For the love of the single photo layout and all that is holy and right

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking64 Comments


When I started scrapbooking, I never set out to create a comprehensive and chronological record of my life, and of those with whom I share the overall family experience. I didn’t know there were codes of conduct as far as the hobby went—generally accepted paradigms, if you will—to the ways and means of working with Hermafix and patterned papers.

All I knew was that I had some photos that I thought were righteously good and kicked general ass, I had good words to go with ‘em, and mad computer skillz to make those words look any way I chose. That’s how it all started for me.

It’s a bit like a new relationship, when you first start scrapbooking. Those trips to the scrapbook store, and the feel of adhesives, and punches, and cardstock. When you first get the bug and it begins replicating, the effect is nothing short of giddy intoxication. I found it hard to believe I could have THAT much fun putting pictures on pieces of paper.

Add to that the emergence of internet communities, and ways to instantly find a collective of individuals that shared your passion, and BOOM! You are hooked, line and sinker.

Eventually you settle in and enter the relationship phase of your hobbyist experience. The novelty and some of the magic inevitably fades with time. But following that sweet crush, if you and the hobby are meant to be, you hopefully settle into a deep and loving relationship that endures the test of trends and time.

Sometimes I feel nostalgic where scrapbooking is concerned. As if I’ve really earned that right—to wax philosophic ‘bout ‘dem good ol’ days. I mean come on… I’ve only been scrapbooking since 2001. That hardly qualifies me as an old timer. Yet I really do remember the giddiness of finally figuring out that I could do a hobby and still maintain my personal sense of design integrity and overall coolness factor. The novelty of it all can still be recalled, and the freshness of it rings so sweetly in my memory. And when you reach the point where you see trends come and pass, and even come back for a second round, well… that’s when all of  a sudden you do realize you’ve been around the block more than one time.

I’m really not trying to write a chapter for my next Harlequin romance novel here, with all these unimaginative metaphors and what not… but last night, I followed my old process—the way I did it back in the day: find a photo and products that makes me happy, and make a simple page. Knowing it was just for Cole’s album and not destined to end up trying to make a design point on the pages of Simple made it easier to just do what felt right and enjoy the process. And knowing that when it was done, it had a place to go. And, having that split second where you look at it and ask yourself: “Is it stupid? or good?” and then (deciding it was good enough)… putting it away and being done.

Sigh. Maybe I’m kidding myself. Maybe I really AM an old scrapbooking codger at this point in my hobby life. Going on and on about, “In my day…we used to use Twistel in creative ways and WE LIKED IT!” Whatever the case, here’s to you and whatever got you started on the old Memory Documentation Highway.


Cathy ZielskeFor the love of the single photo layout and all that is holy and right

64 Comments on “For the love of the single photo layout and all that is holy and right”

  1. #1
    Julie Mitchell from Canada

    I still have Twistle. I hear what your saying. It’s always really nice to make a layout just for the heck of it and not for publications. It’s mostly for your son who will be able to see what he looked like on his 7th birthday.
    Love the colours, they are very Rouge de Garanceish.

  2. #2
    Karen Severeide

    Hi Cathy, I am such a huge fan of your work as well as your humor. I have been searching high and low looking for an opportunity to join one of your classes… I do see that you teach for BPS – do you teach at any scrapbooking functions? Thanks, Karen

  3. #4

    I’m glad you had fun again last night scrapping! I told my friend the other day that I hated that you weren’t feeling the joy of scrapping right now. I’m glad you got it back for the night. Your work is so good, but the most important thing is that it is meaning ful to you! Oh, and I remember when Twistel was cool (or so I thought!)

  4. #5

    okay. seriously mrs. cz?? (can i call you that even though i’ve never met you or left a comment on your blog before…can i call you that??). i must tell you. YAY FOR YOU. yay for you for picking up those darned scrapbooking tools again & getting down & dirty with the glue & cutting utensils. yay for you for INSPIRING other people……and speaking of romance novels, i pulled out your books this last weekend (which, i might add, are the ONLY TWO bound scrapbooking books i own) and it really was LOVE. the simple, streamlined look of STORIES & PHOTOS & PLAIN PAPER. screw the 7 pound embellishments and rainbow of colors and yards of ribbon and bottles of sparkles and bouquets of chinese roses on each page. lets get back to the basics. we are here to tell a story. AND THAT IS WHAT YOU DO…and you do it SO.FREAKING.WELL. so that is all. YAY FOR YOU. 🙂 keep up the scrapbooking magic.

  5. #8
    Jody Ferlaak

    So here’s to you, then, CZ. YOU got me hooked on scrapbooking. In your class at Scrap ETC. in Alabama when I was wondering what made ‘people like you tick’. Your passion, your sense of humor, your really great design, coupled with your ability to still make it all appear cool did it. It’s not really about the pages so much- or the memories or pictures, but about the relationships I’ve made and the way I’ve been able to share parts of myself- my story and have it understood by others- is the best part of scrapping to me. That and the really great products. =) Here’s to you.

  6. #10
    Sara R.

    You crack me up! I hope I’ll be as witty one day. Congrats on getting to scrap just for you and enjoying!

  7. #12

    Well put. You have inspired so many scrapbookers and continue to do so everyday. I am glad to see you able to do it just for yourself still.

  8. #14

    “Eventually you settle in and enter the relationship phase of your hobbyist experience. The novelty and some of the magic inevitably fades with time. But following that sweet crush, if you and the hobby are meant to be, you hopefully settle into a deep and loving relationship that endures the test of trends and time.”

    Amen Cathy, amen! 🙂

  9. #15

    Forever and ever, amen … Are you awesome, or what?! Not only can you say “amen” & “scrapbooking” in the same phrase, even your title reminds me of one of the best Ben Folds Five songs ever (amen).

    Thanks for making me laugh. And scrapbook all simple-like. 🙂

  10. #16
    Melanie aka ScrapMel

    I sometimes feel like an old timer … but I have only done this since ’04. I have been from paper to digital to now mixed media and hybrid. I love it all.
    And I want to make ART and I want it to be for my FAMILY and sometimes, I don’t know if the both can be achieved in the same layouts…. But lately my oldest has been pulling out his album and when I see some of what I did before really ‘learning the proper way to scrap’ – well, I love it. I do. Fresh, clean with just enough embellies to compliment my feelings and photos.
    anyway, cheers to you for getting your scrapping mojo back on!

  11. #19

    Bravo!! Well said. I wholeheartedly agree. Tho I’ve only been published once, I sometimes feel like I “might” send in a layout for publication, so it had better be perfect! I gotta get out of that mindset. That’s what’s holding me back creatively, I think.

  12. #21

    Kudos to you! Amen to everything you said. And, I’m the old timer — been scrapping since about 1997! YIKES!!! I look back at the old scrapbooks and all those stickers and those pictures cut out with the lovely decorative scissors and think….What the heck was I thinking!! LOL. Let’s stand up and applaud the “simple” way. Love the layout.


  13. #23

    Umm, Cathy…finding a photo and products that make you happy, making a simple page, doing what feels right for you and enjoying the process are what SIMPLE scrapbooking is all about. Remember Ali’s words “It is OKAY”. That’s my mantra whenever I’m scrapping. There are no scrapbook police! Don’t worry about trying to make a design point…just have good simple fun! Hope you do alot more pages like this one – it looks great!

  14. #24

    Shut the Front Door!!!! I can’t believe you pulled out the products. So cute, you’ve got to keep inspiring us with your work and your hilarious writing. What a fun find for today…..thanks, I love it.

  15. #25

    I so enjoyed reading this piece! It has ME written all over it. although I’ve never been published (and have no real desire to be), I found myself not enjoying my HOBBY. I would get caught up in the latest and greatest. Finally, I realized that it’s not about the product you start with. It’s about the product you end up creating. The last several layouts I have completed have all been done with supplies and papers that I already have in my stash. And I love them! That’s not to say that I don’t covet some of the new stuff coming out. But I found that I can create just as good of layout with the old standby products that I have as I can purchasing the latest and greatest. And I have rediscovered the love of my hobby!
    Thanks for sharing!

  16. #27
    Kelly C.

    I’ve been a big fan of yours for a long time! Found today’s post just lovely and so reflective…not to mention, I totally get where you’re coming from!
    Love the LO!

  17. #28
    Avital Gertner-Samet

    Not only is it good enough but it’s PERFECT.

    Additionally I wanted to tell you that your description matches the way I was hooked on it, word to word. It was as if you have found your way inside my heart and wrote down what was in it.

  18. #29
    Sherri P eh

    Isn’t scrapbooking for yourself, putting together a page just for you, well, doesn’t it just rock?! I do so little of that these days too, and I miss just sitting down and doing what I want and using what I want, how I want
    You said it for a whole lot of us out there! And it’s a fabulous page!!
    Your work inspires and your words are so entertaining and thought provoking! I envy both!

  19. #30

    It’s about *bleep* time! It made me really, really happy to see my favorite designer posting a totally cool, totally simple, totally awesome layout again. I have missed this! Thanks, CZ; that made me happy.

  20. #31
    Tinka Rote

    I started scrapbooking in early 1996, so I guess I qualify as an old-timer. It’s been interesting seeing how scrapbooking has changed over the years, how much stays the same and what trends from the past are enjoying a re-birth. I actually found myself at a crop the other night wishing I had my decorative edge scissors with me, LOL! One of my goals for 2008 was to use up more of the products I already own (although I haven’t stopped buying!) so I’ve been putting together layouts with no pictures and my productivity has increased quite a bit. I figure with the thousands of photos I already have, I’ll eventually find some that fit/work with the pages I’ve made, lol!

  21. #33

    I totally forgot all about Twistel! I think I had it in every color. Love the layout…super cute!

  22. #36

    I love Twistel and can’t stand that it’s no longer trendy. Does that make me a codger? Hells, yeah. And what got me started on the hobby? Corner rounders and an excuse to go buy all the cool stuff at the LSS. And how star-struck am I to be posting a comment right under my idol, Tara Whitney? I’m all atwitter.

  23. #38

    Cathy – I remember you from your early days at 2Peas – CZDesign, I do believe! I’ve enjoyed your layouts forever. This post was fabulous – I can totally relate! Although I’ve moved on to digi from my original paper, I remember the rush of the early shopping, the ‘relationship’ part of the hobby, etc. A very fun read!! Thanks for sharing this!

  24. #39

    I read your books over and over-because it really is what it’s all about. The picture, the story, and some good design; this layout will look good 50 years from now. Of course, I have to admit you do have it over most of us because you take some “expletive deleted” good pictures.
    I just wonderfully bizarre-maybe sick idea-let’s have a challenge to scrap “ole gregg”!

  25. #41
    kristine cline

    I remember twistel…too funny…
    …I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts…right on! Thanks for sharing your “real life” scrapping!
    From another Washington girl,

  26. #42
    Kim Pitcher

    Nice to hear you were able to bring yourself to scrap again. I think scrapping is much better when there’s no performance pressure.

    I had to chuckle when you likened it to romance. It really was like that for me. Mine has dwindled as well. I’m much more settled now. I don’t scarp as often and when I do I don’t get the same feeling as I did. Good news is I can do a LO in a day (or less) now and not in a week…well, most times anyway. lol

    I still enjoy it it but it’s a whole different feeling, one of comfort rather than excitmnent. Luckily, my relationship with DH is sparking excitement once again even though we’re in our 20 something year since we first started dating (high school sweethearts).

    I really like your LO Cathy, but not just because it looks nice (because it does), I like what it meant to you.

    Three Cheers!
    Happy Living,
    Happy Loving,
    Happy Scrapping!

  27. #44

    And WE LIKED IT… gosh, cannot tell you how many times Mike and I quote that in our house. Gotta love a good Dana Carvey reference. (Do you remember “Chopping broccoli”?)

    Nice post, my friend. I walked uphill to school and home again (also uphill) in 25 feet of snow while I read it. Ha! But seriously, I think when we scrap ’cause we want to (sung to the tune of “Safety Dance”) and not because we have to, it’s so much more fulfilling and yummy. And it’s good. Forever and ever amen.

  28. #46

    Wow — nostalgia is in the water or something. This is so weird, Cathy, because I was just thinking earlier today about “the old days” — back when there was a little message board forum called SBA — remember? And Miss Picky and others used to post “reviews” of magazines, as if we had any say in where the industry would go. We just knew what we liked. And I remember the first time I saw your work on the cover of SS, and it was such an immediate and profound change of direction from “cute” to “elegant”…

    Well, dang, look where you landed! But why did you have to bring up Twistel? That stuff was rank from the very first time someone said, “You have to untwist it…” 😉

  29. #47

    Awesome LO. Oldtimer, newcomer, whatever you want to call yourself, here’s another word that fits you to a t: inspiring.
    TFS! 😀

  30. #51

    I still have Clean & Simple Scrapbooking. Thank you for sharing your pages (talent)over the years. -Kathleen

  31. #52

    I couldn’t agree more. I know this is close to blasphemy but I got off the “newest, bestest, shop-til-you-drop and endlessly reorganize my stash” bandwagon when I realized I was spending more time categorizing product than creating pages.

    I too have found myself revisiting my beloved C&S and C&SII. I also found – gasp – that when I revisted my early CM albums they (shhh…) weren’t that bad. In fact, I’ll take clean, simple photos and the story (albeit cut in a whole lotta circles!) over seventeen pounds of product and a giant floppy flower on every page.

    Or, as we say when we look at some pages from a few years ago: I cringe to see those pages I did with the product and the “meaningful phrase.” My DD is someday going to see the close up of half her nostril and left eye with “Believe” spelled out in glittery rub-ons across her forehead and say “Believe what? That you had no da@# sense?” 🙂

  32. #53

    Your blog is my favorite! My dtr. is a senior in HS and is interested in graphic design/magazine work. We have tried to research about entry level jobs with a BA but it seems like a lot of free-lance work. Is there anyway you might share with me your insight into the field. The only job posting we could find that listed salary was a full-time position for a magazine in NYC for high $30’s ouch! That could work in the midwest, but I can’t imagine living on that in NYC.

  33. #58

    I am thrilled that you found the joy last night. Your post was awesome as well….as usual. 🙂

  34. #59

    just threw up a little when you mentioned Twistel.
    Cool layout!
    I still love scrapping, I’m just not ‘in love’ with it right now.;0
    But I still have a crush

  35. #60
    Jess S

    Love the layout…it is great to see your awesome work. I have been reading Sequel to clean and simple–great–your design principles rock!Jess

  36. #63

    You were the one to bring me back to the fold…who helped me fall for scrappin’ again, because now I knew WHY it was cool. Thanks.

    And you are such a tease. That layout is brilliant, and I’m already planning my lift of it. However, the blurry guitar one? Looks awesome! and the hints of goodness in the background? You’ve gotta share more of your work. Yes, I know you’ve shared tons in your books and mag-articles…but we CZ fans need more!!!

  37. #64
    emily ruth

    lovely lovely …it is so nice when you get to amke a page just for you…no worries no cares as to if anyone else will find it scrapworthy (similar to spongeworthy)… maybe your novel could be called ‘passion between the pages’ or ‘paper lust’…i smell a third best seller…:)

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