Cut & paste memories

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beth Querrey, left, and Michelle Richardson design scrapbook pages at a recent scrapbooking retreat at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. Though it has declined in popularity from its height in recent decades, scrapbooking still is a big thing, hobbyists say.

Scrapbooking hobbyists gather in Suffolk

Michelle Richardson and Beth Querrey put their heads together and laughed at some secret in the way that only women who have been friends for a long time can do.

The two, who met 15 years ago while living in the same apartment complex in Texas, were laughing and talking while cutting and pasting at a scrapbooking convention in Suffolk last week.

“I’ve been scrapbooking for years,” said Richardson, who now lives in Maryland. “It’s something we both like to do.”

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Since Richardson moved in 2008, the two have been to six scrapbooking conventions together. Sometimes, they’ll pick a location near where one of them lives. Other times, like last week, they meet somewhere in between. And they always wear matching shirts with a rhinestone-studded scrapper on the front.

“We scrapbook our scrapbooking retreats,” Querrey said, showing off a book with a blank space already reserved for the Suffolk retreat. “That’s over the top.”

Although not as big as it once was, scrapbooking still is a popular hobby among women, said Nancy Bohrer. She runs EventPath Unlimited, which holds the retreats — branded Scrapper’s Dream Vacations — throughout the country.

“The economy’s had a lot to do with our numbers going down,” Bohrer said.

At Suffolk’s downtown Hilton Garden Inn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, about 50 women converged on the conference rooms from morning until night, only taking breaks from “scrapping” for meals.

They came with suitcases full of special paper, stamps, scissors, glue, stickers, stencils, rulers and more. They brought shelves to store their materials. Some even brought cupholders that gripped the side of the table so condensation from their drinks wouldn’t ruin their work.

Scrapbooking is different things to different women — an escape from everyday life, a hobby, even a way to create personal gifts.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Elaine Quinn said as she scrapped her daughter’s cross-country car trip to college. “It gives me something to look forward to. It’s a personal getaway.”

Claire Carman, a Norfolk surgeon who operated on Quinn, said her patients got her into scrapbooking. She was creating a book of photos and mementos from her dentist’s St. Patrick’s Day party. She usually gives the books away as gifts in lieu of store-bought items, she said.

“What do people need anymore?” she asked. “I don’t need stuff anymore.”

Carman said she also enjoys the friendships with others that can be cultivated through scrapbooking.

“It’s camaraderie with women,” she said. “I’ve been impressed at how creative people are and how they see the world differently.”

Querrey and Richardson have made many memories at their scrapbooking retreats. They once stayed in a tiny trailer in someone’s backyard at a retreat in Texas. Another time, they encountered a storm of bugs in South Carolina at a retreat.

“Even though we can’t be close to each other, I know everything that’s going on,” Richardson said as the two looked at photos of their children.

Despite the drive for perfection on every page that many of the scrappers experience, it’s a stress-free hobby, Carman said.

“There are no mistakes, just opportunities for embellishment,” she said. “You cover it up, you put a sticker on it.”