Transform your treasured memories into a scrapbook
By Mary Jo Harrod
As with most families, Patty Howard's relatives took endless numbers of photographs to commemorate special occasions. The pictures, along with memorabilia and souvenirs from lives well lived, ended up tucked away in drawers, stuffed in envelopes and becoming part of the flotsam of daily life.
But as her parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary approached, Howard's family decided it was time to gather the accumulation of mementos and create a lasting memory. Because of her talent with crafts, Howard, a special education teacher from Jackson, Ky., was drafted to make a scrapbook for the occasion.
In no time, Howard was hooked. "I'm really a firm believer in heritage, passing items down from one family member to another," she enthuses. "And scrapbooking is the perfect way to do it!"
Since her first foray into the world of scrapbooking, Howard has created wedding scrapbooks, sports books that contain photos of the family's fishing and hunting trips and other albums. Howard and her mother, Jinny Reed of Virginia, are now compiling a scrapbook of family recipes that will include their family tree and photos.
Teresa McQuerrey is another scrapbooking aficionado, although her roots in the hobby were therapeutic rather than celebratory. The editor and reporter from The Camp Verde Journal, Arizona's award-winning weekly newspaper, recalls, "After interviewing an instructor at a Creative Memories workshop and writing an article about scrapbooking for the newspaper, I started scrapbooking as a way to find solace as my father was dying from liver failure." She completed her first book, which she called "Family and Friends," in January 1998.
Since then, McQuerrey has created several scrapbooks - one of recent vacations, two of collections of publicity photographs from an old Western TV series and favorite actors and actresses, and another of her sister's wedding.
McQuerrey's scrapbooking style is flexible. "All of my scrapbooks are ongoing, except the wedding album, which I finished in a marathon, all-day session [as a gift for my mother] for Christmas 1999," McQuerrey explains. "I also have plans to make a similar wedding album for myself, combined with photos from my parents' wedding and my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, plus what we call a Heritage Album, which is a collection of photos of ancestors."
If the idea of creating a scrapbook is appealing, but the thought of sorting through your accumulated photos and memorabilia is overwhelming, don't despair. Instead, choose an event in the near future - like an upcoming vacation - to commemorate with a scrapbook. Since you know ahead of time that you'll be making a scrapbook, you can make sure to tuck away anything you think will look nice in the book. Once you return from your trip and get your photos developed, you'll be all set.
If you're more ambitious and decide that your scrapbook will cover events occurring over several years, begin by organizing your photos in chronological order, starting with either the oldest or most recent photos. Using an archival-safe pen, jot down on the back of the picture the date the photo was taken, where it was taken and the names of the people pictured. "Documentation is important," Patty Howard advises. "All of us have photos of someone that we don't recognize, and there is no name on the back of the pictures. That person is lost to us. I want to have a book with my grandparents in it, so that my grandchildren know who these people were."
After gathering your photos and mementos, decide how you want your scrapbook to look. Do you want it to be detailed and elaborate or simple and uncluttered? How big do you want the album to be? Do you have a particular color scheme in mind? Plan ahead before you buy materials or cut any photos.
Speaking of materials, McQuerrey recommends starting with a pre-packaged kit. But if you don't want to go with the kit, she says, buy "a photo-safe album, paper, photo adhesive, a pair of paper edgers, and pens. With these you could do a nice, straightforward album, especially if you have a steady hand for cutting and lettering. The other materials - paper cutters, stickers, die-cuts, borders, punches, letters, and templates are all extras. They are well worth the cost if you enjoy the hobby as much as I do."
Keeping in mind that all materials need to be acid-free or archival-safe to prevent damage to your photos and other memorabilia, choose a scrapbook. Sizes vary from 12" x 12" to 8-1/2" x 11" and smaller. Look at the variety of scrapbooking scissors available. You can give your paper a pretty edge by using scissors that scallop or zigzag. Next, select the paper that you want to use for your memory book.
"There are many different kinds of paper for scrapbooking," says Howard. "If you're doing a beach scene, you can buy paper with shells on it or die-cut shapes made like shells. There are pages for about anything that you would want. You can also buy stickers to go on your pages." Or, you can stick with plain colored paper, though you want to make sure the color of the paper goes with the photos you'll be using in your book. Howard advises, "You can make your book as simple or as elaborate as you want. I have made both kinds."
Because scrapbooking is such a popular hobby, craft stores, discount stores and department stores all carry the acid-free materials that you will need. For the best selection, though, visit scrapbooking specialty shops. There, you'll be limited only by your imagination.
Be creative with your scrapbook. Include anything of interest to you. Writing anecdotes to go along with the photos makes the album much more interesting and enjoyable. Even great quotes and facts tend to be forgotten over a period of time. Scrapbooking helps to preserve those precious memories, so that they can be enjoyed over and over. Whether you are creating a scrapbook as a gift or for your own pleasure, each one is unique and priceless.
McQuerrey is passionate about her hobby. "Scrapbooks are a celebration of life and all that is joyful and meaningful. I love scrapbooking because it is a celebration of my life as a single, Big, Beautiful Woman!"
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