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Cheat Sheet

Scrapbooking For Dummies

From Scrapbooking For Dummies by Jeanne Wines-Reed, Joan Wines

Scrapbooking is an engrossing hobby that helps preserve — and create — memories. To be a good scrapbooker, you need to get organized; gather the right materials and tools; pay attention to the stories surrounding the events you chronicle; and get good at taking scrapbook-worthy photographs. You can refine your personal scrapbooking style as you go along.

How to Get Started Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking is an opportunity to preserve personal and family memories. To get started, gather the photos and mementos that will help make your scrapbook a continuing joy. Use the tips in the following list to help you get organized for scrapbooking:

  • Steal a day — a whole one if possible. Then you can gather all your photos and memorabilia (including what you loaned out to others) and put them in one place, such as a section of a room, an office, or a studio where you can work without being disturbed.

  • Organize photos chronologically by years into archival photo boxes (Print File's drop-front, metal-edge containers are good) and subcategorize later.

  • Organize memorabilia chronologically by years into acid-free and lignin-free folders. Lignin is a substance that bonds wood fibers.

  • Write photo notes on repositionable sticky notes rather than on the backs of your photos. Over time, inks on the backs of your photos destroy the emulsions on the fronts of them.

  • Create your own scrapbooking space, where you can leave your work out without it being disturbed.

  • If you're short on space or often scrapbook away from home, get a portable storage system on wheels for storing and stashing your scrapbook supplies.

  • Develop film that's been sitting around — like now!

How to Discover Your Scrapbooking Style

Scrapbooking is more than gathering photos and writing captions, it's an art form that reflects your personal style. Use the tips in the following list to help develop and polish your unique scrapbooking style:

  • Take a look at different scrapbooking styles to see which ones you like. You can experiment with many different styles to come up with a look that's all your own.

  • Finding predominant colors in your photographs for a particular album can help you choose the colors you want to use — usually a three-color palette that unifies your layouts.

  • Creating a pleasing layout means imagining that a tic-tac-toe grid is covering your page. Position your most important items over the focal points where the grid lines intersect. That's where your eyes naturally focus.

Taking Good Pictures and Preserving Them in Your Scrapbook

Photographs are the predominant items in your scrapbook, so knowing how to take good photos and how to preserve them adds value and longevity to your scrapbooks. The following list offers tips for taking photos and keeping them safe:

Photography Tips Preservation Tips
Fill the frame when you’re taking photographs. Move in close on your subject. When you’re photographing people, focus on the eyes. Keep your photos and negatives out of direct sunlight in a dark, cool place. Try stashing your photos in archival storage boxes. You can put negatives in sleeve holders and store them in light-sensitive boxes, three-ring binders, or hanging file folders.
Use beautiful natural light as much as possible whenever you shoot pictures. Early morning or late afternoon light is best because it’s softer. Keep your original photos intact; you don’t want to ruin a one-of-a-kind photo! Crop copies instead of originals. You may want the backgrounds later.
For a group shot of people sitting, step on a chair above the group and have everyone look up toward the camera. This angle creates a flattering image. Use white cotton gloves when handling your photographs or wipe them with a soft cotton cloth to remove fingerprints. Through the years, acid from your fingerprints can eat away at the emulsion.
When you take a group shot of people standing, don’t bother shooting legs and feet. Focus instead on faces, and make sure you leave plenty of room around everyone’s head. Always use as little adhesive as possible for your scrapbook photos. No adhesive at all is even better; you can opt instead for photo corners or other alternatives.
Check in your viewfinder to make sure nothing’s growing out of people’s heads (like tree trunks or branches, light posts, stop signs, or wires).

How to Choose the Right Materials and Tools for Scrapbooking

If you want your scrapbooks to stand the ravages of time — and that's the whole point of scrapbooking, isn't it? — you need to choose your materials and tools carefully. The following list offers advice on picking the materials that will enhance your efforts:

  • Skip the magnetic albums and page protectors made with vinyl or acetate components, because items made of those materials stick to, discolor, and deteriorate photos. Select safe page protectors made of polyester (Mylar), polypropylene, or polyethylene.

  • Pick the right album for the right project. For instance, if you like moving things around, use a post-bound or strap-hinge album. Each of these albums enables you to change the order of your pages. You have a wide variety of albums to choose from, so read labels carefully, and look for overall quality.

  • Try removable or repositionable adhesives so you can move elements around without damaging them, but remember that even these adhesives become permanent within various time periods.

  • No matter what, choose papers that are acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered. Buffered means they include alkaline substances that neutralize acids the paper may come in contact with.

  • For success at every cutting job, keep a paper trimmer and an assortment of scissors at hand, including straight, decorative, and detail scissors. Cutting templates also are helpful.

  • Buying stickers made by the same manufacturer helps you achieve unity and consistency in an album.

  • Choose wood- or acrylic-mounted stamps and inking pads with pigment-based inks.

  • Always use a pigment-based ink pen that is light-fast, fade-resistant, and waterproof for journaling.

Journaling in Your Scrapbook

A good scrapbook is more than just pages with photographs and mementos, it's a record of events, which means that your journaling skills get to shine as well as your creative skills. To encourage your journaling skills, use the tips in the following list:

  • Jot down notes and quotes in a small notebook and carry it with you wherever you go. Before you know it, your notebook will be full of material for the tales that you can share in your scrapbooks.

  • Take a hand-held tape recorder to family reunions and other events so you can preserve the great stories you'll hear.

  • Interview older members of your family now, before they're gone or their memories fade.

  • Write specific questions for interviews beforehand, and remember not to interrupt while someone is telling you a story.

  • Use your photographs as writing prompts for your journaling.

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