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Scrapbooking For Beginners – A Step by Step Guide to Your First Scrapbook
In my beginner’s guide to scrapbooking, I hope to save you all the mistakes I made when I started my first scrapbook and the mistakes other guides cost me.
When I started my first album, I spent almost two hundred dollars on everything from manuals to layouts and magazines. Five years later, I haven’t used half of what I bought, despite several albums. My mistakes were twofold. First, I had no organization, and second, I had no planning. Although it’s not as fun as buying all the stickers and layouts, planning your first scrapbook will save you money and time.
First step – Choose your theme!
The very first step in your scrapbook should be to decide on the theme. Choosing your theme will be important in many ways, not the least of which is having the right photos for each page. It’s also important to choose your theme before organizing your photos so that when you browse through your photos, you can add them to multiple themes later.
The first scrapbooking guide I read started by telling me to get some pictures, card stock, pens, and embellishments. That was actually really bad advice. Once I had it all in front of me, I realized it was nowhere near the elements for what I wanted my scrapbook pages to look like. In order to create a scrapbook you can call your own, choose your theme before purchasing the material.
Themes may include Disney vacation albums. Our wedding day. Our honeymoon. Baby’s first year. Each theme will require certain photographs that depict days or times that you want to remember. You can have as many themes as you want and even have the same photo in multiple themes. For your first scrapbook, try choosing a theme that you know you have lots of photos for.
Second step – Choose your photographs!
Now that you have a theme in mind, it’s time to choose some photos to use. Photographs are scattered all over the place, so it’s best to find the ones you want to use early in your scrapbook. When we got married, my husband and I had a photo DVD, photos from professional photographers, photos of my mother and father, photos from disposable reception cameras, friends sent photos, friends from parents sent photos. I had to stop most of the time during the creation of my album to find the right images elsewhere. My biggest mistake was missing photos when I started scrapbooking because I forgot to select them first.
The great thing about scrapbooking is that if you forget a picture or two, you can simply add another page to your scrapbook. The downside is that if you want an image to be part of a page you’ve already designed and pasted, you have to redo the page.
When choosing photographs, it is best to have two to three photographs per page, but you can have as few as one or as many as eight. You can have as many pages as you want in each scrapbook.
My wedding scrapbook contains two hundred photographs and four different sections. Each of my four sections was part of a separate album which I incorporated into a single album. It’s very big, but it’s also very dear to my heart. That’s what scrapbooking is all about, making each scrapbook a keepsake that can be revisited and enjoyed by anyone. Each album tells an event or a moment that is important to you.
Step Three – Make Copies
In my opinion, this step is the most important part of starting a new scrapbook album. Make copies of each photograph you will use at the start. Make two copies if possible. There will be times when you want to cut a photo to fit an idea for your scrapbook. Or paste something on the photo. If you wish to use the photo in several albums, an album for each of your children with the same themes for example, you will need 1 copy of each photo for each album plus the original. (and if you’re clumsy like me, you’ll want an extra copy for when you mess up! haha)
Photographs can be digitized and saved to computer disks. You can upload them to websites like Flickr so you can make physical copies later, or you can create scrapbooks online.
Keep negatives and backup discs (DVDs) of all photographs in a special place, separate from the actual photographs.
Step Four – Write and Gather a List of Items to Include in the Scrapbook Album
When I say what you include, I mean besides pictures and journal entries. Each page of your scrapbook album includes images, small text on the image, and so-called “embellishments”. Purchased embellishments will be included in the latter part of this guide, but at this point I’m writing about personal embellishments.
The wedding album that I put together had pieces of my dress as a medium for photographs. I used the ribbon from the linen napkins for the bows on other pages. Some pages had little bits of sequins from my dress, the Ashcroft my husband was wearing was on another page along with his photo. You may not want to stick these items on your books, but I chose to. Maybe you have a blanket your kid used, part of a stuffed animal to include, the buttons on your cheerleader uniform. There are hundreds of little embellishments you can include in your personal life that make your scrapbook even more special. A friend of mine used food coloring sand she got on her honeymoon in her honeymoon scrapbook.
Many guides talk about little embellishments to add to your scrapbook album. Their embellishments include sequins and small pieces of beads from stores etc. Before spending your money on these, find the items in your home to include in your scrapbook. Old Christmas or wedding cards, birthday cards, napkins, an old cat toy, etc.
Step Five – Sort and build each page (if possible, take a photo)
You now have everything you need to create your first scrapbook album. Organize your scrapbook pages with photographs and embellishments. Use kraft envelopes if necessary and number them. The reason it’s important to organize your photographs and embellishments now is so that when you shop, you’ll have an idea of what you want on each of your pages. At this point, you don’t need to know where or how to place the images on each page. The only important information we want from this exercise is what house images and embellishments we want to add on a certain page, what the general theme is, and how many pages we will have. It’s much easier to find what we want at the craft store or online when we have the base for our scrapbook album.
Scrapbooking for Beginners – Step Six – Time to Go Shopping!
When shopping, you will need the following scrapbooking supplies:
1. Pens, pencils, paints, fabric paints and markers for writing notes on each page, drawing pictures and writing on fabric (if you use them in your scrapbook)
2. Support to create mini frames on the page. Photographs can have a cache which can include cardboard, old greeting cards (my favorites are from the occasions the album is about), wrapping paper, felt or anything else.
4. Letter opener
5. Glue and tape
6. Paper – Different types of paper for scrapbooks – Paper for designs (like cardstock, hardware, wax paper… whatever your imagination can come up with). Paper for journal entries like stationery, index cards, plain black and white paper for cutting out letters.
8. Embellishments – stickers, hardware, beads, pressed flowers, sand, feathers, candy. Almost everything happens here. Each page is what your imagination makes of it.
9. Stencils – Letter, Number and Pattern Stencils
10. Page Protectors – Make sure they are the right size for the album
You can make your first album as elaborate, expensive, inexpensive, big, small. You can decorate both the exterior and the interior. You can add your children’s handprints. Let your imagination guide you. Have fun. Put small frames around the photos. Cut out hearts and glue them on the photos. Glue the buttons, write on them.
The important part of scrapbooking is just beginning.
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