Stuff I Learned Last Week:
Strange Summer

on Design

On the day of the quail, when I was sitting out in the grass watching them, my neighbor and her son, who is a little bit older than Kaleb, came over to see what I was doing and to show me something: a tiny garter snake. This is one of the components of summer in our neighborhood, the random discoveries of snakes. It took me by surprise when we first moved here, as I had never in my life found a snake in a suburban yard. I think they're here because our area used to be an orchard and I imagine it's in the snakes' collective memory, living here, even though most of the trees and the long orchard grasses are gone. (Our apple tree is one of the left-overs from the orchard, which makes me love it so much more than if I had planted it myself.) Plus, several of the older neighbors still own their water rights, so every three weeks or so their yards (and for a few, their fields) are flooded. The yards that border the water-turn yards always have snakes.

We've only found a snake in our yard once or twice, but there are still plenty to go around. The kids hold them and play with them and then let them go in the field down the street.

As my neighbor and I watched the quail and talked about snakes (she doesn't like them, I'm not bothered by them, but we both agree it's a pretty cool thing for the kids), I was making a strange sort of connection in my mind, because just that afternoon I'd been working on a layout about the garter snakes in our neighborhood:

Snakes are not scary Amy Sorensen

I made it for my Write post, which I write most months for Write. Click. Scrapbook. Its design is based on the same one I used for my WCS gallery layout this month:

A sorensen roly polies

The gallery's focus is on go-to design, the approach or layout or technique you tend to use most comfortably. It is one of my favorite galleries, because I learned so many new things and found so many new ideas.

The design aspect I wrote about is this layout scheme, with three 4x6 photos spread across the width of a 12x12 layout, journaling on the bottom and title on the top. I still remember the first layout I made with this design, one about Haley in kindergarten. I've been using it for a long time.

These are some of the only-a-handful of layouts I've made this summer. It's been so busy! My scrapbooking desk is piled high with supplies that need to be sorted out and put away, but it's also dusty. I feel a sort of shift in my relationship with scrapbooking happening, especially lately as the new supplies have started to appear. I'm starting to question my relevance in the industry, as the current look, which is beautiful but very supply-focused, is so not my design approach. I've always been about the story more than the supply.

At any rate, all of this talk of design and connections has left me quoting Robert Frost in my head, even though it doesn't truly apply:

What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.

(Learning about that poem is one of my earliest school memories, though why we read it in second grade is baffling. Or maybe explains a lot about my psyche.)

Like the spider, the moth, the white flower, only with less menace, the layout, the snakes, the connections make me think that design is more a part of things than I realize. 



I hope you stay involved in scrapbooking. I love your style and really love that it is less about the stuff and more about the story. I know you inspire more people than you realize.


I don't mean to presume that I know you in any way, but your statement that you and your style may not be too relevant to scrapbooking any longer caused me to pause. It's always about the story. The pictures help tell it and the baubles make it more visually interesting, but it's the story, long or short, that makes scrapbooking important. The story gives context to the photos, and heart to the images. It is the story that is missing from so many photos that were taken long ago of people who are long ago gone, and it is that story that we will never know. The story is why I scrapbook. I hope to leave behind a legacy to those unknown people who might find it, or a guide book to my daughter in a dark time. Sure, the techniques and the adornments may change, but the stories are always relevant to those that they are meant for, so your scrapbooking will always be important, regardless of what the industry does.


I, too, love that your scrapbooking is all about the story behind the photos.

We have two giant snakes in our back yard at the moment, near the creek, and it is making me nervous (because I don't know what kind of snake and what if one of the boys get bitten - like my curious middle son who has to be right in the middle of the action and thinks nothing bad will ever happen). I'll go back to just simple garter snakes, thank you!

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