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Learn about scrapbooking and find strategies for creating unique scrapbooks.

Scrapbooking is a creative way to arrange and present past memories. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Scrapbooking is a creative way to arrange and present past memories.

Scrapbooking is a way to document memorable moments and people without being limited to one media, like photographs. Scrapbooks can contain any material that can fit between the pages of an album, such as stickers, newspaper clippings, photographs, letters, poems and even pieces of fabric. Scrapbooking is a fun, creative way to not only preserve personal and family histories, but capture the spirit of one’s personality and bring it alive on the page. A well-crafted scrapbook can be a beautiful and meaningful gift for friends and family of generations to come.

History of Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking probably emerged during medieval times, when pilgrims began collecting devotional souvenirs and keepsakes and attaching them to pages in their Bibles. With the introduction of paper in the 13th century and the printing press in the 15th century, the idea and practice of collecting and preserving information and other memorabilia began to take root. By the turn of the 19th century, when color-printing technologies became available, scrapbooking was well underway to becoming what it is today. Since then, scrapbooks have become an increasingly multimedia form.

Scrapbooking Today

According to a technology article published in the New York Times, in 2005, United States scrapbook enthusiasts -- known as scrapbookers or scrappers -- spent an estimated $3 billion on scrapbook albums, papers, fabrics and other embellishing materials. In response, scrapbook companies have set up shop everywhere. Scrapbook products line the shelves of craft stores, as well as superstores like Target and Wal-Mart, which carry specialized adhesives, stamps, ribbons and, of course, specialized scrapbook albums.

As more scrapbookers learn the convenience and versatility of digital media, electronic media companies have started to take note, offering laptops, cameras and multi-format printers catering to scrapbooks. Even travel companies are jumping on the bandwagon by offering scrapbooking cruises, which reportedly attract groups of up to 300 devotees per trip. 

More than a personal hobby, scrapbooking has become a social network, generating clubs, workshops and conventions, and creating a growing market for a variety of industries.

How to Scrapbook

As scrapbooking gains wide popularity, expert scrapbookers have emerged to offer tips and advice to the novice and devotees alike. Scrapbooking Web sites, such as Scrapbook.com, abound and offer articles, images and forums, along with advice on everything from which glue to buy to where to get it. Below are some basic materials beginner scrappers need to get started:

  • Album: An album is the essential building block of any scrapbook
  • Scissors
  • Refill pages: Make sure to have plenty of extra pages on hand that fit the album
  • Adhesive: Adhesives include everything from glue dots to vellum tape. Try a few different kinds to learn which adhesive you are most comfortable with
  • Cardstock and paper
  • Pens: Acid-free pens are best
  • Photos

Much like a painter staring at a empty canvas or a writer staring at a blank sheet of paper, the beginning scrapbooker might feel daunted.

First, identify what sort of scrapbook to make, such as thematic or chronological. For individuals making a scrapbook of a specific event, like a family vacation, a chronological scrapbook might be a good choice. 

If thousands of photos from dozens of family vacations are accessible, scrappers might want to create a thematic scrapbook focused on beaches or mountains, for example.

Once a topic is chosen, scrapbookers are ready to make their first scrapbook page. Pick a few photos that might work well together on a page, as well as few pieces of different colored paper that accentuate the colors in the pictures. 

Choose one photo to be the centerpiece of the page, and then arrange the other photos around it, cropping the photos if necessary. Using a pen, write a few lines on the page. These might describe the “who, what, where and why” of the photos, or they might simply reflect an emotion the images evoke.

Add any extras to the page, such as stickers, glitter or other decorative objects. Once everything is arranged, use the adhesive to secure the items to the page.

Digital Scrapbooking

Recently, many scrapbookers have turned to technology to expand their scrapbooking possibilities. Many digital scrappers attest to the efficiency of creating layouts on laptops and printing them out. People who do not have the time or worry about their children getting into scrapbook materials find digital scrapbooking a convenient alternative. Going digital has helped many scrappers attach video clips and flash animations, which traditional scrapbooks cannot accommodate.

In recent years, many electronic companies have come out with scrapbooker-friendly hardware and software. Laptops and tablet PCs usually cost around $1,000, digital cameras for less than $200, and thumb drives and other external hard drives for less than $100. Software programs, such as those from AdobeCorel and Shutterfly, make e-scrapping easier than ever.

Some equipment to consider for digital scrapbooking:

  • A laptop
  • Digital camera
  • External hard drive such as a thumb or flash drive
  • Wide-format printers (some of these come with free software for scrapbookers)

Scrapbookers can download digital paper, fonts, emoticons and other embellishments like digital buttons and ribbons from various scrapbooking Web sites, such as thedigichick.com. Some of these Web sites showcase pages others scrapbookers have created, so browsing through them may help to generate page layout ideas. Many Web sites include forums, chat rooms and discussion boards to post questions and receive answers.

Scrapbook magazines can provide ideas and are available at many local magazine stands. Those interested in high-concept digital scrapbooking can try Digital Scrapbooking magazine. Other popular magazines include Creating Keepsakes magazine, Simple Scrapbooks magazine and Memory Makers magazine.

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