With colored paper cutouts, family photographs and a few handwritten notes, dozens of area residents are compiling the memorabilia of their lives on the pages of scrapbooks.
A survey published by the Hobby Industry Association shows that scrapbooking ranks in the top five craft activities behind cross-stitching and home decor painting.
And in another online survey by the association, 31 percent of respondents said they were spending more money on scrapbooking and general crafts this year than last.
But scrapbooking doesn't have to be an expensive hobby, or a time-consuming one. Scrapbook supplies start at about $20, and there's no specific time it has to be done.
Several area women say the hobby helps them relax and lets them enjoy memories of their family.
Rosemary McAllister likes sorting through photographs to choose some that will fill the pages of a scrapbook. "It's lots of fun and very relaxing. Most people don't take photos of tragedies in their lives," so sorting photos can bring back good memories, she said.
McAllister has been recording the events in her family's life on the pages of scrapbooks for years. Her collection spans the 30 years the family traveled the world with the military and includes a heritage album of old family photos and memorabilia. Her husband even has a scrapbook from his World War II days.
McAllister is a consultant for Creative Memories, a home-based scrapbooking business that teaches people how to preserve the important photos and memorabilia of their lives.
The idea isn't to do complicated pages, but simple ones, she said.
What's most important is that each page has the names of people pictured and some information about what's happening in the photos.
McAllister usually tells her clients to do to the best they can afford rather than not doing it at all.
"You set your own style and pace," she said.
The hardest part of scrapbooking is getting started. Sorting through photographs and choosing the best ones takes the longest amount of time.
McAllister suggests clients start with current photos and work backward. Or just start a scrapbook for an important event or holiday. Some people just have Christmas or birthday scrapbooks, she said. And over the years, they add pages from each special event.
Maeve Roach, a 20-year-old college student, said she got started scrapbooking last year. "I asked for a photo album for Christmas, and got a scrapbook instead," she said.
Roach uses edged scissors, borders and colorful background paper to make her scrapbook, filled with pictures from her junior year at college, come alive.
"It's a good release, and it can be a good way to spend time with your friends while doing it," she said. "It's something you can keep forever, and it's better than just pictures thrown in a box."
Martha Maxton has spent the summer putting together pages for scrapbooks for her two adult sons. She hopes to finish by late October, but certainly in time for Christmas.
"I can't look at it as such an immense undertaking," she said. "I look at a year at a time."
She began with her sons' births in 1964 and 1967 and is working through to their high school graduations. All the photos included in the albums had been in boxes, drawers and envelopes until Maxton began assembling the books.
The pictures were always in sequence, and most had names and places written on them, or Maxton remembered where they were taken. "I'm using most of them and cropping a lot," she said.
Her intention isn't to decorate the pages of the scrapbook so much as it is to showcase her children's lives. "I'm using colors and figures to enhance the pages, but that's not my concern," she said.
Scouting out memories
Hertha Russell added strips of color to the pages of the scrapbooks she completed for her husband, Joe. The books span a 70-year involvement in Boy Scouts.
The Russells would pull the pictures out of boxes, and Hertha would jog her Joe's memory and then prompt him to write about the events. Some scouting memorabilia -- like his badge sash or plaques -- was too large and cumbersome to include on the scrapbook pages. In those cases, Russell took photos of the items to add to the pages.
The books are really about how Boy Scouts have affected her husband's life, she said. "It helped make him the person he is today."
Pam Schmidt, 21, made a scrapbook of every single picture she took her senior year in high school and is in the middle of her second book, which contains highlights and special events of her college years. "It's crafty and fun," she said. "I think it's a good way to keep pictures saved and do something with them. I love it."
McAllister has dozens of family scrapbooks, a few from vacations and even one for the current year. In the current album, she has photos of a snowfall that blanketed the yard of her Cape Girardeau home, brilliant images of a sunset and pictures of her garden in bloom. The pages also hold birthday cards, Mother's Day cards and memorabilia from her great-grandchildren's birthday parties.
"Once you get into it, there are all sorts of ways to do it," she said.
Sticker collections help add color and fun to the scrapbook pages. Paper cutouts come in neon, traditional and pastel shades, as well as some jungle and safari prints.
The key to putting together a good scrapbook is to organize the photos, lay out the pictures you're using on a particular page and play around with the colors and theme. Once you've decided how to put the pages together, you can affix the pictures using a variety of adhesives, as long as they are acid-free.
If you find more photos or need to add pages later, it's always possible.
335-6611, extension 126
Some basic instructions:
Sort your photos: Separate your boxes of photos into smaller categories like vacation, special events, holidays or by individuals.
Select a theme: Choose a theme, like birthdays or an event, from one of the smaller collections of photos you have sorted. Choose 10 to 15 photographs.
Pick the best photos: Edit out the less desirable photos and choose four to eight of the best.
Choose a focal point: From the best four to eight, choose your absolute favorite photos.
Select a color theme: Choose two to three prominent colors from the focal photo for use in your layout.
Place the photos on the page: Don't make everything symmetrical. It's OK to overlap or tilt or even to cut out shapes using the photos.
Embellish: Decorate your page with stickers, die cuts and any little pieces of memorabilia you have.
Fix it to the page: Once you know how you want the page to look, it's time to put it all in place. There are several different adhesives and tapes to use, but make sure the one you select is acid-free. Don't fix anything to the page until you're satisfied with how it looks.
Journal: Write a story about what's happening in the photos or the people pictured. Be sure to include dates and names.
Have fun: Scrapbooking should let your personality show through your pages.