Karen Collins’s basement is a scrapbooking mecca.
The brightly colored downstairs rooms in her Flowery Branch home contain a multitude of materials for helping passionate scrapbookers save memories.
Crisp white cabinets line the back wall and contain drawers, cubbies and shelves full of buttons, hand-made paper and stickers to decorate pages and enhance the participants’ already plentiful scrapbooking collections.
All this to help passionate scrapbookers assemble memories into keepsake albums.
On a recent Friday evening, the basement brimmed with supplies and scrapbooking enthusiasts during one of Collins’ weekend scrapbooking retreats.
What started as a chance for the girls to get together, scrapbook and chat has turned into Scrappin’ Retreats Inc. Collins’ company organizes the weekend retreats as ways for women to work on their scrapbooking without the normal distractions of work and family.
Collins hosts retreats at hotels and resorts for private groups. For those who don’t need a 48-hour scrapbooking stretch, there is the day-guest option, which allows the participant to stay for just Friday night.
“The purpose of the weekend retreats is for scrapbookers to get away from their home, their routine and be able to concentrate on what they love to do,” Collins said.
Recently, the largest room in Collins’ basement was lined with long tables where each scrapbooker had strategically laid out supplies such as embellishments, designing scissors and photos. There are tools to cut photos to a certain size and glue to stick photos onto pages of an album.
Plus, retreat attendees have brought their own supplies in stuffed hatboxes, bags and suitcases that now sit close to the tables.
For some, the retreats are addictive. Consultant Arneshia Echols of Flowery Branch said she has been on nine scrapbooking retreats within the past three years.
“This is my weekend to scrapbook for myself, not to work,” Echols said. “It’s my time to scrapbook in peace.”
As the scrapbook party raged on in the basement, upstairs rooms at Collins’ house hosted a slumber party. But many of the beds were likely to remain vacant until the early morning hours; several of the scrapbookers said they would pull all-nighters working on their scrapbooks and jamming out to music on their iPods.
A full downstairs kitchen allowed scrapbookers to take a break and re-energize by preparing a meal before diving right back into scrapbooking.
If someone didn’t bring a scrapbooking item, then Collins probably had it: from a laser cutter to a computer loaded with photo editing software, the basement is a scrapbooking treasureroom.
Soft pop music hummed in the background while the women chatted and worked on page layouts.
Carrie Harwell of Acworth, a massage therapist, likened the scrapbook retreat to a “modern-day quilting bee,” but along with the chitchat, there were margaritas.
“The retreat gives you time and space to set aside just to give your scrapbook style,” Harwell said. She had colorful pages spread out over her open scrapbook as she arranged photos for them.
“There are no distractions and no kids. Just pictures of kids, and they’re quieter in pictures.”
For Brandi Gill of Acworth, a designer with a scrapbook manufacturer, scrapbooking takes up more time, money and luggage space than traveling.
Using supplies from three suitcases she brought along, she laid out pages commemorating her recent trip to Washington, D.C. for her husband’s birthday.
“I probably spent more on the scrapbook than I did on the trip, and it wouldn’t be the first trip,” Gill said.
The walls were covered with scrapbooking page examples hung by ribbons, and for the next 48 hours, these women had everything they needed to preserve memories while immersed in this scrapbooking oasis.
For whatever amount of time that guests choose to stay, the experience allows them to channel their energy into the craft of scrapbooking. Pages make experiences such as vacations and birthdays even more personal with designs and colors framing cherished photos.
“What I enjoy most is just seeing the looks on their faces when they know they can bring home 20 new pages they hadn’t had done before and the excitement of what their families are going to say. Their kids love looking through the books, and their husbands are really supportive of them doing this; they love looking at what they’ve done over the weekend.”