We may well live in the age of digital storage but an old-fashioned method of preserving precious memories has never really gone out of style.
Scrapbooking allows craft lovers to take their favourite photos and transform them into colourful and original works of art that not only look good, but tell the story of an event, milestone or activity.
Shepparton’s Mel Wright has more than 50 albums recording her family’s significant occasions, and has combined her interest with establishing a flourishing home-based business.
The mother of two has always been “crafty” — her craft of choice was cross stitch — until she fell into scrapbooking while looking for a career change 13 years ago.
Her first job in the industry, at Circle of Friends, a High St scrapbooking store, opened Mel’s eyes to the captivating array of items available to construct personalised albums and gift cards.
“The options are endless, and you really are limited only by your imagination,” she said.
Mel’s scrapbooking style is to complement the photos she wishes to showcase, instead of making the page so busy it is overshadowed.
“I usually start by choosing a colour scheme to match the photo,” Mel said.
Embellishments such as wooden shapes, flowers, stickers, stamps, ribbon and words cut out using metal dies add layers, meaning and decoration to the pages.
“Scrapbooking is a way of telling the story about the photo,” Mel said.
“You can also journal, and add dates, or meaningful quotes or anecdotes.”
Travel adventures with husband James and the lives of daughters Lily, 8, and Amelia, 7, fill many albums and have become an important keepsake and source of family togetherness.
“I like to think scrapbooking encourages people to look at their photos; it’s a nice way for the family to sit, chat and look back to remember special occasions,” Mel said.
The craft has introduced her to new people who share similar interests, and who regularly meet to share ideas, gain inspiration and support one another.
“We often have retreats — they’re very social and we ‘scrap and chat’. It can be therapeutic,” Mel said.
Her “scrapping group” ranges in age from people in their mid-20s to those in their 70s and their ideas and creations are as individual as they are.
“Craft is a universal thing, anyone can do it, and you can have everything from very simple designs right to the very elaborate and involved,” Mel said.
“It can be relaxing but when things don’t come together as quickly as you would like, it can be frustrating.”
When ‘scrapbooking block’ strikes it’s best just to leave the layout there, walk away and come back to look at it with fresh eyes.
“Some layouts just fall into place, other ideas take ages,” Mel said.
After Circle of Friends and later Kaisercraft – a pop-up scrapbooking supplies shop that Mel worked at for four and a half years — shut their doors, Mel was inspired to start her own business from home.
The Scrap Room sources materials for fellow “scrappers” and is steadily building clientele from newcomers to experienced craftspeople and those rediscovering their love for the craft.
When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, Mel temporarily changed her business model, by limiting customer numbers and delivering more orders via post.
“I didn’t know what to do about COVID; I didn’t really qualify as an essential service, but then someone said to me ‘well that depends on who you ask’,” Mel said.
“It’s good for your mental health to continue with an activity that you enjoy or that maintains normality.
“Keeping your mind occupied, your hands busy and having something to do is important.”