By Michele McAlpine
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What you need to get started
Nicolai-White recommends finding a local store or retail chain to help you get started. I head to a local outfit called Urban Scrapyard, a techniques workshop runs for two hours and costs $25. That fee includes the supplies I need to create a mini album or double-page spread, although I have the option to purchase further embellishments if I prefer. I decide to purchase lettering, as well as adhesive that I will be able to use again, so my total cost is closer to $50.
In addition to the hands-on instruction, classes such as these offer the opportunity to work with other scrapbooking enthusiasts and to learn from them. Known as “crops” classes, they are as social as they are informative. Crops parties in smaller towns that may not always offer retail stores are especially important.
Many scrapbooking companies employ local consultants who will host private parties at someone’s home and offer instruction, supplies, and a fun social event too. Between these parties, scrapbooking catalogues and magazines, and the Internet, scrapbooking can be enjoyed just about anywhere.
The first thing you need is a story to tell. Common themes include baby's first year, school days, weddings, family trips, and birthdays.
Next, you need supplies. Scrapbooking supplies can be purchased online and found at local stores and retail chains.
Photos & memorabilia: Black and white or color photos work equally well. Be careful to properly preserve other memorabilia that contain acid and will eventually damage the pictures you use. Newspaper clippings, for example, should either be photocopied onto acid free paper (available where you buy your scrapbooking supplies) or washed with distilled water. Certificates or letters should be treated with deacidification spray. Instructions on how to treat photos and such can be found at the Scrapbook Preservation Society.
Cardstock/paper: Cardstock is heavy-weight, acid-free paper; patterned papers are also acid free but lighter weight. Both come in varying patterns, styles, sizes, colors and themes.
Specialty papers such as transparency, vellum, cork, fabric and metal sheets are also available.
Albums: Most popular sizes are 8.5 x 11, 12 x 12, 8 x 8 or 6 x 6. They come post bound, strap hinge or three ring. Sheet protectors should be PVC free.
Adhesives: You should never use regular tape, glue or rubber cement when scrapbooking. Adhesives should be removable, odorless, solid and state “acid free” on their packaging. They come in various forms including double stick tape, glue dots, glue sticks, liquid glues, photo corners and photo tabs. Double sided adhesive squares usually come in a roll dispenser. Spray adhesives also come in archival quality and are acceptable to use.
Paper trimmer/scissors/other tools: You can effectively begin to scrapbook with a minimum of tools, namely a pair of scissors or some type of cutter to trim your pictures. A small guillotine-type paper cutter works nicely. You can also use circle cutters and craft knives.
You also have the option to work with digital tools including computers, fonts, digital cameras, printers and scanners.
Waterproof, fade-proof ink pen: You will need pens with which to journal or include words. Make sure they are waterproof, permanent, non-bleeding, non-toxic and fade resistant.
You may also want to consider lead free waterproof paints and rubber stamp sets as well.
Embellishments: Embellishments accessorize your pictures and thoughts. There are many to choose from including metallic embellishments such as charms, buckles, label holders and fasteners. Or, they can be an assortment of materials including buttons, ribbons, glitter, stickers, games pieces and tags, to name but a few.
Terms to help you sound like a pro
archival basics: Implies a product will not react adversely with photographs.
acid free: A material tested to have a pH level of 7 or above indicating the materials does not contain enough acid to react negatively with other materials.
archival: A material meant for long term retention.
buffered: A buffered material is one that has had alkaline filler added to offset acid.
digital scrapbooking: A type of scrapbooking where photos and thoughts are captured and stored electronically. Also called electronic or computer scrapbooking.
lignin free: Paper that contains a maximum of 1% lignin (the substance that makes paper strong but also susceptible to yellowing).
- pH factor: A measurement of acidity. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral.
How I made my layout (and whether or not there are more to come)
As I enter the Urban Scrapyard, the words painted on the pristine, white walls say it all: “We want to tell a story. A beautiful story. Love. Live. Share. Laugh. Capture. Create. Inspire.” I feel enthused as I read these words, until I look around and things suddenly seem a little confusing with colorful displays and what looks like hundreds of paper choices. Still, I move into the store.
Everyone has their own reason for scrapbooking, and the reasons are as diverse as the scrapbooks themselves. As it turns out, I am the newcomer in the class of four; my fellow students, Diane, Valerie and Shanley are seasoned pros. We meet at a table in the retail part of the store and get started.
Get your kit. The first order of business is to pick a kit. Each kit comes with small chipboard frames each of various sizes and colors and a few embellishments. These are kits that are prefabricated to get you on your way to a mini-album, or a two-page spread. They are an excellent way to forge into the world of traditional scrapbooking. We will make our way to the workroom downstairs in a moment, but first we need to choose the paper on which we will place our pictures.
Choose your paper. I choose two cardstocks, one in chocolate brown and the other pink to match the frames in my kit. There are many colors—pastels, earth tones, neons—to choose from.
Create your theme. At this point you have to make sure you have a theme. I have chosen the theme, “Sisters.” I say the phrase “sisters are forever friends” in my house with nauseating regularity. I’m sure my kids will hate each other as a result, but regardless, I still say it. Now I will forever commit it to paper.
Find a place to work and arrange your materials. Now, we move downstairs and settle in at a large, clean, white worktable. In addition to my kit, I have been given a guillotine-type paper cutter and knife to use to trim my pictures, and I have purchased double-sided tape to adhere my materials to the cardstock.
Listen to the teacher! There may be a part of you wanting to simply jump in. Classes like these, however, are designed to teach you things and so I turn my attention to my instructor. Store owner Angela Urbano, with her background in graphic art, knows a thing or two about beautiful scrapbooking. She describes various techniques involving tying ribbon around a frame, distressing (ie. making look old and worn) the sides of a chipboard frame with a nail file, and using jump rings to hang minitags. She tells me to work from left to right and to tell my story visually.
What I choose to use. And so I begin, using the techniques I just learned. A ribbon tied around my first pink frame looks nice and propels me on. I opt not to chisel away at my frame—the distressed look feels too close to home at the moment—or to work with any mini tags. They look perfectly nice, but scrapbooking is much about preference, and for now, I use stickers and paper flowers. Angela suggests I place three flowers onto my work instead of two. “Odd numbers work better graphically,” she says, and she’s right. It looks better.
There are numerous techniques in scrapbooking. Classes such as these, as well as websites, are great ways to learn them. Hands-on experience will build confidence and lead you to new ways of doing things.
The final product. I like the page I created – check it out here. It takes me two hours to complete but I think it is worth it. Sisters are forever friends. Will I scrapbook again? Yes, I just might. A few days later, just for fun - and, okay I admit - to see how I did, I visit the PeaNut Gallery on the Two Peas site The PeaNut Gallery offers scrapbookers the opportunity to share their pages and serves as inspiration to create your own work. Maybe next time I’ll tell the story of a mother who gave herself the luxury of time to learn something new and create something lasting for her kids to one day enjoy.
And this time, it won’t be a double dog dare.