Homeward Bound: Chapter 10 (The Last Chapter)

This is the last (planned) post on Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar.

Matchar writes how writing this book allowed her to “realize that domestic perfection on the Internet is often an illusion” (p. 231). Absolutely! Personally, when I began this blogging adventure I started to subscribe by RSS to every scrapbooking blog I came across. While this was to really just to get a lay of the land in the context of my research, it was also fun. At first. Then it was just overwhelming and repetitive. Many scrappy-bloggers have a consistent style and it works for them and is often quite wonderful. But, seeing it over and over again, became boring. I also wanted more supplies. I felt like I needed this supply or that supply and while I do use from my stash (I recently scrapped with a ten-year-old sheet of pattern paper), I was spending too much on supplies I really didn’t need (remember, the stash?).

I unsubscribed from most of the blogs. I want less. It dawned on me a few weeks ago that I had hardly bought any scrapbooking supplies this year compared to years past, yet I never felt like I was missing the perfect element.

I would like to adapt Matchar’s point:

Scrapbook perfection on the Internet is an illusion. 

While, Matchar offers several concluding lessons in this chapter, I’ve written on most of these lessons already in this series so I won’t rehash everything here. Instead, I would like to focus on her lesson about the class issues involved in new domesticity. She writes, “In an era where free time is the ultimate luxury, time-consuming types of cooking, child rearing, and crafting speak to affluence and wealth of choices” (p. 244).

It is so important to keep in mind that my choices (and options) are not the same as yours. We do not all choose from among the same options. Our social class (and gender, race, etc.) profoundly shapes the available choices that we have. Let’s take an example. A system like Project Life lowers the entry bar to scrapbooking because there is no need for any tools or adhesive. Yet, it appears it would still probably cost $50-100 to complete an album (plus prints). Having never purchased the Project Life system, I do not know what the cost of a complete PL album might be. I could be underestimating, but I doubt I am overestimating. For some perspective, I have students (I teach at my local community college) that quit coming to class because they don’t have the gas money to come to class. For some (many) even the Project Life price point is too high.

Now, I haven’t priced a complete layout of mine in some time, but most of my layouts probably cost $2-4 each (assume the sheet of paper is $1-2, $0.45 for prints, a partial alpha pack, adhesive, paper trimmer, marker, page protector, album, and any embellishments). This price point is too high for most people. Think about it. This means every complete album easily runs $104-208 (26 page protectors, 2 layouts per protector in my most recently completed album).

Scrapbooking is a very affordable hobby in comparison to many other hobbies (such as golf), yet still the price point is too high for most Americans. If you add international shipping charges, the hobby becomes even more out of reach outside of the U.S. It would be awesome if the industry made a concerted effort to lower the price point to increase access to the hobby. Right now that happens through the availability of product at big box stores, which in turn undermines local scrapbook stores. I’m not sure what the solution is, but if the industry wants more scrapbookers, the industry needs to take a very close look at the lives of potential scrapbookers and strive to make the price points accessible to lower-income scrapbookers. If scrapbooking is a hobby for everyone, then the price points need to reflect that and scrapbookers should not be made to feel bad for shopping at a big box store because that is all their budget allows.

I am able to scrapbook because I can make the time to do it and can afford to do it. It’s not because I have such a great life that just needs to be recorded or out of guilt or religious obligation. I get to scrapbook because my class privilege allows it.

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  • Nat

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts on this book! I agree – Scrapbooking is the hobby that I have time to and means to do. I don’t feel like it’s because I think my life is more important and thus worth documenting.

  • Thanks for commenting and seconding my point.