FAIRFIELD — Fairfield resident Sharon Lim is crafty.
Not deceptive, but in the other dictionary definition of that word – “relating to making decorative objects by hand.”
Lim, 46, has authored a blog called Sharon It With You since 2008 that shares her skills at different crafting projects. Lim’s love of figuring out how to create and re-create cards, invitations and other items can be traced back to her childhood inspiration, her grandmother.
“Growing up, my grandma could do anything. She could knit, cook, you name it,” Lim said. “She was from China and didn’t speak any English so it kind of fascinated me that she could do anything she set her mind to.”
Lim remembers the thrill of making artistic projects in elementary school, such as decorated Valentine’s Day mailboxes fashioned from tissue or shoe boxes for classmates to distribute (often handmade) valentines. She also threw herself completely into origami in seventh grade when a friend introduced her to the classic Japanese paper-folding art form.
But it really wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that Lim found her creative niche. It coincided with the explosion of interest in scrapbooking fueled by the growth of (now defunct) Creative Memories that offered new ways to preserve and display family photographs and other memorabilia.
“I went to one Creative Memories class and they said to bring some pictures to create a page,” Lim said. “I went and Wham! I was totally hooked.”
Lim describes herself as a pack rat who saved schoolwork from kindergarten through high school. She was fascinated that there was a way to make her memorabilia pretty as opposed to just having it taking up space in a box. As it happens, a box from one of her six sisters was Lim’s first big project.
“My sister Frances has four kids and she came over with a huge box and said, “Here.”
I said, “What’s this?”
She said, “My kids’ pictures. Have fun.”
“I made it my mission to create albums and it took me a good six to eight months to fashion them all into five scrapbooks,” Lim said.
Lim works as a trainer at the Vacaville biotechnology company Genentech and predictably is known to her co-workers as “The Card Lady.” While she has a fully stocked craft closet in her home with paper, ribbons, punches and much more, connecting with other crafters and facilitating the sharing of ideas and projects is her passion.
“I have held monthly scrapbooking events at Genentech in a big conference room on the weekends for about the last five or six years,” Lim said. “. . . Everybody gets two 6-foot tables. I buy snacks and drinks and we order pizza and spend a good eight hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., just cranking stuff out.”
Lim’s forte is paper and she considers herself a “paper fiend.” Her creations usually have a special feature.
“A lot of my cards either move or bend or pop up somehow. I always say that the cards I’m making need to entertain not just you, but me as well,” Lim said.
The Internet in general, and the rise of social media in particular, has fueled the sharing of craft ideas with sites like Pinterest. It is about sharing, not theft.
“We have a saying in our group that we CASE. That stands for Copy And Share Everything. When we see something exciting we say, ‘I’m going to CASE that!’ ” Lim said.
The genesis of Lim’s Sharon It With You blog goes back to when she took a sabbatical to do volunteer work in the Cook Islands as part of Global Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that sponsors “volunteer vacations” all over the globe. It started as just a way to relay to friends what she was doing while so far from home and eventually it morphed into a reflection of her crafting passion.
Sharon It With You has tutorials on how to make decorative handmade cards, invitations, announcements, calendars, gift boxes and numerous ideas, and demonstrations on both digital and traditional scrapbooking, among other things.
Before working at Genentech, Lim was a Montessori teacher for seven years. Her teaching experience, coupled with years of being the designated birthday party organizer for her sister’s three children that all have birthdays in late February, turned her into a kid’s party planning expert.
“I’m proud to say that I once did a combination Lord of the Rings/My Little Pony/SpongeBob Squarepants party,” Lim said. “My ‘Seven Steps to a Perfect Children’s Party’ is on my blog and I can have kids in and out in about two and a half hours.”
Lim has been a certified demonstrator for decorative stamp-making company Stampin’ Up for 11 years, but only recently started to try to make any money doing it.
“Up until now, myself and my sister have been my biggest customers,” Lim said.
Ultimately, what motivates Lim is not necessarily profit, but just what the name of her blog implies.
“The best part is being able to share what I love to do and create something that people will enjoy,” Lim said.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].