More than memories

Scrapbooks evolve into works of art

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2008


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  Jenni Larsen adds a journal entry to a page of her scrapbook. Larsen says adding a story to the photo is an important part of scrapbooking. Photo by Hannahlee Allers

Jenni Larsen adds lettering to a scrapbook page.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

Do you have hundreds of photos lying helter-skelter around your house?

Scrapbooking may be the perfect solution.

Scrapbookers across the peninsula have elevated their hobby to an art form, cropping photos and writing notes to preserve their memories.

"It's addicting but it also can be kind of overwhelming because there are so many products and so many different ways of scrapbooking," said Kari Hudson, who took up scrapbooking as a hobby 11 years ago. "I think the people that don't do it see these really creative, artsy layouts, and they look at that and think, 'Oh, that's scrapbooking? I can't do that.'"


Larsen adds text and graphics, along with photographs, to make each page of a scrapbook a work of art.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

But there's no reason to be overwhelmed.

"Scrapbooking can be an art form but that isn't necessarily what it has to be," said Hudson. "A lot of people who say they're not creative really are. They just aren't comfortable with their own skill."


Larsen adds a photo cropped as a circle to a page.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

Hudson said there are three different levels to scrapbooking. The first is just putting photos into a book. The next level is to add some flare to the pages with stickers and embellishments. Committed scrapbookers can go all out and create intricate pages .

"(People) just need to know that it's okay to put your pictures and some journals into a book and that's a scrapbook," she said.

For those a little nervous about getting started or intimidated by all the products available, scrapbooking consultants in the area offer products and courses that can be personalized for each individual. Projects can be as easy or as difficult as skill level permits.

"The fun thing about this is we can hit everybody," said Jenni Larsen, a consultant for Creative Memories. "It's all about helping you preserve your pictures and your memories."


Jenni Larsen adds a journal entry to a page of her scrapbook. Larsen says adding a story to the photo is an important part of scrapbooking.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

What Avon is to the makeup industry, Creative Memories is to scrapbooking. The company's mission is "preserving the past, enriching the present and inspiring hope for the future," and their products give customers the opportunity to do that.

"I absolutely love helping other people share their stories and do something with their pictures," Larsen said. "I really believe in the Creative Memories mission."


Shirley Braswell sorts and crops photos, using a cutting tool, to be used in a scrapbook.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

Larsen was introduced to Creative Memories in 1996 by her little sister, but she didn't start scrapbooking until 2000 when she went to a second Creative Memories party.

"I decided I was going to buy all the stuff and it just made more sense to me to buy the consultant kit because I saved money. I had no interest whatsoever in teaching classes, I just wanted the discount," Larsen said.

But that didn't last long. Her friends who were scrapbookers asked her to order tools for them.

"All my friends wanted the same stuff that I had and so I decided to order for them," she said. "Then I started purposely trying to set classes and it took off from there."

Larsen suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that causes muscular pain throughout the body, and she said being a consultant is the perfect job for her.

"With my fibromyalgia I can't work a steady job," she said. "There was almost an entire year that I took medical leave and there was only one month where I didn't place an order. I still had an income."


Shirley Braswell sorts and crops photos, using a cutting tool, to be used in a scrapbook.

Photo by Hannahlee Allers

As a consultant, Larsen holds scrapbooking parties at clients' homes and teaches classes through Soldotna Community Schools.

"People come in and we do an introduction of what it is that Creative Memories has to offer," she said. "(It) gives you a time and a place to consistently work on your projects and have my help and use my tools for a minimal fee. I usually ask people to bring pictures. That way people can try out the tools and see if they like the traditional scrapbooking style."

Larsen said that the fee for those classes goes directly to Community Schools.

According to Larsen, the most important part of putting a scrapbook together is to journal.

"I have seen some of the most gorgeously crafted pages that I would put in a frame on my wall," she said. "In one hundred years someone looking at that is going to say, 'Wow, I wonder who is in that.' Journaling scares a lot of people, (but) all it is is just writing down whatever you would tell someone about your pictures."

Hudson is now a consultant for I Remember When, another scrapbooking company.

Where Creative Memories makes and sells its own products, I Remember When sells industry tools from different vendors and retailers who offer more "lumpy and bumpy" options.

"One of the things I've heard from customers that have been doing it a long time is that creative memories has the basics," Larsen said. "If you're really crafty and, we call it, 'lumpy bumpy,' that's not something creative memories offers, but you can expand from there."

According to Hudson, a woman who owns a scrapbooking store in Oregon started I Remember When because she saw that there was a group of women who like the home environment that companies like Creative Memories offer, but who want more options.

Hudson has been scrapbooking on her own for over 11 years. Three and a half years ago she saw an ad for I Remember When and decided to try it out.

Creative Memories also offers options for different skill levels.

"They're a really good kind of introductory program," Hudson said.

"Scrapbooking is not just for the crafty," Larsen said. "It's easy for anyone to do since some pages are completely done already and all you have to do is drop your photos on the page."

Larsen encourages beginners to start simple.

"You want to go to a class if possible ... to get an idea of what the tools are and the ways to put pages together," she said. "This is your stuff, I'll help you however I can. If you don't want to use Creative Memories stuff, that's fine. It's whatever you want."

Larsen said that scrapbooking is a great activity for women and that children really enjoy helping and looking through completed albums.

Larsen is a self-professed photo-holic, especially since the birth of her daughter in August of 1995.

"She will sit for hours on end looking through the albums and reading the stories," she said. "(Kids) don't remember what happened when they were little."

She said her daughter, who is now 12, now works on her own albums.

Studies have also been conducted to assess the impact of scrapbooks on Alzheimer patients. Larsen said that these studies have found that it helps patients to see everything written down with their photos.

She also said that Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family has found that families who scrapbook and put focus on their happy times together typically have stronger relationships and tend to stay together.

Larsen said that scrapbooking is a way to "be able to preserve (photos) in a really fun and safe way.

"We help you get your pictures out of your boxes, out of your computer and into places where you can store them and you can share them," she said.

Larsen and Hudson, as well as other consultants for Creative Memories and I Remember When can be contacted through the organization's websites: and

Hannahlee Allers can be reached at

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