by Sara E. Wilson
Posted on October 12, 2006
Photography by Roy Wilcox
A Scrapbook Station in Folsom, a dizzying kaleidoscope of colors greets customers. The shop displays themed papers (sports, flowers, playing cards, bears and seasons, to name a few), patterns, tools, stickers and magazines—all to help customers organize their precious memories and memorabilia into attractive books.
Scrapbooking is big. A 2004 Scrapbooking in America Survey estimates annual industry sales at $2.55 billion, with 25 percent of American households having members who have participated in the craft. Most “scrappers” are females between the ages of 30 and 50. Theresa Seebode, co-owner of Scrapbook Station stores, explains, “Basically, it kind of takes you back to your roots as a little girl, when you were doing the cutting and paper dolls.”
More than a dozen specialty shops in the Sacramento area cater to scrappers’ needs. Scrapbookers not only shop, but take classes, work in back rooms with other scrappers, and consult with store staff for ideas, techniques and products. You can go in with your photographs and shopfor what you need to assemble your pages, or you can bring in all your tools and papers and work there. Stores let customers use equipment such as die boards and die-cut machines, cutters, punches and idea books. “Mostly what people come in for is our staff, to give them pointers and ideas,” says Seebode.
Of course, making scrapbooks isn’t new. It was wildly popular in the 1800s and 1900s. Thomas Jefferson is said to have kept a book full of newspaper clippings from his presidency. Mark Twain invented self-pasting scrapbooks that could be dampened with water to make items stick to the pages. The hobby enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s that continues today.
For some, scrapbooking is a way of passing on important details of their lives to family members. Seebode says in life “there are so many things that happen. And you take a ton of pictures—everybody does. You get your pictures developed and then what happens? If you don’t get them into albums, they’re either stuffed in drawers or closets. When you put them in a book like this, it really tells a story.” Scrapbooking enthusiast Cynthia Smith agrees. “I love seeing a finished scrapbook. It’s so rewarding to see all your pictures with other memorabilia and your thoughts all in one place.”
Some call scrapbooking a hobby; others, an art form. Each scrapper has her own style and set of priorities. For some, the most important thing is to get pictures into an album; for others it’s all about journaling. According the Caitlin Koch, co-owner of Mad about Scrapbooking in Citrus Heights, people tend to fall into two camps; there are those who prefer “lumpy bumpy” scrapbooking and those who go for simpler “chronicling” styles.
Hobbyist Catherine Bodine says, “Unlike painting or drawing, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to make scrapbook pages that you are happy with . . . everyday people can learn it and make beautiful, meaningful pages.”
Whatever their views on scrapbooking as an art vs. a hobby, most scrappers agree: They’re addicted. As many as three-quarters of all scrapbookers, according to a survey, have “scrap rooms” in their homes. Some arrive at stores for classes lugging huge totes full of supplies and photos. Some even choose their kids’ outfits for special events with an eye toward the colors they want to use later on the photo pages. Scrapbook camp, anyone?
And the crafters love to shop. “It’s such a hot hobby right now that there are always new products coming out,” says Bodine. As much as 75 percent of scrapbookers spend at least $25 per month on supplies. Patti Seebode, co-owner of Scrapbook Station, says, “Some pages can cost you as much as $10. But those are probably pretty rare. I’d say anywhere between $3 to $7.” Her partner and sister-in-law, Theresa Seebode, elaborates, “Actually, if you don’t use any embellishments and just use paper, you can probably do it [a page] for $1.75.”
Tips for Beginners
Scrapbooking basically involves three elements, according to Koch: “your pictures, your journaling (telling about the who, what, where, when, why) and the embellishments—how are you going to make that page more attractive?”
If you’re starting out, here are some pointers from Koch and other scrapbookers:
Buy only acid-free/archival quality products for your scrapbook. Acids in paper and other items can eventually cause your precious photos to disintegrate.
Take a beginner class. Attend a product swap or a “crop” event, where everyone spends time cropping photos and papers together.
Organize your photos. Pick a method and some products, perhaps, and do it as soon as your photos come back from the developing lab.
Learn how to use the tools. Try out someone else’s to see if you like them before you buy.
Start simple. Pick one event that is meaningful for you. Or choose a theme such as a holiday.
Take it in bite-sized steps. Don’t try to scrap 40 years’ worth of photos and memorabilia all at once. “Don’t feel stuck going in chronological order or trying to stay caught up. Do the pictures that inspire you or [the ones for which] you have a great story to tell,” recommends Bodine.
Learn basics of layout: how to create a focal point for each page, how to combine colors and patterns, and how to mat your photos. Then, look around you for design ideas. “Home and design magazines, articles, advertisements, fliers, billboards, clothiers, cereal boxes,” says Bodine. “There really is inspiration everywhere.”
Archival quality—item is acid-free and lignin-free (see “Lignin,” below) and thus safe for scrapbooks
Cardstock—sturdy paper available in a range of weights
Cropping—cutting a photo, usually to trim off excess background to better focus on the subject of the photo
Die-cut—paper designs and shapes cut from a die-cut machine
Journaling—writing down stories, photo captions, poems, quotations, lists, etc., in your scrapbook
Lignin—a natural bonding element that holds wood fibers together. Newspapers and other paper items turn yellow because they contain lignin. Scrapbook papers should be lignin-free.
pH level—a scale from 1 to 14 that measures acidity or alkalinity. Scrapbook materials should have a pH of 7 or above.
Swap—an event where scrapbookers can trade supplies and tools.
an acid-free 12-by-12-inch album
a good pair of scissors
at least one scrapbook-safe pen or fun fonts in your computer to write down memories, quotes, thoughts and photo captions
a 12-inch paper cutter
From there, you can go wild with stickers, rubber stamps, paints, chalk, die-cuts, photo mats and embellishments—buttons, yarn, ribbons, metal or wood plaques bearing messages, wire, eyelets, bumpy letters, etc.
Shops around Town
Beverly’s Unique Scrapbooking
5964 South Land Park Drive
5973 Florin Road
Hip Chix Studios
8671 Auburn-Folsom Road
Mad About Scrapbooks
6253 Sunrise Blvd.
2217 Sunset Blvd.
3352 Coach Lane
9632 Emerald Oak Drive, Suite C
6100 Fair Oaks Blvd.
8435 Elk Grove-Florin Road
2529 Fair Oaks Blvd.
1179 Riley St.
1070 Pleasant Grove Blvd., Suite 100
9633 E. Stockton Blvd.
2610 Marconi Ave.
University Art Center
2601 J St.
Michaels chain stores
JoAnn Fabrics chain stores