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  • shannanmanton

My Project Life Journey

I am a big fan of the year-long scrapbook project. Even though these projects are a labor of love, there is something special and valuable about capturing a little bit of your year each week - the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

I made my first Project Life album in 2010 using the physical kit from Becky Higgins. It was hard work but worth it in the end to have this record of our year. I did five more years in various forms (one year I did 6x8 but I needed three albums and that wasn't sustainable) but generally stuck to the 12x12 Design A week-to-a-spread format. I started with the physical kits for a few years, moved to making digital pages which I printed and put into page protectors and then finally I made a Blurb book using Cathy Zielske's digital templates in 2015 (my favourite version because it's so compact on the shelf and easy for everyone to look through).

As an aside, I actually stalled around August that last year but I was able to spend my January work break finishing up in just a few days because a) it rained a lot that week b) Cathy's templates were simple c) I had enough photos and d) I had a habit of sitting down every Monday morning and writing a paragraph or two about our previous week so I could continue my format of adding a weekly recap to the project. I think I spent two or three days catching up August to December, sent the files off on a Wednesday night and by the following Monday I had the printed book in my hands - amazing turnaround from Blurb.

After being immersed in Project Life those few days in January 2016, I was ready for something new for the coming year, so I played around with some simple, graphic templates for a year long project that would change things up a bit. I wanted a smaller format in a printed book so I went with Blurb's 8x10 hardcover.

I switched to a monthly format and made about 12-15 pages per month on average using a set format of full sized photos, collages, a monthly title page, a snapshot page of what we were watching etc and a final review page of journaling each month. I really enjoyed working on this book and switching up the format made it interesting again. The only downside was not having anything to show until January the next year when I could finally send my paged off for printing. I generally spent a session or two each month putting the pages together, generally repeating the design each time and writing a recap at the end. I loved the process and the end result when I finally got the book in my hands in January this year.

That brings us to this year. Seven years in and ready again to do something different. I thought about the things I loved and didn't with all of those projects. I like a set format, but at the same time it can get boring week after week or even month after month. I like documenting our year but I've done it for seven years. I like having a year-long project to work on, but it can start to feel like a chore.

After grappling with the thought of letting go of Project Life for a year (and it does feel like a loss after so many years) I realised what I wanted to do. A book about me. Yes, all of my previous books have been from my point of view, but this one would be much more personal and it would be my story, not everyone else's. I wanted to make it digitally so I can have it printed as a book at the end of the year in a smaller size. Blurb has a 6x9 trade book and although the quality of those is not as good as a regular photobook I'm OK with that for this project. It would be part scrapbook, part smash book, part Bullet Journal, park Travellers' Notebook. It would be random, messy, casual, imperfect and personal. Photos, google images, stories, words, screen shots, movie posters, journal cards, quotes, lists, plans, recipes, song lyrics.

I'll share some more about my 2017 project in the next few days.

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