Favorite Scrapbooking Companies and Products
by Vicki Molzan
I personally mostly use the Creative Memories albums myself. They hold up extremely well. They are expandable. They have gorgeous book look spines on them. And most of all they look beautiful for a reasonable amount of money. I will tell you that I have found those exact same albums at scrapbook and craft stores in the last few years. And for a MUCH lower cost too. I cannot vouch for how well these are made though, since I have not yet bought one to try out. But I'm assuming they must be very comparable. CM (Creative Memories) 12"x12" albums are approximately $36.00 where as these knock offs were in the range of $20.00-$25.00 per 12"x12" album. Quite a sizeable price difference. So if you're looking to save money yet have a very quality looking album go in search of one. I know I will purchase one the next time I go shopping for one.
I tend to work in 12"x12" mostly. They allow for the most story telling and the most pictures per page. They are wonderful as wedding albums, heritage albums, family photo albums, baby albums, strictly vacation albums and the list is just endless! I also have several 5"x7" albums too. These are fantastic to use for a brag book (to send Grandma or anyone). 8 1/2" x 11" albums are great for kid albums, school, graduation, vacations, also a heritage album (if you don't have many old photos), or a strictly memorabilia type album. CM in just the last few years has started making a brand new album size. I'd like someday to work on one. It's called their Big Book album, and it's a generous 12"x15".
I have almost what you'd call a fetish when it comes to how much paper I have. I can never seem to have enough! I buy printed papers, different textured paper, plain colored paper, all varieties of vellum . . . you name it! Using different types of paper throughout your albums gives variety, and it just looks so neat. It allows you to be super creative. One particular brand of paper that beginners (and seasoned scrappers) will appreciate is made by a company called Hot Off The Press. In fact they are a local company (about 20 minutes away from me) right here in Oregon. They have gone National though from last I knew. In fact at this point they may even be global (as far as where they ship/sell product). Their line of paper and cut outs are called Paper Pizazz. And what I'm really referring to is their Memory Album Paper Books. What they are is a book (either 12"x12" or 8 1/2" x 11") filled with all kinds of various patterned papers that you just tear out to use in your albums. They have tons of these books available, and each book is themed too. Example: their Memory Album Paper Book - Pastel Plaids is a book with only pastel colored plaid paper inside. I'll name a few more so you get the idea how wonderful these are . . . Our Vacations (papers all decorated with different vacation themes), Birthday Time, Christmas Time, Mickey and Friends, Dots Check Plaids & Stripes, Baby . . . and this list goes on and on! I cannot vouch enough for how wonderful this product has been for me.
When it comes to scrapbooking, I think everyone should own at least a few good idea books. They can really help motivate your creativity when you've hit a slump and run out of ideas. They are also wonderful for people who "think" they have no creativity. It's amazing how you can create your own ideas (or many other new ideas) just by seeing someone else's first. Plus variation is absolutely endless when it comes to idea books and how you can put those ideas to use. Remember, you don't have to love the colors used in a particular themed page. But if it's the basic premise of the idea that you love, well by all means use it and just swap the colors to fit your own particular style or to match your photos.
Below I'll list all of the idea books that I own:
- Journaling Genie by Chatterbox
- Back to the Basics with Speed Scrappin' by Chatterbox
- The Scrapbooker's Book Of Alphabets by Chatterbox
- The Scrapbooker's Best Friend Volume One by Chatterbox
- The Scrapbooker's Best Friend Volume Two by Chatterbox
- The Scrapbooker's Best Friend Volume Three by Chatterbox
- The Scrapbooker's Instant Interviews Volume One by Chatterbox
- The Journaling Genie Idea Book (For Journaling Genies #1 - #6) by Chatterbox (Do you get the idea just how much I LOVE all of the above products by Melody Ross and her company Chatterbox?)
- Creative Memories - Scrapbook Page Design and Layout Ideas books (I have Volumes 3-6.) This particular series of ideas books are some of the very best available today.
- Creative Memories - Fast Formulas books (I have the first and second editions)
Both of the Creative Memories books are perfect for the beginner. Two great benefits regarding the CM series of Design And Layout Ideas and Fast Formula books are that they only run around $10.00 each, and they're all jam-packed with tons of ideas. You'll definitely get the most for your money out of these books.
- Cynthia Hart's Scrapbook Workshop by Cynthia Hart
- The 1999 Scrapbook Idea Book by Creating Keepsakes (Their whole entire line of idea books are just excellent! Any they have so many!)
There are several scrapbook magazines out in circulation. But the one I love and cannot say enough good things about is "Creating Keepsakes." It has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me over the last three years. This would be a wonderful and very worthwhile investment for someone just starting out. The ideas are endless. In every issue they show tons of layouts and even many variations for doing those same layouts. They tell you exactly what supplies you'll need (just as an idea book will). They review new scrapbook products, as well as show those products being put to use. In every issue they have instructions for a new style of lettering that you can hand write yourself. They also always include an insert that has some type of themed printing on it. You can then color the pictures or letters in, cut them out and use them on your own pages. For instance, one month (the March issue) there was an Irish theme. They had the word "March" at the top of the page, then various pictures like a leprechaun, flowers, shamrocks, etc . . . This company also puts out some neat lettering CD's too. They now have four separate volumes. You can use the various fonts on the CD's to make titles for your pages, or to just journal with. Then print them off and adhere them right into your album . . . just another thing to simplify yet still allow you lots of creativity. As I said above they have lots of different idea books available too: Wedding, Baby, Vacations, 1999 Scrapbook Hall Of Fame, and 2000 Scrapbook Hall Of Fame, The 2000 Idea Scrapbook, this list also goes on and on.
There are many good adhesives available out on the market these days. What I have found that I don't like using is any type of glue stick. Of several I've used over the years I've begun noticing that things I used to glue down with a glue stick are coming apart after only four years. I have had wonderful luck with photo spilts, tape runners and photo tape (all three of which are made by Creative Memories). You can find similar products by different manufacturers. I personally have not ventured out much in the adhesive department as of yet. As I do though, I'll be sure to update my likes as well as dislikes in this area. I will say, however, that I have been hearing very good feedback about a product called Hermafix, which I intend to buy and try very soon myself.
These are another great scrapbook invention. You use these to cut out certain themed shapes to place on your pages. For instance you can buy a template with nothing but baby related shapes on it. Example: It will have a rattle, pacifier, bottle, bow, foot, and hand. You get the idea. Then you trace one of these shapes onto either a printed-paper or a plain paper. Cut it out. You can either adhere this directly to your page as a die cut, or you could cut out a photo to place on it. You could also journal on it. People also trace out these shapes directly on top of photographs and cut the photos out into whatever shape it is they traced. It's just an inexpensive way to give a nice uniform and themed look to some of your pages. Remember to try doing your pages differently. Using the same tools/supplies on every single page makes for a boring album. Strive for variety in deciding what you use throughout your albums. The exception to that rule would be unless you want an album to be purposefully themed the same throughout.
They also make lettering templates (All one style of alphabet and numbers on a sheet). These are great for quick titles. Journaling Genies are another type (brand) of template. These are used primarily so that your journaling is uniform, and it allows you to have lots of unique journaling looks. You can also use Journaling Genies to make die cuts. Another fantastic template is a paper doll template.
Just as they say, they are simply plastic template guides that you use in order to stencil a design onto a page. They are fairly inexpensive (as are all templates). So start off by only investing in stencils you will use more than once.
This is another handy little tool. There are many, many varieties of different punches on the market. The most common one is called a corner rounder. It does exactly what it says. You can "round" off the corners of photos or even just paper, perfectly uniform each time. It gives a nice softened look.
Then there are gazillions of other decorative punches. You can buy just about any shape you desire in just about any size imaginable. Some common decorative punches are these shapes: square, heart, star, flower, circle, swirl, snowflake, sun, moon, etc. Some other fun shapes off the top of my head are: balloons, musical notes, candle, butterfly, paw print, bell, hand, foot, house, leaves, holly, etc. That list also goes on and on! You can imagine the endless possibilities with these things.
Then along with the same line of decorative punches we have what is called a border punch. Again these do exactly what they say. They punch out intricate designs onto the edges of whatever you desire. Examples would be pictures, or the paper bordering around from behind a picture (in other words this would give a matted look). Some common designs are straight border punches (where the design is a 2-3 inch long straight design. Another decorative border punch is the corner punch. It leaves a design cut out around the corner of whatever you use it on. Some common corner cutouts are: hearts, stars, and flowers. But again these are only a few I've listed there are many, many more available. Then you can also get what is called a photo slot punch. These are harder to describe. But basically you use these on a paper you want to use to frame a photo with. You use the corner punch on the corners of the paper, then when completed you just slip in your photo underneath the slots left behind by the punch. The last leave various cut out designs depending on the design you buy. For example you could get a lace and heart photo slot punch. This would leave a lacy edge with which to slip your photo underneath (thus showing that lacy look on top of the corner of your photo), with a little heart cut out in the center.
There are even idea books called "Punch Art" by Memory Makers. These give endless variations of ideas on how to use punches.
These (to me) are the crème de la crème, the absolute piece de resistance! You can use them in so many different ways! There are stickers out there to fit any and every topic you could possibly think of, not to mention certain styles you may tend to like. You'll just have to go to a scrapbook store or look at an online scrapbook stores sticker inventory to see what I mean.
Some brands of stickers that I personally love are: Designs by Susan Branch, Mrs. Grossman's, me and my BIG ideas, Frances Meyer Inc., Stickopotamus, Sandylion, Provo Craft, NRN Designs, S.R.M, and there's many more I'm forgetting.
Basically stickers accentuate a theme. For instance if you were doing a page with photos of your trip to the State Fair, you may want to find some cute carnival stickers (with rides, cotton candy, a ticket booth, etc.). Stickers are a great way to add a little something special to your page. They can be the main decoration of a page, or used simply as an accent, also they are great for filling in any little empty spots. You can use stickers to border with. You can even use caption stickers. There are even alphabet and numbers stickers. These are great for writing out titles; use them to make names or captions. And you can find these in many different font styles as well as many different sizes to suite your particular need.
Personally I prefer using only the brand Zig Memory System Markers. They are of archival quality, photo safe, acid free, lightfast, waterproof, fade proof, non-bleeding, smear proof and best of all odorless. They have many different styles of this particular brand. The best in my opinion to start out with are the Writers. They have a pen at each end (so two for the price of one), a thick tipped pen at one end and a fine tipped at the other (a dual pen). They also make Calligraphy pens, a dual Scroll and Brush pen, as well as a dual Fine and Chisel pen. Then lastly I've seen that they now have photo-tinting pens (for tinting back and white photos). They are called Zig Photo Twin pens. Depending upon where you go to buy them, individually they retail for between $2.50-$3.50 per pen. You can however buy a set of 48 pens (called a Scrapbooking Kit) in a case for usually around $89.99.
Another type of pen I like to occasionally use is what is called the Gelly Roll pen. They can be found just about anywhere these days. They look like a normal ink pen, only in many various colors. And the brand name on them is Gelly Roll.
Creative Memories has a product called the Personal Trimmer. It works very well. The only drawback to it is if it ever becomes dull, you cannot replace just the blade. You'd end up having to buy a new one. They retail at $14.95 each. Something I've found in recent years that I like even better is the Fiskar 12" Paper Trimmer (Retail $19.99). It's 12" long and about 5" wide. It is small and flat, which makes it nice to store or carry with you (if you tend to scrapbook at friends' homes or take classes). The nice thing about this particular brand is that it has separate blade piece. They sell replacements for these. So if your blade should ever get dull, all you need to do is buy a new blade . . . much more cost effective than replacing the entire trimmer.
Scissors are a very important scrapbooking tool. Make sure to have one good pair of straight edged scissors. Fiskars makes a new product called the Fiskars Spring Action Scissors. They are good for either left or right-handed people. They apparently eliminate hand fatigue.
Both Family Treasures as well as Fiskars have an entire line of decorative scissors. These are great for making decorative edges around either pictures or when making matting for around your pictures. But there are many other uses for them as well. You just have to experiment to see different effects.
Circle and oval cutters are also very nice to have. These make cutting a photo into a perfect circle or oval absolutely flawless, and it's simple to do. Creative Memories has a new line of circle/oval cutters. Personally I do not like them. They are not that easy to use, and my biggest gripe is that you only have certain sizes that you can make. Lighthouse Memories makes a wonderful circle cutter. What is neat about their system is that you can add different shaped cams to their original system to make many other various shapes. A few examples are: heart, star, square, etc.
Vicki's Final Thoughts
Since my own personal scrapbooking journey is an ongoing learning experience, I will continue to update this section as I buy and try different new products. Just keep in mind that everyone has varied likes and dislikes when it comes to anything in life. So it's safe to say that scrapbooking is obviously no different. Ask your friends or other scrappers what products they recommend and why. Check out product reviews in scrapbook magazines. Or ask questions at your local scrapbook store. The employees (who are usually very knowledgeable in scrapbooking) are almost always happy to direct you to a product that you'll be happy with. Also be a bargain shopper and go find coupons (in store or online) to help save some of the expense. Remember the more you save, the more in turn you can spend!
Copyright 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.