Thursday, December 6, 2007

Creating Your Own Picture Portfolio

The concept has acquired the inelegant title of Scrapbooking. I prefer to create notebooks, albums, and portfolios.

In case you're wondering what an odd-looking shelf this is, I've tipped the photo sideways so you can read the labels without getting a crick in your neck. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

I started my first picture album when I was 10. It began with a Gemtime catalogue posted in our letterbox. I loved the glowing colours of the rings, my introduction to rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. It would have been a travesty to throw those pretty pictures in the fire. I cut and glued into a lined exercise book whose initial pages told the tale of “Daddy’s Birthday Card”.

The next chapter in this notebook (after the tale of Lancelot Panther the Rascal, co-authored by my brother) was thanks to a pattern book discarded by the local fabric shop once the winter season was over. My mother bought this heavy tome for cut and paste projects. I began to explore this mammoth and my scissors were attracted to a section offering wardrobe options for Cabbage Patch dolls. I didn’t like the dolls, but I sure was interested in their sweet little costumes, some of which had matching garments for the girlish owner.

Before I dipped again into this ocean of interesting pictures, I was in the fabric shop with Mum and found a pile of give-away pamphlets on the counter – a McCalls advertisement titled “A Wedding Album”. The pamphlet was filled with photographs of the most gorgeous dresses I’d ever seen, bridal whites and maiden pastels in pink, blue, and apricot. I carried one home in a daze of joy and wonder. Thus was born my fascination with picture hoarding and dress dreaming.

I still have that notebook, and have created many more like it, finding that I didn’t have to hope for cheap paper gleanings from ‘junk mail’ or that some kind lady would discard her EziBuy catalogue at my home. I found out how to get my own EziBuy picture books and that the public library stocked bridal magazines from which I could photocopy significant pages at home or even get colour copies made at the stationery store. Out of respect for these beautiful images, I moved from exercise books to clear-file folders, 10 pages, 20 pages… These rapidly filled and overflowed, so it was on to 40 pages, then 100-page boxed albums.

Until recently I felt slightly guilty about this hobby. It seemed pointless and a waste of time, money, and shelf space. I remember telling God this, asking Him why I had such a passion when there was no earthly (or heavenly) use for it except my personal enjoyment.

But in 2006 when I worked with a designer to create a modest concert gown for me to perform in, the Lord began to show me a reason for my interest. Further light dawned at the birth of Boutique Narelle.

Studying is a means by which we learn. I have studied pictures of female clothing and appearance since I was a child. I have albums full of dress style examples and can quickly flick through the pages when I need an idea or an illustration. It has helped me define what I like (or don’t like!), to discover what looks good and what doesn’t.

And as I did with my wedding album to help a betrothed couple decide what approach they wanted for their wedding photography, I know these clothing portfolios will help me in creating my own and others’ wardrobe requirements. I have a store of knowledge from which I can serve nutritious meals to style-hungry girls. = )

I have a hairstyle portfolio, too. This portion of my picture passion proved useful when I went to the hairdresser this year, two printed pictures in hand, photographs I’d found on a red-carpet celebrity website. These pictures enabled my hairdresser to render a look I was entirely satisfied with, a process that would have been far more difficult and perhaps impossible without those pictures. It’s not very often that you get a client with descriptive verbal skills (that’s certainly not me) combined with an auditory learner who can recreate your images in her head or on her drawing board.

So I recommend that you begin your own picture portfolio. Collect pictures of clothing you like (or any other aspect of a girl’s appearance). You will then be able to show a seamstress the sort of thing you’re looking for, or create in one garment a compilation of designs you like.

When browsing the internet, if you see a picture you like, right click on it and save it to your picture folder.

Website/s to help you get started: – the original online store for all of the latest sewing patterns from your favorite brands. They offer the widest selection anywhere from the most popular pattern makers. If you don’t live in the USA, your nearest fabric store will probably offer you a better price, but by browsing online for the styles you like, noting the pattern numbers, and ordering them at the fabric store, you will save yourself the inconvenience and discomfort that comes with browsing the pattern books in-store. Some pattern information is not available online, but even so I find this website greatly valuable.

Also see other Boutique Narelle Portfolio posts.

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