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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
With Love Workshops
Gifting your stories to the future

The power of story is enormous: shared stories mould friendships, communities, nations and empires. The whole science can be thought of as stories in mathematical and academic garb.

Stories give us what we crave most after breath itself: meaning. And small stories can be as potent as big ones; in fact, it is often in small stories that the human universals are most readily expressed and found.

Documents like Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence - both of them stories in their own way should amply persuade us that words don't need pictures. They don't. But well-chosen images can frame words and draw attention to their significance.

In handling on your stories through a With Love project, you may find that your master copies are helped by including a few pictures. So long as you are not selling copies of your work, you can lift images from almost any source: magazines, postcards, books, the Internet. But you can often make your own.

It is worth experimenting with a photocopier. It is cheap and easy, and the images you can get from repeatedly enlarging or reducing a photocopy of, say, a handful of spring flowers, a piece of fabric, leaves, jewelry or other objects can be dramatic. Try copying objects with the plate cover up as well as down.

Repeatedly enlarge a photo-graph and it can begin to look like a woodcut. Touch it up as you like, or make a collage, and reduce that image: some-thing new again will emerge.

You can also get good images from computer scanners and digital cameras if you have access to them. But avoid using colour. It almost invariably fades, and different hues can fade at different rates. The most enduring image, short of engraving in tablets of stone or gold, is produced by the car-bon black of photocopy toner sealed in its jacket of resin.

Experiment, and you are likely to find you can produce all the illustrations with your With Love project stories will need quite cheaply using an enlarging/reducing photocopier. These days, such photocopiers are dotted around in libraries, offices, print shops and photocopy bureaus in al-most every community.

Some tips:

- Scale images to sit pleasingly with the design of your master copy pages.

- Most pictures seem to point in a particular direction: the eye is led up, down, left or right. Place pictures to "point" inwards, towards the biggest block of text; never off a page.

- Avoid pictures with big areas of solid black or white; try reducing the size of such pictures.

- Use computer scans .or (from a printer's shop) screened bromides for images where you want reasonably clear detail: a person's portrait, for example.

- If a photograph can equal 1,000 words, 1,000 words can equal a photograph. The current emphasis on image over content and the maelstrom of imagery accompanying the information revolution, have a lot to do with the primitive state "new technology". Just as literacy grew up from and took its place beside pictorial representation, so will words reassert their value in the still forming worlds of the pixilation. Words, and literacy, occupy the very human ground that exists between the fluidity of image and the rigidity of mathematics.

In forthcoming issues of The Family Tree, I'll cover more of the ideas from the "With Love" workshops and give you as much help as I can. I love doing these workshops and, if at any point you'd like to be in touch, write to me at: The Wesley Manse, Shieldhill Road, Reddingmuirhead, Falkirk, Scotland, FK2 ODT, or you might like to e-mail

Return to Oct/Nov 2002 Magazine


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