Scrapbooking Techniques

Technique #1: Get Organized

Scrapbooking is a fun and creative hobby. Once you start to accumulate paper, tools, and other products, it can also be an overwhelming hobby.

Start simple and just remember that you can’t be behind in your own hobby.
Take a few deep breaths and read on to learn how to organize all your scrapbooking materials.

Organize Your Paper

Paper sneaks up on you. Buy one sheet here, a mixed color pack there, and suddenly it’s spilling off the table and out of the room. Here's how to organize it:

  1. Sort through your papers and purge anything that is too damaged or that has gone out of style and you won’t use.
  2. Sort remaining papers according to our own system. Maybe you like to separate by size first and then by color. Or you prefer to split up your patterns and solids. Or you want your fancy, decorative papers stores separately. It doesn’t matter what your system is—as long as it works for you.
  3. Buy shelves or folders to store your organized papers. Stackable paper trays and totes are readily available.

    An accordian file can help
    you keep your paper organized

Organize Your Tools

There are countless decorative punches and scissors available, not to mention styles of adhesives or eyelet tools. You pick up one or two tools at a time and suddenly you have so many that you can never find the right one! Start organizing your scrapbooking tools by:

  1. Laying out all of your tools. Organize according to function—for example, scissors, craft knives, cutting mats, and paper trimmers can all go in the same pile.
  2. According to the size of the piles, assign each to a drawer, shelf, or other dedicated area. In my mother’s craft room, she has all of her hole punches displayed in a clear plastic shoe bag on the back of the door so they are easily visible.
  3. At a minimum, label the drawers and shelves with broad categories like “cutting stuff” or “adhesives.” If you’re feeling ambitious, you could catalog individual items. For example, stamp every ink you have onto a few sheets of paper and label them with the maker, color, and whether it’s pigment or dye-based.

Organize Your Photos

In order to keep your photos organized:

  1. Write down a list of all the categories you’ll separate your photos into. They will probably be chronological overall, but within a certain time period you may also want to split them up into vacations, holidays, or other special events.
  2. Buy as many containers as you need to hold all of your categories.
  3. Don’t let the number of photos overwhelm you! Even working just a few minutes at a time to organize your photos will make a difference.
  4. Once you have finished your initial sort, continue sorting photos as they come in, so when you are ready to scrapbook your photos are already organized and ready.

Organize Your Embellishments

By nature, embellishments are usually small and easily lost or hidden by that towering stack of papers. Now that you’ve organized and put away all of your papers and tools, the embellishments should be easy to spot!

  1. As with the paper, discard any embellishments that are damaged or outdated.
  2. Organize remaining embellishments, again according to your own preferences. Popular methods of organizing include: by color, by size, or by theme (holidays, seasons, etc.)

Technique #2: Crop Your Photos

Cropping refers to trimming photos to improve composition and focus. Cropping can:

  1. Get rid of boring backgrounds,
  2. Make the picture more balanced,
  3. Draw attention to a focal point, or
  4. Bring together a page layout through repeating shapes.

Before you start cropping, be sure that you have another copy of the image, either in print or as a digital file. You can start simply by using a paper trimmer to take off unnecessary backgrounds. If a picture is crooked or the subject is off-center, use cropped shapes like ovals or triangles to give the photo a new focus and balanced composition.

Cropping doesn’t just take away unwanted elements, but can also add style to a layout. A popular cropping technique is to cut an image into smaller tiles and make it into a mosaic, or trim it into slightly off-setting horizontal or vertical stripes.

Technique #3: Use Layers

A single scrapbook page can display many diverse elements. Effective layering will create one cohesive design from all of these separate elements without looking cluttered or overdone.

When layering papers, photos, embellishments, and words, keep the following in mind:

  1. Choose one main focal point for your design.
  2. Layout the page without actually affixing anything. Take a step back to make sure the page isn’t too busy and your main focal point does stand out.
  3. Patterned papers draw the eye more so than solid papers. Avoid using large amounts of patterned paper in one layout or using many clashing patterns.
  4. A little embellishment goes a long way. Don’t go overboard—embellishments should underscore the theme of the photos, not become the main design.
  5. When you mat pictures, you frame them with a slightly larger piece of paper. Matting adds subtle depth and definition. Matting is a good way to work in patterned papers without overwhelming the photos.
  6. As a general rule to unify the page, keep one element consistent. If you crop photos into different shapes, use the same color paper to mat them.

Technique #5: Journal in Your Scrapbook

For many scrapbookers, adding their own words to a page makes it much more personal and unique. Try to jot down notes as an event progresses or soon afterwards, so you don’t forget the details. To start, you can stick to the facts: who, what, when, where, why, and how. As you become more comfortable with journaling, you can expand your writing skills and add more description and voice.

When working journal entries in your layouts, you can use handwriting or typewritten text. Keep journal entries short enough so that the writing/font is clear and legible. If using typewritten text, try to choose a font that matches the writing’s tone and subject.

Technique #6: Try Stamping

Heat Embossing Tips
  • To emboss with heat, you’ll need a heat gun, embossing powder and embossing ink.
  • Stamp the image evenly onto the paper and quickly cover it with embossing powder. Shake off the excess powder onto a piece of cardstock, so that it can easily be replaced into the powder jar.
  • Make sure to keep the gun far enough away from the paper that it doesn’t burn or curl.
  • Watch your fingers! The paper can get hot.
  • Shake excess powder off the finished embossing.

Stamps are a quick and easy way to add design elements to your pages. Some basic stamps include words, letters, and patterns such as crumpled paper, stripes, or polka dots. You can purchase additional stamps for particular projects at your local arts and crafts or scrapbooking store.

When stamping, be sure to ink the stamp adequately and press down evenly. To ink the stamp, hold the stamp in one hand and use the other hand to gently tap the ink pad down onto the face of the stamp. You can stamp directly on scrapbook pages or onto separate pieces of paper to layer in. For more information on stamping, visit Stampington & Co. for beginner’s basics on rubber stamping, papercrafting, and more.

Technique #7: Experiment with Sewing

Adding sewn elements gives the page texture. You can sew by hand or even use a machine for a uniform, even appearance. Types of “thread” include actual thread, ribbon, twine, cords, or wire. Experiment with sewing to attach elements or as a decorative touch.

Keeping these tips in mind, let's take a look at some sample layout ideas.

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