Shades Of The Departed

November 16

A Monthly - Weekend With Shades - Column

Creating a great scrapbook page is like so many other things in life... you get out of it what you put into it. If you take your time, think before you start, and put some planning into it, you're almost certain to come up with a better page than one haphazardly thrown together in a few minutes. However, over thinking the project may seriously curtail your creativity. You should leave some things to be decided on the fly.

I'm a strong advocate for using pre-designed digital scrapbooking kits. If you've got the time and talent to start from scratch every time you want to put a page together, go for it. For many of us though, using a kit with coordinating colors and elements allows us to get more pages made in a set amount of time. I want my pages to look good but I need to use my time efficiently too. There are a myriad of talented designers out there whose kits allow me to accomplish both.

Where to start? Photo, kit, or theme first? There's no right answer here. You can end up with a nice scrapbook page any which way you start. Sometimes I'll see a picture and it will inspire me to create a page for it. Other times, like when I'm writing for the Carnival of Genealogy and I want a companion piece to go with my article, I'll start with a theme and then go looking for a photo and kit to suit my purposes. And then there are times when I create a scrapbook page just because I see a pretty kit that gets my creative juices flowing. It truly doesn't matter where you start.

Planning is important. Regardless of whether you start with a photo, a kit, or a theme, you need a plan to begin with. It may be no more than a list of elements you want to include, but even that much planning will keep you from forgetting an important element on your page. What else should you think about? Here are 10 elements to consider when planning your scrapbook page.

10 Elements of a well designed scrapbook page for genea-historians:

  1. Photographs - You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Touch up or restore any photos you intend to use on a scrapbook page before you start decorating them up with frames, flowers, etc. It's all well and good to use vintage photos, but that crease across grandma's face has got to go! Same thing with soft and faded photos... add a little contrast and sharpen those old photos. Make them look as good as possible. You honor your ancestors by showing them in the best possible way.

  2. Journaling - Write in short sentences using words that convey emotions where applicable. Whether you're sharing a memory, describing an event, recording your own thoughts, or simply including a poem, make sure your journaling compliments your photo or ephemera and doesn't steal the show. You want your photos and/or ephemera to be the focus of your page.

  3. Ephemera - What is it? It's another word for memorabilia. Match books, menus, prayer cards, programs, jewelry, newspaper clippings, dried flowers, postcards, greeting cards, etc. If you've got keepsakes, you should create a scrapbook to display pictures of them. They really add dimension to a page!

  4. Emotion - One of the best parts of creating scrapbook pages is being able to convey emotion. Somber colors and images can convey sadness, bright colors happiness or excitement, soft colors thoughtfulness. Make sure the emotion you convey is consistent with the photos or event you are featuring.

  5. Colors - Be careful not to overwhelm your photos with strong colors and busy patterns that draw the eye away from them. This is especially important with black and white or sepia tone photos. They will show better on softer shaded backgrounds. If you're creating a scrapbook page using color photos, make sure the other colors you use on the page don't clash.

  6. Theme - Think carefully about using themes. If the photo already has a theme (i.e. it has a Christmas tree or Easter basket in it) you can use more subtle theme elements. If your photo has no defining elements (i.e. it's just a portrait) you can have fun with a more obvious theme without it seeming over done.

  7. Make it personal - Scrapbooks are personal. So when you create a scrapbook page, make sure it's personal. This is especially important for genea-historians who are recording history. Use journaling to explain that the photo of the Statue of Liberty on your page was taken on a family vacation in 1964. List everyone who went on the vacation, and the dates of the trip too. But don't forget to write a line or two about your feelings or thoughts when you first saw the grand lady in New York harbor. That's the part that will really touch people.

  8. Don't over do it, less is more! - Trying to put too many images/elements on a page is the most common mistake that beginners make. If you really want to use a series of photos, make them small so that the group of them becomes one larger element for the eye to take in.

  9. Subtlety can be very effective - You know the old saying, "If you want to get someone's attention, whisper?" Same works well when it comes to scrapbook pages. If you fade some of your text or elements creating more of a hint or a suggestion than an outright statement you'll have people studying your pages longer to take in the message you are visually whispering.

  10. Use what you've got, find what you need - If you have your grandmother's graduation photo and her class ring use them both on a page, don't limit yourself to just using the photo of her (obviously you'll need to photograph the ring too ;-). If you don't have a photo of her high school, go on the internet and find one, then use it "faded" as a background element. Create a "setting" for your photos and elements whenever possible.

Let's take a look at how some of these elements come together in this page I created.

Elements Of A Scrapbook Page

  1. Since I'm writing this in the month of November I thought it would be an appropriate theme. The significant elements I used on this page all tie in to the month of November. I included the text, "All Souls Day" and "Thanksgiving" so that anyone looking at it would know why I didn't include people born or married in November. This page is about remembering the souls of two dearly departed individuals who died in November, and, in conjunction with Thanksgiving I'm also expressing my thanks for what they meant to me.

  2. The graphic element of a tree ties in with my family tree and the barrenness of it is typical of a tree in November after its leaves have fallen.

  3. I looked though my photos for people who died in November. I chose these two because the images worked well together and both men had the name Stanley in common.

  4. The soft earthy colored background is good for thoughtful presentations and is in keeping with autumn, and the quietness of death.

  5. I included the holy cards from their funerals. The cards are both a reminder of their deaths but also give basic information about their lives. By using these I won't have to include this information in my journaling.

  6. I used the frame as a design element. The color is consistent with the others on the page and it has a vintage look to it. The playing cards go along with the text on my tag, "a pair of Stanleys."

  7. I used a plain font, white on brown for easy reading. This journaling includes my personal memories of my Uncle Stanley and what I appreciate most about my Grand Uncle Stanley.

How many of these things did you recognize when you first looked at the scrapbook page? Did you come away with some understanding of what November means to me? I hope so!

The digi-scrapping kit I used is called "Golden Haze". It was created by the very talented duo of Lucy and Faith. Thank you ladies! Isn't it just beautiful!?! You can download it for free here and here. It's a great (huge!) basic kit for genealogists with many elements specific to family history. I'll be using it again next month when I show you how to dress it up for your Christmas holiday scrapping.

Now it's your turn. Show me what November means to you!

Happy Scrapping!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jasia,

A wonderful column! Just what a 'fence-sitting scrapster' like me needs to read. lol

Of course, you got me with the first element, photographs; "...Make them look as good as possible. You honor your ancestors by showing them in the best possible way."

"Guided by the Ancestors"

November 16, 2008 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Judith Richards Shubert said...

Very good information, Jasia. I was very interested in the digi-scrapbooking source. Thanks for including it.

November 17, 2008 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Lovely work! I may be tempted to start yet another hobby.

November 18, 2008 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article and gorgeous page! Congratulations to Jasia for a delightful column and to fM for once again bringing the best of the best to Shades. It's an inspiration to all of us.

November 18, 2008 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Heritage Garden Club said...

Hi Jasia,
I too am passionate about scrapbooking the old family stories. I have made 6 books and have even made some kits. My kits are Free and are digital. If anyone wants something special for that great story but your creative juices are having trouble flowing. I would love to help out.
contact me at jloudonatncdotrrdotcom

November 30, 2008 at 8:36 AM  

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