Don't underestimate the power of paper. On one hand, yes, it can blow away with a breeze. But in the right hands, paper can hold treasured memories and carry messages straight from the heart.
Ask any scrapbooker or card maker. Right on time for the holidays, in-person and virtual resources are available on Long Island to guide all levels of crafters in these homey, hands-on projects.
"Scrapbooking is a personal and creative way to preserve memories through pictures and writings," says Renee Kolasinski, 64, who owns Scrap-A-Latte in West Babylon and previously ran Scrapbook Patch in Miller Place. "Collecting memories feels more precious than ever right now. Life can change in an instant."
Divided roughly in half into distinct areas with racks of merchandise for retail shopping and tables for crafting and classes in the other, Kolasinski’s 1,000-square-foot store has been a haven for scrapbookers since opening in 2015.
COVID-19 put a major dent in the business and caused her to pivot her business plan. Scrap-a-Latte now features card-making materials such as stamps, dies and kits, plus tutorials. In addition to socially distanced in-person classes, Kolasinski now offers virtual lessons and an online store.
"I wasn’t a card maker before," says Kolasinki. "I fought change. But I knew I needed to add that side of the business. I brought in card making."
Dawn Devodier, 50, a mortgage banker in North Babylon, is a Scrap-A-Latte regular who believes crafting benefits both mind and soul.
"Looking through my past scrapbooking projects, I was reminded not only of the wonderful memories that I have," she says, "but also how much I’ve grown creatively."
Nadia Barbuto, 50, a homemaker in Massapequa Park, has covered every subject from A (apple picking) to Z (zoo visits at White Post Farm in Melville) in her 30 years of scrapbooking and card making. She shares her decades of hands-on experience teaching classes at Let’s Craft, a gym for crafters in Westbury.
"I’ve tried digital scrapbooking and it’s not the same," says Barbuto. "I love pretty paper. There are so many textures and colors. I like handwriting captions that tell the story."
Printmaker Larissa Grass, 40, education coordinator at Gallery North in East Setauket, is deeply versed in the power of paper and creativity.
She scrapbooked her wedding 14 years ago, filling the album with pictures, cutouts and personal writings. She created ones for her two children, Ripley, 10, and Grayson, 7.
"I felt making them myself had more meaning than having books made," she says. "Scrapbooking is a form of documentation, an extension of yourself. It’s a way to translate how you’re feeling into something creative."
The same holds for handmade cards for any occasion. At Gallery North, a small campus with a studio and exhibition space, socially distanced in-person card-making workshops in November and December sold out twice as fast as in previous years.
Why so much interest? "We’ve all been distancing from people we normally spend time with and want to be together," says Grass. "As the holidays approach, people are thinking about how the gifts they give this year can be truly meaningful. There’s nothing more meaningful than something handmade."
Alison Dictor, 57, who lives in Merrick and is a controller and human resources director for an IT company, prefers scrapbooks over photo collections. "Scrapbooks are designed to give you space to write and tell the story of what’s happening," she says. "It’s more personal, more complete."
PAPER WORKSHOP RESOURCES
Scrap-a-Latte: 879 Little East Neck Rd., West Babylon; 631-482-9190; scrapalatte.net. Scrapbooking and card making workshops run various dates each month. Christmas card making classes are set for Dec. 1 at various times. Cost: $10-28.
Let’s Craft: 1025 Old Country Rd., Suite 330, Westbury; 516-206-2509; letscraft.org. Winter/holiday card making workshops are set for Dec. 1 and 10 at 6:30 p.m. Sign up in advance at the shop site. Cost: $30.
Gallery North: 90 N. Country Rd., East Setauket, 631-751-2676; gallerynorth.org. Card making classes vary per demand. Call for schedule.