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2008-11-05 / Front Page

A crafty enterprise

By Joan Tupponce
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer County author Kathleen Reid recently published a novel based on scrapbooking. She will appear during a program at the Central Library this weekend.
Author Kathleen Reid noticed the rows of scrapbooking materials at Ben Franklin Crafts each time she carried her daughters there to gather items for their school projects. She never thought much about them until one day when she experienced an "a-ha" moment.

"I began to think of scrapbooking as an art form," she said. "The idea for a book started germinating in my mind. I realized there wasn't a mainstream fiction model like that on the market."

Today there is. Reid's novel, "A Page Out of Life," hit bookstands on April 29. The book tells the story of a diverse group of women who get together to scrapbook and discover a secret as they share life's ups and downs. Reid will talk about her novel and also scrapbooking during a "Reading Gets Creative" program on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Central Library.

Books have always intrigued Reid who was a voracious reader as a child.

"I would sometimes read five books at once," she said. "I felt like each book was a doorway to a new reality."

Years later, when she was a marketing director for a financial company, she began writing articles for trade journals. She also wrote for some magazines, including Southern Living and Richmond Surroundings (now Richmond magazine). While she enjoyed working with nonfiction, her ultimate goal was to write a fiction novel.

The idea for her first novel, "Paris Match," didn't materialize until after her six-year volunteer stint as a docent at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

"The museum program was like a free art class," she explained. "We trained for a year. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know."

Her volunteer work at the museum and her growing love of art prompted her to pen a children's book in 2000 called "Magical Mondays at the Art Museum."

"The story is about a rooster and hen that magically come to life in a museum," she said. "A lot of my ideas and work come from my experiences at the museum."

Her years at the museum became an integral part of "Paris Match," which was published in 2004. The main character in the book is a gifted painter.

Shortly after "Paris Match" was published, Reid realized that scrapbooking was also part of the world of art and began researching the craft.

"I had made scrapbooks before for my anniversary, and I had made kids' scrapbooks, but I didn't realize there was another universe out there," she said. "There are so many tools and products available for people to put their own personality on each page."

During her research, Reid met Angela Allen who owns Memories Galore, a scrapbooking store in Market Square, and one of Allen's employees, Dawn Hobbs.

"I felt like I was at a certain level, but by working with Dawn, my ability went way up," Reid said. "I created a scrapbook about the novel and my characters."

Allen was glad to see Reid's enthusiasm about scrapbooking.

"The attention that Kathleen's novel has brought to scrapbooking has been absolutely wonderful," she said. "It's a privilege to know her and work with her personally. It's been fun to see her embrace this craft."

Since it was published, "A Page Out of Life" has received national press and attention from women across the country. Reid has been a featured speaker at various scrapbooking events and has been book touring in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

"Women have been touched by the book," she said. "They enjoy the story and the characters. They can connect with them."

When she appears at the library, Reid will not only talk about the characters in her book but also why she chose scrapbooking as the focus of the novel.

Tom Shepley, publicity and promotions manager of the Central Library, is thrilled to have Reid present her talk

"We have been trying to offer a different level of programming in the libraries," he explained. "We are trying to focus on arts, culture and information. We learned about Kathleen and her book and thought she was a good fit."

The interactive event will include Allen, as well.

"My role is to give participants a hands-on experience," she explained. "They will be doing a single-page layout."

Allen will provide an overview of the basic techniques of scrapbooking, from matting to journaling.

"Our store will provide all the materials and tools, so there is no out-of-pocket expense for participants," she said. "The materials will be pre-cut. We'll be keeping it simple."

Reid believes that reading and scrapbooking go back to the basics in life, something that's important in these days of economic unrest. She hopes that people enjoy her work and gain something from it. She certainly has.

"For me," she said, "it's a dream come true."

Want to attend? Reading Gets Creative will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Central Library on Saturday, Nov. 8. Call 717- 6381 or visit library.co.chesterfield.va.us to register.

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