Note: Today's guest blogger Agatha nominee Joanna Campbell Slan will admit to scrapbooking hair and baby teeth, but no stitches as of yet. Her most recent book—Photo, Snap, Shot—was released May 1. Visit her also at www.KillerHobbies.blogspot.com. Welcome, Joanna!
When mystery lovers get together, the talk often turns to murder or…worse. Recently the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime grossed out an entire restaurant by sharing a medical examiner’s lecture over the public address system. Back in a “private” dining room, the crime fiction authors and fans were having a terrific time taking notes on maggots, autopsies, and how long it takes skin to slough off a corpse.
Of course, mystery lovers don’t have a corner on the weird and the bizarre. Scrapbookers can be pretty “out there,” too. As the author of a mystery series featuring ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein, I attend a lot of scrapbooking events. In the industry, we call these “crops.” Used to be, scrapbookers would attend parties where they would “crop” or cut their photos. I once saw a woman “crop” her husband’s head out of a photo. As you might guess, the divorce proceedings started shortly thereafter.
At any given crop, there used to be a whole lot of slicing and dicing going on. Technology has changed that. Most scrapbookers now know how to use PhotoShop. Today the offending spouse can be removed from the page, one pixel at a time. A few savvy scrappers even have been known to use the “dissolve” function. That works a treat on chubby thighs and other overly generous body parts. One of my friends even gave herself a boob lift. I saw the results. Took off ten years and two cups sizes.
Another favorite scrapbooking activity is the inclusion of “ephemera” on our pages. “Ephemera” is a fancy word for trash. The dictionary defines it as “something that is transitory and without lasting significance.” See? We’re talking trash, people. Think: ticket stubs, receipts, programs, tags, labels, fliers, and you’ll get the picture.
Except that scrapbookers often go that extra mile. We don’t stop with paper ephemera. Glues have gotten stickier. Manufacturers have created small plastic pockets that can be sealed tight. Now, we can add just about anything to a page. Even stuff that might later develop an odor. I’ve seen pages that feature children’s baby teeth and removed medical items, such as stitches. Actually stitches (after they’ve been pulled out, natch) are pretty common. But more common by far is the inclusion of hair. Nor is this a recent trend. Back in the mid-1800s, a man named Peter Arvell Browne actually created a scrapbook that included samples of hair from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
Coming a full circle here, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that there are definitely things you should NOT scrapbook. Erika and Benjamin Sifrit went on a killing spree in Atlantic City back in 2002. They might have gotten away with it, except that Erika was a scrapbooker. When the police stopped them for another crime, something really silly and petty, the authorities found bullet casings in her purse.
My hunch is she planned to scrapbook them.