Scrapbooking 101: An Introduction

Scrapbooking: The Basic Tools and Tips

asian woman looking at photos
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Why Scrapbook?

The hobby of scrapbooking is more popular than ever.  People are using scrapbooks to tell a story, chronicle the history of their family,  preserve cherished memories while having fun and relieving stress at the same time. If you have thought about giving scrapbooking a whirl but are clueless where to start, you might find the steps and tips provided here useful. Even if you are not the artistic type you can still make lovely pages when following some simple rules and guidelines.

Basic Supplies Needed

Before you start your first scrapbook page, you need to have the essentials. Some of the tools and supplies you will have to have on hand are:

Adhesives: There are many types of adhesives sold for scrapbooking, and it is often a matter of what type you prefer. Some of the adhesives that can be used for scrapbooking are glue sticks, liquid glue pens, photo tape, foam dots and more! Just remember that the glue needs to photo-safe and acid-free.

Albums and Sheet Protectors: Albums today come in a variety of sizes, but the standard size that most beginners use is 12 x 12. This size allows you to use a variety of photos and still have room for other scrapbooking elements. The most important thing to remember when buying your scrapbooking album is to make sure the page protectors are of Mylar, polypropylene, or polyethylene. Any other page protector will damage and fade your pages with time.

Cutting Tools: Every beginning scrapbooker should have a large and small straight edge pair of scissors. If you are bitten by the scrapbooking bug and want to continue you can move on to decorative scissors, paper trimmers and shape cutters. If you love scrapbooking a digital die-cut machine might just be in your future.

Die Cuts: Die cuts are cut paper shapes that you can add to your pages. They are premade and sold in packages.

Paper: You will want to have a variety of solid colored and patterned paper on hand. Paper comes in 12 x 12 sheets or in 8.5" x 11". You can purchase paper in individual sheets or stacks. The most important thing to remember when buying your paper is to make sure that it is acid-free (ph neutral) and lignin free. Acid-free paper has been treated so that the acids present in wood pulp papers are removed. Lignin free means that the paper has been processed to remove the acidic part of the wood pulp in paper. This type of paper (acid and lignin free) is considered to be the best and will last over 200 years.

Pens: When starting out you will only need a black pen. Journaling your thoughts and feelings on your page is an important part of the scrapbooking process.  You should only use pens that have pigment ink. This type of ink is fade resistant, colorfast and waterproof. Always practice writing with your pen on a piece of scrap paper first, before writing on your page layout.

Photos: Photos are the most important part of your scrapbook page. Make sure that your photos are well lit and in focus for the best results.

Punches: Punches are tools in various shapes that are used cut out shapes from paper. Did you ever use a paper hole punch? These are the same concept except the shapes are bigger.

Stamps: Rubber stamps add beauty and interest to the scrapbook page. You can take a stamp up to the next level by using embossing powders to give them dimension and markers to add color to the stamped images.

Stickers: Stickers are an essential embellishment to scrapbook pages. Craft stores sell sticker packages in literally thousand of shapes, themes and designs especially for scrapbooking.

Templates:  Templates are tools that can help the artistically challenged make perfect shapes and borders. Templates are like stencils. You just place the templates on the paper, trace the shapes, cut out and glue onto your layout.

A Couple of Tips for the Beginning Scrapbooker

  • When you are ready to start on your scrapbook page follow steps in this order: Decide if your page is going to be a theme or story page, determine what type of album you are going to use, organize your photos, choose what layout will be best for your theme and photos, gather your tools and supplies, and finally start cutting and gluing.
  • Beginning scrapbookers sometimes make the mistake of over-embellishing. Always remember the design principle "Less is More," just because you have a million photos and stickers doesn't mean you have to use them all. There is beauty and elegance in simplicity.
  • Don't try to make overly complicated layouts when first starting out, keep them simple! You will only get frustrated trying to compete with people that have been scrapbooking for years.
  • Touching photos can lead to degradation. Photos should have a matte rather than glossy finish to minimize fingerprints.
  • If you are going to write on the back of your photos, make sure to use a pen that is specifically designed for that purpose. You can purchase that type of pen at your scrapbooking supply store.
  • If you only have one copy of a photo that is precious to you keep it stored in a box. Scan and print your photos, then use the printed photos on your layouts rather than originals. If you make a mistake, you can just print another copy of the picture and start all over again.
  • Even though you may resist journaling at first, you will find that it adds an extra special element on your page. Your thoughts and feelings journaled on paper make it personal and one of a kind.

Taking It to the Next Level

If you determine that scrapbooking is a hobby that you want to continue you will find inspiration galore in scrapbooking magazines, youtube videos, scrapbook product manufacturers websites and personal blogs devoted to the craft.