Cut and Paste

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 2, 2002

Scrapbooking is fast becoming one of the hottest activities to do. There are scrap-booking clubs, workshops, numerous Web sites and retail store sell many items that go hand and hand with putting together scrapbooks.

These are not the plastic photo albums from days gone by. Scrapbooking is sophisticated and words that devout scrap bookers use are acid-free paper, acid -free pens, tape runners, die-cuts and journaling.

Val Cowan of Blooming Prairie is relatively new to scrapbooking. She became involved in this activity after her long time companion, Steve, died this past April.

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"I'm a nurse and I mentioned to a friend at work that I had all these photos of Steve stuck in a bin and I wanted to organize them. She told me there was going to be a Scrap Fest that could help me get started on organizing the photos," explained Val.

She and her two daughters Rachal, 13, and Faith, 11, attended the Scrap Fest that was held at Litomysl Catholic Church south of Owatonna this past summer. There were more then 30 people cutting, trimming and binding memories together at this event. The Cowans quickly became hooked.

"This is really getting to be a big thing. I wasn't taking care of my photos. I had them stuck, like many people, do in cardboard boxes and bins in corners around the house. At the Scrap Fest I learned how to organize my treasures and display them so they made sense," Val said.

Now she is making three scrapbooks about her companion, Steve. She is making one for herself, Steve's mother and Steve's best friend. She had to have duplicate photos made, which she had done at Staple's photocopy center for its paper paper quality. They can scan in photos quickly and you can receive them the same day you drop them off.

"It depends on how many copies and how many photos you need. It can get spendy," said Val.

Making the album of Steve has been hard with memories flooding back into Val's mind. At the same time she gets great enjoyment putting together Steve's life in chronological order. One page shows Steve as a newborn in his mother's arms. Val used cut out letters to announce his arrival into the world and rubber stamps of a baby's feet walk across the page. Scrapbooking is very personal and little details such as this, is what makes them fun to pore through.

The Cowans now scour discount bins at stores to purchase stickers, die cuts, (pieces of paper that are made into a colorful cut out design), acid-free paper, acid free pens, acid free tape, and stamps. The type of paper they use to mount their photos have tabs on the side that thread through and open flat. Their scissors are always handy as they trim photos into circles and take off sharp edges. When they tape the photos onto the acid free paper, they use their acid free pens to write captions explaining where the photo was taken and identify all the people in it.

"We are recording the history of our family when we put these scrapbooks together. The scrapbooks tell stories. We have a clearer picture of the past through the scrapbooks," said Val.

Eleven-year-old Faith spends hours putting her scrap book together. She has a couple pages dedicated to her older brother, several others of her 7th birthday party and she wrote a poem to go with along with each section.

"This is fun, fun, fun!" Faith said.

Her sister, Rachal finds writing captions, that is known as journaling by dedicated scrapbookers, harder to do, but she loves pasting the die cuts into her scrapbooks.

The Cowans advise anyone who would like to start organizing their photos to attend a scrapbook work shop. A workshop will help you break down your photos into categories and will tell you what tools and items are best to preserve your photos, newspaper clippings, letters and other treasures.

"I work on my scrapbook every weekend. It is something we do as a family and we love it. It is very relaxing, we get lost in it," Val said.

Three good reasons the Cowans gave to start scrap booking are:

n To preserve memories and history.

n To protect photos that are sitting in a corner getting dusty and the edges getting bent.

n To get rid of clutter in your house.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at