Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scrapbooking 101

I have been scrapbooking now for over 4 years. I was introduced to it when I was pregnant with Emily, but I started after she was born. The fact that I could make a photo album look pretty really appealed to me.
I can safely say that I have come a long way in those last 4 years.
I have a collection of my 'early' pages that I can't bare to part with but they will never be shown to anyone else... perhaps you have some of those too? Or maybe you think that scrapbooking seems too hard and a bit beyond you? Or the age old "I'm not creative"... let me tell you - you don't have to be.
A lot of the elements that you will find in scrapbooking are basic design principles. The first would be colour combinations.
- Monochromatic means that you use shades of the same colour for your page - e.g. all purples or all reds, etc. This can be very effective when using deep and light shades together to add contrast without clashing.
- Complimentary colours are colours that you will find on the opposite sides of a colour wheel. There are many colour wheels available for purchase or a simple google image or wiki search will give you some examples. These colours are not alike, but look good when paired together such as red and green, yellow and purple or blue and orange and often it is best to use one compliment lighter with the other darker - such as pale yellow with deep purple or deep red with light green.
- Analogous colours are those that sit in the 3 adjoining sections of a 12 piece colour wheel such as yellow, yellow-orange and orange. These all are analogous colours and will look good when placed with each other. They share somewhat similar characteristics so it ends up looking quite harmonious but still contains some differences in colours.
- Choosing colours from your photo such as creating a blue layout around a photo of brilliant blue eyes will make those the focus. I have heard the extreme of people dressing their children in certain clothes so that they can create a layout with a certain colour or pattern, but I think that may just be taking it to the extreme... plus there's always photo editing software ;)
- Rules and breaking them is all part of the fun of it. We've all heard "blue and green should never be seen" or that pink and red clash... but whether you choose to obey or break them is all part of experimenting. Colour is fun, and it's important that YOU like what your page ends up looking like, so ultimately do as you please!
Next is the elements of a layout - where you position your photo, papers, embellishments etc. There are endless combinations that will render a layout balanced or appealing. There are websites and blogs that create sketches that help people to organise their layouts. I think this part of it is mostly a matter of personal taste and being happy with how it looks. I tend to be a stick as you go type of scrapbooker, whereas some lay everything out and shuffle it around before finally sticking it when everything is just so. Some like to leave 'white' or blank space, whereas I tend to like to fill the page. Some have no journalling (writing that relates to the photos), some hide it under the photo on a tag and some have it as a feature of the page. I usually always include some journalling because for me that is a part of recording who, what, where, when and why. I vary between having it hidden and having it showing - often it depends if there is any room left!
Products - oh how I lothe thee... well I actually love them but sometimes the bank balance tells me otherwise. Most scrapbook layouts are based on cardstock - heavy paper (approx 200gsm) that can be held up with one hand and not flop, or alternately patterned papers (commonly referred to as pp) or double sided patterned papers (commonly referred to as dsp or dspp). Double sided patterned papers have the benefit that they have a coordinating design on the back. There are a multitude of companies that produce patterned papers that are suitable to use in your scrapbooking... the thing to remember is that if you want it to last so it can be passed down the generations (and lets face it, if you're going to the trouble of making it, you'd hope someone is going to look at it in years to come!) you need to use Acid Free papers and other products. It is of most concern if these elements are coming in contact with the photo, because otherwise the acid will deteriorate your photos... and I think we've all seen those photos that grandma used to have in a shoe box that were handled by every Tom, Dick and Harry and now are almost unrecognisable. I have heard of some people that use gloves or tweezers to handle their photos until they are covered by a page protector so that no acid from their fingers would get in contact with them, but I think this is going a little too far. Just use care and pick them up by the edges. Many people are confident enough that they can use non-acid free products on a layout if they are not in contact with the actual photo but I try not.
Once you have some pretty papers and your photos you will need to somehow attach them together. Some like to use a glue stick (although I personally don't), others use double sided tape (commonly referred to as dst or Kaszazz calls it super tape) or a tape runner that applies the sticky tape or dots as you run it along the edges. There is also mounting foam, or as Kaszazz calls it Magic Mount that is essentially double sided tape with foam in between so that it gives some dimension to the element by lifting it off the page.
Lastly there is the many, many different embellishments. These are elements that add interest to a page. It can include ribbons, felt and fabrics, flowers (paper or fabric), die-cuts (cut out pieces), charms, chipboard (which is thick cardboard, not the woodworking kind that I first imagined), brads, rhinestones, buttons, punched out pieces of paper (punches), paperclips, staples, stickers... the list goes on and on. As I mentioned previously, I prefer to use acid free embellishments where possible on my pages to try to avoid harming my photos.
It is a really good idea to plan a layout (or page) around the size of your album. Albums come in a variety of sizes depending on the manufacturers, but the most common would have to be 12 x 12 inches (can you tell scrapbooking originated in America?). There is also A4, 8 x 8 inch, 6x6 inch and so on. Almost all of the pages I do are 12 x 12 inch, which is usually the size that cardstock and patterned paper comes in. A true 12 x 12 inch page will be 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm although some try to sell 30 x 30 cm as 12 x 12 inch. A 6 x 6 inch album can work out quite cost effective because you can get 4 pages out of one piece of 12 x 12 paper although the down side is that if you are using standard size photos (6 x 4 inch) the photo takes up most of the page and doesn't leave a lot for decorating. If doing a 6 x 6 inch mini-album I have often used the 2 facing pages as if they are one so it is more like 6 x 12 inches across both which seems to work well.
How many photos you use on a page is up to you and you can be guided by what you see in online galleries or what the sketch indicates. I tend to not put more than 2 standard sized photos on one 12 x 12 page otherwise it can look too crowded. If you are trimming your photos you can probably get away with more but they need to be relevant to each other (like in a sequence about the same thing).
I think that's the basics of scrapbooking, so if you are game, give it a try! You never know, you might even end up hooked like me :)

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