Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a different (weirder!) kind of travel book

i don't scrapbook, as such. i do make travel books, which mainly consist of souvenirs, brochures and photos collected from a vacation, punched & held together with a bookring. they have a sort of loose handwritten narrative that i work on each night whilst on the trip, mostly it's an outline of what we did each day, plus any funny stories i want to remember, or details i think would come in handy on a return trip. usually i make them myself from chipboard and patterned paper, and until now they have been finite, covering one trip-- from start to finish and then ending. this works for me, and i really enjoy both making and then owning those keepsakes.

but when it came to new york, i was kind of stumped. because, living in central new jersey, i'm lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in the city, and i have an accumulation of cool things i've been collecting for years. ...but... we're talking about day trips, with maybe a few overnights; and the "documentation" is sketchy at best. and you can't make a travel book full of completely random, non-chronological and utterly unrelated junk!!

...ummmmmmmmmmm... who says??!?!

actually, the dictionary definition of a scrapbook is, "a blank book used for the mounting and preserving of pictures, clippings and mementos". DUDE!!! that's totally what i *HAVE*!!! :)

the other thing that's different about this book is that i built it around a ready-made volume. i got this beautiful desk calendar for like $1 at borders in march. i was going to use the abundance of gorgeous b&w new york photos in artwork or... something... but about a month ago it occurred to me that it would make an excellent home for the NYC stuff!

the problem was, sometimes i had loads of "stuff" (tickets, photos, postcards, museum badges, business cards, etc) but no photos. sometimes i had photos--but they're snaps i took b/c they looked cool and don't really relate to anything significant that we did. sometimes i just have stories and nothing at all to go with them.

then i had another problem: if i was using a ready-made book, i'd need to work chronologically, wouldn't i?! b/c i wouldn't be able to go back and add or subtract pages! any my stuff is SCATTERY to say the least! some is from 2 weeks ago, some from years gone by, and i don't necessarily know the dates of ANYTHING.

...but again... why does it have to be in a particular order? up until now everything has been in a couple of hanging files that i'd occasionally take out and flip through. and i still enjoyed taking it out and flipping through it! if i put it all in a book at least i wouldn't have to worry about dropping the file and having stuff go EVERYWHERE, right?! ;)

the more i thought about the idea of making everything into a book... however weird and non-traditional that book might turn out to be... the more excited i was about the idea. so i decided to just WING IT. and i did. and i looooooooooove what i came up with!

when i had things/photos that related to a particular day, i grouped them together and labelled them, and wrote as much or as little as i remembered from that outing. i deliberately spaced these throughout the book, leaving gaps in between, so that if more are found, they can go anywhere at all.

when i didn't have any kind of chronology, i worked thematically. for example, a few years back, my mom asked if i'd take her to see the the xmas spectacular at radio city music hall, which she remembered as a very special treat when she was a girl. that trip spawned other holiday adventures, and now we go every december, to check out the department store windows, have a nice lunch, do some shopping, etc. it's a day we both look forward to each year, and i have loads of stories, but honestly, i could not tell you what happened when, and i don't have many pictures.

whilst i was puzzling what to do, i found some cool radio city images in a guidebook. and some text about the rink at rockefeller center, and the department stores in a brochure. and i did a google image search and found some GORGEOUS photos! in the end the 4-5 pages i put together capture a WHOLE BUNCH memories, and look cool, too.

sometimes i have things that are too big to fit, but i want to save them, anyhow. like the "itinerary" i (ALREADY!) made for this year's xmas trip, with as yet un-visited venues i found while looking for the photos i used above. or the national geographic article my friend kim read, that made her want to go in to the city and walk the disused elevated railway through the meatpacking district, called the highline--one of new york's newest and most inventive city parks! (this turned out to be a WONDERFUL day, which i'll blog about it in more detail later!) in these cases i sewed transparent pockets into the book to hold my "treasures".

i had (& still have) plenty of photos-- either in a natural state or which i have altered--that i adore, but they just don't go with anything. which didn't stop me from wanting them in the book. i arranged a bunch into a grid for my title page (shown several shots above), and i made a "farewell" page at the end. i expect to fill in here and there with more of these shots. at the same time, i'm keeping in all of the beautiful b&w photographs by christopher bliss. afterall, they are what made me want the book in the first place.

i've also got things like old letterman "top ten lists", and a digi LO i made last year, and funny new york cartoons, newspaper clippings, etc. if i like it, and it's "new yorky" it's going in!!! :)

at the very end of this "preliminary session" i made the cover. i very nearly psyched myself out because suddenly, it really MATTERED to me that it should come out well. but by this point i was having soooooo much fun, i don't think i could've made something i didn't love, and i love this:

so what's my point in telling you all this, or i am just showing off?! well, yeah, i am a bit! ;) but also, i think there's maybe a bit of a moral here: sometimes, we make things harder than they need to be. sometimes, we get so fixated on problems that we don't stop and consider possibilities. and SOMETIMES if we just trust our instincts a little bit, forget what everyone else is doing, and work only to please ourselves, things turn out really, REALLY cool! ♥♥♥

ps: many thanks, yet again, to the ineffable bruce mau and his incomplete manifesto; especially point #3!!! (process *IS* more important than outcome!) (definitely!) :)


  1. What a spectacular keepsake...genius to use your $1 steal to house everything...

  2. Okay holy crap this is the coolest thing ever. This by itself might have just jump started my brain back into paper arts. I LOVE this book. I LOVE the idea of how you did it. I want you to send it to me and have me pour through it with my hands. It is so neat. This is especially cool, because if I read it I would use it as a "How to" of New York (because I've never been there eep!~) Yes its true. :( Sad, but true. I miss ya girlie. One of these days I'm going to get my groove back on. I'm thinking it'll be soon. I'm taking law classes again this fall. (long story don't ask) BUT I have the feeling that sitting in a room hearing about Elder law will totally have me drawing and designing new stamp designs in no time flat. haha Talk to you soon!

  3. THUD. Jaw on the floor. This is brilliant. You have captured so many NYC memories (order does not really matter, since many places you re-visit, right?) Bonus: organizing the beautiful photos and ephemera in a single place that does not take up lots of space.

    You should love this; I do!!!

  4. This is just THE COOLEST EVER! Once again showing your GENIUSNESS! WOW!

  5. Ok, I was going a little gaga over the Smash books, but this is a million times better than a Smash book and only $1!!!! Gorgeous!!!

  6. Love it. as always. one thought though, it's so new york. It's totally yours and it's a combination of a million different things. You're truly one of us now. :c)

  7. I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. And you and Bruce are correct - it's about the PROCESS. I am happiest making something I love, and I think that comes through in the resulting project. Your book is YOU, through-and-through, and you will re-live the fun of making it in ADDITION to remembering the experiences every time you look at it.

    And NYC is so random, a random book it perfection. :)


  8. Lauren this post is amazing and I think one of your best ever. I've been reading this post with fresh coffee on hand and it has been fun; spending time at the computer and reading a story that captured my heart. A wonderful source for inspiration and I love the whole idea behind this book. ( I call it a book)
    I love all the bits and pieces and the result is priceless. Such a wonderful keepsake.Stunning... Wow!
    In case you were wondering; yes I love it! :)

  9. Lauren, this is SO amazing, and I am SO jealous! Until (if?)we get settled into the "new" paradigm here at my abode, I have ZERO "me" time, and I really, really miss creating ANYTHING! This is the best idea for a scrapbook EVER! I love that it's not chronological - or even plain old logical - it's BRILLIANT!!! Kudos to you, my friend!

  10. This is definitely a GOOD READ, and you also make me realized that I took my "new york days" for granted, having the opportunity to live there for 8 years, I haven't really take much photos, thinking central park is my back yard and time square is my neighborhood, I hardly feel the need to "document" anything, what a shame!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!! : )

  11. I am in love with this book. I need one. Maybe not for somewhere as exciting as NYC but the places I visit round where I live - fantastic write up, fantastic concept, fantastic. period. Pinning for future inspiration!

  12. Luv the book . . . luv the LOs . . . luv the idea! Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. You have me even more excited about our upcoming trip ... and for finding ways to put my trip memories into a book form ... you are so right ... process is the key (in so many areas of life). Hugs, S

  14. This is so amazing, I've just spent the longest time enlarging each picture and totally loving it!
    I've driven to NYC twice (from over two thousand miles away)and this is just like being there.
    Maybe even better, definitely quieter. You're my non-scrapbooking hero!!

  15. This is terrific ... what a wonderful idea and I too would love to sit and read it ... in years to come it will be even more special to you ... when ladies of a certain age start to get forgetful ... so I'm told ... (ha ha) ... seriously ... this is genius!

  16. Lauren dear, this is the coolest keepsake ever. Love the outcome and I know you must have had so much great fun in creating it. Totally awsome, I love it!

  17. Just when I have grown complacent about the depth of your talent, taking for granted that a visit to you will be fresh and fun and regularly inspiring, you go and show me something that completely blows my mind. This is, by far, the most amazing, incredible, awe inspiring thing you have ever done! Those superlatives don't even come close to describing how you have made me think and imagine....thank you for inspiring me so much. xoxox

  18. LOVE this!!!
    ok now hubby and i need to re take our month long motorcycle honeymoon just so i can make one as we go! lol

    hope you are well, sorry i am still on the MIA list :(

  19. Oh you are definitely a scrapbooker! This is fabulous and very cool, not just because it looks so good but because it reflects you and no-one else. Random is good too!

  20. I so luved your journal book that it inspired me to make a LO of a trip I took to Chicago back in 2007. I posted my LO on my blog with a link back to your journal book. Thanks for the inspiration.


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