Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fangirl Scrapbooking

Whether you're headed to RT, another book con, or a fan conference of some other stripe, you might enjoy collecting and putting together a scrapbook to keep your memories, even if you don't think of yourself as a "scrapbooker."

I bought into the scrapbooking Kool-AidTM over a decade ago when my first daughter was small.  I've spent a pretty good percentage of my disposable income on tools and supplies (but still less than I spend on books!).  I hadn't been blogging long before I realized that I would never be able to hold on to all the signed books I was collecting, so when I went to RT for the first time in 2012, I combined two of my favorite pastimes.  If you think you'd like to give this a try, here are some of my top tips for scrapbooking your fan experience:

1. It all starts with the book...
I like 12"x12" books for my family scrapbooks, which gives me a lot of room to spread out.

Because I rather hope that these books will be appreciated for more than one generation, I use only archival materials and have page protectors on everything.  I mostly stick to papers, photos, and pens, and keep embellishments more minimal.

However, for my fan book, 12x12 is too bulky and awkward to travel with; and as for archival? Nah. I figure anything goes!  This one strictly for my own pleasure, fun and remembrance, and will not likely mean much as a legacy to anyone else.  So bring on the slick bookmarks and coverflats, 3-D paper flowers, key chains and pins, lace and ribbon, maps, brochures, tickets, boarding passes - if I can stick it to the page, it might be in there.  I chose a smaller book and a collection of neutral, sort of vintagey and typography-based accents and papers.  I love this book because of the pretty flourishes, the color, and the mix of plain and lined pages, pocket pages, and photo-insert pages (not shown, but they're there!)

A little introduction to the book, why not?

Here's a blog with some cool examples of what people have done with this type of book.

There are a lot of other options too.  If you're an Instagram kind of person, I saw an article recently for Chatbooks, which looks like an easy and inexpensive way to bind up some IG shots.  Although if you want to use it for autographs, you'd have to get creative and maybe create a book ahead of time of all the authors you want to meet and have them sign their page.

You could go the other direction and be very deconstructed -- you could even use larger flat swag like cover flats or postcards as the base page, and collage photos and signatures on top of them.  Punch a hole in the corners, add a binder ring, and voila!  Here is a similar example, using paint chips as the base.  At the scrapbook event at RT14, this is what we made (with card stock for pages).  You could easily add your flat swag onto it!

2. Consider your style. 
A kit or collection might be a good choice. I really love the kraft-paper pages in the Smashbook (and others) because you can add light or dark elements and they still stand out nicely.  I find that with white background pages, I keep trying to fill in the space and my pages get too busy.  If you choose something like mine, 7 Gypsies and Tim Holz (and others) specialize in that kraft/black/vintage style, but most craft supply places will have lots of bits that will work.

You might prefer lighter and brighter, pastel and dreamy, cartoony/humorous, or maybe a more beat-up industrial-looking style.  Or you might make each page different to suit the photos, souvenirs, or your exact mood at that moment.

Some of my favorite pre-made elements for this book are little journal and accent cards, like this:

From scrapbook.com
You can layer a small photo or bit of memorabilia on top, write out some thoughts about that person/book/experience, or have your author sign it, if you don't want to haul your book around everywhere.  You could also just cut up some squares of lined paper and keep them with your conference stuff if you don't want to buy pre-made ones.

I also like to use ribbon, die cut frames, tags, and arrows. 

Cathy Maxwell on an RT12 panel

Washi tape is super-popular now -- I do like it but I find myself in sort of a rut and using only one or two mostly black patterns.  However, it comes in a whole rainbow of colors and all kinds of styles and patterns.  It's nice because it pulls double duty-- adheres things to the page while drawing attention to them.  You can also make a quick frame or arrow with it.

No photo on this one - signature plus swag

3. Take good pictures.
If you want your book filled with photos of you and your favorite authors, but you're camera-shy or self-conscious about how you look in photos, there are a few tricks that can be handy to know.  Maybe team up with a friend (or the person you're getting deeply acquainted with while you wait in line), practice using each others' cameras, and learn these tips:

  • Don't lean back, because: double-chins happen (ugh).  If the author is behind a table, it's all going to work better if she leans forward, or, if she doesn't mind, if you go behind the table with her.
  • Don't lean over or down.  If she's sitting, bend your knees and keep your back and neck straight.
  • Photos taken from higher up are more flattering.  If you've got a big group, try to get someone tall, or up on some steps to take the group shot.  Take it from high enough that everyone's face is tilted up.
  • If you're a sometimes yes, sometimes no, person about makeup, this is probably the time to say yes.  Just sayin'.
  • Have your friend take 3 or 4 shots just in case someone blinks or blurs.  Once everyone is in place, it shouldn't take too long.  (If the line is long behind you, maybe just two.)
  • Get some variety in your shots.  If almost all of them are you+author, from the waist up, that's fine and all but you can add some interest by taking some detail shots -- piles of books, pretty table decorations, a cluster of foofy cocktails; some pulled back shots -- the skyline of the city, the marquis of the hotel, a panoramic shot of the thousands of people at the bookfair; some things that interest you -- a series of shots of awesome shoes or costumes, or the random person carrying the tallest stack of books, the carnage in your hotel room after you and your roommates have dumped all your swag everywhere.
4. Take notes.
  • You might not want to scrapbook things immediately-- I don't; for one thing I still need to get photos developed.  I'm sorry to say that I have a few signatures that... I don't remember who they are.  I can't read 'em.  Oops.  I got smarter at RT14 and added small post-it notes to many pages if I couldn't read the signature.  Once photos are developed, you can add them along with whatever swag you've got.  Or nab a bit of washi tape and whack down the author's bookmark or trading card and you've got the start of your page.
  • Twitter sort of worked as a photojournal for me.  I tweeted my favorite photos along with a 140-character comment, so when I look back through my media feed later, I have great prompts to jot down a little memory for the page.
  • Remember those journal cards? You can write those up in real-ish time too and keep them until you're ready to assemble the page.
5. What supplies do you need?
The sky is really the limit with scrapbooks these days, especially if you're not too concerned with archival quality.  Browse pinterest a little bit before you commit. BUT: my advice, especially if you are just starting, is keep it simple.  My recipe for a beginner:
  • Small book, around 8x8
  • Small pack of papers in the same size as your book in a colorway that appeals to you.  Bonus points if it contains a sticker alphabet and some journal cards.  Here's an example by Tim Holz. You might not need 36 sheets but if you look closely you can see several of them can be cut down into journal cards or smaller embellishments.  You might notice in the shots of my book, you don't see any deco paper.  I just didn't need it for this book (so far-- I'm not ruling it out entirely).
  • One or two rolls of washi tape in a color you love.  These add up fast, so unless you know you like it, start small.
  • Fine tip sharpies in several colors.  Grab a silver one, as it shows up beautifully on dark backgrounds.
  • Post-it notes, for illegible signatures
  • Tape runner to adhere light, flat items (photos and paper). There are a zillion brands, I don't really have a favorite--and Glue Dots for adding heavier things like key rings, charms, thicker ribbon.  If you will be assembling your album later, you could leave these home.
  • Pair of scissors and hole punch.  Again, you could wait until you get home to use these, but if you want to do stuff on site, this is about the minimum.
You can make a fantastic album with nothing more than these things (or less, if you're a true minimalist!), your photos, and your goodies from the conference. I really really love mine!

Last tip: PUT YOUR NAME AND CELL PHONE NUMBER ON THE INSIDE COVER!  I lost my book at one of the parties at RT12 and was so sad! Luckily it was turned in to lost and found but it sure would've been simpler if someone could've just called.

I hope you find this useful and that you end up with a wonderful book of memories, no matter what you decide to commemorate.  Plus, you just never know what might happen when you hand a blank page to an author:


mf said...

Great ideas! Thanks for stretching my con scrapbooking. I'm trying to do it - with out bringing the book to the hotel. I think I will try the cards this year, and organize items/notes by day.

Nicola O. said...

I need a little more structure, I think, but that can totally work. They sell some very cute journal cards in packs that would tuck easily right into your badge holder.

... also, now that I think about it, I kind of like having this book that so many of my favorite authors have handled. (Maybe that's weird?)

Anna Richland said...

That was a fabulous post - I have definite scrapbook envy. Can you actually remember who all the authors are after you have your photos developed? (Or - are your eyes good enough to read their tiny badges?)

I have a bunch of labelled phtoo albums from my single days - whenever I'd have to go to some sort of business trip or army class, I'd throw all my envelopes of photos in my suitcase with a few empty albums and sit in a hotel room binging on TV and photo albums at night. So posterity will know all about my life up to age 29 or so, and then nothing.

Although I'm wondering a little if I could do something small like labelling photos while in the stands at softball/baseball games.

Where/when do you do all this?

Nicola O. said...

Anna, I don't spend as much time scrapbooking as I used to. My kids' books are fairly current through 2007, lol.

Mostly I sign up for "crop" parties on weekend afternoons and do a 4-6 hour binge all at once. If I'm lucky, I usually manage to get to one or two weekend retreats a year. I fall ever more behind, but then my kids are also more camera shy than they used to be, so at some point perhaps things will converge.

And, um, no, I don't remember everybody... but also I don't have to put every photo I take on the page, either.


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