Do you want to start scrapbooking? First here are some guidelines to help you narrow down your choices of formats and tools.
1. To begin, make a decision about what format you want to work in.
- What size blank pages do you want to use? 12 x 12, 8.5 x 11, 6 x 6 or something else? Take into account the size of your photos.
- Do you like pocket scrapbooking, traditional scrapbooking, or a combination? Pocket scrapbooking is when you put your photos, journaling cards and other embellishments into clear plastic pocket pages.
- Is it important to be able to add and subtract pages? If so, choose or make an album cover that allows you to remove and add pages.
- Is it easy to get refills on blank pages and pocket pages? You can get a lot of beautiful supplies for your scrapbook online, but it will be a lot more convenient if you can refill your basic supplies at a store where you already shop a lot.
2. Choose a cutting system for papers and photos.
- A self-healing cutting mat, craft knife and metal ruler are basic to have for just about any type of paper crafts and will get used a lot in scrapbooking.
- A guillotine-style cutter, preferably at least 12 x 12″ in size, is extremely convenient and easy to use. Mine is heavy but I often make the effort to drag it around when working on location because I use it so much. They make smaller sizes but if you have the budget and the space for it a 12 x 12″ cutter is very useful because much scrapbook paper is sold in the 12 x 12″ format.
- A trimmer is great to have when you don’t want to deal with the size and weight of a tabletop guillotine-style paper cutter. You won’t be able to work quite as fast as with the guillotine-style cutter, but you can get the job done. They also come with a scoring blade so you can use it as a scoring tool also which is useful if you make a lot of stuff with folds such as pockets, boxes or greeting cards.
3. Select what adhesives you’d like to use for attaching photos and papers to the scrapbook page. I recommend having all of these in your arsenal when you start out because all are useful in certain situations and you will develop your own methods and preferences as you learn.
- Photo adhesive squares – easy to use and essential and one of the most economical choices.
- Glue stick – great for small embellishments that don’t have their own adhesive, also economical.
- Tape runner – very convenient if you can find one that doesn’t jam constantly – I’m still looking!
- Rolls of glue dots or glue lines – extremely convenient and useful, not the most economical choice but sometimes nothing else is right.
- Double-sided tape – I use it a lot for making pockets and other situations where you need a flat, strong bond.
- Glue pen – Good for extremely small paper items. I use one of these more in collage work than in scrapbooking but if you ever need to glue something tiny glue pens are a great way to apply a small amount of glue neatly.
Other basic tools and supplies you will need to start scrapbooking:
Marker for writing captions
Selection of solid color cardstock
Selection of decorative patterned papers
How to start your scrapbook
1. Lay out a few blank pages on your work surface that are the same size as the finished pages you want to make. This is to help you visualize what your future pages will look like.
2. Go through your photos and decide what order they should go in. Decide if they need cropping or trimming.
3. Place your photos and any embellishments or memorabilia you want to use on two or three blank pages at a time. This is to get ideas for page layouts.
4. When you plan your layout, don’t forget to leave space for captions or journaling.
5. Make or prepare what you want to add on your page. For example, you might want to make a pocket to hold something special or make a frame for a photo out of colored paper. Take a blank page and start building your page from the “bottom up”. Use whatever adhesive is appropriate for each part. For example, photo squares are good for most photos and glue sticks or a tape runner work well for attaching a large piece of paper.
6. If it helps in positioning things, you can make indicator lines on the paper with pencil then erase them later when you’re done with your page.
Going to the next level
If you get more serious about the hobby, these paper crafting supplies are really fun to use on scrapbook pages and give you a lot more creative options:
Rubber stamps and rubber stamp ink pads
Markers and colored pencils for coloring and drawing
Die cuts and embellishments
Decorative paper tape (also called Washi tape or design tape)
Decorative paper edging scissors
Wet media such as paints and mists
A paper cutting system that allows you to cut shapes – this can be some kind of template and blade system or a computer driven cutting system such as a Cricut.
Paper crafting supplies are a bit of an investment in the beginning but keep in mind you can get a lot of use out of them by making other paper items such as journals, planners, calendars, handmade books, cards, holiday and party decorations, gift packaging and more.
Here are some online resources that I have written or found to help with scrapbooking and other paper crafts:
Scrapbooking Page Layout Sketches
Scrapbooking with Memorabilia
Scrapbooking with Small Format Photos
Mixing Different Paper Crafting Brands Together
Planners, Journals, Albums, Scrapbooks and Handmade Books
Examples of Pocket Scrapbooking
Scrap Gals Community
Scrap Gals Podcast
My teaching, demo and event schedule