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Taking the "Scrapbooking" Plunge, by SWAN

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If you’ve been interested in the art of Scrapbooking but just don’t know where or how to get started, this practical and action-oriented article “Happy Scrapbooking” message board moderator, SWAN, offers easy-to-follow steps for getting started. Read on!

I started accumulating scrapbook supplies for several months before I could actually do a page. I had a “basic” understanding of what you were supposed to do with all of these die cuts and papers but just couldn't bring myself to start.

So, I did some research that led me to call a “Creative Memories” professional consultant who came to my home and did a demonstration. This was the jump-start I needed! Now…. I must admit that once I did that first page at the class I did not continue in the Creative Memories style, but it did get me rolling. Then, I located a LSS (Local Scrapbook Store)… although how local is 45 minutes to an hour away? LOL. Some areas of the country have a super abundance of LSS and others, so far, are sorely lacking. Having such a store within reach has proven to be an invaluable resource for materials, ideas, and sharing with other scrappers through Scrap Club gatherings and all day Scrap-togethers. Cropping with others is the BEST, in my opinion. If you get "stuck" while creating a layout or picking a color there is always someone who has just the right creative trick to help you or teach you a technique. Then too, a LSS often offers classes for scrappers of every level from raw recruits to advanced technicians. Bottom line, I highly recommend your first step be to find a local resource like an LSS.

Posting your specific question on a message board such as ours will also garner lots of suggestions about how to go about pulling a layout together from both a technical and/or creative aspect. If you are stumped for a title to a layout, need a poem or quote to add a little pizzazz to your page, need directions on how to use the new tool you just bought, or need a source for a particular product someone will surely have suggestions and answers for you.

Of course, a subscription to one or more of the myriad Scrapbooking Magazines is a must, imho. The premier magazine is Creating Keepsakes ( Then there are Memory Makers (, Paperkuts ( and Ivy Cottage Creations ( These and other magazines like Snapshot Memories and Better Homes and Gardens Scrapbooking quarterly are available on newsstands, particularly in large stores like Borders. They contain a wealth of information and layout ideas. Then there is the basic book of Scrapbooking from the editors of Creating Keepsakes Magazine. Lisa Bearnson calls it “The Joy of Scrapbooking”.

When you have gotten to the point where you want to put pictures on pages, you will need a few essentials: An “archivally” safe album (Another decision you will have to make is the type and size of album you will use, and we will cover this in another article), acid free paper and PVC free page protectors, an acid free adhesive (these run the gamut from glue sticks to a machine such as the Xyron), scissors, and a paper trimmer to get straight edges when cropping photos, and an acid free pen for journaling. These are the bare essentials that will allow you to create a page.

The fun part, to me, is all of the other toys and tools for decorating the pages, which are determined by you and your own style. A warning though: Don't buy a ton of stickers or those decorative scissors! (I am guilty of having done both!) This is the number one mistake made by novice scrappers. Stickers are so cute and plentiful that they just call to us from the racks in the LSS, but be cautious. It is best to buy them only when you have a particular layout in mind that might need them and use them judiciously. I have also found that, while the scissors were quite appealing to me, I only use a few of them - although I own more than a dozen of them (hanging my head in shame, LOL). So beware of this lure also.

Okay, it’s time. Get out some photos, and trim away the parts that you don't need. Remember, though, you want to end up with pictures that are bigger than postage stampsJ. Cut pieces of card stock that compliments the colors in the picture as ‘mats’ (they are called mats even though in Scrapbooking we generally place them behind the picture), and mount them in a pleasing arrangement on your background paper with your acid free adhesive. Add a journaling block (another piece of complimentary cardstock) and tell the story of what is going on in the pictures: the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the picture. Try and include something personal about the people in the picture; it's the little details that make the story on your pages come to life. Then, “finish” the page by adding die cuts or a few stickers (try to ground the stickers to a mat and not just have them float on the page) and add a title (either in your own hand, with letters cut out from an alphabet template, or something you create on your computer). Voila! You are a Scrapbooker!

That's the basics, but at least you will have begun. Practice is what makes Scrapbooking fun, and the rest will come more and more easily. Every scrapper I have ever spoken with has had the roughest time getting that first page done AND loved it once they got started.

Good luck and Happy Scrapping. SWAN article edtor

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