“A zen state”. This is how Elena Roche describes her feelings when she enters the world of scrapbooking, the technique for decorating traditional photo albums with all kinds of objects. As the alter ego of Pega Papel o Tijeras and member of Carrotcake, her Youtube channel has over 260,000 followers. In recent years, the interest in this and other creative hobbies such as knitting, lettering, or drawing letters, or miniature DIY has grown, and they have more and more followers here. Proof of this is increasing number of visitors who attend the Handmade Festival every year, the main event in the sector organized by Fira de Barcelona and the creative agency Evident Events.

One of the explanations for this boom in the world of do it yourself are the evident health benefits that it provides. Faced with the need to disconnect from the pressure of everyday life, the traditional techniques and skills of yesteryear are being revived in forms suited to the 21st century. According to a study lead by the therapist Betsan Crokhill in 2013, creative handicrafts provide a number of health benefits. The research was based on a survey of more than 3,500 amateur weavers, showed that more than half of those taking part claimed to feel “very happy” while weaving. In fact, an overwhelming proportion said that the only reason they did it was because of the feeling relaxation and relief from stress that it gave them. Those who did weaving more than three times a week were calmer, happier, less depressed and suffered less anxiety, and had more confidence in themselves. The study by Corkhill concluded that handicrafts “had psychological and social benefits that could contribute to well-being and quality of life”.

The positive effects provided by handicrafts are so evident that several medical centres have added them as therapeutic resources in their treatments. One of these pioneering centres is the Hospital Regional de Màlaga which started promoting scrapbooking activities in 2014 among its outpatients with mental health issues. The therapy is centred on groups of eight people who make personalised photo albums by adding decorative materials such as buttons, stickers or paper cuttings. The occupational therapists who run the workshops have noted a number of therapeutic benefits. The patients who take part have improved in terms of memory; their self-esteem has risen; they have also shown clear improvement in their levels of relaxation. They have also observed that this technique has increased their capacity for personal expression and problem solving.

Handicrafts are back and are here to stay, and are no longer child’s play.