The Definitive Guide Of Scrapbooking for Beginners
Scrapbooking is a fast growing and rewarding hobby.Every day, people are discovering how easy scrapbooking can be and how much fun it is. Scrapbookers gain satisfaction when they see their photos and memorabilia presented in an album in a way that reflects their personality.
Scrapbooking is as easy or as complicated as you choose it to be and displaying photos and memorabilia in an eye-pleasing way is simple. With a few techniques learned along the way, the beginner can tackle more time-consuming layouts to create even more interesting pages.
There is no mystery to scrapbooking. There is no right or wrong way to scrapbook. If you've always wanted to create a scrapbook but didn't know how or just didn't have the confidence, I will help you learn the very basics.
Scrapbooking for Beginners will help you decide what scrapbooking albums, adhesives and tools to buy and give you tips on how to create your first layout.
What is Scrapbooking?
People have been creating scrapbooks for generations.
Years ago mementos such as ticket stubs, old letters and newspaper clippings would have made up the bulk of a scrapbook. Even locks of hair were carefully tied and put into envelopes or stuck right onto the page. Books bursting full of memories were created this way and to find one today is to take a walk through time.
While scrapbooking is still about creating a book of memorabilia, scrapbooks today have come a long way from gluing bits and pieces of memorabilia into a paper book. Photo albums and paper memory books have combined to create the modern day scrapbook.
Many scrapbookers also include other items such as ribbon, embossings and other embellishments which take scrapbooking to another more artful level.
The beginning scrapbooker shouldn’t be intimidated by the more elaborate scrapbooks. Scrapbooking is still about memories, and anyone can make and keep those.
One size does not fit all
Before you make your first scrapbook, think about what you want to see as the end product. Perhaps you are looking to create an heirloom, something to pass down to your children or grandchildren.
What would you like them to see?
Scrapbooks come in many different styles, some have a lot of journaling, others focus purely on photos. What do you consider scrapbooking to be?
Think about what you would like other people to see when you have completed your album.
Scrapbooking is merely a creative outlet for some people, full of decorative pages. Others are simpler and focus on archive quality pages.
What you need to create a scrapbook:
Beginner tips: Your scrapbooking essentials
- Scrapbooking Album
These four items are all you need to start, however I do recommend the three following items:
- Good sharp scissors or cutting system (start with basic scissors)
- Journaling pens I highly recommend journaling in all scrapbooks.
- Good quality scrapbooking paper Paper makes your layouts more interesting but make sure you don’t use regular craft paper. It will fade and ruin your photos.
That’s it. The photos and memorabilia you will already have, so the album and adhesive we will discuss more in depth.
How to choose a Scrapbooking Album
Albums are not created equally
Walk into the photo album section of almost any store today and you will see a lot more than your old fashioned magnetic page albums. Magnetic albums seal the photo under a plastic strip which adheres to the page once it is pressed back down.
These pages don’t allow for a lot of creativity, but more importantly these albums quickly damage your photos. We’ve all seen magnetic albums that have turned brown along with the photos inside.
While all scrapbooking albums are not created equal, most will be a far better solution for your photos than a magnetic album.
Types of Albums
Pick the album that fits your needs
Albums come in several varieties, a quick overview of some of the more popular albums currently on the market are:
Post bound Scrapbook
Pro: Pages can be added to the scrapbook at any stage during scrapbooking. Double layouts look nice in these albums as do advanced scrapbooking techniques.
Con: The pages have sometimes been known to dry out at the inner crease and fall out. Scrapbook does not lay flat when viewing. Screws that hold posts can be difficult to unscrew.
Spiral bound Scrapbook
Pro: These album pages usually turn easily and can be laid flat, the albums are often inexpensive.
Con: Pages cannot be moved around if photos are added in a non-chronological format. Page protectors cannot be added.
Three Ring Binder Scrapbook
Pro: Inexpensive. Pages are inserted from the top into sleeves and can be easily moved.
Con: Not very attractive. The gap between pages prevents nice looking two page layouts. Advanced scrapbooking techniques such as fold out pages cannot be added. I don't recommend these types for the serious scrapbooker.
Strap Hinge Scrapbook
Pro: Pages can easily be moved around and lay flat when viewing the album. Double page spreads look good in these albums as do other advanced layouts.
Con: Straps must be adjusted to just the right tightness to prevent pages being difficult to turn. Lower quality albums may have staples that hold the hinge fall out if the book is overstuffed.
My favorite type of scrapbook
The strap hinge album
These albums were first sold by Creative Memories but can now be found in many retail stores. Look for albums with archive quality pages that are thick. You album will be the most expensive item you buy for scrapbooking, it is possibly the most important thing that will determine how long your memories will last.
Buying an album that is not good quality is fine for people who are just looking for a creative outlet and are not concerned about the longevity of the scrapbook. If you want all of your work and your memories to be valued for decades to come, spend the extra money on a good album.
Just as important as choosing the right album
Choosing the best adhesive is just as important as choosing the right album, fortunately adhesive is far less expensive.
Right from the start buy an archive quality adhesive. Even if you are scrapbooking as a fun hobby, buying a quality adhesive is preferable. Adhesives that are of low quality will either cause your work to fall out, it just wont bond well, or it will damage your work somehow. A low quality adhesive may seep into colored pages to create a dark spot that makes your project look horrible right from the start, or the acidity will eat away at your work.
Which is the best one?
Rubber cement: Basic rubber cement will destroy your photos over time. I have heard of acid free rubber cement specifically for scrapbookers however like other liquid glues it is just plain messy.
Regular sticky tape: Your work will fall out very quickly. there is no good reason for using sticky tape.
Glue Sticks: Glue sticks, that are not specifically made for scrapbooking, are popular among beginners but not a good choice. Basic craft sticks should be avoided completely, they don't bond well and photos and paper will soon dry out and fall off your page.
Sticky fingers are one drawback to glue sticks. The last thing you want on your page is glue fingerprints. Glue sticking to the top of your photo will ruin the photo.
The only upside to the glue stick option is price. Glue stick is inexpensive, but then so is flour and water.
Tape Runner: I always have several tape runners and refills handy. Buy a tape runner that is specifically for scrapbooking. Some scrapbookers don't like tape runners because they require a learning curve. Be patient and experiment a little.
All tape runners are different and if possible try out a few of your friends tape runners. Don't let one bad experience stop you from trying them again.
Glue dots: As long as they are specifically for scrapbooking, glue dots and their variations can be a scrapbookers best friend. Sometimes all you need is a small adhesive and glue dots fit the bill perfectly.
Double sided tape: This is great if it is specifically for scrapbooking purposes. Buy an acid free double sided tape and it can be used in the same way as a tape runner.
Learn the lingo like a pro!
Scrapbookers use terms that can be confusing at first. Here are a few that you may encounter as a beginner.
This term is widely used however there are currently no formal standards to determine what acid free means. It does NOT mean that there is NO acid in your product. The less acid in a product the less chance for a chemical reaction to occur that may discolor or destroy your scrapbooking papers.
Looking for acid free products is good, looking for archival quality products is better. Calling a product acid free is a bit like calling a food "Lite". Lighter than what?
Products imply that the product will last for a very long time. As with "acid free" there is no definitive answer to what makes a product archival quality. The bottom line here is to go with reputable companies who have an interest in creating quality products.
Cropping: Cropping a photo is simply cutting the photo. Scissors are the basic cropping tool however line cutters are very popular among scrapbookers. Crop photos to fit more on a page and to get rid of unnecessary parts of the photo so that the main subject is the focus.
Embellishment: Anything that is added to a page to make it pleasing t the eye. Paper isn't usually referred to as an embellishment but strictly speaking it is. Common embellishments include embossing, ribbon, fabric flowers, die cuts and stickers.
Layout: The way your page is organized is your layout. Scrapbooking sites and magazines often suggest new layouts for special occasions. A layout can be created by anyone, even if you don't have a plan as you create your page, your end result is your layout.
Lignin: Lignin can damage your photos and many products are now not only touted as acid free but also lignin free. Do you see the yellow color on your old scrapbooks? Lignin is the culprit. Lignin is the reason newspaper discolors so quickly.
Made out of special plastic that hopefully is of archival quality, page protectors are added after a page or layout is completed to prevent the page from becoming stained by dirty hands and other mishaps. Page protectors are a good idea if young children will be looking at your pages. Some scrapbookers add a lot of embellishments and page protectors detract from the page or just don't fit.
Title Page: This is the first page of your scrapbook. Not everyone makes a title page, however it is a nice way to introduce the theme of your scrapbook.
Scrapbooking Memorabilia: Adding memorabila makes an ordinary scrapbook extraordinary
Memorabilia: If you haven’t already, start collecting memorabilia to add to your scrapbooking pages.
- Greeting Cards
- Movie ticket stubs
- Plane tickets
- Baby Hospital I.D. bracelets
- Lock of hair
- Newspaper clippings (photo copy and give link to archive page)
- Old letters
……………………. and much much more.
Getting started with Scrapbooking
One page at a time
Now you are ready to start. You have decided on the type of scrapbook you wish to create, you have chosen your photos, you have your supplies.
Some people like to create a title page, this page introduces your album. I prefer to leave this page until the end, however each person has her own style and method.
The image at the very top of this page is an intro page to one of my travel albums. It consists of photo scraps that I cut into small squares and glued in a grid pattern. Simple.
Now you are ready to create your first layout.
TIP: don’t try to imitate the pages on the scrapbooking magazines that you have seen. While they are great for inspiration, I have discovered that most of the beautiful layouts that they create contain only one or two photos and few “real life” scrapbookers are willing to create an entire album that way.
Most scrapbooking pages have several photos included, scrapbooking will become quite expensive if you create 12 x 12 albums with only one or two page on each. This may be nice for a special occasion, but it’s just not practical. Baby books and Wedding albums benefit from large photos with only a few on each page, with family albums you will find it an impractical way to create an album.
Your first Scrapbooking layout
Easy layout tips
There are no hard and fast rules for scrapbooking or for layouts. But if you are a beginner I strongly urge you to keep it simple. This is how I create a page when I don’t have a specific layout in mind – which is 95% of the time.
Choose photos and memorabilia. If you have a lot of photos and you can’t decide which to use, remember cropping allows you to add more photos, but too many photos can look cluttered. Keep the best, aim for no more than 6, I find 4 is a nice number if the photos are large and uncropped, if you will be cropping quite a lot, try to not include more than 8 unless you have a specific layout in mind.
The image to the right uses 6 cropped photos on a 12×12 page. There is plenty of room to add journaling and a few embellishments without being crowded.
Choosing photos can be the hardest part.
If you are using colored paper to embellish, pick your colors according to one of three principles.
- One, keep your paper accents in the same color family as your photos.
- Two, use seasonal colors regardless of the color of your photos.
- Three, use contrasting colors.
If you haven’t worked with color a lot I recommend tip one or two.
When you use a contrasting color it is easy to overpower the subject of the photo. You want your photos to stand out, not the embellishments. Embellishments should accent your page, not be the focus.
Arrange your supplies on your page to get a feel for how it will look. Don’t worry about being perfect. Once you have a good idea of your layout just start.
Don’t add too much adhesive to your photos to begin with. A small dot in the corners is best. It’s less wasteful and if you choose to move your photo slightly it is easy to gently lift off.
Add any background paper first, then add your photos, add your embellishments last.
Where's the rest? I'm just getting started!
I’ve given the very basics for the people who are new to scrapbooking.
- Knowing what type of scrapbook you wish to create.
- Buying the most basic supplies.
- Tips on starting your first page.
From here you just need to get it done.
Play around, have some fun, and don’t be seduced by the massive range of products you find. Stick to the basics. After you have completed a few pages take some time to try something new.
Scrapbooks are personal and should reflect the person creating the book. Retailers can provide the products, but they can’t provide or keep the memories. That is up to you.
Best of luck, and have fun!
Do you have a scrapbooking question?
Ask for help here.
I've given the very basics for people who have never scrapbooked before and don't know where to start.
Too much information can be overwhelming and I have tried to keep this page very basic. I'll continue to update this page and create more pages that cover specific topics such as journaling and layouts.
Let me know what else you would like to see and I will do my best to help both basic and advanced scrapbookers.