Friday, January 27, 2006

Tips For The Beginning Scrapbook Enthusiast

Scrapbooking is a fun and exciting hobby for both beginners and those that are more experienced. What is scrapbooking, you ask? It is a way of preserving your photos with backgrounds, embellishments and other items in a decorative way. One very important aspect of scrapbooking is journaling, which is writing some information about the pictures so that when you look back at them, you know when the pictures were taken and where. Scrapbooking has become very popular, and there are lots of magazines, classes, stores, etc to learn more about scrapbooking as a hobby. Some people who would like to begin scrapbooking often feel overwhelmed by the many tools, options, papers, embellishments and other items that can be used. While it is normal to feel this way when beginning a hobby, there are some things you can do to start at the beginning, and learn as you go. In fact, that is the way most scrappers learn. They don't know how to do everything right away. They learn new techniques and try new things as they go. In my own scrapbooks, you can see that I started out simply, trying things I had seen and then my scrapbooks get more complicated. It is important not to feel intimidated by the idea of becoming a scrapper or by the other scrapbooks you see. Everyone started somewhere, and have pages that reflect their first efforts! These first efforts are part of the scrapbook themselves, and as you look back, you will want to see past any mistakes and realize that you are growing as a scrapper along with your family in the pictures. I have included some tips for the beginning scrapper to become more comfortable with the hobby of scrapbooking.

Start simply. This is very important. You don't have to buy a lot of paper, tools, embellishments or other items to begin as a scrapper. I accumulated my stuff over time, and when I started it was with a few sheets of paper, a couple of shape templates and some decorative scissors and a few stickers. I didn't have a lot, but my daughter's first pages still echo with the love I felt for her, even if the layouts are simple. For a beginner, it is a good idea to go to a scrapbook store and pick out a few things that appeal to you. Don't go for the big time tools. You will only end up getting frustrated and feeling like you are never going to be comfortable with scrapbooking techniques. Forget embossing and other more difficult techniques and concentrate on learning basic steps. Nearly all scrapbook stores have examples of pages hanging on the walls or displayed around the store. Look at the different colors and themes of papers. If you have a baby, pick out some baby paper. For little girls, there are always plenty of things to highlight their interests. If you recently took a family vacation somewhere, look for papers that will accentuate your photos. For instance, if you went to Hawaii, find hibiscus flowers, palm trees and vibrant blues that remind you of the ocean. If you went to Disneyland, most stores have Disney themed papers, which you can highlight with bright reds and yellows. The key is to think about what you are planning to scrapbook, and then find paper that is suitable for it.

Embellishments are a great way to add to your layouts. On your first visit to the scrapbook store, you can pick a few that you like. Buy some acid free pens and perhaps some decorative edge scissors or a punch or two. Just start small so you don't end up spending a bunch of money on things you may never use. Be picky about the things you buy!

Taking a few classes is a very good place to start. Any good scrapbook store will have classes for you to take on a variety of subjects. Most of them are reasonably priced and the cost includes supplies for the class. Often they will show you how to do an entire layout based on a certain theme, or they will focus on a certain technique. Classes are a great way to learn both the basics and the more advanced skills. Most of the scrappers who teach classes are happy to answer questions and help newer scrappers with their project. It is also a great way to meet other scrappers in your area. Even if they were offering a class that you might think would be too advanced or too difficult, talk to the instructor beforehand and ask some questions. You might be surprised about how easy the class actually is and the instructor will let you know if the class is geared toward beginners or to more advanced scrappers. The instructor still may let you take the class even if you are a beginner because the class might not be very full or they might be willing to give you extra help during the class.

A lot of scrapbook stores also have open scrapping evenings or afternoons. This is where you bring in your own projects and work on them. For scrappers who have a hard time finding time to scrap, these are great. Often they include some type of snacks or even a potluck dinner. Don't be intimidated about going for the first time. Generally scrappers are a friendly lot who will be glad to give you advice and show you how to do things. You will get to meet scrappers of every level, and see what kinds of pages other people are doing. I have never been to one of these that I didn't enjoy. A lot of scrappers also trade papers, embellishments, etc, so if you have something you bought but don't really like or didn't end up using, this is a great way to trade it for something that might be perfect for another one of your scrapbook pages.

Another good way to learn about how to scrapbook is to subscribe to a scrapping magazine. There are tons of them out there! There are also clubs that you can subscribe to that send you something every month or so, like different ideas for scrapbooking, or kits for themed layouts, or packages of stickers, etc. These are a great way to get fresh, new ideas and to also see what is going on in the world of scrapbooking, It seems like there are always new things to use, and techniques to learn and ways to use things you already have in a new way. Most of these subscriptions are reasonably priced. The magazine subscriptions can be anywhere from $15 to $30 a year and the subscription packages can vary greatly in price as well. I belong to one that costs about $8 a month, and I have also belonged to one that cost $30 a month in the past. I have enjoyed every one that I have tried.

Looking online is a good place for beginning scrappers, too. There is a wealth of information sites on scrapbooking. Some of them talk about tools and techniques and provide great step by step instructions and examples. Others sell scrapbooking supplies, and this can be another great way to add to your scrapbooking supplies. I have found that the stores near me carry certain brands of items and tend to have things that the owner likes to use, while other stores have a completely different selection. By browsing online stores, you can find things that you don't see in your area stores. Still other sites offer newsletters and forums and groups you can join about scrapbooking. All of these have some great information and usually have good links to other sites. I have found several sites online that offer free clipart that you can print to use in your scrapbook pages. They also offer clip art that you can buy at reasonable prices. Make sure that the clip art is free before you use it, because offering free clipart is a good way to get customers interested, but no one wants their clipart stolen and used without permission. These people are trying to make a living, too. I have spent a lot of time surfing online and have found a lot of useful (and not so useful) information about scrapbooking and scrapbooking resources.

So now you have some information to help you get started as a scrapper. Remember to start simply. Follow your instincts when it comes to colors, because you might be surprised at how well your pages turn out, even if they are not full of complicated things. Take some classes so that you can begin to feel like you know something about scrapbooking. Once you are comfortable, you will have the confidence to try the most difficult layout! Subscribe to a magazine or monthly scrapbook package deal if you can afford it. You don't have to stick with the same one, either. I have tried out five or six different ones, depending on my financial situation and how interested I was in the products that were sent. If you get bored with one, try another. I promise that you will get plenty of offers in the mail once you get on a few mailing lists for scrappers. Sometimes, the introductory items are great, but the stuff they send after that is not that great or doesn't fit in with your style or the kind of scrapbook pages you do. I joined one program that had some great layouts, but they just weren't the kind of layouts I needed with my family activities and the ages of my children. Spend some time online. It's free, and most of the scrapper newsletters are free, as well. This is a great option for someone who doesn't have a lot of money for scrapbooking but still wants to learn. If you have DIY or some other craft channel, they have some fairly decent shows dedicated to scrapbooking and similar crafts. Check them out if you get a chance!

Last, but definitely not least, don't expect perfection from yourself. I have scrapbook pages that look fantastic, and others that are not so great. Some ideas I had for layouts were wonderful, others not so much. But instead of looking at the less than stellar pages as flaws, I look at them as evidence of work in progress. I am a scrapper who is still learning. Some days I am so creative I amaze myself, and other days I am not all that impressed with my efforts. But every page does not have to be a masterpiece. That is what I tell my friends and myself when we start obsessing about how a page looks. My kids love whatever I do in their scrapbooks. My husband says everything is great (I don't always believe him) and my mother asks me for scrapping help and advice. Scrapping is supposed to be fun. So give yourself a break and don't redo pages over and over to get them perfect. As we all know, life is not perfect. It's messy! Scrapbooking isn't a competition with yourself or anyone else for the best page. It is a way to create a backdrop for some of the most important moments in your life so that you can look back and remember them with a smile. In the end, the page doesn't matter. The memories do.

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