Introduction to Scrapbooking

"Presenting a homemade scrapbook to a friend or family member is one of life’s most touching moments." – Laura Childs

If you’ve heard about the scrap-booking craze, seen all the products available at the craft stores, or perhaps even seen a few of these hand-made treasures – you likely understand what all the fuss is about. But if you’re not sure why you should start a scrapbook or make one for someone special, read on.

There are many pages on GoodByeCityLife devoted to this country craft. Most pages are dedicated to assist you in staying within a reasonable budget (this craft can very quickly and very easily eat up hundreds of dollars in supplies and embellishments), but this page in particular is to introduce you to the craft, help you plan out and organize your project, and get your creative juices flowing!

The basic tools for a scrapbook project include an album or suitable blank book, glue, scissors, and personal items such as photographs, newspaper clippings, report cards, etc.

Add fabric, ribbon, wallpaper, buttons, specialty paper, stickers or whatever you fancy to embellish your scrapbook. You can find these items as you work on each page of your scrapbook.

Scrap Book Paper Specifics

To ensure your scrapbook project lasts for years and years,  look for albums or loose paper that is acid-free, and lignin-free.

Both acid and lignin accelerate the fading of photos over time.

Lignin is a chemical found naturally in the cell walls of plants used to make paper. If the lignin is not removed in the paper manufacturing process, lignin causes the paper to gradually yellow and crumble.

You can find lignin-free and acid-free paper in a variety of textures and colors.

Here are few examples from my own paper samples:

Star, graffiti style, and flower background specialty papers for special scrapbooks, below.

Designing Your Scrapbook Project

The first consideration to make once you’ve decided to create a scrapbook is who it is for and what aspect of their life you want to showcase.

Scrapbooks as a rule, aren’t like a photo album of the ‘growing up’ years. The themes are more specific and targeted.

Some of the best scrapbooks I’ve seen are:

  • "Sibling Rivalry"
  • "Eric: The Daredevil Years"
  • "Jill’s Graduation Day", and
  • "Veronica the Budding Artist"

Themes are what make a scrapbook special, bring back memories, and touch the hearts of the people who leaf through them – otherwise they’re nothing more than fancy photo albums.

The theme does not need to be centered around one person, one day, or one holiday – those are just a few ideas. Themes can also center around a person’s interests, such as favorite school subjects, places, sports, music, hobbies, or defining moments.

Scrapbook themes are important, so let’s keep talking about them…

The scrapbook you are creating for your daughter as she graduates from public school, high school or university is probably completely different than the grandparent scrap book you send your mother-in-law.

Your daughter will probably want to see a scrapbook of photographs, notes from friends, poems, journal entries, and personal keepsakes.

Your mother-in-law however will love page after page of baby pictures, first drawings, feet and hand prints, and your journal entries of first words and dates.

The point is to really think your theme through. It’s not special if it’s just thrown together without thought and creativity. We’ve got a ‘scrapbook’ in our house that is simply a matter of some pre-designed pages and perfectly square photographs of my husband growing up – it’s pretty boring and completely lacking in creativity. No one really cares to look at it, it just sits there collecting dust. Why? Because it is without a theme and without imagination.

Naming Your Creation

Once you’ve decided on a theme for your scrapbook project you’ll want to give it a name or title. Titles define and help hold together the project. I shared a few titles above that clearly defined a scrapbook and the pages inside.

Titles do not have to be creative. A title can be as simple as "Laura’s Magic Shows: 2001", so don’t get stuck on finding the best, most creative title, just one that will match and define the theme inside.

What’s Next in Scrapbooks?

That’s all for your introduction to the craft of scrapbooks! Please be my guest and have a look around at some of the other pages on specific scrapbook tips, projects, and resources.

I’ve created a page of wholesale crafting supply information and current deals. You’ll save over 90% of the retail price in many cases shopping wholesale…

If you’re new to the craft though, you won’t want to buy in bulk so take a moment and check out the page that explains how to make a custom scrapbook with tags and embellishments.

Read more about creating custom scrapbooks:


Scrapbook Tools

There are other items to own to make this craft less time-consuming and frustrating…

Add a pair of tweezers to your crafting kit and end the trials of gluing and handling small embellishments for your scrapbook pages.

My favorite tool in my kit is my Exact-o knife. You can pick one of these up at a hardware, art supply or craft store. Get one with a comfort grip, easily replaceable blades (with a 10 pack of extra blades), and, if you can afford the $20 or so, a self-repairing cutting mat.

This one I use is large, but you may not need one quite so big – I use mine for a number of craft projects including sign making and wall murals. I’m showing you simple mat that I use, but you can also find the newest style in cutting mats that actually spin around so you aren’t steadily adjusting the mat and project piece while you trim your work by clicking the image below. At 18 inches by 24 inches it is an ample size for your scrapbook needs.

Mine is over 10 years old and still going strong – click the image for ordering information.

Making Memories Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat 12 x 12

If you don’t want to buy a cutting mat, you can use a small stack of newspaper as your cutting surface, but this quickly becomes very messy and annoying. 

Why do you need an Exact-o knife? The shape and point of the blade makes cutting around irregular shapes easy. Trimming and cutting shapes out of any pre-existing shape is far easier this way than using even the smallest of scissors.

Don’t use the exact-o without something underneath your object – it’s too easy to slip and cut into your scrapbook paper or book, or for that matter the table you’re working on!

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