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Turning a Crafter into a Scrapbooker 

Strategies to attract the doubters. 

by Various Writers  (October 18, 2004)

Note: In our last issue we published a letter from a friend who is a long-time crafter, active in the industry, has box-fulls of photos, but no interest in scrapbooking. We published her letter, which is still online (click on "Benny Da Buyer). If scrapbooking is going to continue grow, we need to attract people like our friend. Here are the responses we received:

Short and simple.

Our ideas would focus primarily on small books in the "altered art" genre. While many scrappers prefer the long process of completing albums and/or heritage scrapbooking, this type of scrapper would truly enjoy more of the paper-arts emphasis. Crafters love to give hand-made gifts to family and friends (and I imagine she already does). I would also imagine that her children and grandchildren would love a "Book about Grandma" that told her story in a short, concise manner Ė but that was also fun to put together. The key is to keep it short and simple, not to overwhelm her by insisting she needs the "perfect" paper, pens, etc.

This is the type of book I'd plan for this crafty crafter: About 12 photos, spanning birth, her family, her marriage and children, and today. Journaling would be the basic "about me" type of journaling: I was born in.... My parents were.... I had X brothers/sisters.... When I was a girl I dreamed of.... My favorite book was.... I met my husband at.... We were married.... Our children were.... Perhaps there would be a special page for each of the children or grandchildren about how she loved that individual child -- or what she liked most about them, etc. I'd probably end the book with a photo of Grandma & Children, and a note about her hopes/dreams for each of them.

I loved receiving a book like this from my Grandma -- and I will treasure it forever. And our crafter friend can probably toss the "acid free" labels, and just have fun with her photos. She doesn't have to scrapbook every photo -- nor does she have to scrapbook chronologically to tell a story. However, preserving her memories of her family and her heritage will enable her children to understand their grandma and where they all came from.

If longevity of something is THAT important, she can scan the items and print on a high quality photo printer; that will save everything for more than two lifetimes! Lisa Kanak , owner of The Cropper's Corner, a retail store in Fredericksburg, VA

Children want to know.

As a member of the "younger generation" who does scrapbook and an editor in an industry where we are continually recruiting new scrapbook members, this crafter's email was of particular interest to me.

One thing that immediately stands out in my mind is: Does this crafter know all the people in those 100-year-old photos? If not, wouldn't she like to know that part of her heritage and history so she can pass it on to her children and grandchildren? For that matter, does she remember all of the faces and names of those people in her 50-plus-year-old pictures? While she can get into her closet and go through boxes of photos that provoke lots of memories for her, will her children and/or grandchildren be able to do the same once she is gone? Or will those photos become trash because no one knows who's in them and why they were so important to her?

I have often tried to convince my mother to scrapbook her pictures for these exact reasons. My maternal grandmother passed away eight years ago and left my mother many photographs Ė some with notes as to who is pictured and some without. My mother already can't remember who some of the people are, so we'll probably always be missing that part of "the story."

However, I'd at least like to be able to share what we do know with my son and any future children in our family. That's exactly why I scrapbook Ė so we can remember as much of "the story" as possible and pass that information along to our children because even at 30 years old, I'm already forgetting some of the faces and details.

I think these same reasons may be this crafter's main motivation for at least getting her photographs in simple albums with some journaling or small captions. Maybe the biggest motivator is to let these types of crafters know that they don't have to go "hog wild" and develop the intricate, detailed layouts that they see in the industry all the time; you can go the quick-and- easy/simple route and still leave behind a great story for generations to come. Ė Nicole Hoch, Editor, The ScrapBook Club, F+W Publications

Make scrapbooking fun.

Just read the email by the crafter who doesnít want to scrapbook. Hereís one thought that came to mind: In the scrapbook industry, we like to think that the craft revolves around photos, which it does logistically. But the motivation for scrapbooking goes beyond photos. For some, frankly, itís the fun of crafting the pages. Maybe "normal" non-scrapbooking people donít know how much fun it is. Maybe they just think itís work and costs a lot. Maybe the anonymous, long-time crafter doesnít know how much she would enjoy making the pages, whether she scrapbooks all of her photos or just a few.

Another thought: You donít have to create a whole album. You might not have the time or money Ė or a die-hard interest in the craft as some do. I have pages that are stand-alone. We store them with our loose photos and pull them out periodically to remember those single small events. There are framing products for displaying just one page. Itís just as much fun, and not as much stress. Maybe we need more products and more consumer education that emphasize making one page at a time, not entire albums.

I was thinking about the scrapbooking issue all last night. I think thereís something to the idea that we treat scrapbooking as a "serious" activity, whereas most crafts are positioned as fun. Maybe thatís the problem in getting "normal" people involved. Maybe the industry could cater to two different audiences: the serious family preservation folks, and the mainstream crafters who are just looking for something fun to make. (To them, the usefulness of a crafted item is secondary; usefulness might help them justify the money and time, but if you ask them, Iíll bet they really are just doing it for fun.) Ė Kindra Foster, owner and principal writer/editor of Foster Executive Writing & Editing, based in Lincoln, NE

Your kids want to know.

I was raised by my grandparents and was taken to the hobby shop at the Naval Training Center by my grandmother when I was still in elementary school. My grandmother loved to finish pre-cast ceramics at the hobby shop. She showed me how to trim and smooth the greenware, and I painted and glazed quite a few frogs for my grandfather's garden until I discovered there was a darkroom down the hall. The first film I printed was of my grandmother and me at Disneyland, when I was ten. I have been making photographs for the forty years since then, and still think of my grandmother who opened the door to the enjoyment of crafts and art.

One afternoon when I was a teenager, I found my grandmother opening a drawer in her sewing room and pulling out a large box of photographs. When I asked her about them, she said that she was cleaning out and was going to throw them away. I asked why, since she had clearly saved them for years, and many were from her childhood in the early 1900's. My grandmother responded that they were just old photographs and she had no idea who many of the people in them were, and she was sure that they would not be of interest to anyone else.

Your 'life-long crafter' is lucky that her photographs have survived, even if she is not interested in acid-free or archival issues. I would urge her to think of her grandchildren though, as they will live in a very different world than we have known.

We can be optimistic about pollution, but the greatest risk to our family photographs may be air-born contaminants and chemicals that did not exist a few decades ago. Her photographs have survived until now, but they may not have the same conditions in the future. It would be worth taking a look at The Scrapbook Preservation Society's website www.scrapbookpreservationsociety.com), and if she works in paper at the Image Permanence Institute at R.I.T. (www.rit.edu/~661www1/) which is trying to establish a foundation based on scientific fact for preservation guidelines.

Any serious crafter is not working only for themselves, and with her comments about how much she cares for her grandchildren, I am sure that she would want them to be able to browse through her work, just as she replays fond memories looking through her family photos. Art and craft

are ways that we share our love of life and beauty, and I would think that she would also want to have her grandchildren enjoy some part of their history as she does, by starting to make some notes as to who the people, places, or events are in her shoe boxes.

I don't think we have to convert everyone to become a scrapbooker, but I am very grateful that the craft of scrapbooking has made tools available that we are able to use as we like, and adapt to our own pursuit of beauty as we create as a crafter or artist, or scrapbooker. I can't ask my grandmother about her life and experiences anymore, but I know that your life-long crafter has stories that her grandchildren would treasure; how did [her dog] Dynamite get his name? What happened when she took her children to Disneyland when they were ten, and how are they different from their own children when they went to Disneyland? Did she go to the New York World's Fair with her parents, or did they tell her what they enjoyed and what it was like?

Life and our world change very quickly, maybe our crafter doesn't need to become a scrapper, but I would hope that she starts a journal and leaves a code for her grandchildren to connect the dots with the photographs she leaves them.

In a few lines it sounds like she has some wonderful memories that her grandchildren and their children would treasure, just as I treasure the few things I have from my grandmother, and have taken the time to make a few notes and pass them on to my children.

Maybe I bailed on a plan to make your crafter into a scrapbooker, but I bet one of her grandchildren will create a beautiful album of memories of her grandmother. I actually would like to know about Dynamite. Ė Jim Hair (a father, husband, and photographer who also works for Sakura of America)

A quick start.

I too enjoy looking through my photos not yet in albums, but I feel truly sorry for her children and grandchildren who will have no clue what those pictures are about. They won't have the same fond memories that the writer has. When the writer has passed on, she has left her family thousands of dollars of old photos and they will have the terrible time of trying to figure out who's in them.

This person sounds as if she needs a quick start to scrapbooking. Not all the fancy papers and embellishments that obviously don't impress her. She just needs to date the photos and get them in some order. My mom has managed to do 15 years worth of pictures not in albums and get them all organized and dated and put into simple yet elegant scrapbooks.

I do agree that the community, and friendship is part of what is keeping scrapbooking thriving. So many people are lonesome in this busy world that they relish the thought of meeting new people while having fun sorting out their favorite memories. - Adelle Norg, 2004 Canadian Scrapbook Expo

Note: This column is filled with excellent ideas about the value of scrapbooking, and if the writers could talk to our non-scrapbook friend, they could probably convince her to try scrapping a page or two. But we won't grow the industry by having face-to-face conversations with each non-scrapper. 

So the question becomes, how do we reach these people en masse? Email your thoughts to mike@clnonline.com

To read previous Memory, Paper & Stamps columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.



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