How to Start Scrapbooking

How to Start Scrapbooking by Natalie Parker

Earlier we talked about how to find the right memory keeping system for you.  I happen to scrapbook.

Why?  It’s a combination of liking memory keeping and visual design.  Two hobbies for the price of one really.  I enjoy the process of designing pages just as much as the result.

But what exactly is a scrapbook?

A Place to Record Memories

Technically, according to Oxford, a scrapbook is:  “a book of blank pages for sticking clippings, drawings, or pictures in.”

To me a scrapbook is a place to record your memories.

That’s it.  There are no rules about what order you must scrapbook things in (or that you must do it out of order), what you have to document, or what level of detail you have to include.

Do you just have photos glued to a page with some handwriting?  That’s a scrapbook.  Do you have some drawings of loved ones and recorded memories about them?  I’m looking at you, Katniss and Peeta.  That’s a scrapbook.

The Formula

So if we understand this:

scrapbook = recorded memories

What “recorded memories” is made up of is entirely up to you.

For me, it looks something like this:

recorded memories = story + design ± photos ± ephemera

Most of the time my pages have photos.  Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes I have ephemera saved, sometimes I don’t.

See a pattern?  It’s less about having a system and more about doing what you want and can do.

What do I need to start scrapbooking?

Good question.  Just start with the basics.  You will need:

A book with pages.  I personally prefer the old-school look of 11×14.  The standard is 12×12.  That is getting unseated a bit by pocket-page scrapbooking.  Still others keep to 8.5×11 or even smaller.  See how this can get complicated really fast?  I know.

Consider what you actually want to put in the book.  If you think you’ll need a lot of room for clippings/ephemera or writing, consider going with something larger.  You can always change later.

Stuff to put in the book.  Most people will include photos but they’re not required.  I print my photos at home.  Others order online or pick up at drugstores.  Either works!  I include ephemera and alternate between handwriting and typing my thoughts.  Sometimes I write long stories, sometimes I don’t.

Adhesive to stick the stuff to the pages.  Read about my preferred adhesives here.

Your style will evolve.  And that’s cool.  I love scrapbookers who have a very distinct point of view whose work I could pick out of a lineup.  But my work isn’t like that.  I’m constantly changing and trying new things.  It’s okay to not have a set design aesthetic.

It’s a good idea to make sure most of your stuff is acid free.  Don’t stress too much about it.  If you ever wanted to know how acid and lignin gets into paper and why it matters, I wrote a post about it here.

Where do I start?

I wouldn’t worry so much about finding the exact right place to start.  Just start.

I scrapbook chronologically, so I’m always looking for the natural beginning when I start a new book.  But that’s because I’m crazy-pants and would get the twitches otherwise.

Remember when I talked about how to become a world traveler?  You just go.  Don’t worry about planning the perfect thing or waiting for the right time.  Just go.

The same is true for starting to scrapbook.  Don’t wait for the right supplies, right story, right beginning, or right anything.  Just start.  Progress is better than perfection.

How to Start Scrapbooking by Natalie Parker

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