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How to get started scrapbooking

Scrapbooking has become a huge industry. Which is great if you’re an experienced scrapbooker because it means you have an amazing array of choices when it comes to book types, layouts and embellishments. However, if you have never done it before, the choices can seem overwhelming. One of our staff members at The River Club told me the other day that she wants to scrapbook, but doesn’t even know where to begin. I’ve heard the same comment from friends and family members so decided to dedícate this weeks blog to them. Here is a simple checklist you can follow to painlessly make a beautiful scrapbook.

1.Choose your theme- My advice is to start with a very narrowly defined theme. If you try to make something broad, like 2016 Memories, you can end up getting completely overwhelmed trying to control and edit all the material. You can choose to highlight memories from a specific event, like a birthday party or vacation, or with an over-reaching theme, such as favorite flowers or loving moments.

2. Choose your photos- Once again, less is more. If you’re making a scrapbook about a favorite vacation, don’t throw in every photo. Just use your absolute favorites. Remember: the more photos you include, the bigger project you are taking on. If you’re the type of person that starts a lot of projects but doesn’t finish them, I don’t recommend you pick more than fifty photos. This will keep your project manageable. Moreover, I think it looks better to have fewer photos on a page- the design in cleaner and you will have higher quality images. Some photo tips:

  • The biggest advice I can give is not to use any original heirloom photos in your first scrapbooking attempt. I never use them- instead I use a photo scanner to make copies. I print them up and and then use these copies.
  • Make sure your photos are all very clear images with good lighting.
  • Instead of cutting photos, I recommend using photo editing software (like Adobe Photoshop) to cut and edit the images. You can print these and use them in your scrapbook.
  • Choose images that will complement other images. For example, choose a few photos of details from an event (the hem of a dress, the veins of a leaf) to complement images that include a greater array of subjects. I like to use images with different orientations (portrait, landscape and square shaped) on the same page.


3. Do your journaling-I think this is the most important part of scrapbooking. It not only provides text to help you preserve memories that might be otherwise lost, but it is also a way to revisit and process precious memories. I like to sit with my photos in a quiet place, put on some music that reminds me of the event or theme I am documenting, and slowly go through the photos with pen and paper in hand. I just write what comes to mind, then later edit the text and determine how big I want to write the memory and on what kind of paper.

4. Choose your album size- The two most popular formats for scrapbooking are 12”x12” and 8.5”x11″. There are also mini-scrapbooks: 8”x8”, 6”’x9” and even 4”x4”. Obviously the larger scrapbooks let you include more material, but they also take longer to fill.


5. Decide upon your layout- This can be overwhelming, but if you follow the steps I listed above, your content will be edited enough by now that you will quickly be able to rule out a number of options. My suggestion is to make your most treasured photos and journal clips the focus of the page, and select a layout that allows you to do this. If you get stuck, here is a link to a number of sites with really good free scrapbook layouts.

6. Gather your embellishments- If you have items you have saved from the event or theme you are scrapbooking about: pressed flowers, pretty business cards, brochures from a beautiful hotel, tickets stubs, etc, assemble them now.

7. Go shopping- Now that you have all your materials and your layout, go shopping for:

  • Patterned paper and cardstock- You can find many beautiful background images online that you can download and print, often for free.
  • Additional embellishments like ribbon, stickers or stick on rhinestones
  • Acid-Free adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Page protectors


8. Have fun-You’re now ready to start making your scrapbook pages. Remember, scrapbooking is as much about the process as the final outcome. Enjoy the journey as you re-live beautiful memories and let your creative process flow.


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