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Introduction to Scrap Booking

By: Natasha Reed - Updated: 7 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Cropping Journalling Scrapbook Layout

In the Victorian era, a scrapbook was where various “scraps” were pasted into a blank book more for storage than for creativity. The “scraps” were miscellaneous bits and pieces such as tickets, images, newspaper clippings which were kept. Now “scrapbooking” refers to the craft of preserving photographs and memories. It is a cross between a photo album and a traditional scrapbook but now the focus is on creativity to make each page interesting and to tell a story. The focus is also on preserving the actual photographs using acid free paper, where in the past we used sticky backed albums these have ruined a lot of many precious photos, making them yellow, fade and deteriorate.

Why Scrapbook?

Scrapbooking is not only a way of keeping your photos and preserving memories, it is a creative pastime. Many people begin scrapbooking only to find they become engrossed in the hobby, finding a creative outlet they didn’t know they had! It is also a chance to meet new people at crops (see glossary) to share ideas, techniques and inspiration.


You do not need a lot of expensive equipment to begin scrapbooking and it is best to build up over time and even borrow items from friends before spending too much on equipment.

Basic Tool Kit – Must Haves:

  • Plain and decorative acid-free papers
  • Acid-free adhesives
  • Photo albums, mini-scrapbooks or journals
  • Page protectors
  • Metal Ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Paper trimmer
  • Scissors
  • Journalling pen
And of course photos and some time!


It is essential that all materials you use are acid-free, to ensure that the projects you create will last. Acid is one of the main factors in causing paper and photos to disintegrate. Also referred to as photosafe or archival quality, this is a handy phrase to look out for next time you are stocking up on crafting materials.

Scrapbooking papers are referred to in imperial measurements, such as 6" x 12".

Embellishment tool kit – whilst this can be absolutely anything here are a few items which are used a lot:

  • Paper punches in various shapes and sizes
  • Circle or shape cutters for cutting photos
  • Fancy edge scissors
  • Rubber Stamps & inkpads (acid free)
  • Acid-free markers and pens
  • Pastels, chalks, watercolors, gel pens
  • Stickers
  • Eyelets & brads
  • Tags
  • Memorabilia and ephemera
Once you have started to acquire tools and equipment it is important to keep them in storage boxes not only for easy access but to prevent damage to papers and tools.

How to Begin

Being faced with a shoebox full of old photos is daunting and is usually seen as a job or a task. However it is best to break each page down in to a group of photos such as a family gathering, christening, wedding or event such as a holiday, buying a first car, moving house etc.

a scrapbookSo you have selected your photos and now choose your album. Most scrapbooks use 12 inch square pages but there are many different sizes. Mini albums are very popular but clearly you will then be restricted on space. 20px breakchoose and cut out photosOnce you have chosen the size start to lay the photos on the page and decide how many you want to use them – this could be one to five photos depending on their size and content. Do not be tempted to over fill a page with too many photos so be selective and crop photos as necessary. 20px breakimages and backgroundsNow look at the themes in the photos and start to think about the embellishments and decoration. Use colours which appear in the photos and pick out the main theme to each page. For example if it is moving house you could embellish the page with maps, trucks and new home embellishments. Use borders, matting and journalling to decorate each page as you wish. 20px breakfinished scrapbook pageThere are no hard and fast rules to scrapbooking and once you get going you will find your own style and become more creative as you continue. Place the finished page into a page protector and insert into a scrapbook – now show to family and friends! 20px break

Photo safety

In order to understand how to keep your photos safe for many years to come look at the glossary page to understand the terms used. Scrapbooking today is designed to preserve your photographs safely as possible, to make sure they will be able to be enjoyed for years to come.


This is the art of adding text onto a scrapbook layout. Whether you use just a few words or a more in-depth story or description. It sounds relatively simple, however it can be a daunting task for those with wobbly handwriting so rub-ons, peel-offs and even worded embellishments can be invaluable. Journalling can be applied directly onto the page or onto furniture such as tags or cut out shapes and then stuck in place.

Top Tip

Use a craft knife, metal ruler and cutting mat when cutting. Lightly score fold lines and ensure a crisp finish by pressing down the fold firmly with a bone folder.

Things Not to do

  • Do not use unique photos you may want to scan them in to a computer or make a copy
  • Do not use ball point pens for journalling
  • Do not use newspaper which is cheap and contains a lot of acid which placed next to a photo in an album can bleed in to the photos
  • Do not expose scrapbooks to heat, damp nor direct light
So get creative and have fun!

Learn the Lingo

Here are some of the terms used in scrapbooking:

Cropping – trimming a photo down to size to cut out excess background or blurred features.

Journalling – adding text onto a scrapbook layout.

Matting – mounting a photograph onto card or paper before adding to the layout to make the image stand out.

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