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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Hobbies > scrapbooking

Vicki's "Scrapbooking 101"
by Vicki Molzan

Basic Scrapbook Materials

First, gather what you have:

Photos - Pull all of your photos out of magnetic albums, and get out those shoeboxes full of pictures you've been storing forever. Start first by organizing them. I've always been told to sort by year (if possible), and that is really my own preference as well. It tends to be the easiest way when you're first starting out. Then once you've got your different years all sorted out, you can then go back and put each year pretty much into chronological order. If you have decades full of old photographs to go through, then you should start by sorting them according to their decade (i.e. 1960's, 1970's, 1980's etc.).

However, some people start by organizing and sorting photos by subjects, such as events/occasions, activities, people, places, things, time, destinations/vacations, etc. Then you would want to sort each subject into chronological order. After sorting I would recommend placing these photos in an acid-free envelope or container and labeling it. This makes it easier to locate specific photos later on, when you're ready to begin working on your various themes.

Mementos - Go in search of anything you may want to preserve in your albums along with your photos. The items you have saved can really add more to the story of your theme. Some examples are ticket stubs from different events, passes, post cards, dried flowers, newspaper articles, brochures, hair clippings, invitations, old ribbons, small objects, letters, ribbons, awards, certificates and many more. Almost anything that is somewhat flat and that will fit on a page could be used. Use your imagination.

Next, round up your supplies:

Album - There are many different types/price ranges to choose from such as three ring binders, book bound/flexible binding type albums (like Creative Memories sells), and spiral bound albums. Sizes vary greatly too. Common sizes you'll find are 12x12, 8x10, and 5x7.

Some things to consider before deciding on a style, size or color of the album you'll choose:

This is very, very important. Do not use magnetic albums! Be sure to choose an archival quality album. The paper and adhesives in most magnetic albums are usually very high in acid, which in turn causes rapid deterioration of your photographs and keepsakes.

Make sure to choose an album that looks and feels sturdy. It will be handled a lot over the years.

Three ring binder type albums usually have plastic slipcovers with which you slide your pages into. Then you lock these in the three rings. The book bound/flexible albums have pages that have little staples on one side of the page. These are held in the album by a strap that you run through, basically buckled in place. These latter type albums usually do not come with plastic protective page sleeves (or simply referred to as sheet protectors); it can be optional. But in my experience these should be a necessity for anyone choosing to use this type of album, as they protect the pages from dirt, stains, spills, etc . . . as well as helping to hold your photos and mementos in place. Just a reminder, they are usually sold separately.

Cutting mat - These can be found at your local fabric stores. A good size to use is 12x18 or 18x24. Using this saves your tables/countertops from cuts and puncture holes. If you cannot afford one starting out, a large piece of flat (thick) cardboard works well (like a flattened box).

Paper - For three ring binder albums you'll need to buy appropriately sized paper to mount your photos on (i.e. 8x10 paper for an 8x10 album). Book bound/flexible albums already have paper pages included in them. Always use card stock, acid free (and lignin free if possible) paper.

Other paper (optional) you'll need for variety in page designs are as follows:
     Solid colored paper
     Vellum paper
     Embossed paper
     Textured paper

Adhesive - There are many different kinds of adhesives available today. Some of the most commonly used are:
     Photo mounting squares
     Photo tape
     Photo corners
     Tape runner
     Photo cement (Not rubber cement)

Scissors - Small and sharp work the best.

Paper trimmer/cutting board - This is by far not a necessity, but it sure makes the craft of scrapbooking so much easier. It allows you to cut long/large pieces of paper, and you have the added benefit of perfectly straight cuts (which you don't always get with scissors).

Eraser - Either a kneaded eraser, or a large white is best. Lastly you could use a Pink Pearl (common large pink school eraser), but these tend to use up fast and sometimes don't seem to work as well.

X-acto Knife and Blades - These can be found in crafts stores, grocery stores and most hardware stores. It looks like a pen or pencil with a triangular piece of razor blade on the end.

Ruler - Any 12" ruler will do just fine. If you decide later you need something a little longer, just get a 16" clear plastic right angle ruler.

Pencil - Any soft lead pencil will work fine.

Pens - You'll need to start out with at least one acid free (photo safe) archival quality pen. This will be used mainly for journaling, although having many colors/styles of acid free archival quality pens lends flair as well as variety to your pages. There are writer pens, scroll and brush pens, calligraphy pens, fine and chisel pens, and gelly roll pens. If you only plan on using one for now, a black writer is the best choice.

Other useful supplies

Not "must haves" but some (or all) are worth investing in eventually if you plan to do a lot of scrapbooking (in other words, if you plan on making this a hobby or a lifestyle!). Buy these as money allows (ask for some of it as gifts when appropriate-or ask for gift certificates to scrapbook stores to help you acquire these items).

     Colored pencils
     Chalk (and cotton swabs)
     Decorative punches
     Corner rounder (or decorative corner punches)
     Paper hole punch
     Circle (or oval) cutter
     Subscription to a scrapbook magazine (Creating Keepsakes is the best!)
     Idea books
     Lettering books
     Books with sayings in them
     Plastic shape templates
     Plastic lettering templates
     Journaling templates
     Paper dolls (you can even buy a paper doll template so you
        can custom make your own)
     Memorabilia pockets
     Rubber stamps/ink
     Embossing kit
     Decorative rulers
     Computer font CD's
     Clip art software

Organizational tools:

Again these are not "must haves" but they sure do help by making it easier to find the right supplies. Plus they have the added bonus of protecting your supplies from dust, dirt, kids (most of the time-Ha!), getting bent, etc. Knowing where your supplies are and having them easily accessible makes you scrapbook much more efficiently. Here are some typical examples:

  • Tote bags (shoulder strap/pull handle, some are with or without wheels)
  • Sticker binder (for storing stickers, die cuts, or paper)
  • Cropper Hopper workstation cart (store paper, die cuts, photos, templates etc.)
  • Filing cabinet (same as above - in files organize and store basically anything flat)
  • Plastic stackable storage drawers (similar to a filing cabinet, only clear drawers)
  • Plastic rectangle shaped storage bins with lids (any size)
Some of the above items make it very convenient to take your scrapbook supplies on the go, like for those times when you may have a scrapbook class or want to scrapbook over at a friend's house.

Some commonly used accents for pages:

I have only listed a few off of the top of my head. There are many, many more. But this just gives you some ideas:

  • Jute, raffia, netting, ribbon, floss, fishing net, string or yarn and craft wire
  • Stickers (again make sure they are always acid and lignin free)
  • Die cuts
  • Photo tinting pens (used on black and white photographs)
  • Page toppers (pre-made titles)
Choose your work area

Be sure to choose an area (if possible) where you can safely leave your supplies out for long periods of time if needed. You'll need to spread out a bit. Organization is the key here. Keeping all of your scrapbook supplies tidy and organized makes scrapbooking easier. Plus this will maximize your total efficiency. Here are some typical examples of common work areas:

  • Kitchen table
  • Desk
  • Counter
  • Card or folding table

Lastly, Vicki's Advice . . .

Creativity - The single most important advice I give to everyone is to just be totally creative! That is the whole point behind scrapbooking. Using various different things we happen to already have on hand can make for a spectacular page or theme. Vary ideas you've already seen elsewhere, or create some new ones of your own. Don't be afraid to experiment. Your creations will be just that, your own. You want your style to reflect in your work for future generations to admire.

Quality - A personal theory I've devised in this ever-growing world of scrapbooking is "quality above quantity" always. Too many times I have sat and watched friends of mine ripping apart pages that they later decide they just didn't really like. They salvage what they can (photos and such), so that they can re-do that same page over again. This, to me, is completely absurd! You wasted time putting that together, only to later destroy it and start all over. Why? Not to mention the waste of supplies (which is now money lost). So I really like to stress how important I feel it is to take the extra time to lay out your design. Get ideas, write things down, work it out with paper and pencil if you have to first. But just make sure you work slowly, with complete purpose. Take care and pride in everything you do. Don't throw together pages just to hurry and get an album completed. Don't use anything on a page that is not really what you wanted to use in the first place (in other words don't substitute something just for the sake of getting the page completed more quickly). Set it aside if you have to. Wait until you have the correct supplies that you wanted to use (that perfect background paper that you just know one of these days you'll run across, or some particular sticker you hope to find, that memento you know you have somewhere, that exact thing you knew that would make this page just perfect, whatever, you get the picture). If you follow this advice, I assure you that you'll never be dissatisfied with one single page, much less an entire album. The care you take will later show in every single page your family turns.

Journal - The last thing I will add that is equally as important as being creative is to always journal. Seasoned scrapbookers understand the importance of journaling, so you will hear this advice repeated time and time again. Always remember to journal "who," "where," "what," and "when" on every single page that you do. Think of how wonderful it is (or would have been) to sit down and read what your great-great grandmother wrote about events, times, places, etc, from her time? And how special it would be to actually see her handwriting! You need to make sure that you always preserve your stories and such as well as your unique handwriting for your future family to adore as well.

Okay, are you ready now? Let's get started!

Vicki MolzanCopyright 2001 by Vicki Molzan. All rights reserved. Vicki Molzan is a married mother of four children, who enjoys working from home running her scrapbooking website and writing freelance. She's the founder of Scrapperrific - a global scrapbooking and rubber stamping community. Visit this cozy community, experience their fun "Cookie Culture". Learn new scrapbooking and rubber stamping techniques, enjoy contests, participate in swaps, and meet others from all around the globe who share in this same scrap-passion.

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