Sentimentality & Scrapbooks

Sentimentality & Scrapbooks

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, I was a big scrapbook girl. There was something about assembling an album that motivated me to showcase memories like some sort of hokey historian with a photo fetish. I spent hours arranging pictures and memorabilia on scrapbook pages only to rearrange them again until my OCD was sufficiently satisfied. Next came the embellishing process where I’d adorn the whole thing with stickers, colored die-cuts, paper strips, ribbons, and anything else that would show-off the eclectic collection. Each page outdid the last, so by the time a scrapbook was complete, I could barely close it!

When I wasn’t busy creating a new keepsake masterpiece, I attended Creative Memories parties, which are the scrapbooker’s equivalent of Tupperware or Mary Kay. Invitations would pour in my mailbox with promises of snacks and adult beverages in exchange for my attendance. So, while tossing back a few hot toddy’s and eating tasty treats, my inhibitions would lower to a level where I was the definition of low-hanging fruit. Coincidentally, that’s right when a stylish Creative Memories consultant stepped forward, showcasing fancy paper cutters and scrapbook essentials as seamlessly as Vanna White, standing in what appeared to me as a studio filled with fabulous prizes. Of course, I left these parties lugging reams of acid-free paper, loads of dye-cuts, and enough stickers to make Marie Kondo wonder how joy could possibly be found among all that stuff!

Enter the digital age and the tech version of scrapbooking. Not only is it cheaper, or free in the case of what I’ve created, it’s also a great way to preserve documents, photos, and memorabilia. There are numerous websites and blogs dedicated to digital scrapbooking. Many are beautiful and artistic beyond anything I’ve created, as I just don’t have the drive to scrapbook with the fervor of years ago. But, these websites and blogs (like this, are great motivators and gave me the nudge I needed to tackle the numerous boxes that house my grandparent’s photos and documents.

Beyond the organization of these files, the digital scrapbook process is simple. I scan photos, newspaper articles, and other memorabilia. Then I use Canva’s free design program to create vintage-style backgrounds to serve as scrapbook pages. From there, it’s drag and drop! If I still had the scrapbooking drive of my youth, these pages could look amazing, as the amount of digital jpegs for sale on Etsy is downright mind-blowing. Instead, what I’ve produced got the job done and I feel a sense of satisfaction.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional response this project triggered. I found myself taking more time than expected to get through the photos and paperwork as teary-eyes made things difficult to decipher through the blur. Sometimes I put the whole project on hold before gaining the strength to dive back in and revisit the past. I guess I just miss my grandparents. And, I miss my mom, whose departure has left an irreparable hole in my heart.

This project is dedicated to them and will continue to remain in a space called, a work in progress. A space where memories and memorabilia collide in an artistic archive that opens a portal to the past. And, most of all,  a space to remain and reminisce, over and over, as I’m the lucky one to even have these people and places to miss in the first place.

  • Howard & Ruby Berkey

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