Your support can turn a life
Nothing captures your life and your family history quite like ‘scrapbooking’. Photos and home movies are great and do a lot to preserve memories, but scrapbooking takes it one step further and gives you the chance to insert your "special touch" or personality. It brings your story to life in a way that only you can tell, says Nilima Lovekar.
Scrapbooking is a method for preserving a legacy of written history in the form of photographs, printed media, and memorabilia contained in decorated albums, or scrapbooks. Historically, scrapbooking was a tradition similar to storytelling, but with a visual and tactile, rather than oral, focus.
"Through our scrapbooks, we open a window to our lives for our grandchildren -- working together, playing together, and living together just the way maybe some of them still do in real life. These mementos reflect the diversity of our lives, which is like their roots or family-trees. "Nirmal Bandopadhyay
Fantasy: A shelf of books chronicling your family history. Photo albums, general scrapbooks, special event albums. Books to curl up with on rainy days while reliving sunny vacations and sipping herbal tea in the glow of the electric fireplace. Books your progeny will cherish and bless you for creating.
Reality: Shoe boxes overflowing with photos, ticket stubs, programmes, clippings, letters, cards -- all those things you intuitively saved and know you should organise. Someday you will. Someday. Meanwhile your guilt increases. The more boxes and the more disarray, the more daunting the project becomes. How to start?
If scrapbooking is something you've been thinking about, do it! Read a book, sign up for a workshop, or simply set aside a few hours and see what happens. There's no wrong way to scrapbook. If there's a rule, it's this: Have fun. Look in your local yellow pages or inquire at a craft shop. But you don't need a coach! Buy a few basic supplies and just do it. Remember to use gum-free albums and pages. The once-popular gum-pasted pages destroy photos over time. Keep it simple. Stickers and other decorations are nice additions, but unnecessary. Most important are photos and journaling.
Above all, don't reduce your albums to yet another duty. And don't forget to journal. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with a few scribbled paragraphs is priceless. Don't strive for perfection. You won't open your finished albums and see flawed craftsmanship. You'll see toothy grins, Diwali celebrations and Christmas trees; school picnics and skinned knees. Creativity builds with practice. It's fun to watch the progression as the albums become ever more artistic.
So start simple. First sort mementos chronologically; then starting with your most recent photos, work forward. Attack the backlog as time permits. Face it; if you start with your first day of school, you'll give up long before your high school farewell. According to some, journaling is the most important element. And the simplest. It's also the most neglected. Many people simply hate to write; but years later – when memories fade – those jotted notes become ever more meaningful. Creative memories remain the only link with your future generation. While photos can tell a story about what happened at an event, they don’t convey the same emotions as writing. “When I journal, it’s important for me to express my thoughts and feelings. It’s a way for me to share those feelings with my family. It’s a way for me to remember the special, even the forgotten, times in my life”, says Shivram Karat.
“I start the process by writing the thoughts and feelings that are in my heart and in my head down on paper. It could be the story of how I met my husband, something funny that happened during my college years, or a detailed account of a favourite vacation. And, remember to document and write down your stories of not only the happy, funny, joyful times but also those sad moments in life, the struggles, the heartbreak, because that’s real life. Now, I prefer to go to a past journal and read about past struggles or victories and scrapbook them...”, vouches Sheela Sinha.
“I scrapbook because I love it! I enjoy every aspect about it; it’s one of those things where no matter how you do it, or how long you’ve been doing it, it never gets tiring or boring. I create art with precious moments caught within a photograph. I can tell a story behind each face, and give an unspoken memory to its voice. Moreover, the look on my grandchildren’s faces as they flip through my scrapbooks will forever give me joy and light up my heart.” Laxmi Naidu chokes with emotion.
The most important material is the album itself, which can be permanently bound, or allow for insertion of pages. There are other formats, such as mini albums and accordion-style fold-out albums. Some of these are adhered to various containers, such as matchbooks, CD cases, or other small holders. One of the key components of modern scrapbooking is the archival quality of the supplies. Designed to preserve photographs and journaling in their original state, materials patronised by most serious scrapbookers are of a higher quality than those of many typical photo albums commercially available. Scrappers insist on acid-free, lignin-free papers, stamp ink, and embossing powder, and pigment based inks, which are fade resistant, colourfast, and often waterproof. Older "magnetic" albums were not acid-free and thus caused damage to the photos and memorabilia included in them.
While some prefer the physicality of the actual artifacts they paste onto the pages of books, others go for the digital revolution. Some of its advantages include a greater diversity of materials, less environmental impact, cost savings, the ability to share finished pages more readily on the internet, and the use of image editing software to experiment with manipulating page elements in multiple ways without making permanent adjustments.
Furthermore, digital scrapbooking is not limited to digital storage and display. Many digital scrappers print their finished layouts to be stored in scrapbook albums. Others have books professionally printed in hard bound books to be saved as keepsakes.
Overall, scrapbooking is more than a hobby; it's an affirmation that day-to-day lives are worth documenting. Memories grow ever more precious with the passage of time. Make the effort; you'll be glad you did. So will your children and grandchildren. Your memories are their history.