By Christina VanGinkel
No matter what hobby you participate in, supplies can have a tendency to add up dollar wise. Scrapbooking is no exception. Scrapbookers might even tend to accumulate far more unused supplies than many other crafters, simply because of the nature of how they often buy supplies, in bulk, or in groups of things. With this in mind, recycling those unused supplies into embellishments that will actually get used is necessary.
Begin by sorting your scrapbook supplies into categories of those that you know will most likely get used just as they are, and those that you wonder why you ever bought them in the first place, or ended up as unused extras when you bought a pack of something else. Letters are common leftovers, but other embellishments also end up in the idle heap pile too.
Once you have your stash of 'what ever were you thinking of when you bought it' and your other various leftovers, consider the layouts you currently have in the works, or those that you have plans to start in the future. If any of them have journaling on them, consider using some of the odd leftover letters strategically placed in with your computer generated or handwritten journaling, or even as part of a title itself. If the colors are wrong, or the sizing just not right, practice your altering skills on them. If the material they are made of can be cut, resize them by trimming away excess until they fit whatever project you have in mind. If they are too small, layer them on other letters or cardstock to build them up. If they are made of metal or other material that cannot be cut, use them as is size wise, but paint them, emboss with heat, or even use markers, such as the Sharpie Paint marker, which writes on virtually any object, from leather to paper, metal, plastic, and more, to doodle directly onto them. Metal embellishments could also be hammered for a more rustic look, or plastic or enamel ones could be roughed up with sandpaper then left as is or painted inked over the sanding for some one of a kind looks. Leather and wood embellishments can be stained, burned with a heat tool such as a wood burner.
Never discard something because the color or finish is not what you want, alter them however you can until they are a match for your style. If worse comes to worse, chalk up the attempt at distressing or altering to a lesson learned, make note of what you did so you do not do it again, and toss it in the trash. For every great scrapbook layout created, there is most likely at least a bit of trial and error, sometimes more error than we would hope.
Embellishments that you might think unusable can also be gathered up together into a collage of sorts for some very interesting effects. Depending on the layout you have in mind, a collage might consist of like themed items, such as an assortment of odd letters that you cannot imagine using, put to perfect use as a collage on a layout about going back to school or even in celebration of getting that short story or novel you have written finally published. What about all those odd die cuts or sayings? Cut apart the sayings and piece them back together into phrases that pertain to what you are working on. Do not worry about different lettering styles and sizes as this will just lend an eclectic affect to the piece overall.
If you just cannot imagine using something, no matter what you do to it, or what you might use it with, then recycle it the old-fashioned way and give it to somebody else. Scrapbookers are a friendly group overall, and love both giving and getting gently used supplies. If you do not know someone else who scraps, most teachers I know, especially those who teach early elementary, would love to have any supplies you decide you do not want. Scrapbook supplies lend themselves well to craft projects of all sorts. You could also donate your leftovers to someone on a scrap board online, known as a RAK, or random act of kindness, or an organization that has a scrap group, such as a local Girl Scouts troop.