I was interviewed by the newspaper last week while I was in St. Louis… I was interviewed for ten minutes and they use ONE line from the whole interview… I think that’s so funny! and she wrote it different then I said it but whatever, you get the jist.
St. Louis Today
Creative hobby, flourishing industry
By Aisha Sultan
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When Charlene English’s son left home to join the Marines, she wanted a keepsake of his childhood.
English, 58, started with a simple memory book of photos. Her design options meant she could choose from among a few varieties of decorative paper to mount her pictures. That was eight years ago, when scrapbooking was in its infancy. Now, she estimates she spends at least $200 a month on what has become her hobby.
This weekend, she traveled with six friends from Columbus, Ohio, to the Gateway Center in Collinsville, which was crammed with bits and details designed to fill the pages of countless scrapbooks.
About 5,000 visitors were expected to pore over embellishments, ribbons and precut pages sold by 100 vendors at the Creating Keepsakes Convention on Friday and Saturday.
Enthusiasts like English, and her “Buckeye Scrap Pack,” have helped make scrapbooking a $2.5 billion industry. Creating Keepsakes said its market research shows that the ranks of so-called scrappers have reached 32.1 million, outnumbering the nation’s 28.5 million golfers.
MaryRuth Francks, one of the organizers of the convention, said scrapbooking ranks as the fastest-growing hobby in the world.
“It’s taken the place of quilting bees, but it’s the same concept,” she said.
The roots of the scrapbooking phenomenon began in the Mormon community, according to Veronica Hugger, president of the National Scrapbooking Association. Part of the Mormon faith involves recording family genealogy and history.
“When they started documenting, they came up with artistic and creative ways to document their family history,” she said. The first manufacturer dedicated to scrapbooking paraphernalia came out of Utah about 11 years ago, she said.
Hugger said the idea of preserving a family’s story tapped into the national zeitgeist after the Sept. 11 attacks. “People started reflecting on what’s really important in their lives . . . scrapbooking fit right in,” Hugger said.
The industry also benefited from the embrace of suburban moms who began hosting scrapbooking parties in their homes to sell Creative Memories crafts. The social aspect of gathering with friends has become entwined with the scrapping experience, with groups holding “cropping” parties to work on projects.
Other lures, say the mostly female enthusiasts, are the sparkly stickers and pretty ribbons that speak to the inner girlie girl in many women. There’s also the creative aspect.
“I’m an assistant principal, and it’s my stress reliever, big time,” said Julie Wallace, of Champaign, Ill.
She spent at least $500 at the convention, where she was shopping Friday with her mother. The idea of creating a legacy and passing on family history surpasses the cost, she said.
“It’s family, and it’s personal, and it’s a part of you,” Wallace said.
At the same time the popularity of impersonal gift cards is rising, the popularity of the labor-intensive, customized scrapbook is also on the upswing. Next year home style guru Martha Stewart will jump into the market with her own line of scrapbooking products.
While the boom might be seen as a sign of a healthy industry, some observers say the bounty of supplies and options in what has been a cottage industry might actually end up limiting its growth. The boom also can turn off some women who are overwhelmed by what seems to be a hobby heavy on time, money and effort.
Lynda Angelastro, a managing editor of Simple Scrapbooks, said that’s the exact demographic her magazine hopes to reach. “We cater to people who just don’t have that kind of time,” she said.
Angelastro said that as scrapbooking has matured, so has its enthusiasts’ tastes. Cutesy flowery prints, odd-shaped scissors and hand-printed lettering have given way to designs with a more sophisticated edge, she said.
“I can’t even remember the last time something was cut with shaped scissors,” she said, and titles on pages from previous years “are almost uncomfortable to look at.”
Newer, contemporary designs were apparent at the convention Friday. English worked on a book with gray polka dots on black and white pages, alongside pink backgrounds. The color combinations come straight from the pages of designer magazines, she said.
New technology has caused the biggest change in the hobby, industry followers agreed. Digital scrapbooking is the hot new horizon, Angelastro said. She expects a new survey to reveal about 95 percent of scrappers use some sort of technology in their craft. Some scrappers even keep Web logs, or blogs, that are digital scrapbooks, she said.
For the time-starved, online services turn pictures sent digitally into “personalized” scrapbooks; pre-made pages become a keepsake with the addition of a picture; and professional scrappers do books from scratch.
In way, Hugger said, what her industry sells is immortality. “Everybody deserves to have a biography,” she said.