Scrapbooking: Hobby to preserve family memories

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a scrapbook is probably worth a million.

Just ask Mandi Parks and Kyla Gray.

Parks and Gray are among a handful of local Creative Memories consultants who go the extra mile to preserve their family memories through scrapbooking — a collection of photos, memorabilia, journaling boxes (text) and graphics — all organized by themes into acid-free books to ensure generations of “creative memories.”

The women get together at least one Saturday a month to hold a crop or scrapbooking session. The session is held at one of their homes or at a local church or school. Some of the consultants, including Parks and Gray, also teach classes in scrapbooking through the Office of Extended Learning at Eastern New Mexico University.

In the six years that Gray has been scrapbooking, she has already completed 35 scrapbooks, all of which are organized by either calendar or school year and by special occasions such as baby books, family reunions and one she calls a heritage book. Gray’s scrapbooks are filled with everything from photos of family and school events and newspaper clippings to report cards, tickets and concert programs.

Scrapbooking is all about making time to preserve memories in a way that one finds most suitable.

“Everybody has their own style. There is no set way to scrapbook, so someone shouldn’t look at someone’s album and say, ‘I can’t do that!’” Gray said. “It’s not like you have to be all artsy craftsy. You just have to care about saving your pictures.”

Scrapbooking requires a commitment of time, but just how much time is up to each individual. Gray and Parks say they make the time because they think it is important to preserve their family memories. For this reason, they both add journaling boxes in which they write important details or describe memorable events.

“I think journaling is important to scrapbooking because the who, what and when is important to memories,” Parks said. “In a few years, you may think you will remember things about a picture, but you may not. Without writing it down, nobody’s going to know later about the significance.”

While scrapbooking is a hobby that a person can work on at their own pace, Gray and Parks both say the first step necessary is to get organized. The first thing a person should do is label photos immediately before important names and details are lost. Next, look over photos and separate them by themes such as travel, sports, special occasions or years. During this process, blurry, out-of-focus and insignificant photos should be eliminated.

It is only after this organizational process has been completed that Parks says one should then purchase an ideal scrapbook and accessories, which have grown in years and are taking up more shelf space in stores. Accessories include colorful stickers and enhancers, graphics, special colored paper and pens, labels, plastic bags to display memorabilia, cutting templates and tools to make different shaped photos, lettering and more.

“Getting organized is the hardest part, but that’s where you start,” said Parks, who became a Creative Memories consultant mainly so she could afford to buy tools and supplies she wants for her own scrapbooking.

While Gray and Parks take advantage of accessories to enhance their scrapbooks, they agree that accessories should not be used excessively, otherwise that will detract from the main focus.

“A scrapbook is supposed to be pictures and memorabilia. You can overpower this if you use too many stickers and enhancers,” Gray said. “You want your album to be about memories, not stickers.”

Gray feels her children will someday appreciate the effort she is making to preserve their memories and said that already, her husband and kids look through the scrapbooks often.

“ I use my scrapbooks to go back and look at important dates, like what year we bought a car or what year we went camping at Willow Creek,” Gray said.

Gray inherited her first scrapbook from her grandmother after she passed away. However, she was a little disappointed because some of the pictures were not labeled, which is why she again stresses the importance of labeling photos immediately.

Gray is really big about genealogy and said that although her dad died when she was 25 and her kids never met him, her children can still learn important details about their grandfather through a scrapbook she dedicated to him.

Others tips Gray and Parks offer for scrapbooking include:

• Cropping pictures to weed out insignificant background

• Sharing photos with other people

• Use only acid-free scrapbook material and accessories so items don’t bleed or discolor

• Don’t place original newspaper prints next to photo; they will bleed.

• Be careful with digital photos. Many people never develop digital pictures to begin with and they can be accidentally erased.

Parks also recommends that for people with little time, to first just do a scrapbook with only photos, saving room where they can go back later and add lettering, journaling boxes, stickers and other enhancers.