Even if you aren’t “crafty”, you’ve heard of scrapbooking. Scrapbooking includes photography, journaling, lettering, design and more to create unique pages documenting lives of you and your family. The scrapbook you create is something that can be passed down to future generations.
NOTE: We will not cover digital scrapbooking in this badge program.
Start here and learn some definitions before we start.
As with any craft, you need tools. Make sure you have only the basics when you start. There are an incredible number of tools you can use, but keep it limited until you decide whether you will continue scrapbooking after completing this badge. Basic tools include:
- Scissors — detailed cutting
- Paper trimmer — cutting straight lines
- Ruler — metal
- Cutting mat and craft knife — can use this with the metal ruler in place of the paper trimmer
Before you go out to buy supplies, check your home for these items. If there are others you feel you must have, give yourself a budget so you don’t overspend.
The result of scrapbooking is creating archival items. So, make sure you read the package of everything you buy that you intend to put into your scrapbook. Acid-free and lignin-free are preferred. Scrapbook supplies can be found at general craft, discount and paper specialty stores.
- Adhesives — double-sided tape, glue sticks, glue pens, photo corners and dimensional squares
- Paper — these come in all shapes, sizes, colors and prints
- Journaling pen — black
Of course, this is only the beginning. As you explore scrapbooking, you’ll find additional techniques that require more varied supplies.
4. Non-archival items.
Sooner or later, you’ll want to include items in your scrapbook that are not archival. It might be a newspaper clipping, a concert ticket or even a street sign. The easiest thing to do is to take pictures or make copies on archival paper. You can also add some non-archival elements by isolating them with an archival container or using an archival spray. Explore ways to include non-archival items into your scrapbook.
When most people think of scrapbooking, they think of heavy albums filled with photos and stories. Albums come in a large variety of sizes. When you first start out, try a smaller album so the task of finishing it isn’t so daunting. Sizes include:
- 12” x 12” (traditional)
- 8.5” x 11” (US letter)
- 9” x 9”
- 8” x 8”
- 6” x 6” (works well with standard 12” x 12” paper)
You’ll find a variety of binding as well. Some are fixed pages with spiral wire binding. Some have posts that you can disassemble to add more pages.
Additionally, page protectors are available for many of these sizes. They will keep sticky fingers from damaging your pages. If you plan on handling your album a lot or allowing children to view it, the investment is worth it.
If you plan on creating an album, explore local stores with available albums or check scrapbook stores online. You might even find a class that will give you a supply list and a start on your first album.
You don’t have to scrapbook in an album. For Girl Scouts, I’ve found that doing one page and placing it into a frame is a great way to introduce the girls to scrapbooking. It gives them a success quickly and they have something they can show with a reasonable amount of effort. Other non-album scrapbooks may include:
- Tissue boxes
- Self-made books
- Paper mache shapes
- Christmas ornaments
Try a non-album way of creating a scrapbook for yourself or as a gift to someone else.
When you begin scrapbooking, keep organization at the top of your “to do” list. Organization will help you:
- Find the tools and supplies you need more quickly
- Make sure you don’t waste money purchasing duplicates
- Keep your scrapbooking time for scrapbooking instead of cleaning
- Alleviate any additional stress
Keep this in mind as you begin your scrapbooking journey.
8. Why scrapbook?
Each person has their own reasons for scrapbooking. You may want to give the bride a scrapbook featuring the highlights of her wedding or your best friend those of her baby shower. You may want to show all your baby’s firsts or that special trip to Disney®. You’ll notice with each of these possibilities, a theme quickly develops. Determine the story you want to tell. Look through your photos and see what comes to mind. Then, we’ll continue with your first page.
Your first page
9. Telling your story.
The page you create, or even the entire album, will tell a story. It might be heritage-based, telling the story of your grandparents who came to the United States or the military service of a family member. It might be your daughter’s Girl Scout experience. As a troop, my girls worked on learning photography and created their own personalized pages featuring the photos they took at one meeting. The time your album covers may span decades or only two hours.
Tell your story. Pull out a sheet of paper and write down an outline, sayings or even a full story you might want to include. Add the photos you want to find, people you might need to talk to for more information, colors that fit your story, basically anything that you could put into your pages that will support your story.
Photos are the items that most people think of when scrapbooking. With digital cameras, we seem to have way more photos than we could ever use. So, you’ll need to look at your photos critically and think about your story. Will they fit? Can you tell the story in three photos or less? Which one tells the story better? Will one large photo work?
To start with, don’t cut your photos into shapes. Crop out undesirable items like the hand which comes out of nowhere with your paper trimmer. One benefit of critically looking at your photos is that your photography skills will improve.
One last note, heritage photos are irreplaceable should a mistake be made. Before you decide to cut into the only copy of your mother’s baby picture, make copies. It might be a little costly to get a color copy or to scan and print, but your original photo will be intact.
Take the photo(s) you want to include on your page and start a collection for your page items. You may want to invest in an archival folder to collect them so they don’t get dirty, damaged or lost while you’re collecting items.
Why put colors after photos? A great way to tie the page with your photos is to match a color in your photo with your papers and embellishments. Matching a color in your photos helps pull that element to the front of the photo. If you need to use copies of your photos, make sure you take the copies with you to the store when you purchase paper in case there is a slight difference in color between the copies and originals.
When you choose your paper, be aware that you’ll be looking for a background paper that everything will sit on as well as coordinating papers for photo matting (our next step) and other elements.
12. Photo matting.
You can create the illusion of layers by matting your photos. You cut pieces of paper slightly larger than your photo and then attach your photo to the paper. You can do one layer or multiple layers. You can also use photo corners to add to the three-dimensional effect. Look at examples of scrapbook pages on the Web and see how matting affects photos.
13. No photos.
Perhaps you don’t have photos or the photo you want is of poor quality like a faded newspaper clipping. What can you do?
- Create a sketch from the image you have
- Do a caricature or cartoon if the image conveys humor or playfulness
- Find a stock photo or clip art that will do the same job as the photo you want to use
- Use stickers or other embellishments (see below)
If you would like to include one of these on your page, make yourself a note so you don’t forget when you layout your page.
14. Non-photo memorabilia.
You probably have a drawer of movie and concert tickets, sports ribbons, recital programs, coins and more. These items can be incorporated into your scrapbook. Often, you’ll copy or print them onto archival paper. You can also purchase archival holders that you can put these items into so they don’t damage the other page elements. If you have any of these for your page, look at ways you can incorporate them into your layout and put these into your page collection.
Embellishments can quickly make you go broke. Not only can you purchase brads, eyelets, ribbons, stickers and more to attach to your pages, you can incorporate other items that you make yourself. Here are a few crafts you can add to your scrapbooking page.
- Rubber stamping
- Punching / die cutting
- Paper folding
- Polymer clay
- Dry embossing
What else can you do that could be incorporated? Put the embellishments that fit your color and theme with the items for your page.
Every page you create may not have a title. You might feel the desire to put the person’s name and year in its place. Make sure your title works with the page, not overpowering it. Create a title for your page and see if it fits with the design. If not, create another that works.
This is your story. You’ll be telling it with a black pen and your words. You can put lined paper under your paper to help keep your lines straight or use a pencil and ruler to make very light lines to erase after you’ve written your information. You can even write the story in pencil before doing it in ink.
Can’t get started? Answer the simple questions — Who, What, When, Where, Why and maybe even How. You can write about why you chose these photos. What feelings did the photos invoke? What was happening? Is there a story behind the photo you want to remember? You can write about how the campfire smelled, how the sunset looked, how the baby duckling’s feathers felt.
Lastly, don’t worry about your handwriting. That is part of the story and makes your scrapbook page uniquely yours.
You can find layout ideas online, in magazines and in books. Look at other scrapbook pages to get an idea of how items flow. You can have one large focal image and two smaller ones. You can do an elaborate photo mat with only one photo. This is your page and your story.
Take the items you’ve collected for your page. Put your background paper down and lay your photos, embellishments and other items out. Move them around until you’re happy with how it looks. If you like overlapping photos, do it! Want to journal after you get your photos on the page, not a problem.
Don’t be afraid to pull items out and put different ones in. You may even find that you don’t care for the main photo you started with. This is your page — do what feels right!
When you’re happy with the look and the story, get out your adhesive and attach everything. If you want to show others your work, make sure it’s protected with a page protector, frame, etc.
19. No intimidation zone.
You are not allowed to compare your final page with the magazines, books and Web sites you find. Many of these people have been doing scrapbooking for years. The page you create is the story you tell. It is the story of you. As you continue your scrapbooking journey, your tastes will change. Your style will change. There is no right or wrong. The only thing you need to worry about is your story.
Sites to Explore