Thousands turn out for scrapbook event

PORTLAND — As Joyce Reno, 70, affixed rose-shaped ribbons to decorated paper at an activity booth last weekend during a scrapbook convention in Portland, she explained how she became hooked on the centuries-old pastime. She started 17 years ago after a divorce, and like thousands of others this weekend, remains committed for its tangible and social perks.

"I've been to every scrapbook convention in Portland the past 13 years," said Reno, of Crabtree, east of Albany. "Somehow, I learn a new technique at every one."

Creating Keepsakes magazine put on its annual event March 25 and 26 at the Oregon Convention Center. Nearly 4,000 so-called scrappers, virtually all women, turned out during the two days for the glue-and-go booths, cropping workshops and ribbon vendors at the publication's third-largest national event, outpaced only by Valley Forge, Pa., and St. Louis, Mo.

Cheryl Ragnone, 64, of Oregon City mentioned a point repeated by scores of women this weekend: Scrapping goes beyond telling a story. There is, after all, a satisfying psychological component.

Shelley Tynan of the Detroit, Mich., area, who was an event vendor, agreed.

"Many women are touchy people in that they like the 3D," she said. "They enjoy working with their hands in books. Plus, it's a social activity that brings friends and family together."

Tynan said "the bling" was her hottest accessory over the weekend.

"The sparklies, the glitteries, anything that sparkles sells really well."

Dan David, 59, of Fontana, Calif., who travels with the event and has been in the scrapbook business for decades, said Internet photo and story sharing will never replace the sentimentality of true-to-life scrapbooking.

"Nothing can tell a story the same way as a passed-down scrapbook," he said. "And look at all the people here today who know this."

Before they headed to separate scrapbook workshops, Sennie DeLong, 38, of Grants Pass, and Mary Lofton, 45, of Woodburn, sat at one of many rows of tables adjacent to the craft vendors where attendees ate lunch and swapped design ideas. The two women met for the first time Saturday and said scrapbooking is a bond that can sometimes turn strangers into close friends.

"Not only do my friends love doing it on weekends, but our kids love looking at them," DeLong said. "It's not a sleepy event for us."

"It's a passion for doing tactile things, and it's a part of my past," Lofton said. "I started as a little girl and now I make them for children in my family."

Back at an activity booth, Reno added that she's in good shape if making scrapbooks remains her sole vice.

"I don't do drugs. Don't do drinks. Don't buy all my clothes at Nordstrom. I gotta do something," Reno said. "It's what we do with our girlfriends on weekends. It's how we preserve memories. I'll never stop."

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