Saturday, July 17, 2004

Savor memories in scrapbooks

The Internet, magazines, a TV show, specialty stores - this hobby is hot

By John Johnston
Enquirer staff writer

Juanita Johnson looks with her son Xavier, 5, at a family scrapbook in their Westwood home. She has been scrapbooking for two years.
Enquirer photos by CRAIG RUTTLE

Xavier places a baseball detail near a picture of his brother, Isaiah.

Browsing in a scrapbook store recently, Juanita Johnson vowed not to buy more materials until she used up what she already had.

"That's every scrappers pledge," a chuckling cashier told her. Then she handed Johnson a basket. "And sure enough," the 36-year-old Westwood resident says, "I couldn't leave without (buying) something."

"It's very addictive," says Johnson, who has been scrapping for two years, "but it's also very therapeutic. There's something to be said for exercising creative expression on an ongoing basis."

Say this, too, about scrapbooking: It's enormously popular.

An estimated 25 million scrapbookers are pumping dollars into what has become a $2.5 billion industry, the Craft & Hobby Association says. The Internet teems with scrapbooking sites. The craft has spawned magazines and a show on DIY, the Do It Yourself Network. And there are more than 3,000 retail stores, with another, Archiver's the Photo Memory Store, set to open July 29 in Mason's Deerfield Towne Center. At its essence, scrapbooking involves creating a keepsake by artfully arranging photos in an album, along with words, describing them.

"Everything else," says Pam Thie, owner of Scrapbook Sensation in Monfort Heights, "is icing on the cake."

And there's plenty of icing out there: colored and textured paper, stickers, ribbons, fibers, buttons and myriad other supplies, all of which help dress up scrapbook pages. Unlike regular photo albums, scrapbook products are free of acid and lignin (a component found in plant cells) that cause paper to deteriorate, or turn yellow, over time.

A few examples of the many sources of information about scrapbooking:

Web sites:
• The Scrapbook Preservation Society collects, reviews and distributes science-based preservation information. Its Web site explains terminology. .
• is a scrapbooking magazine.
• is aimed at beginners.

• The Complete Idiot's Guide to Scrapbooking Illustrated by Wendy Smedley, (Alpha Books; $18.95).
• Digital Memories: Scrapbooking with Your Computer by Carla Rose. (Pearson Education; $18.95).

• Creating Keepsakes.
• Memory Makers.
• Simple Scrapbooks.

Retail stores:
Check the Yellow Pages under "Craft Supplies."

Making memories last
Although it's unusual, some people spend $15 to $20 on a single page, says Tab Nelson, who with his wife, Lana, owns three local Scraps Etc. stores, with a fourth opening next month in Cincinnati Mills (formerly Forest Fair Mall).

"I see the latest trend going a little bit back to more simple pages," Nelson says.

Even so, "You could give five people the same materials," Johnson says, "and there would be five completely different products, each one unique and representing the personality of the scrapper."

Johnson, a Montessori teacher, says her interest in photography, combined with some students' desire to learn about graphic design and layout, led her to scrapbooking. She devotes about 20 hours a week to the craft.

She enjoys scrapbooking the old-fashioned way, doing layouts by hand.

But she has also used a computer because of the flexibility it offers when arranging photos and text.

A married mother of three, Johnson has designed scrapbook pages around vacations, birthdays, special events, her students, and of course, her children.

Journaling is a key element of scrapping, she says. For instance, on a layout titled "Play Ball" featuring pictures of her son Isaiah tossing with his father, Johnson wrote: "Isaiah, I will never forget the first time you threw a baseball with perfect form at age 3. You should have seen the pride in your daddy's eyes. We were simply amazed at your natural, God-given talent."

Although most scrapbookers are women, Thie says young men occasionally come into her store with the idea of making a gift for their fiancees.

One fellow "hid out here for three weeks while he was doing his album," she says.

Most scrapbooking stores offer workshops and classes. In addition, Fridays and weekends are popular times for crop parties - after-hours get-togethers in which scrappers work on their albums.

"It's kind of like the quilting bee of the new century," Nelson says. "Women love to come and share ideas, talk. They bring food and surround themselves with pictures and memories."


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