By Eileen Bergen
If you'd like to start scrapbooking or create scrapbook-style
art, but are simply overwhelmed by the vast product choices, let me help you
narrow them down and get you going. I view scrapbooking as a highly specialized
form of collage.
With scrapbooking, not only are you creating artistic
arrangements and layers of objects, but you are doing it around an evocative
theme. Scrapbook art almost always includes: 1. photos around which the theme is
developed; and words or "journaling" which evoke, explain and expand on the
The words form an integral part of the artistic arrangement.
Scrapbookers love to play with and combine fonts to give words visual
expression. Just as we use tone and volume to add expression to the spoken word,
scrapbookers use fonts, letter placement and color to express their ideas and
form a page that is pleasing to the eye. Just as words can be spoken melodically
or harshly, softly or loudly, the words on a scrapbook page can visually shout,
whisper, sing or pray.
I suppose a beginner could "go it alone" artistically, but I
found it inspiring and very helpful to view other scrappers' work in order to
appreciate the range of possibilities before I began. If you're fortunate enough
to have a friend who scrapbooks, ask if you can look at her work. Also subscribe
to a scrapbooking magazine. You get to see all the latest and greatest
scrapbooking supplies and tools each month, along with examples of beautiful
pages submitted by readers and experts.
To begin scrapbooking, it is very valuable to see how varied the
art can be. No two scrappers will interpret a theme the same way. This gave me a
sense of artistic license when I started. There is no one right way!
Four artists, given a theme and even a page layout, will
invariably provide vastly different interpretations. In fact, such contests are
held periodically. The results are something to behold.
If you still feel overwhelmed after seeing the work of
experienced scrappers (or maybe due to seeing their work!), start with one of
the themed kits that are available at craft stores.
For the more adventuresome beginner, it's time to plan your page
and make a shopping list!
First decide on the size for your page. The most popular size is
12 x 12". One scrapper explained that's because you get more "real estate" to
decorate. Decide on your theme and select photos for your page. Scrappers
frequently use photos from the same shoot. This helps, not only as far as
sticking with the theme goes, but also aids color coordination. Look for colors
that dominate or accent the photos to decide on the colors for your background
Be sure you have the ability to get reprints should you damage
one of your photos. Accidents do happen. Scan your original to a digital file if
you don't have a negative or digital camera file. Have any valuable old photos
professionally copied. There are two reasons for this: newer papers and newer
inks both add durability.
Plan your journaling: what title and other words can you use to
tie the photos together? Take your time with this step. Let your concept evolve
and take shape. Think about your audience and especially the person or people in
the photos. What will evoke a smile or wonderful memory for them?
Diagram a few scrapbooking layouts with your photos to settle on
a balanced composition and to give you an idea of how much other "real estate"
you have to play with. Your diagram will include some or all of the following:
background paper; slashes or splotches of other papers; text box(es); a title
box; and your photos.
Next consider what additional elements and techniques you will
use to decorate: stamping; embossing; buttons; brads; ribbons; rub-ons; tags in
paper or even glass or metal; twill tape; envelopes; and tiny embellishments.
"Tiny embellishments" is a whole industry that was practically
launched by scrapbook art. If you remember being enthralled by doll house
furniture and accessories as a child, you will be both enchanted and taken back
to one of childhood's joys by scrapbooking embellishments.
Your shopping list is almost complete and should look something
Background paper(s): size and color(s). Be sure any paper that will touch your
photos is acid-free (archival quality).
Accent paper(s). Album, D-ring binder or frame and perhaps page protectors or
glass. Ditto on "acid-free".
Letters: your choice of rub-ons, stamps, metal glue-on letters, stickers,
die-cut letters, old fashioned "typewriter key" letters. [You can also create
some text using computer graphic or word processing programs.] 4. Ideas for
Just brainstorm and jot down some items, but allow yourself to
be inspired by what you find.
Last, but not least, don't forget the basics (some of which you
may already have on hand). 5. Adhesives – from glue sticks and dots to tape and
two-sided tape. Be sure those that will touch your photos are acid-free. 6.
Cutting tool(s): good quality scissors and perhaps a paper trimmer. 7. Black
journaling pen if you plan to write or draw in your own hand.
The rest is easy. So enjoy!