Upcoming Events At Whispering Winds
- March 20-22: Making New Friends. The retreat is open to individuals who would like to meet new people who love scrapbooking.
- April 24-26: Do You Fondue? Fondue is on the menu for the Friday night gathering May 29-31: Scraparita. There will be a margarita buffet Saturday afternoon with chips and salsa.
- July 17-19: Scraptini: A martini reception is a chance to get mellow either Friday or Saturday evening.
- Aug. 21-23: Scrapalicious: Dessert reception on Friday or Saturday evening and you keep the leftovers.
- Oct. 23-25: Scrapicure: Includes a basket of goodies to do your nails and/or toes. Cost for these events is $80 plus tax per person per night with a minimum two-night stay. If guests pay for three nights, the fourth is free. For information and dates on Peacock’s 2009 scrapbooking crops in Pigeon Forge, see her Web site, www. smokymountainscrapbooking. com.
What started as a whim is now a full-fledged business, a sisterhood of the traveling scrapbook pages. Sitting high on a hill in Sevierville is a quaint Victorian house where you won't find husbands, children, phones, TVs or even a Wi-Fi connection.
What you will find are women clustered around big tables piled high with family photos, scrapbook papers, ribbons, stickers, embellishments, scissors, glue and tape. Camaraderie, smiles, laughter and shared ideas spark chaotic creativity as blank pages become treasured works of art.
Bonnie Peacock found a way to share her love of scrapbooking with other women at the urging of a couple of friends. In 2001, she launched her first scrapbooking event, known in the craft circle as a "crop," in Pigeon Forge. She continues to offer those, but has added a more intimate experience for a smaller group of women.
In May, she took a house she and her husband Jim own, decorated the four bedrooms with twin beds in soft pastel fabrics and antique furniture. The living room is filled by a huge table, the dining room with a smaller one. Craft lights add to the natural light from lots of windows.
A kitchen table seats 10 and a long wall of built-in shelving holds plenty of rubber stamps, ink pads, and lots of the latest "toys," like a Circit machine, a 12-by-12-inch color printer, a computer loaded with a variety of fonts and a Sizzix die-cutter.
Whispering Winds Scrapbook Retreat opens its doors to scrapbookers from far and near. In addition to being available for rent by groups, Peacock also offers a series of themed events for a long weekend of crafting. A recent group learned some tips on healthy eating along with crafting fun and meeting new people.
Friends Deanna Duram and Michelle Gray left husbands and children behind in Atlanta for their first trip to the retreat after hearing about it at a scrapbooking event. "We went online and said, 'Ooh, we have to do this!' " Duram laughs. "It's great to have a dedicated space, go sleep, come back and start up again."
The two claimed the dining room. "There's room to spread out away from the husband and little people and focus," Gray says. She brought photos from a long summer vacation to several destinations to put into a scrapbook, as she says, before she forgets the details of her travels. "I'm not real good at making notes," she laughs.
Peacock's sister, Kathy Connors of Knoxville, doesn't have to travel far for the sisters to share their hobby. "I started with Bonnie's scrapbooking weekends," says Connors, who is retired. "It's wonderful, really fun to come up here, get away from everything." She finds it nice to sometimes slip away from the scrapbook table to be by herself curled up in a wicker chair on the front porch, read a book or take a snooze.
Fellow Knoxvillian Marissa Miller likes the idea of sharing ideas with the other women. "I put all kinds of things in them," she says of scrapbooks that cover everything from her college years to recent family vacations. "I'll put tickets, receipts, anything that can be glued down!" That penchant for embellishments, however, has her working about five years behind events.
Jeanie Raulerson of Sevierville has known Peacock for years and lives about a mile away. Sometimes, sneaking off to Whispering Winds to help her with retreat guests is the only time they get to have fun together. Raulerson takes a different approach to the craft, turning scrapbook pages into a calendar for a friend. The photos of the two sharing good times has become a traditional holiday gift. "I'm not finished this year," Raulerson laughs as she fans out the 2009 calendar pages in her hand. "She's just going to have to get it late, but it's like having a part of us to share every day."
Kathy Duncan of Sevierville has been friends with Peacock since their days working together at Silver Dollar City, now Dollywood. It was she and Raulerson who set Peacock on the scrapbooking business path.
With three children and three grandchildren, Duncan has a lot of scrapbooking materials to deal with when she's not working for a Sevierville law firm. "I try to do an album a year - and I always do a Christmas album," she says.
One thing the women all agree on; the craft feeds the need to do something creative. Doing it sans family responsibilities makes it all the more fun. Peacock has done her best to put the "girly" feel into the surroundings in the cozy Victorian. There's even a spiral staircase leading to the turret atop the house where a telescope offers panoramic views of the rolling countryside and the mountains.
All the bathrooms have milk bath, bath salts and soap handmade by Peacock. "All the rooms are my favorites," says Peacock, who has named them Wild Iris, Secret Garden, Sweet Briar Rose and Cornflower. One of the rooms has a rooftop patio, a perfect spot to relax with a cup of coffee. A patio in the lower yard is equipped with a barbecue for outdoor cooking.
For themed weekends, Peacock does much of the cooking. "They come for the scrapbooking and the meals are a plus," she laughs.
Suzanne Foree Neal is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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