Think of your scrapbook as your novel. The scope can be small or large, focused or loose, a chronological narrative or a visual montage. At the most basic level, a scrapbook is a place to collect anything you don't want to lose, from musings on a particular experience to recipes and postcards. Here are some creative ways to customize the pages and covers of your scrapbooks.
Personalize a fabric-covered scrapbook album with decorative touches. We modified this one in two ways: covering the plain pages with patterned papers and adding a metallic monogram to the cover.
Anything small -- seaside flotsam, pressed leaves, or souvenirs from a museum -- can be assembled in 35-millimeter slide sleeves for clear viewing; just stitch up the pockets. Birch ply, cut to fit, separates the sleeves. A shell, glued to thicker wood, makes a strong cover, literally and visually.
Anything you collect is potential material for a scrapbook. Business cards culled from memorable stores, restaurants, and hotels in a particular city can be held in place by a collection of exotic paper clips. The character of this scrapbook is all in the shapes of the clips (inserted into small slits made with a utility knife) and the designs of the cards. It's also practical: You can take the cards out whenever needed, or replace old ones with new favorites.
The pattern of an engraved or embossed surface -- cutlery, coins, a hotel room number, an architectural detail -- can be recorded in an artful way with a rubbing. All you need is a cake of wax (available at art-supply stores), tissue paper, and your book (we used a standard photo album). Place the object under the tracing paper, then rub with the wax. Easier still is to fill an entire piece of paper with rubbings, then cut into strips and paste onto pages.
Create small albums for your scrapbook, each with a story to tell -- the ones here are devoted to family and summer friends. Stiff paper covers along with paper spines and corners give them a fancy hardcover feel. The book on top has a closure made with a paper fastener and string.
A photograph captures a place with precision. But when it comes time to paste the images in a book, why not organize your experience a little more impressionistically? This collage tells the story of a trip to Vienna. After a trip, you can make a series of collages consisting of pictures you've taken and objects you've collected along the way -- anything from a restaurant napkin to a packet of sugar. Then photograph all the collages and arrange them in a leather-bound book for a presentation that unfolds like a movie.
The receipts, ticket stubs, maps, and postcards you collect on a trip paint a picture of vacation fun, but assembling an album can be a chore. To simplify the process, fill a three-ring binder with plastic sleeves meant for business and baseball cards. Slide souvenirs into compartments, or if they don't fit, use a paper clip to attach them to a pocket. Trim maps, and slide them into the binder's outside sleeves (even on the spine).
Enlarge photos from a recent trip and make foldouts: an accordion type, formed by taping photocopies together, or an origami style, using a bone folder to make sharp creases. These inserts, pasted into an ordinary journal, add an element of surprise to the story of the trip and convey some of the city's grandeur.
A page full of envelopes in many sizes and colors is ideal for storing hard-to-glue items or keepsakes you'll want to pull out and admire, like these birthday party mementos. So the envelopes don't get sticky, remove the adhesive with a wet paper towel, and let dry. Then glue on with flaps open, overlapping slightly.
A baby book that feels as sweet and precious as your child's infancy can be made by hand. Fold four (or more) pieces of paper in half (we used baby blue, 100 percent cotton rag with hand-torn edges); sew along seam on a machine. When you spread the pages open, they form a playful pinwheel. Create multiple volumes, and indulge every instinct, including a baby's first sock, the label from a favorite jar of fruit, a footprint, handwritten lyrics from a lullaby. As for closure, what's more fitting than a diaper pin?
Martha's own first-day book was inspired by Skylands, her home in Maine. Knowing that the house and its landscape already had a long and distinguished history before her arrival, she decided to continue chronicling everything of interest that might happen there. Martha designed a large volume that could preserve anything from vintage regional maps and architectural drawings to snapshots of pets and flowers pressed by visiting nieces and nephews. Since New Year's Day of 2000, the book has been open to any friend or family member who wishes to contribute.
The album has a custom-made leather cover, and its oversize pages are made from archival-quality, acid-free paper interleaved with sheets of vellum to protect fragile items and guard against the transference of images and text. Archival-quality photo corners and envelopes will help preserve both the book and its contents for many years to come.
Take your original photos and scan them or make color copies for an album. Save the scans on a CD; take the originals and keep them in a photo storage box or keep the photos in an archival sleeve. When creating a scrapbook page, pick foundation paper, and cut using a rotary cutter. Tape down the photo using tissue tape and pick a decorative border to frame the photo. Don't forget to embellish the remainder of the page!
Scrapbooking can be a lot of fun for children and a wonderful way for them to relive and preserve the memories -- and memorabilia -- of their special experiences and trips. Here are some techniques children can easily do by themselves or with a little help from you.
Some of the most creative scrapbooks spring from a passion or hobby. Once a theme is loosely established, you can incorporate any elements that evoke your particular interest. This culinary chronicle, made by Martha Stewart Living style director Ayesha Patel, savors all things food-related, with an accent on beautiful packaging. There are paper muffin cups, tags and bags of much-loved teas, bakery twine, shopping bags, a patisserie sack, fruit and wine labels, the card from a wine shop, a map of Paris. Anything that recalls the aroma of a favorite shop or restaurant has a place. The book itself can be as simple as this blank ledger, a flea-market find.
You can also try thinking of a scrapbook as a traveling companion. When Martha Stewart Weddings editorial director Darcy Miller took a three-week trip to Africa, she brought along a blank book (light enough to carry in her bag) and a small kit -- of scissors, magic markers, rubber cement, and a portable watercolor set. "I'd take my book out while the guide was talking about something, a tree or flower, and sketch it," she says. "By drawing something, you have to really look at it, which forces you to 'see' it." Miller painted the watercolor study of African baskets one afternoon at one of the camps. On the facing page of the book is an enlarged photo of her talking to a safari guide who explained the significance of the patterns -- something Miller never would have learned had she not stopped to do the watercolors.