The Art of Scrapbooking
By Eileen Bergen

If you'd like to start scrapbooking or create scrapbook-style art, but are simply overwhelmed by the vast product choices, let me help you narrow them down and get you going. I view scrapbooking as a highly specialized form of collage.

With scrapbooking, not only are you creating artistic arrangements and layers of objects, but you are doing it around an evocative theme. Scrapbook art almost always includes: 1. photos around which the theme is developed; and words or "journaling" which evoke, explain and expand on the theme.

The words form an integral part of the artistic arrangement. Scrapbookers love to play with and combine fonts to give words visual expression. Just as we use tone and volume to add expression to the spoken word, scrapbookers use fonts, letter placement and color to express their ideas and form a page that is pleasing to the eye. Just as words can be spoken melodically or harshly, softly or loudly, the words on a scrapbook page can visually shout, whisper, sing or pray.

I suppose a beginner could "go it alone" artistically, but I found it inspiring and very helpful to view other scrappers' work in order to appreciate the range of possibilities before I began. If you're fortunate enough to have a friend who scrapbooks, ask if you can look at her work. Also subscribe to a scrapbooking magazine. You get to see all the latest and greatest scrapbooking supplies and tools each month, along with examples of beautiful pages submitted by readers and experts.

To begin scrapbooking, it is very valuable to see how varied the art can be. No two scrappers will interpret a  theme the same way. This gave me a sense of artistic license when I started. There is no one right way!

Four artists, given a theme and even a page layout, will invariably provide vastly different interpretations. In fact, such contests are held periodically. The results are something to behold.

If you still feel overwhelmed after seeing the work of experienced scrappers (or maybe due to seeing their work!), start with one of the themed kits that are available at craft stores.

For the more adventuresome beginner, it's time to plan your page and make a shopping list!

First decide on the size for your page. The most popular size is 12 x 12". One scrapper explained that's because you get more "real estate" to decorate. Decide on your theme and select photos for your page. Scrappers frequently use photos from the same shoot. This helps, not only as far as sticking with the theme goes, but also aids color coordination. Look for colors that dominate or accent the photos to decide on the colors for your background and trims.

Be sure you have the ability to get reprints should you damage one of your photos. Accidents do happen. Scan your original to a digital file if you don't have a negative or digital camera file. Have any valuable old photos professionally copied. There are two reasons for this: newer papers and newer inks both add durability.

Plan your journaling: what title and other words can you use to tie the photos together? Take your time with this step. Let your concept evolve and take shape. Think about your audience and especially the person or people in the photos. What will evoke a smile or wonderful memory for them?

Diagram a few scrapbooking layouts with your photos to settle on a balanced composition and to give you an idea of how much other "real estate" you have to play with. Your diagram will include some or all of the following: background paper; slashes or splotches of other papers; text box(es); a title box; and your photos.

Next consider what additional elements and techniques you will use to decorate: stamping; embossing; buttons; brads; ribbons; rub-ons; tags in paper or even glass or metal; twill tape; envelopes; and tiny embellishments.

"Tiny embellishments" is a whole industry that was practically launched by scrapbook art. If you remember being enthralled by doll house furniture and accessories as a child, you will be both enchanted and taken back to one of childhood's joys by scrapbooking embellishments.

Your shopping list is almost complete and should look something like this.

  1. Background paper(s): size and color(s). Be sure any paper that will touch your photos is acid-free (archival quality).

  2. Accent paper(s). Album, D-ring binder or frame and perhaps page protectors or glass. Ditto on "acid-free".

  3. Letters: your choice of rub-ons, stamps, metal glue-on letters, stickers, die-cut letters, old fashioned "typewriter key" letters. [You can also create some text using computer graphic or word processing programs.]

  4. Ideas for embellishments. Just brainstorm and jot down some items, but allow yourself to be inspired by what you find.

Last, but not least, don't forget the basics (some of which you may already have on hand).

  1. Adhesives from glue sticks and dots to tape and two-sided tape. Be sure those that will touch your photos are acid-free.

  2. Cutting tool(s): good quality scissors and perhaps a paper trimmer. 

  3. Black journaling pen if you plan to write or draw in your
    own hand.

The rest is easy. So enjoy!

By:Eileen Bergen
The Artful Crafter

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