Heritage Scrapbooking: It’s Okay To Fail

I’m going to reveal something few people are comfortable doing. Regardless, I want my readers to learn and they can not do that if I’m not totally honest.

I failed. There, I said it. The author of two eBooks on scrapbooking has failed. Shocking, I know.

I made a scrapbook page and I thought it was lovely until it was printed in a bound book. The page will forever be a reminder of my bad attempt and my children and grandchildren will see it. Okay, I may reprint the scrapbook in the future, but that costs money that would be better spent creating new projects. What to see it?

Oh you’re terrible. You really want to see someone’s total blunder?’

Bad Scrapbook Color Choices
Bad Scrapbook Color Choices

There are many things that I did right in this layout. Let’s start there. First, I have the key elements… photos, story, title. Using the grid pattern and dark mats in those photo spots, I down played the poorly cut photos. I even added lovely embellishments in the blank spots to deemphasize the void where a photo should be.

The papers and embellishments do coordinate well which each other. Before you even read the page, you can guess that it might take place around Christmas time. The title “Tea Time” is juxtaposed with the holiday color scheme creating more interest in the page.

Where did I fail? Either you can’t see it or you’re being very kind.

The photos are from the 70s and they are a beast to work with. No matter how I tried to run a color correction on these photos, they never improved. I opted to take the photos as is. However the red in the photos is not the same as the red on the layout. Thus, there is MAJOR clashing taking place. I see it now because I know what it looks like in print.

When I saw this page in print I was so disappointed. That much read (and differing red hues) muddled the rest of the colors on this layout. I cringe at this page more so that my spelling errors.

However, I have one thing to say. I’d rather create a scrapbook page that is a flop than never create anything at all. Think about it this way… at least the story is captured.

I truly believe many people do not even attempt heritage projects, be it scrapbooking, narrative histories, and so on, because they do not want to fail. However, the real failure is not creating something and locking up the memories with our ancestors who pass away.

I hope my family will appreciate the story and efforts that went behind my story telling and forgive me if I make poor design choices.

To learn more about Heritage scrapbooking, check out my eBooks available at Amazon.com


Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.


  • Devon Lee

    Wendy… good catch. I do have my photos with people facing in. I don't often notice this as it's a technique I learned in my journalism/advertising classes long before I started scrapbooking. I was doing this tip when crafting my mother's newsletters many moons ago. Thanks for pointing that out. Now I feel so much better.

    I think the colors looked the same on screen, but printed much darker than I expected. That's a common problem.. the pages do print darker than what you see on screen, but this one printed extra dark. I think I was focused so much on producing a Christmas themed page that I didn't pay attention to how the tone of the paper and the tone of the old photos were clashing.

    If I did a redo, I would probably choose a tan with the Christmas colors as accents. Tan is a great neutral color that tends to coordinate with many tricky color photos.

  • Wendy

    And one other thing you did right — the placement of photos with people facing INTO the page (see bottom left and middle right). What color background would you choose in a redo? Did the colors look different on the screen?

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