Turn a new page on memories
Aeryn Kelly-Reitmeyer shows off one of her favorite scrapbook pages, above. In the background is the workspace she created out of the bedroom closet. (KATHY PORTIE/Big Bear Grizzly)

It started with a photograph that wasn’t even hers. Her name is Aeryn Kelly-Reitmeyer and she is a scrapbook fanatic.

Kelly-Reitmeyer’s husband, Mike, is the photographer in the family. But when confronted with a stack of photographs and what to do with them, she decided they needed more than just a sticky photo album. “Some people use scrapbooking as a legacy for their children. I make scrapbooks that tell a story,” Kelly-Reitmeyer says in a hurried voice that barely contains her seemingly boundless energy. She likes to call her creations public journals.

Kelly-Reitmeyer made her first scrapbook in 2003 to recount a trip to Disneyland. She now has shelves and shelves of scrapbooks detailing her cat Gambit and dog Viggo’s lives. There are numerous albums spotlighting her husband’s nature photographs along with the story about reaching each location. She is planning a scrapbook containing high school memories. “Scrapbooks remind you about things going on in your life, it’s putting memory to the photographs,” Kelly-Reitmeyer says.

She uses colored papers, buttons, ribbons, lettering and glue to create unique frames for not only photographs, but stories, too. She writes about the photographs or her personal experience surrounding the taking of the photographs. “Sometimes I even scrapbook without pictures,” Kelly-Reitmeyer says. She imagines the photograph in a space on the page and designs the page around the photo. Once the photograph is printed, all she needs to do is glue the print into the designated square.

Scrapbooking is fun, but it is also big business. Pages of Tyme, a scrapbook and quilting supply store in the Village, always seems to have a crowd, especially on weekends. For owner Debra Redlinger, scrapbooking is part of her family heritage. “My dad scrapbooked during the war,” Redlinger said. “It’s a very precious thing for me. Scrapbooks can be historically relevant. It preserves memories for future generations.”

Scrapbook groups come to Big Bear nearly every weekend to enjoy the mountains and exchange ideas. Apples Bed and Breakfast on Moonridge Road is a popular place for scrapbooking and other crafts, inn owner Barbara McLean says. “There are leaders of groups who come with their customers who stay here and scrapbook for the weekend,” McLean says. The inn has two conference rooms available where overnight guests can gather for workshops. McLean says the inn meets the city’s zoning requirements for such events. “We do all kinds of craft retreats,” McLean says. “It keeps us busy on the weekends.”

The hobby can get expensive, Kelly-Reitmeyer says, but she believes it is worth every penny. There are always new pretty colors and buttons and stickers and, well you get the picture. To help keep her costs down, Kelly-Reitmeyer looks for bargains and specials on the Internet. She has also started experimenting with ways to decorate solely with paper. “If you can learn how to embellish with paper, you don’t need the other stuff,” she says.

Kelly-Reitmeyer admits she hasn’t reached the level of those who devote hours and weekends to the hobby. Being somewhat ADHD, she can’t imagine spending endless hours on one page. She says she’s heard some people get stressed about design and change things 34 times or more. “That would just drive me bonkers,” she laughs. “I can’t take anything that slow. Ideas are always cycling through my head.”

Scrapbooking doesn’t necessarily help Kelly-Reitmeyer focus her attention or slow down her thought processes, but it does allow her to catalog her memories for easier access. Even at age 25, she claims those memories are harder to recall. Scrapbooking helps bring those memories back to life. “I have a horrible memory,” she says. “I need to explain the story behind the photo.”

Scrapbooking is Kelly-Reitmeyer’s creative outlet for her writing. “I can’t draw and I can’t create on a computer, and Mike is a better photographer, so what’s the point?” she asks with a laugh.

But she can scrapbook, so she does … one quick page at a time.

Contact reporter Kathy Portie at 909-866-3456, ext. 135, or by e-mail at kportie.grizzly@gmail.com.

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