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:
I do as much as I can in my garden to attract birds, because I love them and I enjoy the benefits of all the insects they eat. Suet cakes are attractive to many birds, in particular the ones who eat a lot of insects. I wrote an article on how to double-render fat to make suet cakes that you offer to outdoor birds in spring temperatures.
Last night I taught a class at Schnarr’s Hardware in Webster Groves in making simple lightweight picture frames from salvaged wood. We also fabricated some hardware for the backs to hold the artwork in the frame and provide a place to attach the hanging wire. My tutorial for this project is on Schnarr’s Hardware blog along with a free downloadable PDF diagram and video of my class.
Supplies and Materials
Cardstock and a variety of decorative papers in shades of green
Downloadable templates “St. Patrick’s Day Card 1” and “St. Patrick’s Day Card 2”
Chipboard (can be scrap – for making templates)
Small circle punch
Paper flower embellishments
Craft knife and blades (X-Acto or something similar)
Rubber stamps (St. Patrick’s Day, appropriate greeting, Celtic designs, spirals)
Stamping ink pads and re-inkers in the following colors: dark brown, shades of green
Acrylic stamp mounting blocks
Awl or needle tool
Small hole punch
Optional – buttons, white craft glue such as Turbo Tacky Glue, needle, thread
The first part of the process for the pair of cards is to stamp out St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic motifs onto small pieces of scrap paper. Use stamping inks in various shades of green and dark brown. Mix in some neutrals if you want. You can make the backgrounds more interesting with the use of background stamps or techniques such as brayering.
Once you have a quantity of stamped pieces finished and the ink is dry, gather them together with some scraps of paper in various shades of green. Make a collage by gluing these scraps down with a glue stick onto a 1/2 sheet of white cardstock. You can create interest by cutting the scraps into smaller pieces by tearing while using a ruler as a straight edge or by cutting apart with decorative scissors. Burnish your collage periodically with a bone folder under a piece of clean scrap paper so the glue has a nice tight seal. Set aside for now and let the glue dry.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card. Score it and fold it in half.
2. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of dark green decorative paper. Cut out the shamrock with scissors. If you want to make several cards, you can trace the shamrock onto chipboard and cut it out to use multiple times for tracing.
3. Trace the half-leaf shape onto chipboard and cut out. Trace onto four different pieces of decorative paper in different shades of green. Instead of pre-made decorative paper you can use some parts of your collage if you want (if you do this be sure to leave at least a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ sized piece intact to use on card #2). Glue the half petals in place as shown on the card sketch in the PDF file.
4. Cut out a narrow strip (3/4″ wide) of light colored paper and stamp or glue a sentiment onto it. Glue this onto a slightly wider (1″ wide) paper strip. Glue to front of card and trim.
5. Glue the shamrock down in place on the front of the card.
6. Punch out a flower shape with a punch and glue down in center of shamrock.
7. Punch out a small circle and glue in place on the strip near the bottom of the card.
8. Punch two holes for eyelets in the center of where the two flower embellishments will go. You can use a small hole punch or a needle tool or awl to start the hole. If the hole is not large enough to accept the eyelet you can enlarge the hole with paintbrush handle or other handy tool.
9. Push the eyelets through the holes and set with the eyelet setter.
Variation – use buttons as embellishments instead of the paper flowers. Attach by gluing with white craft glue then further secure by sewing.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card, score it, and fold it in half.
3. Cut out a 3.75 x 5″ size piece of dark green cardstock.
4. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of the dark green cardstock. Cut out the shamrock with a craft knife. If you cut carefully, you can use the cutout to make another card. If you want to make several cards, you can save your first cutout and use it multiple times for tracing.
5. Get your collage out and cut a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ size piece out of it. Position your dark green cutout piece over it and place those on top of your folded cardstock card base. Make sure the three layers line up correctly. If you decide you want a sentiment or other embellishment in the lower left area where there is some space, now would be a good time to add it.
6. Using the printed out template as a guide, poke holes in all three layers with an awl or needle tool.
7. Push decorative brads through the holes and spread prongs on the back side. You’re done!
Do you have the patience for playing around with lots of fiddly paper bits? If so you might enjoy collecting paper scraps and making them into interesting greeting cards. I’ll show you how gluing small bits of paper to strips of scrap cardstock can give you exciting design options.
Tools and Supplies:
Self-healing cutting mat
Rubber stamps with greetings and sentiments
Permanent black rubber stamping ink
Clean scrap paper
Old food lid to use as a palette
Rubber stamping ink in complementary colors
Rubber eraser with flat sides
Palette knife and/or old credit cards for spreading glue
An assortment of recycled papers: – here are some suggested sources
Gift wrap and tissue
Used postage stamps
Magazines and catalogs
Old greeting cards
Paint sample cards
Attractive product packaging
Scrapbooking paper scraps
Scraps from your old projects
Paper company sample books and promos
Ephemera from travel – maps, brochures, tickets, etc.
I’ll show you two different card designs that you can make by collaging scraps of paper onto cardstock strips.
Make an assortment of collaged strips
1. Cut some strips from plain scrap cardstock that are 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. Old folders are a good source of scrap cardstock weight paper.
2. Lay out a bunch of small paper scraps and glue them down in a row down each strip. You might choose papers at random or try to follow a planned color scheme. When glue is dry enough to handle, use a scissors to trim the strips from the back to make the edges even.
3. Choose a color of rubber stamping ink that will help unify your design and squirt a little of it onto an old food lid. Dip the edge of a flat-sided eraser in the ink and apply a line of ink to the edges of your collaged strips. This is a small step that makes a huge difference in the visual appeal of your finished piece.
Instructions to make card design #1:
1. Print a selection of sentiments with permanent rubber stamping ink on strips of light colored paper to use on the card that you make. Select one to use as the main theme of your card.
2. Choose a piece of scrap cardstock or heavy paper to use for the base of your card. Fold it in half. Measure the front of your card.
3. Next select a piece of thin scrap paper that would make a good background for the front of the card. Tear out a piece that is 1/2 inch smaller than the front of your card, using the metal ruler as a tearing aid.
For example, if you fold an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch piece of paper in half, the front of the card will measure 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches and the background paper for the front of the card should be 3 3/4 x 5 inches.
4. Next choose a simple shape to put on the front of the card – you could trace around a found object, use a cookie cutter or a stencil as a source. Trace one copy of this shape onto plain scrap cardstock. Make another tracing on the back of a piece of paper that harmonizes with the chosen colors for your card.
5. Cut out both shapes with scissors. Set aside the one in the harmonious color to glue to your card later.
6. Take the shape on plain cardstock and glue your sentiment across the middle or wherever looks best. Just below the sentiment, glue a section of one of your collaged and inked strips from earlier.
7. Moving from the inside to the edges, glue strips of scrap paper in complementary colors on either side of your sentiment and collaged strip for a striped effect. Cut around the base shape to trim when all covered.
8. Using the glue stick glue the colored shape you cut out earlier to the front of the card.
9. You will probably need some more robust glue to hold the collaged and inked shape since all the layers of paper will have made it pretty thick. Use Yes Paste to attach the striped shape to the front of the card. Trim if needed.
10. If needed, glue plain light colored scrap paper to the inside of the card to make a clean area for writing a message.
Instructions to make card design #2:
This second card design is designed to made from a piece of 4 1/4 inch by 8 1/2 inch cardstock.
1. Fold the cardstock in half and the front of the card will end up as a 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 square.
2. Cut a 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inch square from plain scrap cardstock.
3. Glue a sentiment, a collged and inked strip and scrap paper strips to the cardstock square.
4. Trim around the square and round the corners with a corner rounding tool.
5. Glue the trimmed square to the front of the card with Yes Paste.
Extra Tips and Techniques for working with paper:
Cover up unwanted parts of found papers by laminating with other paper.
You can get wrinkles out of paper by ironing.
How does one glue down delicate tissue paper? Stabilize by gluing to a stiffer piece of paper with a glue stick and smooth out wrinkles with a bone folder.
When working on other projects, if you have leftover paint or ink use it up on plain paper scraps. Save these scraps and add to them whenever you have leftover art media. In time, you will have a lot of interesting scraps to work with.
If your paper project warps or curls, press it between heavy books with clean scrap paper around it to protect both card and books.
Embellishments that can be recycled and used on cards:
Thread, string and yarn
Ribbon and trim
Beads and charms
I finally made a card with the “Happy Thanksgiving” rubber stamp from my Carolyn’s Stamp Store collection. I also experimented with making backgrounds with a paint roller, wood dowels and string. With flower and leaf rubber stamps, some paper tape and scrapbooking paper I made a card design that can be adapted to different fall themes.
This project is inspired by memories of sewing kits that I used to work on when I was a kid. I remember one kit in particular was a calendar printed on burlap with certain areas of the design accented with sequins attached by running thread through seed beads. Here is an original design of mine that reminds me of all that fun!
Tools and Materials
Ball point pen
Wide burlap ribbon with metallic threads in it – about 9 inches wide
Harvest gold color wired burlap-look ribbon – 1 1/2 inches wide
Felt in a assorted fall leaf colors
Washable fabric marking pen
Gold metallic embroidery thread – six strand
Embroidery thread in off white, rust and dark brown
Assorted size sequins in fall and earthy colors such as ochre, brown, bronze, copper and gold
Copper or bronze colored seed beads – select ones with holes big enough for a threaded needle to pass through twice
Scrap fabric in a rustic color for the ends
Needles – tapestry and embroidery
Walk around your neighborhood and collect leaves to use as templates. Choose leaves more for their shape than their color – you want ones that will flatten easily and are roughly the size of your hand and smaller.
Place your leaves on a hard surface like a table between pieces of scrap paper. Stack books or other flat heavy objects on top and allow to sit for several hours to press leaves for easier handling.
Place leaves on scrap chipboard and trace around with marker. Loosely draw where the leaf veins are on the cardboard for future reference. Discard leaves in the compost if you don’t want them for another project. Cut out the chipboard leaves.
Cut a piece of wide burap ribbon the length that you want for your table runner, plus about 4 extra inches for hemming. Before cutting, tape a piece of masking tape just inside where you plan to cut. The tape will help keep the ends of the ribbon from unraveling.
Pin down the hems on the ends but don’t sew yet.
Fold wired burlap ribbon lengthwise and pin along the long sides of the ribbon.
Use tapestry needle and full thickness of the gold embroidery thread to sew the ribbon in place with a running stitch just inside the wired edge.
Trace around the chipboard leaf shapes with a ball point pen on the backs of various colors of felt. Cut out leaf shapes.
Place felt leaves on your runner in an arrangement that you like. Pin in place.
Split lengths of the six-strand gold embroidery thread lengthwise into pieces with three strands each. Use the three-strand pieces to sew a running stitch along the edges of the felt leaves, attaching them to the wide burlap ribbon.
Stitch leaf vein marks using a running stitch with the various embroidery thread colors. For example try rust color thread for the veins on the light brown felt, off-white thread for the ochre felt and dark brown for the gold and orange felt. If it helps to figure out where to sew the leaf veins, refer back to your chipboard leaves and draw the veins on the felt with the washable fabric marker. After you’re done sewing on the leaf viens, dab any washable marker marks that show with a damp cloth to get rid of them.
Accent the leaves with a few scattered sequins on each nestled among the embroidered leaf veins in a manner that suggests the spots and color variations that you find on natural fallen leaves. Hold the sequins on by bringing a thread from the back through a bead, around the side of the bead then back down through the sequin. Go back through each bead at least twice for durability. Sew a few beads by themselves among the sequins.
Pin and fold strips of fabric to the ends to cover up the raw edge of the ribbon. Sew in place with the metallic embroidery thread.
When the fall season is over, store your table runner rolled up so that the wire in the ribbon does not kink.