hobby and craft

Everything You Need to Start Scrapbooking, According to a Former Scrapbooking-Camp Attendee

Photo: Courtesy ABC / Bless This Mess

I was always kind of an indoor kid, but once school let out for summer, my mom couldn’t have me sitting at home crafting by myself. To keep me occupied (and out of the house), she signed me up for all sorts of niche camps. I went to loom camp, where we created our own textiles on a full-scale loom; sculpture camp, where I made various useless pots; needle-arts camp, where I learned knitting would never be my thing; sleepaway camp, where I spent most of my time doing decoupage in the arts-and-crafts shack; and, lastly, scrapbooking camp, where I sat with six or so other kids around a fold-out table cutting, pasting, and throwing glitter on pages of our baby pictures and best friends I no longer remember the names of. Out of all the hobbies I started (and still practice), it’s one of the ones I stuck with the longest.

Now that we’re all spending so much time at home, it seems as though more people are catching on to my obsession with random hobbies, and unlike embroidery or weaving, scrapbooking is easy for anyone to pick up and even to do with the whole family. Below, you’ll find ten products you’ll need to try your hand at the art of scrapbooking — sans the obvious stuff like scissors or glue sticks, which you probably already have around your house.

To start, you’re going to need a scrapbook album. Most of the fun paper that’s available to buy for scrapbooks is 12-by-12 inches, and the smaller or more rectangular your book is, the more limited your selection of paper will be. You can cut the paper to fit the right size, but it’s an annoying task that’s not worth your time — so look for an album that fits 12-by-12-inch paper. If you don’t think you’ll have enough content to fit that large of a space, eight-by-eight-inch or six-by-six-inch albums also have a decent amount of options. (But, I beg you, don’t get a rectangular one.) This album is not offensively cheesy (some are), and you could customize the front, if that’s something you want to do. You can also buy refill sleeves, in case you need more than the dozen or so the book already comes with.

Unless you have a specific vision in mind, I’d recommend you start with two pads of paper: one patterned and one plain. Some scrapbookers warn that you probably won’t like or use all the patterns in a full pad, and they’re right. However, it’s difficult to buy single pieces of paper if you don’t know what you’ll be making, and a pad of paper is just a great way to get started.

In middle school, I used an abundance of stickers. But as I got older, I started using them very sparingly, since tiny stick figures and 3-D unicorns no longer suited my aesthetic. I tend to only use letter stickers, thanks to my awful handwriting, and because I think it adds a nice touch. This pack has a good assortment of colors to choose from, and they don’t give off a Mean Girls Burn Book vibe.

Or, these ones have glitter on them, which is always fun.

I’m a clean-cut kind of scrapbooker. I prefer neat lines, zero handwriting, and everything aligned, so these photo corners are very in line with my scrapbooking style. They look particularly elegant, and they also prevent you from having to actually glue your photos down because the corner itself is adhesive. While I’m sure you could find them anywhere, I’m partial to the ones at Michaels because they’re sticky enough to stay down when you add them to a page, but not too sticky, so if you accidentally mess up the placement, you can easily get them off without ripping anything.

You would think that with all of my experience in scrapbooking, I would be great at seamlessly ripping pages out of a pad every time. However, I am not — I’m human. A paper cutter will clean up any messy rips and ensure it’s cut along a straight line, which you can’t easily (or quickly) get with scissors. Also, if you individually buy pieces of paper from craft stores like Michaels, the paper will have a white strip at the bottom that keeps the barcode for checkout. To cut that off easily, you’ll need a paper cutter. I prefer the guillotine-style ones, because there’s less of a chance the paper will slide around, and it provides a cleaner cut.

Glue sticks can be useful, but I’ve found they can warp a photo if you use just a touch too much, and sometimes the glue doesn’t stick all that well. My aunt, an avid scrapbooker, introduced me to these little glue adhesives — also known as “sticky dots” in my world — which hold even better than regular glue and create less of a mess (especially important if you’re working with kids). A warning, though: They’re very strong, so once you place it down, it will not be easy to get it back up.


You can also get this handy little dispenser for easy pasting.

When you become a more advanced scrapbooker, you can start to create multidimensional pages. These foam squares can be stacked on top of each other to give you different heights, though you won’t want to go too crazy — more than two foam adhesives stacked on top of each other will likely prevent you from being able to slide it into your plastic sleeve.

I don’t personally own a Cricut, but my aunt did, and I would make trips to her house specifically to use it. It’s not a necessary tool, especially for beginners, but boy is it fun. This little machine cuts different designs into paper that you can’t easily create with scissors, and it can even cut things you draw yourself. If you’re feeling like taking your scrapbooks to the next level, I highly recommend one.

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Everything You Need to Start Scrapbooking