Mounting Memories: `Scrapbooking' Workshops Help to Craft Creative Photo Albums with Materials That Preserve Picture-Perfect Moments

By Hunker, Paula Gray | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Mounting Memories: `Scrapbooking' Workshops Help to Craft Creative Photo Albums with Materials That Preserve Picture-Perfect Moments


Hunker, Paula Gray, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Nan Rudin always prided herself on keeping a good photographic record of her four children. Birthdays, holidays, graduations and recitals all were carefully recorded and then lovingly saved in countless scrapbooks.

She even managed to keep up the pace as her children married and began presenting her with grandchildren.

"Managing the photos of the first few were not a problem. I filled whole books with their pictures," the Alexandria native says. "But as I had four, five and now eight grandchildren, it got overwhelming. I just gave up."

As in most families, Mrs. Rudin concedes, the majority of her photos are stored in boxes and bins in the hope that she'll "someday" have time to review and catalog them.

Family photo management is a weighty problem. The Photo Marketing Association says 650 million rolls of film were sold last year. With an average of 24 pictures on each roll, that's a staggering 15.6 billion photos developed just last year. Industry experts estimate that only a fraction of that number end up displayed on family mantels or placed in photo albums.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Rudin packed up some of her backlogged prints and traveled to Silver Spring to get professional help from her daughter, Betsy Toretsky. Two years ago, Mrs. Toretsky, mother of three young children, went to a workshop by the Creative Memories company in the hope that the two-hour session could help her handle her mounting piles of family photos.

"The whole time I was there, I was thinking, `I can not only do this, but I can teach this,' " Mrs. Toretsky says of that class in the growing art of "scrapbooking." Now she does.

As often as two or three times a week, her kitchen counters and dining-room table are covered with photos, scrapbook pages and the tools of her new trade as she holds scrapbook sessions for friends, family members and interested strangers. Regulars come monthly and socialize while they fill in their family scrapbooks.

A SCRAPBOOK BEE

A cross between a Tupperware party and an old-fashioned quilting bee, scrapbooking get-togethers have taken off in the past few years. The Internet is rife with sites offering cyberspace chat rooms for addicted scrapbookers, and an entire industry has been created to provide acid-free papers, cutting tools and decorative stickers, scrapbook pages and templates.

Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook magazine began publication in December 1996 and has more than 250,000 subscribers, says associate editor Kim Sandoval from the magazine's offices in Orem, Utah.

"Scrapbooking is huge out here in Utah and the West," she says and speculates that the movement has been fueled by the area's heavy Mormon population and Mormons' emphasis on chronicling family histories. "Our readers are 98 percent female, and most have children still at home and therefore have these growing piles of pictures of their kids," she says.

Baby boomers are becoming interested as they age and get a taste of their own mortality, she says.

More than creating a mere photo album, scrapbooking combines mementos, family photos and extensive journal entries and then ties the components together with an arts-and-crafts flair. Each book often has a theme - a specific family member, an anniversary, a graduation or a family vacation.

Companies that provide both instruction and materials - such as Creative Memories, which boasts 40,000 instructors worldwide - emphasize use of archival-quality materials. Most paper contains a high amount of acid, which eventually corrodes old photographs. Scotch tape, rubber cement and even ball point pens also are harmful. But the biggest culprit in aging photos before their time is the old magnetic photo album.

Extremes in temperature or humidity also can radically shorten the normal 100-year life span of photos.

"Photos want to live where you live," says Joseph LaBarca, senior photographic engineer for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N. …

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