Tuesday, March 3, 2009

To Scrap or Not: A Good Question

For the life of me, I can’t figure out the scrapbooking industry. It’s INSANELY huge. It’s also INSANELY expensive. The biggest lunacy to me is that this type of crafting is called “scrapbooking,” and instead of being true to the honest-to-goodness beauty of the term (the idea that one can take scraps, aka garbage, and make it into something beautiful), we have turned in into a bazillion-dollar industry. Americans alone are spending millions a year on SCRAPS, acid-free scraps at that!

The office manager at Spark’s school asked me the other day if I am a scrapper. Actually, she assumed I was and phrased it as a question.

“Oh, heavens, no,” I thought. But, then, I did make a book of photos for Spark’s paternal grandmother for Christmas, and I am putting together some books of photos from a trip to California. And, I am a packrat with boxes of scraps at my disposal for cropping and scrapping and booking. When gift bags are too disheveled to be reused, I cut the rope handles off and stuff them in a box. When someone wears out jeans too much to donate, I keep at least the pockets any cut off any denim that looks usable. But. I can’t be one of THEM.

You know those people. They have every puncher, every embellishment, every album, every pattern of every paper. They meet in groups and call themselves “scrappers.” And, their designs are immaculate. They have the perfect pictures with the perfectly handwritten note and perfect layout. You know what I’m talking about. (If you don’t, go here.) There’s a row of perfectly punched out daisies along the left side of the page. They are pink with yellow centers. Cute little 2x2 photos line the bottom of the page. They are closeups of hands, feet, belly buttons. Then, there’s a large photo of pretty 2 year old girl with her eyes wide open, her smile beaming off the page, her cheeks so cute and pinchable, her face framed with some vintage looking paper that has a daisy motif going on. Oh, and the photo is that vintage-looking black and white distressed type with elegantly penned pink journaling underneath, reading something like: “When you were two, your smile made me smile. Your laugh made me laugh. You complete me.”

(Yes, so, I threw that last bit in there for the closet Tom Cruise fans.)

Now, I’m standing here with this question hanging in the air, “You’re a scrapper, aren’t you?”

My answer is probably a secret code for getting invited to crop circle night or being shunned from all the real scrappers. I see two responses: Yes or No. Either one leaves me in a weird place.

“Yes, but I only use REAL scraps, scraps that I find, scraps that almost made it to the trash can until I reached out my hand and said, ‘Don’t put that in a landfill! Put it in my son’s baby book.’” This sounds self-righteous, like I’m some earth-friendly, the-environment-is-my-religion whacko.

“No, but I occasionally make photo books.” This sounds lame like I’m really part of the group, but I don’t want to admit it. Or, I’m not part of the group, but I want to be. Either way, it’s lame.

Because I sometimes just can’t live up to my high standard, I opt for the lame route: “Not really. Well, yes, sort of. I guess.”

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