Thursday, November 26, 2009

DST Feature: Modern Memory Keeping with Ali Edwards

Editor's Note: The following articles were previously published in the Nov. 2009 issue of DST Insider, a publication of

Mother, photographer, wife, blogger, teacher. Ali Edwards juggles a lot of titles as she moves about life each day. Since 2002, Edwards has worn the title “scrapbooker.”

For her, scrapbooking is more than a crafty hobby, it is a way to focus on two things she loves: documenting and celebrating life’s various ups and downs.

“I want to capture the little and big details of our lives,” Edwards said. “I want to tell the stories that really matter. I want to enjoy the process.”

She does this by recording an overall picture of her family, which includes the silliness, blessings, challenges, celebrations and especially their “everyday lives.”

“I hope that I am telling the stories that will really be meaningful down the road,” Edwards explained.

Edwards’ current passion involves getting “back to the basics” of scrapbooking, focusing on photos and words, as well as encouraging people to tell their stories.

“There is magic that happens when a photo is accompanied with your own personal perspective on the photo, event and memory,” Edwards said.

In 2008, Edwards added to her traditional scrapbooking stash when she began to design her own line of digital elements and papers.

“I use a lot of word art and journaling frames for my paper layouts which are printed on cardstock,” Edwards
explained. “I also like to add text and frames to my photos before printing.”

She also likes to incorporate full-page overlay outlines into her designs, because she likes the structure the grids provide in terms of creating homes for elements.

Rather than pick one method or another to create her layouts, Edwards has merged paper and digital into a
hybrid style all her own.

“I like them both equally because they help me tell my story,” she explained. “I like traditional because I like the feel of the paper and the products in my hands. I like digital because I like the precise control over the elements.

“It’s interesting because I am one of those people that loves a vintage modern look. In many ways working with paper is more “vintage” simply because it is created by hand (what I love about vintage is the worn/used/recycled nature) and working with a computer is more modern.What I love best is combining the two; both in how I decorate my home and in how I tell our stories.”

Edwards said there are many benefits to mixing the two scrapbooking mediums.

“The benefit for me is that I have options when I am telling stories,” she said. “Sometimes paper fits better
and other times digital is just right for the project. Combining them both together is what I enjoy most.”

Regardless of method, Edwards said the most important thing a scrapbooker can do is to record family memories.

“I think memory keeping in 2009 offers so many opportunities to take advantage of all the digital tools at our fingertips,” she said. “At the same time all those digital tools can easily overwhelm and make things way more
complicated than they need to be.

“My focus is to simplify the process and to use those tools (computer, camera, etc.) to my advantage to actually get the meaningful stories of our family told.”

Edwards said scrapbooking continues to evolve to reflect the age in which the hobbyist lives.

“The recounting of stories is a huge part of how our history is passed down,” she said. “What I love to see is people including more of their stories in with their ephemera vs. traditional scrapbooks where it was more ephemera, ticket stubs, photos, etc., but very few words to complete the stories.”\

Want to learn more about Edwards and her scrapbooking style? You can see samples of her layouts, descriptions of upcoming classes at Big Picture Scrapbooking, and find links to her digital products on her blog:

Sidebar: Recording the December Holidays, Day by Day
While many scrapbookers focus on “large” projects, Ali Edwards often creates mini scrapbooks, which focus on specific events or holidays.

For the past few years, Edwards has captured the Christmas holidays with a “Daily December” project.

“I am a big fan of the holiday season,” she said. “I decided to document the season by chronicling the month of December in a minibook (I do December 1 through the 25) and it has become one of my favorite projects.”

Edwards said the key to the project is to create the “bones” of the album in advance.

“Before December I take some time to choose an album and create the base-framework for the album,” she explained. “The goal is to have that all done so I can then simply take photos, print, and journal a little bit each day.”

Keep it simple
“I have learned that it does not need to be complicated.” Edwards said. “I write just a little each day and sometimes only include a photo. I continue to keep the emphasis on the photos and the words rather than trying to stuff it full of techniques and embellishments.”

Edwards said creating a mini book focused on December helps capture traditions which are exclusive to the month.

“It is awesome to look back at the albums from the last few years during the holidays; it becomes a tradition in and of itself,” she said. “I also think that it helps me focus on the joy of the season, to slow down and savor what is good.”

Edwards has captured the essence of creating mini books in her book “Sharing your story: Recording life’s details in mini books.”

Published in 2008 by CK Media, the book includes a variety of ways to capture life in small stories. The book remains available in book stores and on-line at

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Ali Edwards. This column/feature was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

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