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The Savvy Scrapper

Scrapbooking – History in the Making

Scrapbooks have come a long way. Merriam Webster defines a ‘scrapbook’ as “a blank book in which miscellaneous items (as newspaper clippings or pictures) are collected and preserved.” While the term “scrapbook” is clearly defined in the dictionary, “scrapbooking” is not. Which is why, scrapbooking today is “history in the making.” It is the act and art of preserving our photographs and momentos. Today’s scrapbooks are not just a simple collection of newspaper clippings and pictures. They are expressive, thoughtful, and often elaborate accounts of our daily lives and experiences. Scrapbooking gives rise to personal reflection and appreciation of life and those we love. What better way to express your innermost feelings and paying tribute to the people who are dear to you than by memorializing them on paper?

Like most hobbies, scrapbooking transcends generations, age groups and cultures. What makes scrapbooking special is the personal nature of the hobby itself. The time and effort often spent on scrapbooking lends more meaning than simply purchasing a collectible and proudly displaying it on a shelf. The intrinsic value of scrapbooking is indeed priceless as often old photographs are impossible to replace.

How do you begin scrapbooking? If your interest has just begun to peak, you may have already been exposed to all the various products and techniques available out there. Quite frankly, it is overwhelming and yet exciting! Just remember, you are entering a lifetime commitment to the preservation of your history. It will take that long… a lifetime, so don’t feel rushed or frustrated. Take your time, enjoy all the beautiful products out there. If you are not as artistically inclined as Picasso or Monet, relax. Your individualistic creativity will flow the more scrapbook pages you do. If that doesn’t help, rely on the coordinating sets created by the most innovative designers in scrapbooking. They have done all the hard work, you just need to provide your photographs and memoirs.

To appreciate scrapbooking is to understand the basic supplies and techniques. As you become more comfortable scrapbooking, you may want to incorporate embellishments or try advanced techniques such as embossing in your page. These are the special touches that gives your page a noticeable flare. First, lets start with your pictures….


The Savvy Scrapper
The Road to Scrapbooking

Organize and store your photographs
1. Organize your photos and negatives – Photos, you gotta love them! But where are they? If they are in shoeboxes, plastic bags, drawers, or still in the paper envelope from the photo processing place, chances are, they are not organized or safely preserved. This is the hard part of scrapbooking. Start by taking baby steps and tackling one pile or set of pictures at a time. Start with the most current set of pictures as your memory starts to fade the further back in time you go. Organize your photos by themes, such as “Mom’s 50th birthday,” by event, such as “Sarah’s first tooth,” or by person, such as “Dad’s photos.” While you are organizing, keep in mind that if you will be creating a scrapbook page, not all of the photos will end up there. On the more popular size 12” x 12” page, you will be able to fit at least two or a maximum of four 4” x 6” pictures (uncropped.)

2. Store your photos and negatives – Once you have organized your first set of photos, place them in “archival envelopes” or “archival boxes.” These envelopes and boxes protect your photos from light and they do not contain “acid” or “lignin” commonly found in the manufacture of materials such as paper, adhesives or ink, which can cause your photos to become yellow and brittle. Lable your envelope or box, using an archival pencil or pen, with the appropriate theme, event or person. Include dates of each event if possible and jot down any other ideas you may have for your future scrapbook page.

Tip - You may want to consider keeping your negatives in a separate envelope or box and storing them in a fireproof safe.

Tip – Consider inviting friends and family over while you are organizing your older photos. Mothers and grandmothers are great at remembering your first day at school, your first birthday, or your first day at the beach.

3. Chose a theme for your first scrapbook page – Once you have organized and stored your photographs, chose a set of photographs for your first scrapbook page. Chose a theme that will be easy to plan around such as a birthday, holiday, or family relation, such as mother, brother, etc. Focus on the colors, significant object or situation, emotion or event relayed in the picture. Chose a common thread among the photographs you have chosen and start to envision how you want to express your thoughts. Do you want the colors of your page to complement the colors of your daughter’s dress at her first birthday party? Do you want to incorporate Fourth of July symbols on a page with photographs taken at a Fourth of July celebration? Do you want to chose bright coordinating colors in an abstract pattern to convey happiness or joy?

Gather your supplies:
Start with the basic six items:

1. Album – Albums come in various shapes and sizes. There are post bound, three ring binders, spiral-bound, strap-style, hinge or accordion albums. Sizes range from 4” x 6”, 6” x 6”, 5” x 7”, 8 ½” x 11”, and 12” x 12.” Start with either an 8 ½” x 11” or 12” x 12” post bound album or three ring binder as most paper comes in these sizes. Make sure the album you chose is acid, lignin and PVC free.

2. Page protectors – These are polypropylene or clear page protectors that protect your scrapbook page and photos from creases and accidental spills. Page protectors may be purchased separately or may come with the album you purchase. Make sure that the page protectors you purchase are also acid, lignin and PVC free.

3. Paper – Papers come in a variety of decorative patterns, colors, and textures. Look for papers that are also acid and lignin-free to prevent discoloration and fading of your photos. Paper can be used as a background to a page, as a mat or frame behind a photo, or as a coordinating accent in combination with a background paper.

4. Scissor – A pair of sharp straight edged scissor will be instrumental in cropping photographs, cutting out mats and shaping your paper. For a more decorative flare, try scissors with shaped edges such as zig zags, scallops, and wavy designs.

5. Adhesive – Chosing an adhesive is a matter of personal preference. Look for adhesives that are “acid free” and “photo safe.” Adhesives come in four types: Glues, tapes, sprays and mounting. Glues takes the form of bottle glue, glue stick or liquid glue pens. Glue sticks are the easiest to use, goes on smooth and dry quickly. Use glue sticks if you want to permanently bond your photo. Glue pens are similar to glue sticks but in a pen format. Glue pens are great for putting glue exactly where you want it to go. Some glue pens permanently bond your photo while some provides a repositional adhesive. The most popular are the tape tab dispensers. Permanent or removable, tape tabs are double sided self adhesives that allows you to put the right amount of adhesive right where you want it.

6. Pen – A good pen is essential to journalizing your events, thoughts, and descriptions on your scrapbook page. Journalizing pens come in pigment inks, gels, glitter gels and markers in a multitude of vibrant colors and pen tips. Common pen tips include fine, broad, calligraphy, scroll, brush and chisel. Start with a black pigment ink, fine or medium pen as black ink is easy to read.


Extra Items:

The following items are other great tools to help with your scrapbook page and to organize your supplies:

1. Stencil or Template – These terms are used interchangeably. Stencils or Templates are made out of plastic and have a variety of cut out shapes. There are two types of stencils or templates. The first type of stencil has shapes to help you “crop” photos, create your own “die cuts” or “mats.” “Crop” or “cropping” refers to cutting out or eliminating extraneous portions of a picture. For some pictures, extraneous portions may include background scenery or objects that do not enhance or add anything extra to the photo. Consider whether the background adds interest, balance or direction to the photo before cropping them. Cropping is often the hardest thing for people to do because it seems unnatural to cut your picture and everything in the picture is important. To crop your photo, place your stencil on top of the photo, trace the shape by using a pencil and cut out or “crop” your photo into a unique shape.

Tip: If you feel apprehensive about cropping your photos for the first time, keep duplicates of your photos.

You can also use the first type of stencil to make your own “die cut.” A “die cut” is simply a paper cut out of a shape, object, or letter. You can use “die cuts” to add dimension or embellishment to a page.

Mat stencils have varying square or rectangle shapes. When paper is cut out in these shapes, they make the perfect background for a cropped photo.

The second type of stencil or template is a page template. Also made of plastic, these templates help you plan or design your scrapbook page. It consists of various cut out shapes arranged specifically to add balance and organization to your scrapbook page. These are great for beginners or for those that want a quick way to design their page.

2. Storage Envelope or Scrapbook Totes – After a hard day of scrapbooking, you will want to secure your supplies in a Storage Envelope or Tote. Storage envelopes are made of polypropylene, most are expandable, and allow you to put your extra paper, scissor, adhesive and templates in one envelope. The Scrapbook totes are the most popular as they are roomier and have separate compartments to store each type of supply. Some totes are in the form of a rolling suitcase, if you will, backpack, tote bag, rolling cart or storage box. These storage supplies vary in prices starting with the least expensive, the Storage Envelope, to the most expensive the rolling suitcases or “crop” totes.

You are on your way to becoming a “savvy scrapper!”