This article explores some of the basic tools you need in your scrapbooking arsenal. Whether you’re new to scrapbooking or a scrapbooking guru, you need to have the basics in place when starting any scrapbooking project. As with any project, without the proper tools you’re cutting yourself short and limiting your ability to properly express your creativity.
The first tool in your scrapbook quiver is, of course, the album. That’s the «book» part of «scrapbook» and serves as the foundation of your project. You’ll want to consider the size of elements to be included in your scrapbook. Are you including photographs, newspaper clippings, full size 8.5″x11″ sheets of paper? Plan accordingly by using an album that will fit your needs. 8.5×11 and 12×12 are common sizes.
Just as your album is the foundation of your scrapbook, the foundation of each page is the cardstock. Usually you will want to use white or off white colors, but depending on your style and the content of your scrapbook, you can experiment with bolder or more vibrant colors. For a book about your baby growing up, you might want to use softer pinks or light blues, for example.
Because your memories are important, you want them to last a long time. Page protectors that fit the pages of your album will help keep the oils from your fingers from directly contacting the pages and keep everything protected for years to come. Additionally, if something ever falls off of one of your pages, it will be contained within the page protector for easy recovery and quick fixes.
It seems basic, but the next thing you need is a variety of papers. Make sure the paper you use is acid free. Beyond that, let your imagination run wild. The more colors you have, the better! For background elements, you will want subtle colors that make your elements stand out. For foreground elements, you will want bright colors that do the standing out. Don’t forget to also pick up some vellum – it will add depth to your pages and give you another element in your creative quiver.
Let’s talk adhesives. You’ll need something to stick your elements to the pages of your scrapbook. Whether it be tape, glue, or something else, make sure it is acid free and non-toxic. This is based mostly on personal preference. You may like using glue sticks while someone else might prefer tape or liquid glues. There are specialty products available such as glue dots (such as Hermafix Dots or Memory Book Glue Dots) that provide a super easy way to attach elements to a page and are designed especially for scrapbooking.
Experiment with the various options to find the one that work best for you and your style of scrapbooking.
A variety of pens, colored pencils, and markers are also essential. Prismacolor makes great markers. They are a bit more expensive, but they last a long time and produce the greatest quality. Again, experiment with different writing instruments to find what works best for you, your style, and the content of your scrapbooks.
Unless you have a table you enjoy cutting into, you will need a cutting mat (we’ll get to cutting tools in a minute). Look for a «self-healing» type as these will tend to last longer than the most basic mats. Not only will these protect your table or counter top, but most mat provide built in rulers and other references to help make cutting easy.
With everything in place, it’s time to start cutting. Cutting tools are an arsenal in and of themselves. Scissors might seem like the most basic tool, but there are considerations to be made as far as quality and comfort goes. Try out the different scissors at the craft store. Usually, the nicer the scissors, the easier they will cut and the longer they will last. Fiskars is a great brand that many scrapbookers swear by. You will also want an Exacto knife for intricate cuts and working with dies.
Speaking of dies, that is our last stop and the last piece of our toolset. Dies allow you to cut specific shapes out of paper, vellum, or whatever else very quickly and easily. There are a variety of types from small handheld single-shaped dies to larger electronic die cutters that can do an endless amount of shapes. Explore your local craft store for options.
One of the favorite die cut machines among scrapbookers is the Cricut Expression. Not only can it cut a huge variety of shapes for your scrapbooks, but it can also cut vinyl lettering for a huge variety of projects not just limited to scrapbooking. It even does glass etching. Some of the other electronic die cut machines do a good job as well, but most require being hooked up to a computer adding to their complexity. The Cricut is easy enough for a child to use, but versatile enough for a creative scrapbooker!
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