Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Storage Binder Happiness!

So we are on Break Week in my Library of Memories class. We still got some wonderful resources from Stacy Julian, but no new "assignments."

Which is good because last week... STORAGE BINDERS ARRIVED!

When I read Photo Freedom I had been unemployed for months. I set up my LOM with what I could afford. Stacy features her own Storage Binders in the book Photo Freedom -- these beautiful leather 3-ring albums from Pioneer.

Well. These photo albums are about $14-16. Each. And most people have up to 15. There is no way I am going to afford that! Additionally, Stacy gets her albums from Costco. I am not a member of Costco; nor have I noticed one around here anywhere.

I wanted an album I could afford to buy as needed, and one I could get at 9:00 pm when the mood struck me to start filling that album. I went to WalMart (a place I loathe with a passion, but it always seems they have just what I need when other stores don't) and they had 3-ring, 3-up photo albums in navy and burgundy with gold accents, for $4.97 each. I started with 2 and moved on from there.

Those albums are ok. They are cheap, is what it is. I have heard many LOMers warn against them as a waste of money. Here is the thing -- these might be photo albums, but we do not use them as photo albums. We use them as working files for materials in progress. When I put my standard 4 x 6" prints in each of the 3 slots and leave them there, these albums work fine. But in LOM, one is constantly, and I mean constantly, moving around photos and pages. This is why the 3-ring binding is so vital. Photos get put into binders, Photos are taken out for scrapbooking, for triage into Category Drawers, even for tossing into the trash. Then remaining photos are consolidated. Pages are taken out and moved around. A lot. And the photos are also consolidated by "stacking" -- putting 4-6 very similar prints in the same photo sleeve to make room for more prints.

The plastic of the sleeves in the cheap WalMart albums is so very thin. It is very much like food packaging plastic designed for ease of ripping open. If one is careful, and is only moving around standard 4 x 6 prints, and is not stacking too much, the pages will be ok for a little while. But LOM is a workflow intended for years and years. Photos will sit in the binders for years. Binders will be flipped through quickly, and much more often than a typical photo album is looked through by a typical person or family. The 3-rings are popped open again and again. If they don't meet perfectly, pages will rip. If pages are flipped too quickly, they rip.

And then when I tried sticking into one of these binders my precious family photos from the 1930s to 1980s -- the photos that are wallet sized and square, and 3 x 5" and identification papers sized.... Then I really had problems. The photos were too small. They "floated" in the slips. They would cling to the plastic if I tried to fish them out, and the slips would rip. The pages and plastic would rip at the holes if I fussed with the pages too much. The photos were hard to get out -- unless I wanted them to stay in there. Then they could easily fall out the open sides and be lost.

Through the LOM Fans email list, I heard these warnings, and yes, I listened, but you do what you can with what you can get. I learned that one does not have to be a member of Costco to order from their website. Still not buying those expensive Pioneer albums. Nope. I learned they charge a small surcharge to nonmembers. Still not going there. Nope. I learned that the albums were sold in packs of 2 and came out to about $11 each. Nope.

Then I learned that... if someone goes to all the area WalMarts and buys the 1 or 2 albums they have on the shelf for $4.97... if there are other styles of album there available for purchase (like larger albums for $8.97 or 2 up versions or non-3-ring versions) from the same company) then WalMart will not be too quick to restock the $4.97 albums that I have already bought from that store. And I would find myself going to 3 or 4 WalMarts trying ot find anothe rbinder, with no success.

Yeah, that's not what I had in mind.

Then I learned from the list that shipping is free if I buy these albums online from Costco.com. FREE. The shipping costs are why I avoid buying things online. The markup is too great. But FREE shipping?

Then I had a bit of extra money, so I decided to give it a try. I went online. I ordered. I paid my surcharge as a non member. It was $1.00. No shipping. I paid -- I think -- about $22.00 total for 2 leather photo albums. I figured... I can swing that once. $11.00 isn't the cheapest album I've ever bought, but it's not astronomical either.

I waited a bit over a week for UPS to deliver (and had to go pick them up anyway UGH).

Took them home.

Oh. My. Heck.

The difference... the difference is night and day. Instead of cheap cardboard, I have thick, glossy leather. Instead of rings that catch and sometimes don't snap closed all the way and might not meet, causing pages to rip, I have solid, D-ring, tight rings that snap open and shut easily.

The biggest difference in the insert pages. Instead of slips open at both sides, these pages have sections which are only accessible from the center. Thus, even if you carry this album sideways, those small photos are not falling out. I was wondering how one could get vertical photos into a photo album like this along with horizontal photos. Well, instead of the glue that creates the 3 "slips" going all the way across the plastic, it only goes in about 1.5" from the outside edge. You can lift up the entire sheet of plastic, pretty much, and easily take photos in and out, with much less concern for ripping the plastic.

I didn't have time that night to do much, but over the weekend I went to work!

The same night I went to pick up my box at UPS I also stopped at Archiver's to replenish my Undo. I was determined to get the last of the stubborn photos out of the magnetic albums my grandparents had purchased in the 1950s and throw those out. As I was working on this, at some point I realized I was missing pictures I knew I'd had. I went on a prowl around th ehouse and found -- a whole 'nother photo box of old family photos I had tried and failed to organize by ...are you ready? Categories.

I cleaned off my coffee table. I started sorting through photos and stacking them by decade. I then sorted those by year as much as possible. I started with 1938 and began slipping them into the binders. I confess, at first I was dismayed that the seam didn't go all the way across, since I have so many small photos. But! They tuck right into the corners just fine.

As I was tucking photos in, I worried, how will I remember which ones of these I need to scan? How will I remember which ones I have to ask someone to translate (many have writing on the back in Polish or German)? How will I remember which ones I can't figure out at all so I can ask my mother for information?

I decided to use Post-It page flags to help me remember. I bought a package and since there were 2 different colors of hot pink, I used those to flag pages I was sure I still needed to scan. There were fewer yellow and green ones. I flagged the photos that needed translating with yellow. I put a post-it note inside the slip of those photos, so when I need ot write down the translation, I'll have somewhere to put it. I flagged photos that I truly had no way of deciphering with green flags.

Of course, eventually I ran out of page flags and I had many photos left. Well. As part of the LOM curriculum we all received a package of super cute page flags in the mail before class began. The flags were colored with Stacy's LOM system -- pink flgas labelled "People", green flags label ed "Things." We were to use these on an exercise with our completed layouts. Since I only had one album half full, I used very few of these page flags. I had plenty left, in the right colors, so I put those to use as well!

I found that the albums are great for combining 5 x 7 portraits with wallet sized photos as well!

First Communion -- my mother and one of my uncles, in the 1950s

I was so pleased, I even integrated family memorabilia into these binders!

passports from the International Refugee Organization for my grandparents and an uncle -- 1950

And cool other things -- like the mini albums that prints used to come in, in the 1950s. Many of my grandparents' photos were still in these. No idea if I will use them but they are far too cool to toss like trash.

Before Sunday, this album had a lot of yellow flags. One evening with my closest friend, who reads Polish, and most yellow flags were removed and tossed. The album is now full of post it notes with the Polish texts translated. Tonight I am at school. I did some homework, but I also brought my Storage Binder with me (just one). I have been taking out photos with pink flags and scanning them, then returning them neatly to their places and stripping off the pink flags.

Instead of a never ending and overwhelming project, as the colored flags disappear I can see my progress!

The 2nd binder is at home, and photos from the 1960s are in it. Photos from the 1970s will go in next. Since that is my own childhood, most are scanned and I even reprinted many of them to use in my own creative projects (so I don't have to worry about preserving the original). New prints will be "stacked" in the same slip with the original print.

When I want to scrapbook but don;t feel too creative, I can do my "fake scrapbooking." This is where I group these older photos by date, tack them up on 8.5 x 11" cardstock using photo corners, add a typewritten caption, put on a few stickers or older, flat accents just to decorate, use up my older stash of paper scraps, use quotes from Quote Stacks or quote stickers as journaling, put into a standard 8 x 11 page protector, and return it to my mother after having color copies made for myself and my siblings. This preserves and organizes muy mother's original photos.

When I feel more inspired, I can take the prints I've had made and make mini albums or combine them on LOM Connections pages, tell my own stories, crop and glue them all I want.

I guess you have to be a total organizing dork like me ot comprehend how happy this makes me. This weight has been on me for years. The old family photos. All in disarray. Stuck in those old ugly albums (by the way, I did cut a large piece of the ugly album cover off to keep and use on a page someday - when I see a giant purple flower print it makes me think of childhood photos) in random order with no information at all. Some inspire me and some puzzle me. Stories that could not be told because I couldn't get a handle on this stash. Meanwhile my family members die off one by one, taking the stories and information with them.

I don;t know if I need 15 of these -- but I am glad I bought the 2 I did!!!


CindeeQ said...

Yes!!! I completely understand. What an accomplishment... Love that something so little like an album can bring so much joy!

F. said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with LOM. I have the books (Photo Freedom and Big Picture), but somehow I got confused when I read the Photo Freedom book.

I am a digital scrapbooker, and I have all my printed photos from the past organized in albums already (chronocially).

I use ACDsee to organize all of my digital scrapbook supplies, and now I want to use the LOM system in a digital way. I really have no clue how to do so, but to read your experiences with the system has made me wanting to read the book again and to find out how I can use it in a digital way.

I am someone who likes to organize and who also thinks that it is very important to write down memories. I use 'The Journal' software from David Michael in order to keep all my journaling together.

But it is time to start creating some albums together; even if it will only be digital ones (like a slide show on the computer).

Good luck with your study, your work and your scrapbooking!

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Meadow Walk said...

Hi F! There is someone in the class and on the LOM list on yahoo who is doing this all digitally and who has a blag where she writes about it. I am not sure who it is off the top of my head. but I know if you search for LOM threads on 2peas she does post on some of them.

Off the top of my head, I would say the important thing is the LOM is a "flow" based system and the inspiration comes from the flow of pictures.

I would suggest that digitally you need to sort your photos 2 ways. One way is like Storage Bonders, where you create "highlight" folders (as Stacy calls them) of photos you definitely want to scrapbook, in chronological order. These are where you go to create event-based scrapbook projects. As you "scrapbook" these photos, you remove them from that area. This could be accomplished with folders or tags.

The 2nd way is to create digital Category Drawers where photos are stored topically. This is a much smaller selection from your larger photo collection. You can do triage from your Storage Binder area into your Category area, for instance.

I think I will do a bigger post on the concept of "flow" bc although the book does talk about flow, it is not emphasized as much as it needs to be IMO. A lot of the area where people get stuck is that they do not understand the relationship between Flow and Inspiration, and LOM is an Inspiration-based scrapbooking system.