't typically honor those questions with an answer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... they wouldn't understand, so why bother?

What I disliked the most about the articles is the way that they spun Scrapbooking up to be a hobby that somehow beneath worthy mention and that Martha Stewart is going to somehow "rescue" the dowdy craft. Now, we scrapbookers know that this industry is a huge cash cow and that Martha Stewart simply wanted to grab hold of one of it's utters before it dried up. I don't fault her, I don't fault anyone for opening the door when opportunity knocks. I do find fault in the ignoramus' who think that they can take an outsider glimpse of our time honored tradition and pass such a crude and baseless judgment on it in an attempt to do what ever it was that they were trying to do (it still boggles my mind).

So, where did this negative stigma come from? If you look at all of the grumblings going on, you would think that the light that was cast on scrapbooking would've been one of over indulgence and fame seeking...but frumpy and trashy? I don't see anything trashy about a $10 pack of rubons and long gone are the days when the primary staples for creating a scrapbook were bits of ribbon, lace and newspaper clippings. Perhaps the reasoning for the derogatory spin was based on a need to cast Martha as something other than just another scrapbooking entrepreneur? What ever the reasoning, I think that it may have done more to hurt her by creating a bigger divide between her fledgling company's ventures and the "typical" scrapbooker. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that I was wrong.

I think that I AM right in thinking that scrapbooking needs to be recognized for it's intended value...something that I don't see happening any time soon. I guess once again, it will have to start with us. As tired as I am of being questioned about why I scrapbook, I think it's time that I spoke up to the masses of people who seem to be okay with allowing their memories to fade into nonexistence. The next time that I am asked about my pages, I will be sure to ask the inquirer whether his parents were able to recall every memory that was attached to those albums full of featureless photos or if they remember the first joke their kid ever successfully pulled off...then I'll take it from there.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In retrospect...

I took a trip up to New York to see my FIL this past weekend. It was a good trip, and it was a bad trip. It was good because my kids got the opportunity to meet 7 of their 1st cousins that they'd previously never met. It was bad because it broke my heart to see how much cancer had taken from my FIL.

I packed for the camping trip (my FIL is spending his last few months embracing his love for the outdoors) with intentions of documenting everything. Those plans went out the window when we got there and I saw him with my own eyes. I didn't want to remember his pain or his suffering, and after talking to him for a while, I gathered that he didn't want me to remember it either. I have tons of pictures and memories of him while his vibrancy still over out shined his illness. Those are the pictures that I want, those are the memories that I will cherish. It broke my heart to hear him say that he didn't want me to see him like that, not because of misplaced rejection, but because i found myself agreeing with him. A man with a heart as golden as his should never be touched by anything as vile and evil as cancer or illness. I will forever remember him as the spunky, hilarious, "dirty old-man" that offered to walk me down the aisle if my father couldn't because that is the man that I made room in my heart for.

The entire weekend wasn't as somber as my last paragraph. I found out that my BIL, Doug, stumbled across my gallery at and he emailed the link to everyone in the family. I was bombarded with tons of praise from family members about the layouts that I didn't even know they'd seen. The funny thing is that that praise meant so much more to me than what I received from my fellow scrappers. Don't get me wrong, I like that people like my pages, it's just that I often get family recognition for them. It's a different type of validation, different, but no less/more appreciated...well...sorta. Anyway, hearing the positives really motivated me to keep putting my pages up. It was kind of weird because I've been struggling with keeping my motivation up while not allowing myself to put much stock in external validation. I totally feel like a kid who just got to have her cake and eat it too. I've reconnected with the whole "scrap for your family thing" simply by finding family outside my immediate who are interested in seeing my work. One comment in particular that struck me was made by my SIL. She mentioned that she felt as if she'd actually watched my copies grow up simply by viewing my gallery of layouts.

"Wow!" That was all I could conjure by way of a response.

Well, now that I'm back and refocused, I need to recommit to this hobby. Having battles some nasty demons and lived to tell about it, I think that I am ready to reclaim my enthusiasm. I have some painful scrapping to do, particularly some documenting of my illness...just to purge the poison that fear has left in me. I plan to scrap until I am emotionally raw and bare...I need's my poor man's therapy. One day, I might be able to share those pages, but for now, it's just for me.

BUT before I get to the therapy I'm concocting a page about my FIL that I think he'll love.

It's going to be about how much of a hottie he was and the picture that I'm going to use is an old black and white one of him in his 20's. In the picture, he's holding this huge fish he'd just caught and he has a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. I swear he was channeling James Dean in that picture! I was awarded that picture a few years ago when my FIL had had his fill of my talking about how hot he looked in it, he presented it to me while lovingly giving me permission to kiss it every night before I went to sleep so that I could have "studly" dreams. Is it any wonder that I love that man so much? This weekend he made a comment about how he's no James Dean anymore, to which I responded that he would always be my hottie.

And you know what? He will...


Monday, August 13, 2007

Scrappin' Therapy...Just a Bit More...

I've been in a funk for the past few weeks, hence no posts and very limited Internet activity.

We just discovered a few weeks ago that my FIL who just made it through a lung removal surgery (despite having severe asthma) now has a tumor that started in his shoulder area and has metastasized to his brain. When things around here are bad...they are really bad.

So I've been trying to create a tributary album for my favorite (and only) father-in-law, but the emotions that keep rumbling to the surface have made it hard. Someone once left an incredulity laced comment about my use of scrapbooking for emotional therapy. My reply was that it's very much possible to use crafting as a form of poor-man's therapy. These past few weeks have pretty much proven that anything is possible.

I started off simply writing down some of the funny moments that we've shared, then I moved onto jotting down memorable details stemming from the handful of pictures that I have. Ultimately, I would like to complete an entire scrapbook because he is a man who deserves to be honored. I remember when I took my scrapbooks up with us during the last visit. My FIL actually had tears in his eyes from reading the journaling on the pages that I did about him. He didn't think that anyone had ever held him in that high of a regard! I tried to get everyone to contribute (all of his son's and daughters) but alas, the highway to hell is paved with good intentions and bordered by bouquets of broken promises.

Anyway, so I've spent the past few weeks doing some emotional micro-dermabrasion. Emotionally, I'm pretty raw, but I can feel the healing and the strengthening with every page that I complete. I can say with certainty that this undertaking will definitely smooth his passing (for me) because my testimony to his life will serve as a salve. Some would say that I'm making more out of scrapbooking that I should, some would say that I'm being pretentious and stretching the intent behind scrapbooking. I say that scrapbooking is what each of us makes it and that nobody has the right to thumb their noses at the purpose or importance that one places on such a personal craft. Do you...that's what I say.

I am the CS...and Scrapbooking is my therapy!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Creativity Tapping ~So UnScrap Related~

My mother came to visit last week, and that visit was by far the best time that I've ever had with the woman who brought me into this world! I guess I could prelude this entry with the obligatory "I don't share a close relationship with my mom" disclaimer, but it's only relevant in my little sphere of existence. I won't bore anyone with the details.

The reason that last week was so memorable is that for the first time in my life, my mom expressed an interest in my craft hobby,particularly my jewelry making. She has never expressed a desire to even think about scrapbooking and drawing/painting are wastes of time according to her. All she wanted was to learn how to make jewelry. Initially, she expressed an interest in the financial benefits of selling handmade jewelry, but as the week progressed, her outlook changed dramatically. By the end of the week, before me stood a woman who was so proud of having tapped into a well of creativity that she never thought was there, so proud that we could hardly stand to be in the same room with her and her ear-to-ear smile. When she was getting ready to leave she looked at me for a long while and then thanked me for helping her find something that could be hers. My mom has never thanked me for anything, this was a big, huge, genormous deal!

My mom was awarded for her voyage of self discovery. She discovered that she has a keen eye for design and that she could easily duplicate much of the beaded jewelry that she has seen in stores and liked. Not just duplicate though; she could take a piece of jewelry that she likes and create something similar that she loves. It has taken 25 years for her to desire to tap into some of the creativity that runs rampant through her children. I, for one, am glad that she did because I don't feel like such an oddball now.

This whole thing has been flitting around my mind for a few days now. The whole creativity thing. Here was a 54 year old woman who had gotten used to accepting what life had to offer and understanding that little of that offering was going to wind up on her plate. That 54 year old mother of 3 decided in an instant that she was going to find something to do for herself and she nailed it. Yes, she struggled a bit,let's face it, life has been hard on my mom and her eyes and hands don't work the way they used to, but she persevered (and whined)until she had the basics down. I will never forget the way that she would just sit at the dining room table beaming down at a pair of earrings that she'd just made for herself. It meant the world to me.

My mother's visit was also pretty darned inspiring for me as far as my scrapbooking is concerned. I watched her dig and dig until she found her creative well and then I watched her draw from that well with reckless abandon until she created something that held her satisfaction. Not once did she hold up an incomplete strand and asked how I felt about it, though I can admit doing exactly that with my creations. The woman was focused solely on doing what she liked and the only help she needed from me involved making sure she had the various techniques right enough to make a secure piece of jewelry. My hero...she's where I was 3 years ago, and unlike myself, she will probably never get to where I am today.

So why am I writing this? Heck, I don't know. I just wanted to put to 'paper' all of the feelings that the memory of last week conjures. I am a creative being and I believe with my entire being that all scrapbookers, regardless of the motivation for their creations, are creative beings. My mom re-taught me a lesson that I learned and lost a long time ago: Creativity doesn't necessarily need approval. I plan to remind myself of that every single day because it's important. When I think of how my dad's ill views of anything 'creative' stifled her discovering her inner artist and I remember how very close he came to discouraging my brother and I from pursuing careers that made use of that creativity, I cringe. I'm a Drafter, my brother's a Graphics Designer...I wonder what my mother would've become is she'd not bought into her husband's narrow minded ideas about creative hobbies.

Again, this has very little to do with scrapbooking, but it's an important occurrence in my life. I hope that if anything, someone can read this and get something out of it. If not, oh least I did.

Rambling Complete

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who died and made me martyr?

Anonymous July 17, 2007 1:41 PM :
I visit your blog weekly and enjoy your ramblings, however this marks the last time I will read your entries.I feel like you are not understanding what you are posting and simply repeating the same ideas with different wordings. You wish for a simpler time where you enjoyed your hobby, the supplies you had without worrying that they're outdated, your photographs, and your memories. If that's what you want than do so. But you ate your own words when you entered Lucky Seven for no reason at all. You say that you don't need the money for more scrap supplies, you say that you don't need the glory, you say that you wish you could scrap like you used to, you say that you want to scrap without pressure and you don't want anyone else's opinion to influence you.So start practicing what you preach.

Anonymous July 17, 2007 7:43 PM
Yeah! I was reading through and nodding and agreeing with you and then when I read you entered the contest, I was taken a-back! Like, WHAT the HECK! That sentence really threw me for a loop! You tried to pretend or make us believe that your scrap-sister encouraged you! Hmmmm...
Those are two scathing comments that I received yesterday for having the audacity to mention that I'd entered the Lucky 7 Contest. I was tempted to shoot from the hip because I was really offended at the judgement and criticism, but I thought better of it (things seem to get ugly when I respond first and think later). After a fairly decent nights sleep, I feel clear headed and emotionally detached enough to respond to these comments. Please, bear with me.

Firstly, if I may, I want to address a couple of key points:

Anonymous wrote: ate your own words when you entered Lucky Seven for no reason at all. You say that you don't need the money for more scrap supplies, you say that you don't need the glory, you say that you wish you could scrap like you used to, you say that you want to scrap without pressure and you don't want anyone else's opinion to influence you.

You are absolutely right on one point, I don't need money for more scrap supplies, especially not after purging all last week, but truth be told, I do have vertical files full of layouts that have no album to go into. Though it was not my intention to enter to win the contest, as my girlfriend said, 'even an honorable mention could get you a couple of albums'. To some it may appear that I entered for no reason, but my girlfriends understand the underlying significance of my entry. If you have never been terrified of entering a contest to the point of paralysis, I don't expect you to understand. For me, being able to enter the contest without experiencing the anxiety and fear that I felt in the past signified a lot of progress in my personal growth and healing. To the commenter, I had no reason to enter because from a materialistic standpoint, there was no need. From my stand point, it was very necessary to finally silence the oppressive demons that have in the past told me that my work was sub par, unworthy, and a waste of product. I didn't enter the contest for glory or fame, I entered to see if I could do so without emotional consequence, and aside from being blasted on this blog, I think I have taken a huge, positive step. I entered for me...the only person who has a dog in my race for emotional healing. I'm sorry if this makes little sense to the people who read this blog, but I am the type of person who faces her fears head on and staying away from contests forever wasn't an option for me until I could tell myself that I wasn't staying away out of fear, but rather because I found them unnecessary.

Yes, I have posted about missing the good old days of scrapping without pressure, for myself, and without concern for peer opinion. As it just so happens, 1) the layouts I submitted were layouts that I'd already done as a part of the spending freeze challenge that my sisters and I are partaking in...therefore, I neither scrapped with pressure, influence, nor out of my comfort zone. I did not scrap my pages for the Lucky 7 contest, I entered the contest and submitted my already scrapped pages.

You tried to pretend or make us believe that your scrap-sister encouraged you!

I don't know what to make of this comment, but I will assume that I am either being accused of lying about my motivation for entering the contest or that my sisters-in-scrap are not truly looking out for my best interest. I can't and won't take ownership of either one of those interpretations because the person who made the comment hardly knows enough about me to make such an egregious assumption. My 2 sisters have stood by me long enough to know what type of person I am and they know me well enough to know what equates to good therapy for me. When I tried horse back riding and fell off, I was all but forced to get right back on that beast and the reasoning was that if I didn't, I would live in fear of horses for until I did. I was made to understand that even if I never looked at another horse after delivering the one I was riding to the stable, the fact that I overcame my fear enough to finish the ride would sufficiently short circuit any phobic side effects of the initial fall. My sisters know me well enough to know that I needed to take a proactive approach to my fears that even prevented me from dropping my name in a stupid hat for a stupid LSS drawing. More than that, my sisters have been standing by me while I come to grips with my medical condition and Dorkfish was very right about it being something to take my mind off of worrying about my future as a viable human being. I don't begrudge them for encouraging me, now will I stand to have someone who knows nothing of the nature of our friendship cheapen their efforts with venomous accusations.


I would be the first person to admit that I am inherently flawed as a human being, it is the nature of beings born into sin, however, I will concede that I have done anything wrong, particularly since I've not hurt a single solitary person (including myself) by entering my layouts. I don't know how I was cast as the scrapbooking martyr, but I assure you that it wasn't a title that I wanted for myself, nor is it one that I will tolerate being given.

One of the first things that I wrote about on the blog was the way that peer judgement and the pervasive way that people in this online arena seem to feel entitled to dictate what is deemed "appropriate" behaviour on the part of a true hearted scrapbooker. Those comments were indicative of what I dislike about the industry. I wasn't asked why I entered, rather I was accused based on the assumptions of one person. At what point does anyone have a right to pass judgement on me for doing something that doesn't affect them? At what point did I ever say that anyone who enters a contest is somehow less of a true scrapbooker? At what point did I present a pulpit from which I preached? When have I ever said that optioning to participate in the online communities was tabu? I can tell you, NEVER. The main message that I have been trying to send is one of the importance of remaining true to yourself and not allowing the industry to deviate your focus from that ultimate goal. is the only online community that I like and I like it because of the atmosphere of acceptance and the fact that I have such a huge support force there. I didn't care for it a few years ago, but I stumbled upon it again last year and I was very impressed by the way the over all atmosphere was purged of nastiness and elitism. I don't participate far beyond talking to the people in my friends group, but when I do it has proven to be pretty therapeutic and, heaven forbid, fun. Does that negate my feelings about the majority of the industry? Hardly, I've been around the block a time or two and I know what's out there.

My two sisters in scrap are both on DT's, one of them has recently landed a major manufacturer DT. Do I begrudge them because they share some of my views about the way that Design Team contests are run? Do I find them to be 'false prophets' because they still held fast to their desire to be on a team? No, because 1) it is not my place to judge them nor dictate to them how they should behave in order to qualify to be considered to be a scrapbooker who is true to his/herself.
One of my friend's ultimate goal was to land a manufacturer's team, and she was battered and beaten by the industry as much as I was. It just so happens that she worked through her fears and get back on that horse, time after time, until she achieved her goal. Now she won't have to wonder if she was ever good 'enough'.

Look, I entered the contest. I don't expect to win anything because I already feel like I won simply by being able to do it without having an anxiety attack. If I do win and I am able to get my albums, I will be stoked, if I don't win anything, I get to walk away knowing that I didn't compromise myself in any way shape or form. I'm sorry if some can't accept that, but it is not my intentions to try to cater to the expectations of others. I would never dream of publicly judging someone who's personal decision of what's best for self differ from my own, nor would I lambaste them for failing to meet up to an expectation that I set for them.

I have said it before, and I guess I have to say it again, I don't write here FOR anyone other than myself. If my actions equate to loss readership, then so be it, could I possibly be any less true to myself by doing otherwise? My convictions are still intact and my feelings for the industry have not changed because I chose to partake in a contest. The main sermon that I see coming from this "pulpit" is truth to self and as far as I'm concerned, I am 'practicing what I preach'.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Zen Scrapbooking...the art of unhappy perfection.

My thoughts have been plagued with how my perception and appreciation for scrapbooking has evolved over the past few much so that I feel compelled to purge on this blog.

I've read comment after comment about how beautiful scrapbooking for some before they ventured to make it more than a personal hobby. The number of head nods I get when I mention that having fewer supplies sparked more creativity than having a scraproom full of them could possibly throw the planet off of it's orbital axis if we could all get together and synchronise our affirmations. On three, two, three, NOD!

Here's a question...When did Scrapbooking start making you unhappy?

Here's another one...Why are you doing it if the very act throws your biorhythms out of wack and manifestst physical symptoms that are similar to those described in depression and anxiety medication commercials?

If you got into scrapbooking because it was a 'fun' hobby, why did you endure even though it no longer registered a reading on your 'fun meter'?

Opinions are like *insert clever/crass word here*... everybody has one. Here is mine:

There are no shoulds in scrapbooking...or any craft that depends heavily on personal preference and aestetic appreciation. Actually, there is one: You should get enjoyment out of anything that you choose to spend any part of the few precious minutes of daily you-time you steal for yourself.

It's a lot harder than it looks, sounds, and smells, folks. Many have recollected the ease of completing pages 'back in the day'. I remember retreating to my scrapping space nightly and trying to get my ideas on paper as fast as they were popping in my mind. I remember the free flowing creative process and I mourn its loss so much that if I weren't so convinced that it would be an affront to my faith, I'd erect a shrine to it in my bedroom. Getting back to those days of artistic bliss has proven to be pretty darned difficult, let me tell you. Yes, I can talk a good game about asking yourself if you like what you're producing, and only seeking to please yourself, but the truth of the matter is that once you let that little voice of doubt and peer validation into your head, it's hard to kill the whispers. I did go ahead and enter the Lucky 7 Contest (after much love laced prodding from my scrap-sister), but I almost didn't because of those darned whispers. How did I get to this point? How did I sit there with eyes wide open, and allow the opinions of others to weigh so heavily on something that didn't even involve them?

Zen = enlightenment through introspecion and intuition.

To me, it means the ability to look soley within oneself for inspiration and unconsciously trusting what is found there to guide me through the creative process without the need to validate every step. To me it means scrapping with reckless abandon and allowing my heart to create my pages. It means, ultimately, scrapping for whatever reasons I choose to and allowing that to be enough even if the rest of the world says it isn't. do we regain the ability to trust ourselves?

After being told for so long that ultimate success only comes on the heels of mass validation, how do you rediscover the strength of personal validation?

How do you convince yourself that your family's appreciation for your tribute to them is not only founded on the fact that you prepare their meals and know where they sleep?

How do you retrain yourself to trust yourself to not only effectively master your personal creative process but to shamelessly love what you've created with your own hands despite what 'others' may think?

Having recently purged myself of much of the materialistic fodder that was clogging my creative process, I am now left with the task of killing that little voice in my head. If I devise some cleaver way of silencing the voice of external validation, I will certainly share it here.


Friday, July 6, 2007

I'll take a loaf of bread, some Tylenol and a pack of eyelets, please...

Okay, admittedly not the most clever title...but that's what was running through the frozen tundra of my mind...and I went with it.

The title refers to my recent discovery of a scrapbooking section in my local convenience market. I know that discount store chains have been peddling lesser loved scrapping supplies for the longest time and department stores have even caught the bug. I was just a little taken aback by the presence of a teeny tiny section of scrapbooking supplies in a store that never seemed to have an interest in branching out into the crafting arena before. I guess it would be a little easier to absorb if they chose to delve into different areas of crafting and not just the perceived bread winner...perhaps not. I just can't see myself buying my paper where I buy my

Of course, I can't really see myself buying paper anytime before the second coming of my opinion is neither here nor there...

I was under the impression that, with the decline in the scrapbooking magazine offerings at this store, that scrapbooking was a cost loss for them. I could be wrong, but the store DID stop carrying Making Memories and Creative Keepsakes last year. I asked about them (back when my brain was numb) and I was told that they just don't sell like Scrapbook Etc. does and even that doesn't do very well. Now that I think of it, it was there that I purchased my last issue of Scrapbook Answers and even then there were tons of magazines on the shelves. Many of the magazines had at least one copy that looked 'well worn', so I have to assume that some savvy shopper decided to see if it was worth her money before she/he bought. Judging by the number of copies sitting on the shelf and the condition of the 'browse' mag...I would have to say that many found those magazines lacking...severely...I know I did.

So, why the sudden interest in scrapbooking? It doesn't even appear that they are seriously intent on making many sales because the pricing on the items is outrageous! $3.99 for a pack of generic brads? $16.99 for a cheap $9.00 Fiskars base model slide cutter? I think that at best, they are praying for a miracle that manifests itself in the form of an unaware novice. But is there really enough money to be made in the twisted scrapbooking arena to justify the new interest?

Like I said, I couldn't care less because I don't intend to spend my money on scrap supplies anymore.

In totally non-related news, I've decided to do some serious purging tonight. I'm talking entire lines of paper, boxes of pens, ink pads, and lots of stamps. I know that I won't use them. I've come to a point where I can accept that now. Now I have to get rid of them.

Why this sudden desire for absolute purgation?

Well, I was trying to scrapbook earlier this week and I got tired of going through boxes and organizers to find things that I'd like. No more! If I don't have it...heck...I must not need it!
Tools? Gone! Flowers? Gone! Ribbon? Mostly Gone! Stickers? Gone! I plan to defile every type of scrapbooking product I have in my stash...with the exception of my Bazzill Cardstock (that's an addiction that I am happy to admit is long standing and purge resistant).

My goal is to reduce my stash by 25-50% and I plan to ruthlessly decisive. I know there are a lot of doubtful things said about the best laid plans...but this is a matter of creative life or death.

I will no longer be a stifled slave to my over abundance! School, church or way or the's going! I won't do the LSS Garage Sale thing though because the last thing I need is a credit to a scrappbooking store that's worth hundreds of dollars.

Wish me luck...I'll need it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

To Scrap...or Not To Scrap...

I have been thinking about why I don't scrapbook as much as I used to. I always think about why I don't scrapbook as much as I used to. I think about not scrapbooking more than I actually scrapbook! I pondered and pondered this much of the weekend and then...I made a list of the reasons for not much as I used to. Wanna hear it? Here it go...

  1. I'm too stinkin' tired to scrapbook. My kids have been working on my last nerve for about a year now and recently my husband (obviously sympathetic to their cause) decided to join them on their little crusade. By the time I get done cleaning up after people who should be able to clean up after themselves, I just want to vegitate. Sometimes I take out pictures and think about the good old days (when they couldn't walk or talk and when my hubby actually cared if his wife did a Linda Blair-Exorcist impersonation)...but it never fails that my reverie is broken by someone screaming about somebody else looking at them or breathing on them.
  2. I have too much stuff to scrapbook. I hate the idea of getting "caught up" when it comes to scrapbooking. It's a term that implies that somehow you will stop generating memories. I still hold that you only stop making memories when you you can't actually be caught up. Still, I have so much to scrapbook in order to feel caught up to this years memories. I can hear the clock ticking on my ability to remember all of the special details of the photos that I've set aside for scrapbooking. Did you know that the imaginary sound of a ticking clock can creatively cripple you?
  3. I have too much darned scrapbooking stuff. Excess is a serious hinderance to creativity unless you have a mind like a library catalog and a photographic memory attached to it. The act of making decisions about my layouts can sometimes make me want to give up the goose and quit. Believe was much easier when it was just pens, paper, and some stickers.
  4. I used to sip the koolaid. I emersed myself in that silly world of scrap acceptance and almost lost myself. I now stay away from it...but by the power of personal strength. No, I stay away out of fear of once again losing myself. The fact that I've chosen to stay away doesn't reverse the negative effects of my 2 years of immersion though. While the twitch I used to get whenever I'd put a layout online is gone, I still struggle with scrapping in a way that is true to myself. Oneday, I won't have to ask myself if I like my layout because oneday, I won't have the battle between my need for validation and my need to scrapbook for myself raging in my head. I struggle with the emotional baggage that resulted from years of trying to mold myself into what the industry told me that I should be...but then again, who doesn't?
  5. I'm a crafty mutt. Sewing, drawing, jewelry making and scrapbooking all compete for what little bit of attention (and sanity) that my family leaves me to play with. I am literally sitting at my computer looking at shelves and shelves of scrapbooking stuff to my left and shelves and shelves of pretty gemstone beads and Swarovski crystals on my right. It never fails that while I scrapbook, I think about making jewelry and while I'm making jewelry, I think about scrapbooking. How could I possibly be expected to choose? Oh, and the day that I sew a crystal on my scrapbooking page or use my scrappy charms on a piece of jewelry will be the day that I give them both up...I just couldn't take it if my supplies went all 'multipurpose' on me.
Now that I have it in writing...maybe I'll be able to do something productive about getting motivated. At least that's what I hope will happen. Well, I guess, since I'm looking at the darned stuff, I should get off the computer and go do something with some of it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Do Design Principles Really Matter?

Design Principles...

Color Theory...

Spatial Relationships...

What do they mean to the everyday scrapper? Do you really need to have a grasp on those concepts in order to be accepted into the guild of the published scrapper?

Unless said scrapper is also a graphic designer (or some other qualified designer), those terms could mean very little to the majority. Yes, there are some of us who have a vested interest in those areas of design and who often employ our knowledge into their pages without doing any harm to anyone elses scrapping ego. Then there are those who share that interest, but feel that anyone who choses to disregard the golden rules of design aren't worth their weight in rubons. Those enlightened beings often choose to look down on or wholeheartedly ignore scrappers that they feel are "uninformed". To be honest, I don't think that it's all that important to most scrappers. It takes all sorts of scrapper to make the scrap-universe go round and nobody's approach to the craft is better or worse than anyone else's. There are no constants in the fickle scrapbooking world.

I've seen unpublished scrapbookers who have cranked out some of the most aesthetically pleasing pages that seem to peacefully exist within the guidelines of design principles...but the creator of those pages has only admits to a cursory knowledge of design principles and color theory.
I've seen very published scrappers who are published everywhere despite the fact that their pages flip the bird at conventional design principles.

Are either layout offerings better than the other? Uh, no. Well, in my personal court of opinion, I have my favorites, but on an existential level, no. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? What matters the most is that we record our memories in a way that pleases us and that we remain true to ourselves while we do it.

So why is there such an emphasis on design priniciples? It seems that everyone and their brother's brother has an opinion on how to pull off an aesthetically sound layout. We've had that pointy visual triangle shoved down our throats and the color wheel is now a staple in most scrapbooking shops and on many a scrappers hind end. It's not bad to have this arsenal of information, don't get me wrong. What is bad is that there are some who find it necessary to pick apart every layout that comes across their path in search of design flaws. It's bad when scrapbookers fall in love with a page but are reluctant to share it because it fails to play nicely with those design principles. It's bad when people are subjected to criticism or disregard because they are perceived (by those who chose to cast judgment) as flawed on some ridiculously superficial design level. I cringe every time I hear someone complain about a gallery being full of crappy layouts because of the sheer audacity and the foundation of unacceptance that comments like that are founded upon.

If absorbing design principles and color theory is of interest to you and will allow you to take your scrapping to what ever level you want to achieve, fine. If it cause your brain to numb just thinking about it, then perhaps it isn't all that important to you. We are a society that likes to feel good...that should carry over into our hobbies as well. If you like the way that your cobalt blue and bubblegum pink layout looks...get your sunglasses out and do your thing! Don't let some silly color wheel stop you!

The use of designing principles should be a personal choice amongst scrapbookers, not the cost of admission into some exclusive community clique. It's one thing to want to use those tools to please yourself, it's another thing to expect anyone who is "serious' about scrapbooking to choke on them in order to fit in some preordained mold.

Just another brick in the wall that keeps the meat and potatoes of the industry (that's us) divided...

Stress and Scrapbooking...hand in hand?

If Scrapbooking is a craft...should it be stressful?

Well...first of all... I don't think that there should be any "shoulds" in scrapbooking...but that's just me.

In a nutshell, I think the answer to the stress in scrapbooking question will vary from person to person. It all depends on 1) why you scrapbook, 2) how you scrapbook, and 3) what you seek to get out of scrapbooking.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if scrapbooking is an outlet for you, that stress would better left out of the equation. I have enough stress in my life...I don't need to have it inundating my relaxation time as well...but it does.

I didn't used to...(how's that for baaaad grammar...Ms. Mendiola is probably somewhere balled up in a corner screaming to high heaven for my head on a platter!)

When I was a liberated scrapper, I scrapped to keep myself from hurting the people that I loved. I found that I was less likely to view my family as a Preying Mathis views her mate after copulation when I threw myself into creating layouts. Now that I've allowed stress into my creative environment, my family lives everyday in mortal peril.

Stress has no place in my crafting life...but that is again, my personal cup-o-tea. Make your own tea. Make your own rules. I if I could just live by the darned things!

Stress is the main reason that I had my near fatal scrap-breakdown. My buddy Chicken Louver can attest to the day that I sent her an email telling her that I couldn't do it anymore. I almost short circuited my keyboard with my bitter tears of rejection and walking away from scrapbooking seemed to be the only solution that would end the constant, painful bombardment of rejection. I was a dumb little girl back then...I can't say I'm any smarter, but I did manage to grow up enough to get over myself.

We all need to determine the level of involvement (in this 'hobby') that will magically transform it into a J.O.B. and ask ourselves if we are ready to cross it. For me, that line of demarcation is right at the DT Gig level. I won't allow myself to work for scraps...because despite loving the shower of goodies, the word 'work' is still involved. I have a fact... because I felt the urge to replicate myself...twice...I have 3 or 4 jobs. I need another pay-less job like I need another dimple in my thank you very much! If my hobby looks, smells and tastes like work...then I'd better be getting paid for it...and even with paycheck in hand I will denounce it as any hobby of mine.

What I'm trying to say...if I'm trying to say anything at all, is that for me (and hopefully nobody will miss the "for me" part), Scrapbooking isn't about achievements (outside of achieving giddy happiness at completing a page I love), it isn't about goals, it isn't about 'catching up'. It's about release and release is the antithesis of stress...IMHO. Therefore, it only calls to reason that stress has no place in my scrapbooking. However it got there, it needs to exit, stage left and asap!

Now I need to ponder how to get the festering cyst out of my scrap area...