Snippets of conversation reverberate throughout the crowded room: Do you like this picture or that one? Could I borrow your circle cutter? Pass me one of those cookies, please. Which mat looks best? Have you seen the latest pictures of my 2-year-old? Do you know what happened to me last week?
The conversations mix with bursts of laughter and the distinct sounds of hammering, paper tearing, and beads scattering across a table. The result is a cacophony that is part chaos, part labor, and all fun.
Welcome to what is known as a “crop”—the term scrappers (people who create scrapbooks) use for an event designed to work on their scrapbooks. A crop is the modern-day equivalent of a quilting bee or a barn raising—a time for people to get together, share their lives, build a community, and in the process create a book that captures those memories.
Scrapbooking is “taking the important pictures of your life and putting them in an order that you can turn the page and see your life at a glance,” says Bonnie Wilcome, owner of Scrapbook Village in Glasgow. “It’s a story of our lives, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what we hope to do, our dreams. It’s the story of our grandparents, the story of our children and their accomplishments, the story of our hearts. It helps us to remember.”
Wilcome, 62, says she is surprised to see what has been a lifelong passion for her turn into the phenomenon it has now become. Wilcome owns one of about 2,500 scrapbook stores nationwide.
A look around Wilcome’s 5,000-square-foot store testifies to the depth and breadth of the craft today. There are so many items they are arranged by category—heritage, sports, school, babies, children, travel, military, fishing, NASCAR, Americana, and girl power, to name a few. There are embellishments—buttons, metals, ribbons, trinkets, stickers, beads, and much more. There are hundreds of different papers and an array of books to put the finished product in. There are classes to learn how, and kids clubs for youthful aficionados.
Wilcome even has what she calls a dream team—a group of people from various walks of life who help her sort through the manufacturers’ offerings and choose what scrappers in her area want and need most.
And those scrappers are at the center of it all. Jami Parsley of Campbellsville is one of them.
“I really started scrapbooking with friends,” says Parsley. “I went to a scrapbooking party at a friend’s house and really enjoyed it. My mom does a lot of crafts, and they relax her. She can knit and cross-stitch. I’ve done those things, but they tie me in knots. With scrapbooking, I really enjoy it and it satisfies two purposes. First, it takes care of my big box of pictures that I didn’t know what to do with. Second, it gives me a creative outlet.”
Scrapbooking has been one of the few constants in her life, as Parsley and her husband, Mike, have lived in Florida, Minnesota, Arizona, and now Kentucky.
“I have scrapbooked for probably five to six years,” she says. “My husband and I have moved a lot, and it has been a great way to meet people. My good friends are all scrapbooking friends because you get to know people you scrapbook with really well. You look at their pictures, and they look at yours. You hear stories about their families and friends. You get to know them and their families through their pictures. I know my scrapbooking friends on a more personal level than people I’ve been friends with or worked with for years.”
Parsley has completed six or seven scrapbooks—some for friends and family, others for herself. Two albums were for cousins when they had children. One in progress now is a family reunion album.
“My mother is the baby of 10 children,” Parsley says. “We get together every year for a family reunion. This album is a way to record our family history. My mom had a brother who was killed when she was a child. Through this album, I have pictures of him and know more about him and his life story than I ever would have otherwise. It is a way to record your family history, to tell the stories that would be lost, a way that can be passed on to children and their children.”
Family—specifically recording the events of daughter Victoria’s life—is also what attracted Melanie Watson to scrapbooking.
“Scrapbooking turned into a therapy for me,” says Watson, who spends her workdays as chief compliance officer at T. J. Samson Hospital in Glasgow. “It is very creative and very different from what I do at the office. I started scrapbooking when Victoria was about 15 months old and she is 7 now. The majority of my scrapbooks are either for her or about her. Another big reason I scrapbook is that it is a wonderful way to recognize people who are special.
“Four Christmases ago I was trying to think of what to do for my grandmother—my nanny—who is now 90. She is beyond things. I got a simple little calendar that you can scrapbook, and put pictures of all the family on it. I’ve done it now for four years. The calendar has gotten bigger and better every year. I try to include all the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and assorted family. I collect pictures throughout the year so I can put the calendar together for the next year. Now it’s become such a deal that if someone isn’t pictured, they want to know why they weren’t in the calendar. It’s become something the whole family looks forward to.”
One of her favorite albums is a small 5×7 album created for a dear friend, Tootie. “I gathered pictures of her when she was very young and took pictures unbeknownst to her, and gave it to her for Christmas,” Watson recalls. “I think she really loved it.”
Caroll Bunn, also of Glasgow, likes the multi-dimensional nature of scrapbooking.
“Through journaling (writing on the page to describe the page and the pictures), you get a feel for the personality of the person who put the scrapbook together. My scrapbooks show our family dynamics, how we love one another, our God, and our country.”
Bunn, who has been scrapbooking for two years, says her scrapbooks are not just memories of the good times but “testaments to the lives we lead,” because she includes not only good times but trials and tribulations as well. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, provide a poignant example.
“Although we were not personally involved, September 11 had a significant influence on our lives. So did the Oklahoma City bombing because we lived in Oklahoma at the time. I was a grief counselor through the church and helped counsel some of ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and FBI agents. I didn’t put anything in my scrapbook that was said to me; that’s all confidential. But I included the sentiments about what we went through, and what I remember about the rescue workers—things I don’t ever want to forget and what they will live with for the rest of their lives because of the things that they saw. Sometimes as humans we tend to forget history, and that is why we repeat so much of it. That is why I like to scrapbook. It’s important for people to remember what really happened and not the spin given later to some things.”
Bunn includes herself in that approach.
“I did a page in one of my scrapbooks about me. It’s called ‘What does Mom love?’ It has all the different things I enjoy, all the different passions I have. It will be a neat legacy for anyone who won’t ever meet me. It’s done in different fonts and different colors, so you see different kinds of things at a glance.”
And it’s not just women who proudly call themselves scrappers, according to Wilcome.
“If you think back 50-60 years ago, men were traditionally the ones who took the pictures and put them in the albums. They did the coin collecting and the stamp collecting.”
Wilcome says the men who frequent her store scrapbook differently than women, preferring a more conservative approach with fewer embellishments. Regardless of the approach, however, the same motivations drive all scrappers.
“We all have boxes of pictures,” says Wilcome. “We want to preserve those precious memories. That is what scrapbooking is all about. It’s about sharing your family and your story.”
YOUR FIRST PAGE
Here’s some advice from the veteran scrapbookers quoted in this article about how to get started:
- Start slow.
- Attend some classes to learn the proper techniques. Most stores have a scrapbooking course where you have an opportunity to put your hands on a lot of different types of products, and get a basic idea of what to do. You will complete a sample page in many of these courses.
- Learn about archival techniques, such as choosing acid-free papers and inks, and which embellishments will stand the test of time and which won’t. Some materials can actually harm photographs; others will simply deteriorate. Choosing archival-quality materials will ensure that your pages last for decades to come.
- Find your own style before you buy a room full of supplies, then stick with that style. If you like all the embellishments, use them. If you want simpler pages, that’s wonderful, too. You just have to decide how you want to present your story. Don’t get caught up in trends and fashions.
- Try to limit the number of different scrapbooks you get started. Although it is difficult not to get excited about a new idea, write the idea down rather than immediately starting another new book. Otherwise, you may never get a book completely finished.
- Subscribe to one of the scrapbook magazines. It will give you lots of ideas.
- Get your personality, including your own handwriting, into your scrapbooks because that is who you are.
SCRAPBOOK STORES IN KENTUCKY
The Chocolate Scrapbook
9154 Taylorsville Rd.
Stony Brook Centre
Doll House Scrapbook & Gift Shop
5165 Old Mill Rd. (Hwy. 1638)
(270) 828-2033/(800) 851-1902
Lasting Legacy, LLC
3130 Maple Leaf Dr., Ste. 105
583 West Laurel Rd., Ste. 3
Memories a la Mode
193 Versailles Rd.
Mountains of Memories
3650 Boston Rd., Ste. Q
Picture Perfect Scrapbooks
227 Williamsburg Square
Picture This! Scrapbooks N More
2220 Grandview Dr.
Fort Mitchell 41017
Scrap ‘N’ Times
127 Reardon Blvd.
114 N. Broadway
934 Main St.
Shelbyville, KY 40065
836 Palatka Road
Louisville, KY 40214
12430 Shelbyville Road
4108 Scottsville Rd (31E)
Scrapbooking and More Inc.
3924 US Highway 62
Calvert City 42029
Simply Scrappin’ LLC
84 Brenda Avenue
Someplace to Remember, LLC
1232 Hwy. 31 W By-Pass
Bowling Green 42101
The Stamp Store
1803 Argillite Rd.
Sugar & Spice Scrapbooks
9457 Westport Rd.