Whether you are a newlywed who wants to start preserving your family memories, a grandmother who wants to create scrapbooks for your grandkids, or anyone in between, scrapbooking is a creative and thoughtful way to preserve and share your stories. The hobby may seem overwhelming to a beginner if you don't know where to start or where to get ideas, but a few easy steps and some simple tools will get you started!
Organize Your Photos
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend the next two years of your life organizing your photos before you can start scrapbooking. Start by developing the photos that are currently on your camera, then keep an eye out for deals from your local drugstore or online photo development site to develop the photos stored on your computer. If you've got your photos arranged chronologically you can put them in a photo storage box as is. If not - make a game of organizing the photos with your family. They will love going through the photos together and your kids may remember the year Jenny got a trampoline for her birthday or Jimmy won his first karate trophy better than you do! This together time is also a great way to collect stories and details for you to journal on your pages later.
When you DO have some time to really dig in and start organizing, begin with any photos that are in magnetic photo albums. If you have magnetic albums that are less than five years old, tackle these first. The majority of damage done to a photo is in its first five years. Are your photos stuck in the album? Try dental floss to pry them off safely. If that doesn't work, there is a product called UN-DU that safely removes adhesive from photos. If they just will NOT come out, the final option is to have copies made of the photos right where they are.
While you are working on getting all of your photos into one place, don't forget to look in the garage, attic, drawers, files, closets, frames around your house, old Christmas cards and letters. Scrapbooks are a wonderful place to store memorabilia as well.
What Kind of Album Do I Want to Buy?
Page size: The most common page sizes are 8 ½ x 11 and 12 x 12, but there is almost no limit to the options available. Sizes range from 12x15 albums to 1x1 - with every size and style in between.
Binding type: The most popular choices are post-bound, 3-ring binders and strap hinge. These albums all allow for pages to be added or removed. Spiral bound albums are also available, but limit your ability to add or remove pages.
Page Protectors: While most albums come with standard page protectors, divided page protectors have become very popular over the last few years. These allow you to simply slide your photos and memorabilia in to page protectors that are divided into a variety of sizes, the most common of which is for 4x6 photos. These double as photo storage as well, and enable you to create scrapbooks quickly with a minimum of paper and embellishments required.
What Supplies Will I Need?
12 inch paper trimmer - A good trimmer can be used to do a variety of tasks, from cutting photo mats to creating embellishments. Look for one with a retractable arm that allows you to measure 12x12 paper.
Adhesive - There are many different styles of adhesive available, but to get started you want an acid-free adhesive that will work well on both cardstock and photos. Common types of adhesive used in scrapbooking are tab dispensers and tape/adhesive runners.
Cardstock and Printed Papers - Select paper to go with the colors you wish to accent in your photos. Paper can be purchased either in packs or individually.
As you find your own scrapbooking style you may also want to invest in items such as journaling pens, stickers, rub-ons and other embellishments.
Where to Find Inspiration
For many years, idea books and scrapbooking magazines were the main source of inspiration for page ideas and techniques. Today there are literally thousands of websites dedicated solely to scrapbooking, including online stores, manufacturer sites, community forums and galleries, designer blogs and more. Did you buy a scrapbooking tool you don't know how to use? Check out the manufacturer's website or one of the many technique tutorial sites available for how-to videos. Looking for inspiration for a layout about your new puppy? Go to your favorite community gallery or simply type in "dog scrapbook page" in your search engine and watch the ideas flow.
Creating Your First Page
Gather your photos and decide on a theme. Are these photos of your son's first birthday? Are they of your family vacation to the beach? This will help you to select additional supplies and get started on your journaling.
Choose a color cardstock for your background. Sometimes it is helpful to pick cardstock that picks up colors in the photos, or it can be eye-catching to make the colors contrast instead. If you need help selecting colors, an inexpensive color wheel can be picked up at any craft store.
Lay out the photos and decide how you will arrange them. If the background of the photo is not important, you may crop (or cut) the photo with your trimmer so the focus is on the subject. Other times, it's interesting to see the background. Also remember that you don't have to use EVERY photo from an event. If you have several photos to choose from - you can pick the ones that are most flattering to the subject, or really capture the emotions of the event. If you have one great photo - that should be the focal point of the page.
After you decide on the layout, mat your photos on patterned paper or cardstock. Think of a catchy title for the layout and add using stickers or decorative pens. Before you add any final embellishments, add journaling to your page. For some pages, the title along with names and dates will be sufficient. However, if the photos bring back a special memory or story, don't be afraid to share those thoughts on your page. How did you feel? What do you remember most about that day? If you have embellishments that go with your page colors or themes, add them as finishing touches. Not sure how to use embellishments on your page? This is where looking at other layouts for inspiration can come in handy.
If you find yourself getting frustrated or feeling challenged by scrapbooking, remember WHY you are doing it. Every page doesn't have to be perfect, or elaborate, or expensive. You are creating a history of your life and sharing the stories of your family, which will be treasured for years to come. Have fun!