Saturday, 21 May 2016

It's All Treasure

When I first started scrapbooking, I wanted to cut up paper and make pretty pictures. Then I started to think more about what scrapbooking really meant to me and I understood that it had to be about the words too. And there can be no doubt that the pages I return to, and the ones anyone stops at if I'm asked to show an album, are the ones with the writing on.


But that writing takes up space: it can fill the background, flood the view. And the kind of pages I'm most often attracted to are the ones restful to the eye, pared back, easy to relax over. So I circle. I make pages with lots of story, then I think I want the picture and the pretty, so I stick the story on the back. Then I shake my head and ask myself what's the point of that? If I find a happy medium, that's a good scrap day.

Maybe this one? It's a page I made for Get It Scrapped's new blog article Six Ways to Create More Room For Journaling on Your Scrapbook Pages. I took a story I told for Storytelling Sunday back in 2013 and fitted it onto a 8.5 x 11 background by layering the text, one typed sheet over another, as if I were adding layers of patterned paper. That way I managed to find room for all of the story and here it is:


...our chest of mystery. Everyone here likes to believe that it once belonged to Harry Potter; and that would be because it has his initials H.P. placed on the lid. But it's clear he has no more use for it since it has washed up with us. Truthfully, I wouldn't be trying to grab it if I had to flee from here in a hurry: it's cast iron - I think - and I can't lift it. (Though I guess that means it might survive fire, flood or plague and I could come back for it? ). But I know you want to find out what's inside...

Well, earlier in the year I'd been planning to tell you about its quirkier contents for Halloween...Great Grandpa's false teeth, anyone? Or how about the owner-less glass eye? the locks of baby hair or the Victorian mourning envelopes? there are letters and certificates going back a century or more. The Fair family owned a grocer's shop through the years of the Great Depression; and I could show you the shop ledgers. Tucked inside you'd find letters from customers who were struggling to meet their accounts. It could break your heart, even from this distance. All of these things have their own stories.

But when I started to sift through it all this week, the thing which really spoke to me was a little blue notebook, full of numbers still recognisable as being in my Father-in-Law's hand: "Money Spent Each Term at T.C.D." His college accounts from his years in Dublin at the end of the 1940's. How much he spent on "digs", on a new saddle bag, on train fares and "outside meals": a strange world of gowns and Punch Magazine. You know why this has fascinated me right now, of course. I'll be emailing his namesake, modern day student grandson who has spent the last couple of months wondering how his student loan will stretch and I'll be telling him how lucky he is that he doesn't have to buy his own coal. I think that will give him a smile. And then I'll be tucking that notebook back into the chest, in the hope that another generation will use it as a reminder of what came before. I hope someone else comes across it at exactly the right time. Just as I did. 

Maybe now I've scrapbooked one story from the chest, I'll go back and find another. It's all treasure: the words, the pictures, the pleasure we take from adding the extras. And the finding of the stories, of course. That's the best part.


17 comments:

Patio Postcards said...

What a touching story - so beautifully captured & expressed. Your family is so lucky to have such a treasure chest & the story teller to reveal & release the tales from the chest. A perfect layout to accompany this story.



Miriam said...

A beautiful post Sian and as usual inspires me so much x

Jane said...

so interesting, as always and a beautiful page. I'm with you about the writing, the story is the most important part.

Karen said...

My first scrapbook pages were definitely about the photos and the papers, but I can't imagine doing a PL spread without the words. Mostly though, my words are very utilitarian, while yours are captivating! I'm quite sure I could use a "new voice," but I'm so far behind now, it's likely I'll stick with utilitarian for a while longer.

Maggie said...

Well I suppose somewhere along the line your son will be paying for his coal except it will have been conveniently converted in electricity or gas! So much easier!

Ladkyis said...

Some things require lots of words. Some things need only a picture to tell the whole story. I have been putting old family pictures into albums and putting what I know about each person onto the page. I hope that when my grandchildren look at them it will stir an interest.
These albums also come with me to the family reunions - they certainly get the cousins talking!

Lizzy Hill said...

Grand story.....funny how it still has relevance to today, too:) And adore your ideas for journaling like that. Works a treat. AND I dig that big & little ampersand. So attractive to my eye!!!

Mitra Pratt said...

oh thankgoodness you gave us what you wrote under all those flaps...I was trying to lift it with my mouse from your page and it just wasn't working at all! What a fabulous trunk! And such a lovely page!

Susan said...

Definitely a treasure! And I agree - the pages that have the most meaning to me are the ones with the stories.

Ruth said...

I remember that story first time around and I enjoyed it just as much as the second time.

Ali said...

What a lovely post xx

Louise said...

I saw your layout on IG, so it was good to come here and read the story. Such a treasure to have and to share. It's your stories that prompt me to remember mine.

stephanie said...

What a fabulous idea!

Susanne said...

Love that you managed to get the whole story on the page so beautifully. I love it a little less that I am reminded I need to finish up scrapping all my storytelling blog posts. Now I'm off to check on that GIS post too.

alexandra s.m. said...

What a beautiful story Sian!
Love your layout and I share a similar opinion about what scrapbooking!

Jo said...

That is a great way to add lots of journalling and a lovely tale you've told. I'm about to do a layout that is all about the story rather then the picture and I have a bit of a mental block going on!

alexa said...

The real treasure is also how you tell the stories from,the chest :). Such a delight as always to read your posts ...

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