I began to rip up magazines and stick them into blank notebooks when my mum made me chuck out two years’ worth of ELLE magazines when I was 16. All 24 issues were stacked downstairs in my conservatory and remained virtually untouched after they’d been read once, save for the occasional rainy Sunday afternoon. They were so pristine, so thick, so full of fucking adverts that I couldn’t bear to give them up. Fast forward a few arguments, and I eventually gave in to The One Who Gave Me Life – but not before ripping out all of my favourite pages. I then discovered one of the small joys in life: Turning something really high-quality into something really funny and a bit shit by ripping things up and rearranging them.
I enjoy scrapbooking so much because it works better the less you think about it. I’ve kept up the practice of it for years because it helps me de-stress, with the added bonus of having created something at the end.
Writing doesn’t quite have the same effect. Writing is lots of thinking about things that exist inside your head; editing your writing is all about shaping your work until it’s as perfect as it can possibly be. Scrapbooking gives me a chance to work with images from old magazines and use my hands, to create something to no brief, that’s allowed to be a bit terrible. It doesn’t work if I overthink it – the end result always looks like I tried too hard.
I’m usually happiest with the final page when I have a vague-ish plan to glue things down a certain way, and then accidentally rip the paper in the wrong place, or flip the paper over at the last second to reveal a completely different image. This always seems to work better, as it mirrors what the process of scrapbooking is like for me: messy, fast, thoughtless and unpredictable. How fitting that the techniques behind my favourite hobby share the same traits as my decision-making process!
It’s also something that takes place off the internet, giving my brain some space from cyberspace (forgive me, I’m writing this past midnight). I know this seems pretty hypocritical as I’ve digitalised the pages below, but I’m talking about the process of it. It’s satisfying to press down hard on paper with a dried-out glue stick, hear the sound of stuff ripping, rearrange things without having to drag and drop. And I’m usually quite pleased with the final results, so I’m sharing them with you here. Here’s to us, you scrappy lot!
This isn’t my best one, but I like the photo of the rose I found in a ‘how to do photography’ book from the ’70s. Just now, I took a photo of some daffodils in my bedroom by pointing my iPhone towards them and holding my finger down on it, enabling the AF Lock thing. But luckily for me, things were way more complicated 40 years ago, leaving me with books they give away for free at charity shops filled with scrapbook-worthy material.
These are some courgettes on top of an old iron bridge. The courgettes are from a Good Housekeeping spin-off book from 1981 called ‘Microwave Cooking Made Easy’.
Sliced Battenberg; scented cutting from an old Nat Geo feature about the origin of ingredients for best-selling fragrances in 1979; delicious-looking orange juice.
Again, clearly another quick-fire job, probably when I was desperate to rationalise my thoughts when deciding if I should go and meet that weird guy from Tinder again, feat. the Quiet Beatle, Movieland feature about Audrey Hepburn (circa 1950s), Le Moulin de la Galette postcard by Renoir (although the postcard is a replica).
I love this one, but it’s nothing to do with me – just what a photo. I felt compelled to paste something ugly over this, but my gut stopped me. Everything about the above photo’s composition is to die for. My, GOD. Feel free to pinch for your lock screens, people.
Something about the ’40s/’90s mash-up in that 1991 ad for Intel processors that is peak-perfect nostalgia levels.