Now, the Backstory for Scrapbook Alchemy

Okay, I promised backstory - and here it is.

So as I mentioned in the preview video, I’ve been searching for a way to bring you classes that combine digital scrapbooking techniques with hands-on, traditional scrapbooking (for those of us who just can’t give up the paper!). Nothing I had found was really feasible, or had the look I wanted, so this one kinda went into the, “Oh well, maybe someday” folder in my head.

Then, in September, we were introduced to this guy, Greg, and his family (this picture is of him on the day of filming at our house).

We met them at a dinner party. They have two kids roughly the same age as ours, and they are simply wonderful people. I also learned at that dinner party that Greg was in film.

Aha! I thought, here is someone I can ask about where to start or what I’d need to set up my office so I could record some new hybrid scrapbooking classes. Right?

(you already know the answer to this)

So, next time they came over for some fire pit/marshmallow roasting action, I said, hey can I ask you a question? And showed him the office and said, “So what would I  need in order to record myself, with hand shots and so forth?” And I explained the concept, what I wanted to do, what it was for, and WHO it was for.

I laugh now, because this is the same thing that happens to people when they say, “So what do I need to get started in digital scrapbooking?” (and those of us who’ve been in digi awhile nod sagely and say oh yes. The Question.)

And for me, as so often happens when you begin dipping a toe into something really complex that you know nothing about, the firehose turned on. Of course Greg is a professional, so he was thinking about things that would never dawn on me. Lighting, close-up shots, mounting a camera to my ceiling, audio, the works. My head sort of exploded. And then imploded. And then my eyeballs rolled out of my head.

And I did what a lot of people do in their first couple of brushes with the world of digital scrapbooking. I said (out loud) “Okay! Wow! That’s a lot of good info!”, and in my head I said, “Nevermind!”, and we went on with our firepit party. LOL. I know of dozens of people who’ve opened Photoshop, played for a few minutes, felt the firehose of info and knowledge turn on, and just say, nevermind! It can be overwhelming, oh I know.

Hopefully, though - you gave it another chance. ;)

So Greg emailed me a couple of weeks later and said, so what did you decide on for a light kit? (We had been discussing cameras and lighting specifically), and I said, you know, I just don’t think I have time to really get into this on my own (and I was thinking in my head, how CAN I when it’s so darned complicated and my mental bandwidth is so low?) I knew by then that I could never make what I wanted to by myself, and so decided to drop the idea back into the “Someday, maybe” folder in my head.

Another month went by, and in October we ran into Greg & his family at the park (remember, kids the same age? we run into our friends all the time at our families’ favorite hangouts), and Greg said, you know, I was just thinking - what if I were to direct and produce the videos and we could work on this together?

The thing is, he had been really drawn to this idea that scrapbookers have of storytelling. And he really identifies with this concept of telling stories in scrapbook pages, because he, himself is a storyteller. Just in a different medium. So the idea of teaching storytelling (even though he knows nothing about scrapbooking) had great appeal.

He and Jared and I had a few meetings, talked about a lot of things, and he began work preparing to produce and direct the first ten “episodes” of Scrapbook Alchemy, while I began preparing the projects I’d teach.

And a short couple of months and a TON of preparation later, there’s a film crew at my house and my kid is being filmed on a balance beam in a fairy costume outside in 30 degree weather. :) And somehow I find myself in front of the camera trying to picture that scary lens as my best friend. Hehe. Last week was bizarre and amazing. It was so cool to see and be part of something that takes SO much skill. It’s a world I knew nothing about, and I was constantly amazed by how much gear, and knowledge, and practice, and vision the whole thing takes to bring a production to life.

Julie and I spent the week grinning at the “director hands” - here’s one example:

He constantly amazed me with coolness under pressure, with preparation, with holding MASSES and MASSES of information in his head - basically the equivalent of writing a software program in a single day, only with light and camera and film.

In the end, it was Greg, with all his contacts (he hand-picked our crew) and experience and expertise in this area, that completely raised my sights.  And what would very well have been (given all I knew about video at the time) a one-woman show with a vidcam and a tripod in my poorly lit office, will now be a full-fledged, gorgeous, and (most importantly) a truly instructionally valuable experience for you. I feel like this is the BEST way to do this content justice.

I am and excited for how it’ll turn out (he’s also editing all the episodes, with an eye to the storytelling aspect of each page or project), and I’m admittedly a bit nervous for how the classes themselves will be received. But most of all I am so grateful to have had this super cool opportunity for taking a risk and pursuing an adventure and learning so many new things (and, let’s not forget - having my makeup done by a professional for 5 days ;) (Mario came for Day 1 - we had him scheduled only for the first day - and after I saw how GREAT it was, and how much less stressful it would be not to have to worry about makeup or clothes out of place, we included him in the crew for the rest of the week).

I think back to that day when I first heard that Greg was “in film” and I laugh that I wanted his opinion on “quick and easy” filmmaking. Oh sometimes we ask questions to the exact WRONG people, huh? Or perhaps the exact right ones. This is one of those experiences (and being friends with the Winters family in general) that help me know that God knows my name, and He is watching out. It teaches me that it is ok to have dreams, and that sometimes you just need to just keep preparing, and wait for the right opportunities to come along. Almost all of the really good stuff that happens in my life, I stumbled into without even knowing it. So much for the grand master plan. But I am confident that the Great God of the Universe has one. What else does a girl need, right? :D

My hoarse voice that I battled all last week is back, and my house is still a wreck from moving things to the set and back (hopefully this weekend all will be put right), but I learned so much. Had such an amazing time, and I am so, SO excited for March 16 and the release of the first 4 episodes!

Where did the name Scrapbook Alchemy come from?

Oh, and one more thing - the backstory behind the name Scrapbook Alchemy.

I first came up with the name Scrapbook Alchemy when I taught a hybrid scrapbooking class at CKU in 2007. I really wanted something that embodied the magic, mystery, and wizardry that is involved in mixing digital and traditional techniques. :D

So Alchemy.

It is actually an ancient art, called the art of transformation (from the greek words for “to separate” and “to join together”. Some of the best-known goals of alchemists anciently were the search for a method for turning lead into gold (transmutation), and for creating the Elixir of Life. Eastern alchemy is considered to be the forerunner of modern chemistry.

The word alchemy (as I know it best) is used today in popular culture, mainly in fantasy books, games, and etc. Most of the time alchemists create magical items by mixing together two or more ‘common’ items. (Sounds like hybrid scrapbooking to me! ;).

So it has historical roots, magical overtones, and is both a science and an art. I love the fusion of digital and traditional techniques - using your mind and your mouse, your pen tablet and your printer, your brushes and your paintbrushes to create something unique and gorgeous that you can hold in your hands. :) Scrapbook Alchemy.

Feel free to ask any q’s you have that I might have missed here. And if you didn’t catch it, here is the behind-the-scenes slideshow, and here is the video introducing the Scrapbook Alchemy concept.

Stay tuned for oh-so-much more. :D

Jessica Sprague39 Comments