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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scrapbooking: Cardmaking becomes an obsession

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I was showing off my scrapbook room to some guests recently and someone said, "Show us something you have scrapbooked." It was then I realized I haven't created a layout with photos in more than a year.

I have plenty of birthday, thank you, sympathy and Christmas cards, mini-books, decorated paint cans, recipe books, etc. But not one layout. What's happened to me? Maybe I'm just getting lazy. Perhaps my attention span is too short. All I know is this card-making scrapbooker has become a scrapbooking card maker.

At least I'm in good company. Consider the following statistics, courtesy of The Greeting Card Association and the Craft and Hobby Association.

» 86 percent of scrapbookers also create handmade cards.

» 92 percent of paper crafters create more cards than any other type of project.

» One in six U.S. households participates in making cards.

Lest you think this is strictly an American obsession, I point to Latvia, where the postal service has launched a Christmas card-making campaign, offering free blank postcards to encourage Latvians to create their own designs.

The U.S. Postal Service is taking the opposite tack. About two weeks ago, it started selling brand-name birthday and get well cards in 1,500 post offices. It seems that greeting cards are one of the few modes of communication not yet replaced by the Internet. With $7.5 billion in sales annually, it's easy to see why the postal service, which lost $3.8 billion in 2009, is exploring this popular and profitable line of business.

According to a survey by the Craft and Hobby Association, card making as a craft generated about $1.26 million in sales revenue for the year ending June 20, 2009. That is about half of what Americans spent on scrapbooking, but more than what people spent on crocheting, jewelry making, cake decorating and sewing.

I like making cards because they are smaller and simpler than scrapbook pages, which is not to say I spend less time on them, only that there is less surface area to decorate. Second, it's a good way to get rid of my scraps. Also, you get instant satisfaction and feedback. Cards are designed to be given away, and I have yet to meet someone who wasn't flattered to get a handmade thank you, birthday card or Christmas greeting.

A lot of scrapbookers don't like to make cards because people often just throw them away. Here are three ways around that.

» Turn the card into a true keepsake by writing something heartfelt and memorable inside. (I make and circulate birthday cards for my coworkers who then keep them on display in their cubicles.)

» Include a blank card in the envelope and encourage the recipient to recycle the card or at least the front of it.

» Photograph or scan the card and send by e-mail.

Beautiful cards, especially when photographed professionally, can be quite inspiring, says Tammy Morrill. She should know. She's editor of the popular periodical Cards, a monthly "book-a-zine" published by Provo-based Northridge Media.

To give you a sense of the publication's popularity and status, Cards receives an average of 100 submissions a day from crafters hoping to have their cards featured.

"These cards are little works of art," Morrill says, noting that card making like scrapbooking keeps getting more sophisticated. Morrill also believes that the willingness of card makers to share their creations through online galleries and blogs has helped spread ideas and styles.

Last November, Cards decided to follow suit and make all of its publications available online. People can purchase digital subscriptions for much less than the hard copies. And because each publication comes as a PDF file, people are free to keep the books they purchase. The company also launched a blog where editors feature submissions.

"This has been a very successful undertaking for our company, and I think it has really helped us stay afloat where other magazines have had to close their doors," Morrill says. "People appreciate the option for a lower price point in this economy, as well as it being a greener choice."

E-mail Linda Fantin at scrapbooking@sltrib.com.

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