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To many people, scrapbooking is just the newest trend that crafters are spending their money on. Scrapbooking IS a big business, but to the dedicated scrapbook artist, scrapbooking is more then just a craft. It’s a personal, unique way of preserving special family memories. Millions of dollars are spent each year on photos that are thrown into a box or drawer and then forgotten about. Scrapbooking is a way to compile the photos and the stories that go with them so future generations can “live” their family history rather then just inheriting a box of photos that no one knows who they are.

If you are a beginner, there are some simple steps to take to make your first venture into scrapbooking a success. If you walk through the craft aisles you will be overwhelmed with the multitude of products available to you. It will be tempting to buy everything, but it’s better to start with the basics.

1. First organize your photos. Dig out those photos that are in boxes and definitely take out the photos that are in the acidic magnetic photo albums. It’s up to you how to organize. Some ideas are: by person, chronologically, by holiday, by seasons, by special events. It’s up to you. There are special storage boxes you could buy to hold your photos once they are organized and can be found at any discount store.

2. Next decide the type of album you want to create. Maybe after looking at your photos you’ve decided to do a family album for every year. Having your photos organized by year would be the best way to handle this type of album. If you have them organized by person, perhaps you could have an album of just baby photos, then elementary photos, on through life- one for each person in your family. Some scrapbookers combine these two ideas by doing a baby or school album for each child and a family album for each year. Albums focusing on just certain holidays like Christmas are fun to make as are vacation albums. It’s totally up to the person who is scrapbooking. But it’s best to decide before you go shopping.

3. You will need some basic supplies for scrapbooking. The most important is an album and page protectors. Albums come in all sizes, but the two most popular are 12x12 and 8.5 x 11”. 12 x 12” albums allow you to fit more photos on the pages, but may be more expensive to buy and it may be harder to find page protectors and papers in that size. 8.5x11 is a popular size. Though smaller, it’s easier to find this size paper as well as page protectors and storage is easier also. Page protectors are the plastic sleeves used to protect the finished scrapbook pages. Make sure that they are acid-free. It should say so on the package. Look around at different albums to see what type/size you are comfortable with.

Other supplies you will need is colored cardstock, patterned paper, colored pens, decorative scissors and adhesive. If you would like to add stickers, page toppers, die-cuts (pre-cut cardstock shapes), you can, but you can make layouts without them if your budget is tight.

4. To begin, gather your supplies together with your photos. Decide on a theme for your layout. For example, you may have 6 delightful photos of your child’s first day home from the hospital. That will be your theme. Gather the 6 photos together. Look at them. Really look at them. Sometimes it is helpful to pick cardstock for the background that picks up colors in the photos. Sometimes, it is eye-catching to make the colors contrast instead. Choose a color cardstock. Lay out the photos and decide how you will arrange them. If the background is not important, you may crop (or cut) the photo into a shape so the focus is on the subject. Other times, it’s interesting to see the background. One tip- crop your photos with plain scissors as opposed to decorative ones, which tend to take your eye away from the photo.

5. After you decide on the layout, mat your photos on patterned paper or cardstock in a contrasting color from the background color you chose. Think of a catchy title for the layout and add that. Place any stickers or diecuts that fit and then don’t forget the most important part. Journaling! Tell about what is happening in the photos. Let the reader be transported back to that day. Besides names and dates, tell what funny things happened. How did you feel? Journaling is one of the most important parts of scrapbooking. Without it, you just have photos on a page.

With experience you will find scrapbooking to be addicting. There are a multitude of places on the internet to shop for supplies as well as message boards and contests. Magazines such as Creating Keepsakes and Memory Makers help the scrapbooker keep up the latest supplies as well as giving many fresh ideas for layouts. It is a “hobby” that has no ending.