Smashbooks: Scrapbooking Is No Longer My Dirty Little Secret

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I feel like the fact that I scrapbook is my dirty little crafty secret. Like somehow I am going to lose my street cred if I am ever caught at a crop. In my sub set of indie crafters who embrace their needles, hooks and pliers, the idea of scrapbooking curls a few pierced noses. Remember what embroidery was before my buddy and fellow Austin Craft Mafia founder Jenny Hart revolutionized it? My spunky neighbor and close friend Vickie Howell helped make knitting cool again. Scrapbooking is awesome; most of the younger, edgier crafters have just has not figured it out, for the most part.

This weekend I attended a Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook event, and it was evident from the crowd that I was not like everybody else. However, I think my genre of crafter does not realize what they are missing. I’m on a one-woman mission to let them know.

Truly, I thought scrapbooking was pretty lame myself until recently. It all started so innocently with my first Smashbook. Smashbooks are geared at crafters with tattoos, the ones who have Etsy stores, the ones who would never dream of setting foot in a store called "Sally’s Scrapbooking Station." I once read that Smashbooks are the anti-scrapbook, and that is kinda true. Don’t think of frilly layouts involving baby pictures and stork stickers. Think dream catchers, illustrations that could double as cover art for your favorite undiscovered band and accouterments to die for, with each themed book starting out kind of empty. Notice how I did not say blank. The pages are filled with prompts, quotes, graphics, pockets and more.

My first class of the day at the Creating Keepsakes event was entitled A Smashing Year With EK Success. The class guided us in building a Smashbook. There is no right or wrong was to fill it -- you can stick your concert tickets to the pages with old chewing gum, and it would work. I have cut, glued, embroidered, fabric-covered and painted pages in my Smashbook, which blew the minds of many of my fellow students. If you are one of those crafters who throws the directions out the window and just goes with your gut, then Smashbooking is going to be your new jam. Gather your fabric scraps, bits of yarn, locks of hair, doodled cocktail napkins and get smashing.

Smashbooking was the gateway drug into harder stuff for me. Once I started actually setting foot into scrapbook stores, I discovered other designers and brands like Amy Tangerine, Basic Grey, Studio Calico, Crate Paper, Glitz Design, Dear Lizzy and more. Hipness had long ago arrived to the world of scrapbooking: I apparently was the one that was not hip enough to realize it. I discovered prints that I would kill to wallpaper a room in, stickers that made me giddy like I was sixth grade all over again, and the inspiration to branch out of my comfort zone and try new things, like mixed media.

In my Mixed Media Mash-Up class, I not only learned new techniques, I walked away with a scrapbook page I was really proud of. In this class, we used India Ink, gesso, pieces of burlap, gelatos, sewing patterns, stencils, spray mists, modeling paste, watercolor pencils and more. The point is that you can make your own paper as well as buy it. It is easy to run out to the craft store and buy a complete kit with all the matching pieces, but it is more fun to create your own from scratch. I came home from class and ran right out to buy my own gelatos to try my hand at more.

I found a new world where art journaling meets Anthropology meets unleashed collaging meets Urban Outfitters meets flea market chic. I was looking for a creative and entertaining way to preserve my kids' memories and photos; instead, I found my new craft addiction. Come to the scrapbooking dark side. I promise you will never want to leave.

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