Thursday, July 25, 2013

Scrapbooks: Life Before Pinterest

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here and publicly declare my disinterest in pinterest.  I do admit to having an account, but I have four boards with no more than 5 each.  I understand that most of the world is totally enthralled with this site and spends hours upon hours searching and cataloging images.  I understand that it makes you feel organized after you've saved 57 new crafting techniques for future reference.  I get that you have 43 healthy snack ideas at your disposal for school lunches.  And anytime you want to set perfect Victory Rolls, you can scroll through your 39 options.  But really, pinterest just doesn't do it for me.  For me, personally, I feel like it's (a) a huge time sink that could be spent more productively and (b) a guilt-trip to end all guilt-trips.  After merely one hour spent pinning images, I could have been in the sewing room or kitchen or garden and actually have something to show for that hour, instead of just a head crammed full of cool ideas that, in all likelihood, I'll never get around to doing and just feel even more guilty.  *phew*  Stepping off my soapbox now...

So what in Heavens name did we all do before Pinterest?!?  We had scrapbooks, my friends.  Now I'm not talking about the current, uber-expensive, hoity-toity scrapbooks of Today.  I'm talking about the Old School, cut and paste scrapbooks of fifty years ago.  Heck, more like 30 years ago.  As soon as I could hold a scissors, Mom outfitted me with an oversized doodle pad and a bottle of Elmer's.  I collected magazine pictures, paperdolls, soup can labels, birthday cards and anything shiny that caught my eye and glued them all, willy nilly, into my doodle pad.  Voila!  A bonafide scrapbook was born.  And it was good.

Sadly, we have gotten away from the gritty, willy nilly-ness of scrapbooking.  Everything these days has to have matching papers, stickers and embossed embellishments.  Well, I'm here to tell you that it's time to reconsider the lost art of Cut and Paste.

Last weekend I took the kids to the church rummage and brought home three fabulous scrapbooks for 25cents each.  The two plain ones were completely filled with newspaper snippets, but the fancier Boy-Meets-Girl book is blank and waiting for my daughter's high school years. 

I carefully dissected the two books and took out all the bits that I liked.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that there was nary an inch of empty space.  The housewife that meticulously filled these pages did a precise job.  She had How-To's, craft projects, recipes and embroidery designs to ying-yang!

Ever wonder what to do with those old buttons?

Have too many bottle caps laying around?

Perhaps a new vanity and stool made from barrels would be a fun project?

Most clippings were from the late 1940s and early 50s.  A few especially neat articles talked about war rationing and how the Thrifty Housewife could donate her metal headboard to the scrapdrive and use the footboard at the top of the bed instead.   

a big thank you to my sheep salt shaker for assisting

Well, my refurbish job started with fitting in new pages cut from 12" cardstock.  And then I grabbed the gluestick (sorry, Elmer) and pasted away.  My pages aren't quite as crampacked as the original book, but it's all about personal expression anyway.

I also had several 1962 LOOK magazines from which I snipped fancy advertisements to compliment the everyday usefulness of making your own bottle cap mud scraper. 

I included a collection of snap cards.

After several hours of cutting and pasting, I started to get a little punchy.  I began to pair the "international trend setter" with Creamette.  I doubt whether Jackie ever boiled a pot of noodles in her life.

Perhaps my favorite page is this 1962 Pream ad lording it over my birthday card from last month.  My mother sent this lavish Gone With the Wind card (one of my lifelong obsessions) and wrote inside, "Eat all the cake you want!  Your 18" waist is gone forever!"  Nothing like a mom to bring you crashing back to reality.

My scrapbook is a work of art, complete with handwritten notes from my children, quirky photos from three years ago, sock monkey stickers, Sunday funnies, fabric swatches and dressmaking notes.  Anything that comes across my desk is far game.  And while I try to organize the pages somewhat, it still is just a hodge-podge of images.  I love the tactile-ness of the book and the yellowing of the ads.  I'm considering subscribing to a few farm newspapers just to get the Economical Housewife section. 

And perhaps my scrapbook isn't too far removed from pinterest.  It is still a collection of my interests, albeit far less organized.  But somehow it feels more folksy, more home-grown, more me.  And if this appeals to you, it might be time that you toss aside the fancy-edged scissors, the vellum papers, the die cutters and go Old School shears and glue!


  1. I have my home decorating idea scrap book, gardening notebooks (notes and seed packets help to complete it) and I also have my journals. Now, some of those are not so much full of clippings in photos; but more clipping in words about stories that have made up my life... and on occasion, I have doodled a picture in the margins or at the bottom with my own hand.
    One kids might find the fascinating.

    I love your scrapbook. With all vintage ads!
    and your birthday card. :)

  2. My daughter and daughters-in-law had me convinced that I was the only anti pinterest person on the planet! I feel so much better now. I too think it's a waste of time - I'd rather be DOING it than gathering it.

  3. Agree with you soapbox stance, especially the part about actually getting REAL things DONE. And love your Old School scrapbook!

  4. Great images I hope you don't mind if I just pin those on my boards. Haha just kidding. I love love love pinterest as a way of saving great ideas but I agree about the time sink. I feel computers in general are time sinks but they have their good points too. After all I wouldn't know about a fabulous lady like you with out mine.

    Ps I also have a few three ring binders I keep for ideas and repipes and if you think yours looks rough you should see mine ;)

  5. love it :-)
    coming out of a culture of make do and mend i was never in this "papeterie-style" scrapbooks. always used what was on hand to make my collages.
    thank you for reminding me - i should get them out of the trunk and frame them for decorating the house, now that i have the space.

  6. I am a tactile person, so yes, I get it. Pinterest, though I've been on there more than once, is a time-suck. I've got many other things to do, so I no longer look at it. I kept a scrap book in a black and white notebook for a long time when I was first married. It was pictures from magazines of home furnishings and decorating that I liked. I don't keep it anymore, but I still have it, and every once in a great while, I like to take it out and flip through it. It brings back the memories of who I was at the time.

  7. LOL :)
    I have an account and I do make a daily 5 minute visit and pin ideas I really like and there is an actual chance I would use it!

    I remember scrapbooks! I had a few as a teenager.

  8. I refuse to "pin" for these same reasons. I have some lovely old vintage scrapbooks that I've rescued. What a cool idea. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Yes! Several of you brought up great points. Scrapbooks ARE a reflection of who were are at a certain point in our lives. I filled my first scrapbook when I was 7-8 years old and then ignored it for a while. When I was 10, I looked back through it and thought it was messy and babyish. So I cut several pages out and pasted over the others. I was so proud to show my mom how neat and organized it was, and she was disappointed that I had erased all those memories.

    And I do think that doodles and handwriting make scrapbooks so much more personal. Even if our children aren't interested in family history/genealogy as much as we'd like, they will still cherish a book created by their mothers. And maybe they'll take out one or two pages to frame. Thanks for all your comments! Off to find more gluesticks...I used up four leftover ones from my kids schoolboxes on this book!

    1. Glue sticks? Take if from an art teacher those won't hold up real well. I would recommend acrylic gel medium or modge podge hey wait I think I saw a pin on how to make your own on pinterest ......... OK sorry I am terrible aren't I. But I was serious about the adhesives (my big pet peeve is have a lovely collage fall about after a few years). And there is really a DIY modge podge recipe but I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for it but you could google it.

  10. Modge Podge recipe

    Simple Solution

    8 ounces of washable white glue
    1 15+ ounce clean and dry container with lid
    4 ounces of water (half as much water as glue)

    Simply empty the glue into the container, add the water, put the lid on, and shake well.
    To make it gloss add 2 tablespoons of water based varnish or to make it sparkle add super fine glitter.

    found on pinterest from your snotty art teacher friend

  11. Thank goodness I'm not the only "anti-pinterest" person! I just don't see the point of it all. If there is a website/blog/article that I want to revisit, I just bookmark the site (does that make me old school?). Or, print out whatever is on the site I want to keep. Why would I want to go to Pinterest, log in, and try and locate what I want when all I have to do is go to my browser's bookmark file? Ah well. I love the scrapbook idea, it would be a great way to save all those clipped out bits and pieces of stuff that you want to keep but don't know how to store them.

  12. I'm right with you in the disinterested in Pinterest camp ... I simply don't understand what to do with it.
    Why am I following people and their pins - there simply isn't enough a time in the cosmos to look for stuff to pin to my own boards, let alone look at what every other random person is pinning.



Thanks for your thoughts! Come back to visit again soon!