Making Memories is very curious. From where it sits on the corner of 6th Ave and 3rd Street in Nakusp, it looks like your average home, although one with an “OPEN” sign in the window.
Once inside (you have to ring the bell and keep the cats indoors), visitors find themselves confronted with an eye-melting array of coloured paper, ribbon, sparkles, cards, embossing machines, stamps, and much much much more. There is so much more that there’s not much left of Ken and Moira Miller’s living room as the scrapbooking business has slowly eaten up the space over the last seven years.
“My husband has one tiny chair by the TV,” said store owner Moira Miller. “Now he’s made a man cave with heat in the shop and hides out there during classes.”
Miller’s quiet humour is always bubbling beneath the surface as she ushers me around the front room craft store. It’s a very cozy blend of home and work: you have to pass through the kitchen in order to get to the former-living room-turned-craft-central. Tucked in one corner is friend and scrapbooker Judy Struck, drinking tea.
“Where do you want to start?” Miller asked, but my mind had been blown by the onslaught of textures, colours and objects.
Seeing I was clearly at a loss, she led me to the small room that used to be a vestibule but is now stuffed full of rhinestones, stamps, paper punches, envelopes, fancy brads, glitter and did I mention stamps? Pulling out what looked like a good-sized photo album, she showed me the unadorned book part of scrapbooking, a ring or post binder where the creative can put their decorated memories.
“Journalling is supposed to be a big part of scrapbooking,” Miller told me. “Photos are no good if we don’t know who’s in them and where. Eventually you get rid of them.” At my mother’s house, there are a few boxes of black and white photos of mysterious relatives that have a nose or chin or eyes that look familiar… or maybe not. Maybe we have a box of strangers. Being mostly unlabelled, where the pictures have been taken is largely unknown, with often only a shack or car as background (the only earl we had in our family was the Earl of Dixon and he didn’t live at Downton Abbey).
The rise in scrapbooking is an archivist’s dream: at last, photos are labelled and put in a context, mysterious no more. Usually, the books have a theme, or are made to document a special event (Judy Struck just finished three wedding books, for example). Miller even has a scrapbook about scrapbooking that she started when she and Struck began learning the craft a decade ago. Flipping through it, she giggles at its simplicity as well as the photos’ millennial hairstyles from back in the day.
This first book, as well as being a record of different crafting techniques like torn paper, is also a visual account of their journey to their first “crop,” or gathering of scrapbookers. “Crop” circles are day-long affairs that can run for a single day or for several in a row. Taking its name from paper cropping, the events are 10-12 hours of nonstop crafting that usually include food. And the Scrappy Chicks here in Nakusp hold a crop once a month at the Seniors’ Hall with about a dozen women coming to scrap it up. Lately numbers have been down, with some Chicks having “excuses like a broken shoulder,” said Miller rolling her eyes in mock disbelief. Nakusp crops sound a lot like very crafty parties: they often have a theme and participants are encouraged to dress up and run with it.
Miller carts enough crafting materials to cover five fold-up tables to some out-of-town crops, the most notable of which is the Crop for the Cure that’s held in Genelle in the springtime. The event is a four-day crop fundraiser to help people dealing with cancer, and has been able to help two families in Nakusp with $500 donations this year.
“Nakusp girls always raise the most money,” said Miller, who is understandably proud to be part of the event.
A crop would be overwhelming for a newbie, and Miller is happy to run through the basics of scrapbooking with newcomers so they have a grasp of the lingo, and the different glues and tapes, and how to cut, mat and trim, and what a brad is. If you’re keen to start, bring eight to ten pictures and a theme and Miller will show you the basics of layout. For those daunted by the commitment that a scrapbook takes, there are card-making classes every week at Making Memories, or you could try making a calendar. Or if you really don’t have time, you can buy a card made by Moira and Nicoline at Carson’s Corner.
But really, if you like crafts of any kind, or just like colour and neat things, go explore the store that ate the Miller’s living room. Making Memories is usually open Monday to Thursday 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.