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BY Trista Lutgring
TELL CITY – A scrapbook, by its definition, is an album of clippings, notes or pictures pasted onto its pages. But a scrapbook really is a collection of memories; a reminder of good times, of loved ones and of accomplishments.
The 26 women who gathered in St. Paul Catholic Church’s Parish Hall Jan. 26 could be called purveyors of memories. They are storytellers. They do not just place pictures on paper with a few stamps. They are matriarchs, sisters, aunts and friends passing down the tales of their families ranging from graduations and marriages to a simple camping trip or a shopping experience.
This year marked the second annual St. Paul Scrapbookers scrapbooking and craft crop, which invited all crafters and storytellers to gather for a day of scrapbooking. The event is conducted to help raise funds for the annual St. Paul youth mission trip, held during the summer each year.
The group includes those new to the art of scrapbooking and those who have been acquainted with the practice for many years. One woman – referred to as the “certified expert” – is Paulette Bretz, who moves about the room, offering different borders, cutting patterns and items for scrapbookers to use and dispensing advice when asked. Bretz has been scrapbooking the events of her family’s lives for about 15 years.
“I started out scrapbooking my husband’s Navy career. Then that book turned into a couple,” she explained with a laugh.
Now, Bretz concentrates her scrapbooking talents on books for her two grandchildren, a few graduation books for nieces and nephews and other books for family members. Her talents have also led her to teach scrapbooking classes, mostly involving a Cricut. In the crafting world, a Cricut – pronounced like cricket – is a computerized die-cutting device that cuts different images or letters from paper.
“I love sharing what I know … I love to help people with ideas. It’s kind of a passion of mine,” Bretz said brightly.
The story of the St. Paul Scrapbookers began around 2006, when the pastor at the time, the Rev. Carl Deitchman, said he wanted to enlist groups and organizations to use the new parish hall. One person to take him up on the suggestion was Tracey Coyle.
“I had some pretty good friends that were already scrapbooking … so I said I would be glad to do it,” she explained.
There is no meeting held during the group’s sessions, Coyle said. The members – which total about 12 at the moment – just gather to scrapbook. In the past couple of years, the members have occasionally made dinner plans together before heading to the parish hall for the evening.
“It’s very casual. We’re opening it up … you don’t even have to scrapbook. It’s more about the girl time, for us to get together,” Coyle added.
Dana Franzman, one of the members of the St. Paul Scrapbookers who helped organize the crop, has only been scrapbooking for a few years. She dived into the hobby, she said, thanks to Coyle.
“Some people just don’t realize what a crop is,” she said.
What the event is all about, according to Franzman, is scrapbookers coming together, taking all their supplies, and spending the day working. They share supplies, ideas, stories and laughter.
The idea of the annual crop came up when the ladies of the group heard about the planning of the church’s youth mission trips. Together, they decided a way to help give back was to plan the crop as a fundraiser, Franzman explained.
“We have one more person than we did last year. Hopefully next year we’ll get more people. But everyone has a good time, everyone pitches in and helps,” she added.
Participants show up for the day, eat lunch together, receive goodie bags, win prizes and are able to buy supplies from those selling different items. Bretz said crops are great and important for those who can only work on their books occasionally or only on weekends.
But crops are more than sharing supplies, knowledge and ideas to these crafters.
“You’re preserving memories,” Bretz said. “If you don’t pass it on, who is? Who’s going to? Scrapbooking becomes a part of you, really.”
Coyle added the St. Paul Scrapbookers and the crop are places for friends to gather, to share fellowship and forget about the day.
“It’s a stress reliever for me,” she said. “Because when you’re sitting down looking at fun pictures of fun things in your life, your mind automatically goes away from the stress.”
“I think it’s just a lot of fun to get together with a group,” Franzman added.
The scrapbookers all agree their joy comes from sharing the stories and the memories, and knowing they are giving a gift that no one else can.
“The best part is watching people’s reactions to the pages, especially the grandkids,” Bretz explained.
Coyle agreed with Bretz, adding she got “a lot of joy” because her children and grandchildren get joy from her projects.
“It’s something they are going to have for a long, long time,” she said.
Across the table from Coyle, friend and fellow scrapbooker Cassi Rogers quipped, “You’re giving them memories you’ve preserved for them. In a digital age, most people have tons of pictures, but never print them. You give them something physical.”
The important thing members try to impress on those interested is that you don’t have to be an expert or have a basement full of scrapbooking material.
Bretz suggests starting simple with basic tools and incorporate items you have around the house into your pages.
“Some people think (scrapbooking) has to be expensive, but it really doesn’t,” she added. “It’s just about preserving the memories; we aren’t going to be here forever.”
The St. Paul Scrapbookers group is open to the public and meets from 6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of each month in the parish hall at St. Paul Catholic Church.