Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.
Most respondents in my study made a scrapbook as a gift at some point. Some made several while others no longer make gift scrapbooks. I heard horror stories about what gift receivers have been rumored to do with these gifts. For example, one respondent had a friend who made a scrapbook as a gift and the receiver stored the album in a garage in Florida! Now, the scrapbooker was not expecting the gift to be stored on the coffee table necessarily (as some scrapbookers report their gift-recipients had done), but they do expect some care to be taken in the storage of the scrapbook. A garage in Florida is simply too humid and will destroy the book.
Making a scrapbook as a gift often requires more time, thought, emotion, and money, than is typically put into selecting a gift. For these reasons, scrapbookers are disappointed if the gift recipient does not display what they consider to be appropriate appreciation. My findings support previous scholar’s (Kelley and Brown 2005) findings on gift scrapbooks. That is, scrapbookers selectively make scrapbooks as gifts because they quickly learn that not everyone appreciates the time, thought, emotion, and financial resources that go into creating them. These findings are similar to the findings regarding other crafters. Potts (2006:36) finds that among knitters, “time and effort mean, and make tangible, love and care” and they also are disappointed by the lack of appreciation of their hand-knitted gifts.
Like quilters who give quilts as gifts to friends and family, these gifts strengthen these ties in gendered ways (Doyle 1998; Stalp 2006). Gift scrapbooks are made for family, boyfriends and girlfriends, friends, co-workers, and children’s teachers. Co-workers are given scrapbooks as going away gifts when they retire or quit. Most often the reaction to the gift is that the recipient loves it.
Sometimes gift scrapbooks take the place of a thank you card. For example, in one respondent’s scrapbook for the respondent’s mother she included photographs of her children on the bicycles their grandma bought them with the caption, “thanks, grandma.” Most gift scrapbooks are done out of love and the scrapbooker intends the recipient to get the message that they love them through the gift scrapbook. Gift scrapbooks, like photographs, are exchanged to reaffirm family bonds (Musello 1979).
Sometimes gift scrapbookers are intentionally incomplete. For example, a scrapbooker might make an album with spots reserved for photos as a gift for a friend who is having a baby with the intent that the friend will put photos in those spots later.
Do you make scrapbooks as gifts? What has your experience with gift scrapbooks been like? Join the conversation below or on facebook.
Doyle, Amanda. 1998. “The Fabric of Their Lives: Quilters Negotiating Time and Space.” Women’s Studies Journal 14(1):107-29.
Kelley, Ryan E. and Charles M. Brown. 2005. “Cutting Up with the Girls: A Sociological Study of a Women’s Scrapbooking Club.” in The Eastern Sociological Society. Washington, D.C.
Musello, Christopher. 1979. “Family Photography.” Pp. 101-18 in Images of Information: Still Photography in the Social Sciences, edited by J. Wagner. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Potts, Brady C. 2006. “Knitting Together: Sociable Charity in a U.S. Voluntary Association.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Montréal, Québec.
Stalp, Marybeth C. 2006. “Hiding the (Fabric) Stash: Collecing, Hoarding, and Hiding Strategies of Contemporary US Quilters.” Textile 4(1):104-25.
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