Putting it together

When Heather Lukes looked back on 75 years of family pictures and memories, she dreamt of a way to preserve them for the next generation. Not content with letting the pictures fade away into obscurity, Lukes decided to create a family scrapbook.

Three years, a few scrapbooks and some planning later, Lukes, along with friends Heather Carroll and Sabrina Chandler, decided to open a scrapbooking business in Woodbridge. Opened on Nov. 16, The Virginia Scrap and Stamp Club caters to preserving family memories by building and helping to create scrapbooks.

“The primary motivation is getting your family history together and preserving family memories. In 50 years from now, no one is going to remember your New Years party, so thats why you need to write about it and have the pictures,” Lukes said.

Even in a time of burgeoning technology, hand-held video recorders and digital cameras, scrapbooking is enjoying a revival. The scrapbook industry is a $1.4 billion a year business, according to the National Survey of Scrapbooking in America 2001, and includes 19 percent of households in the South Atlantic. The national average is 21 percent.

Memories and pictures are being preserved in scrapbooks that would have otherwise been relegated to shoe boxes to fade in the basement.

For anyone not familiar with the term, scrapbooking is the placing of photos, memorabilia and photo-safe accessories into a decorative album, in order to record memories, events and stories. The use of acid-free paper and accessories reduce the effect of the photos yellowing with age.

Arleen Rinker, a self-described “avid traveler,” from Woodbridge, has been scrapbooking for a little over a year. She has a scrapbook from her trips to Las Vegas and Hawaii and plans to create six more from her other favorite vacation locales.

Rinker said she went back to Las Vegas in December to finish two pages in her book.

“Ive been to Vegas in the spring and summer, and I wanted to see the Bellagio [casino] and what Vegas is like at Christmas,” she said. “Ive been to lots of the casinos, and I have at least two pages for each one.”

Rinker said shes traveled a lot and has lots of pictures and boxes in bags all over the house a primary reason for wanting to scrapbook. Each book has about 30 pages, she said, and includes pictures, travel pamphlets and some programs from shows shes seen.

Rinker spends about three to four hours a week scrapbooking and does it as long as she has ideas. In fact, its even changed the way she looks at things.

“When I went to Vegas, I took pictures to actually put in my book. When I take a picture of something, I think of how itll look in the book. Ill see something and try to include the tree next to it or something like that,” she added.

Others, such as Carroll, like to indulge their creativeness by scrapbooking and helping others. It was she who inspired Lukes to scrapbook. Lukes and Chandler both graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School and Carroll graduated from Potomac High School.

“I started six years ago when my daughter was born. We did an ABC book of all the pictures,” she said.

“When I did it, I was hooked. It feels like youre accomplishing something when you scrapbook, and its not something you did in vain. Lots of women get together and scrapbook like its a party. Well get 8 to 10 women together and just work on our books.”

And although Carroll got Lukes into it, it was Lukes who came up with the idea for the scrap and stamp club. After a year of talking about it, their vision came to fruition.

Located at R Tacketts Mill Drive, the business includes a main office, classroom where folks can work on their scrapbooks using the shops tools, a kids room and a store selling the latest in scrapbooking material and tools. The business also creates scrapbooks for customers.

“We can send out letters requesting information and pictures from people, and put the scrapbook together, or they can bring all their stuff to us and we can put it together,” Lukes said. “A majority of the people coming in do their own stuff.”

Creating a scrapbook for a customer can range anywhere from $200 to $600, Lukes said, but since their store sells pages for as little as 55 cents, a page can be created for under $1.

The classrooms also host “open crop” nights or build your scrapbook night in scrapbooking lingo. Customers can buy material such as pages, markers, templates, ribbon, paper, scrapbooking books and eyelets in the store, and go to work on their book in the classroom.

Also available are tools such as hole punches, scissors that cut decorative designs and border punches.

The shop also sells rubber stamps with an array of designs selling from $1 to $25 and cards, invitations and thank you notes. Folks can personalize each with any design or material the store has to offer.

“You dont have to be good at graphic design to do this. You can use book and magazine ideas. And you dont have to even be creative to do it. Its all about just getting the page done,” Lukes said. “Theres so many styles, its just a personal thing. Technically, a good page is a page thats done.”

Lukes said scrapbooking is a growing trend and every year it grows a bit more. The business gives folks a place in the county to fulfill all their scrapbooking wishes, and Lukes expects it to keep on growing.

“We get people here from all walks of life. We want people to know were here and excited and our inventory is still growing. We also want input from the community, and we want to hear about the products they love,” she added.

Virginia Scrap and Stamp Club, 2241 R Tackett’s Mill Drive, Woodbridge, (703) 494-1439

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