|Sharon Stuart displays some of the scrapbooks she has created along with many of the materials it takes to do so. Stuart says she doesn't know a family in the area that doesn't have someone that participates in the hobby.|
While most hobbies have a small core of people that support them no matter what, the cycles they run in vary. Some stay viable with millions of people following them for years, while others are a flash in a pan and end up with only a few specialists interested.
Whether scrapbooking is a hobby or an American institution is hard to tell right now. The scrapbooking craze has been sweeping the land for the last few years and is now really big business.
At the recent scrapbooking convention at the South Towne Center in Sandy, almost 10,000 people showed up to look at the booths and displays as well as to do "cropping" at the tables set up in the events center. Cropping is what making scrapbook pages is called.
That convention is the largest one to date in the United States, largely because Utah is the hotbed, maybe even the center of this craze. Utah also holds the record for the most people in one place cropping at one time.
For people who are not into this recent craze, scrapbooks are something most of them did as kids. Usually it consisted of pages in a folder (either three ring or string binding) with pages of photos or memorabilia included in those nice little "photo corners" that were stuck to the pages with Lepages glue. Sometimes there were little doodads on the pages, but often they were decorated with crayons or colored pencils.
The scrapbooking of today is as different from that 50's and 60's view as a Model T Ford is from a new Thunderbird. The hobby has come a long ways with technology and design heading up the way people now do scrapbooks.
Just ask Sharon Stuart, a well known local scrapbooker. Scrapbooking is her thing, her hobby, her passion.
"Scrapbooking is a very personal thing," she says as she works on a page for one of her books. "I have been doing this about five years. At one time I was working on 21 books at once."
There are a number of shops in the area that directly supply materials for the scrapbooking hobby. But because it is so varied, hobbiests can pick up some kinds of supplies at almost any department store. However for the real specialty stuff, it takes a shop that knows the craft.
"Scrapbooking generally includes using a lot of photos in the materials," says Stuart. "And if you are using photos that you want to last, you need to be sure that you use acid free materials to build the books."
The reason for using acid free materials is that the acid in many kinds of paper, ink and other materials people often use for scrapbooking can damage photos that are mounted on them and other valuable mountings over time.
For instance, scrapbookers in the know use buffered paper or paper that is treated with alkaline to keep it's acidity down. Fabric is also often used for pages or for decoration because it is acid free.
"You can also buy a product that deacidifies materials," states Stuart. "It costs nearly $30 a bottle, but if you are going to use irreplacable photos on a page it is well worth it."
Stuart often has copies made of valuable photos and uses the copies in the scrapbook instead of the originals, especially old photos. Most croppers use plastic covers for pages that have pockets in between them, and these can be used to store the original photos so they are organized and they won't be lost.
New developments, tools and materials appear in the scrapbooking industry almost monthly. And scrapbookers also pick up new skills that they include in their books and when a fellow cropper sees it, soon the idea spreads.
"Right now calligraphy is really big with scrapbookers," states Stuart. "The time spent on each of the pages ties in with the skills or adornments you are using on it. If a scrapbooker spends an hour on a page they are really embellishing that page. Some people do that much time regularly, others don't."
Scrapbookers seem often to be people who have many other types of artistic skills and can adapt those skills to other circumstances. For instance, there was a contest going on at the convention and the operators of the show ran out of entry forms. So they asked croppers to come up with some specialized entry forms.
"You should have seen some of the forms people came up with from their materials," noted Stuart. "They were really cute."
Because of that the show ended up having a contest for the best entry form too.
Stuart says that people do scrapbooks for many kinds of reasons. Some just want to have one for each child they have to display their photos and memorabilia through the years. Others do scrapbooks for events. Some do them by the years. Stuart has done many kinds.
"I did this one on a trip to Mexico," she says as she thumbs through the pages. "I recently started one on a trip I took to Las Vegas to go to a NASCAR race."
Last year Stuart was a volunteer at the winter Olympics and she took a lot of photos while she was there. She has a scrapbook of that as well.
"Every event has it's own look and it's scrapbook representation will have that as well," she says.
Many people think that scrapbooking, particularly when using professional materials costs a lot, but Stuart says, done over time, it doesn't really seem that expensive.
"Now I spend maybe $15 to $20 per month," then she adds, "But if you see something you think you want for your cropping you had better buy it when you see it. If you don't there is a good chance someone else will get it before you make up your mind."
Another piece of advice she offers is to be organized.
"I suggest people organize all their materials and photos into folders," she points out. Tools also need organization, as is demonstrated by the bags that she totes around. One has a compartment with over 20 kinds of scissors in it.
This hobby is for everyone, no matter what their age according to Stuart.
"There was a lady at the convention that was doing cropping who was 85 years old, and a 14 year old won one of the contests. There are even men that do this," she said as she smiled. "That's interesting because sometimes I steal tools from my husband to do some of this."