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Scrapbooking: Basic concepts

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Straight from the USA, scrapbooking is the hottest trend in crafting today. Budding scrappers or seasoned pros, follow the guide!

The word comes from English " scrap " ("small pieces ") and "book ". The goal: to display photos in a creative and fun way.

1. Select your photos

Start by sorting your photos around a theme or event. Be sure to include even your least successful pictures: by scrapbooking them, you can improve their quality! So you don't overload your album, plan on using 1 to 2 photos per page for A4 size, and no more than 4 for a 30cm x 30 cm page.

2. Pick a style

There are two main schools of thought: American (several photos on one page, lots of embellishments) and European (focusing on the art of cropping photos, with just a few embellishments).

There are also various styles:

- "free form ": a style which uses "doodling " (scribbling) and  emphasizes improvising.

- "shabby chic ": perfect for a baby album ; modern and old are combined for a romantic style.

- "clean & simple ": by adding few embellishments, you make your photos the main focus of your page.

- heritage: to achieve a heritage look for your pages, you can use parchment paper, sepia or black and white photos, and touches of lace.

3. Choosing the right paper

First, try to decide which kind of mood you want for your album: romantic, festive, nostalgic...

Choose one or two main colors. For instance, you could opt for shades of blue and yellow for a beach vacation album.

Tracing paper in various colors, patterned paper or paper embellished with flowers or plants, faux wood or leather looks… you will be impressed by the variety of the papers available to you!

What you need to know: How should you select your color palette?

A color wheel you will help to choose the right shades of paper.

A center wheel sorts the colors, starting with the warmest (from yellow to purple) all the way to the coolest (from blue to green). When you turn the wheel, three triangles show possible color combinations. Blue, for instance, can be combined with mauve and lime green (an easy combination); yellow with red (a bold combination); orange yellow with red orange (an invigorating combination).

4. Cropping and matting photos

Cropping is the key to scrapbooking. The goal: to emphasize your subject by removing superfluous details. Armed with a template (a kind of pattern to assist you in cutting out shapes) and a pencil, you can crop your photos into all kinds of shapes: rectangle, circle, oval, heart, star, birthday balloon? You can also crop a photo following the contours of a person, then mount it on colored paper to make it stand out.

Some advice: carefully store your original photos and only work on copies of your snapshots!

5. Including text

In addition to pictures, a scrapbook page usually includes journaling: personal, descriptive commentary about the photos on the page.

Journaling can be:

-written by hand: directly on the page or on another piece of paper cut into a shape, using a stencil, or pens in different colors and widths. Don't hesitate to vary the look (script, cursive, capital letters, lower case...) and the placement of the text (around a photo, framing a page, in a bubble...).

-printed on your computer (you can find unique fonts on many internet sites).

-made from stickers, embroidered in cross-stitch, etc.

Notes: Improve your journaling!

Ask yourself the following questions: Who? When? Where? Why? How ?

Your answers can be journaled in various ways:

-a simple title (the name of a person or a place, a funny saying, a film or song title...).

-a poem or a nursery rhyme.

-a letter addressed to the person in the photograph.

-an entertaining paragraph, filled with stories.

-a simulated "ID card", etc.

6. Page layout

Before adhering the elements onto your page, you should try out different arrangements. There are many page maps (sketches) available. They will help you find just the right lay out for your photos. Add a few embellishments here and there, then adhere all of your elements to the page.

7. Fun with embellishments

Ribbons, buttons, grommets, metallic thread, charms (decorative metal shapes), stickers, die-cuts (shapes made with decorative punches), stamps... the choices are endless!

the craftiest scrapbookers will enjoy making their own dimensional embellishments, such as tags (decorative labels), shaker boxes (boxes with a transparent window for showing small keepsake items: beads, confetti, seashells...) or envelopes in unique shapes which could include a message, a movie ticket, a lock of hair...


The chic look of tags

They started out as simple labels for luggage, now tags come in all different shapes (circles, squares, triangles, flowers, letters...) and materials (fabric, metal, wood, plastic, modeling clay...). A decorative object in its own right, you can journal on tags or use them to frame a photo.

To begin, find a label or draw your own original shape using a stencil pattern. Punch a hole in it and add a tie (raffia, ribbon, string, paperclip, safety pin...). Lastly, add some color (paint, ink, chalk), to the letters or the embellishments (stamps, stickers, collages...).

Practical technique


Use embossing to highlight a design. There are two different types of embossing:

-Dry embossing, rubbing paper over a raised design using a metal tipped embossing tool;

-Heat-set embossing (also known as wet embossing), using slow drying ink with embossing powder which dries to a hard finish when heated.