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Scrapbooking 101

Martha Stewart Living Television

Whether it's your wedding invitation, a treasured family photograph, or a newborn baby's hospital bracelet, cherished keepsakes can be both safely preserved and beautifully showcased in handcrafted scrapbooks. According to Carol Kim, marketing manager of Kate's Paperie in New York City, scrapbooking offers an easy, affordable, and visually compelling way to chronicle the meaningful people, places, and times in our lives. What's more, the technique leaves ample room for interpretation. Some versions, for example, feature bound pages, while others comprise binder pages. Plus, scrapbooks can be fashioned in virtually every size and shape, from small, thin volumes to large, heavy tomes.

Having said that, Carol explains that a few guidelines apply across the board. If you're displaying original photos, it's generally best to use translucent interleaving, which will protect the photos over time. Or, you can opt to use photocopies, keeping your original photos, documents, and other valued items in a light-safe, acid-free box, away from fluctuations in temperature and humidity. If you do use originals, select papers and adhesives that are acid-free or, better yet, archival. Although acid-free paper is protective, over time the environment itself could cause acidic agents to penetrate the paper. Archival paper, however, has been treated with a substance (usually calcium carbonate, a common active ingredient in antacids) that will resist the absorption of acid over the long term. When selecting keepsakes for inclusion, Carol recommends weeding out items that don't provoke a response, such as blurred photos and duplicates. And bear in mind that a scrapbook doesn't have to feature photographs exclusively; in fact, you can include virtually any item, particularly if it paints a vivid picture of the past for future generations.

To make your own scrapbook, you'll need tape, glue, or photo corners; decorative scissors or hole punches; background paper; ribbon; glue dots; acid-free double-sided tape, and labels. Begin by developing a layout, selecting a dominant item, and experimenting with the placement of the surrounding memorabilia until you achieve the desired effect. Be sure to choose background colors that complement your items, and don't be afraid to crop your photographs to create a better composition. In general, Carol says, it's easiest to work from the bottom up, so be sure to start with the background elements.

When affixing photographs, avoid placing an adhesive in the center, as it can warp the surface and create craters. Carol recommends trying the new invisible vellum tapes, which adhere very well and barely show behind sheer papers. Also avoid using magnetic pages whose glue can ruin photos over time. According to Carol, another equation for ruined photos is light plus humidity plus temperature fluctuations, so be sure to monitor the environment in which you keep your scrapbook. And finally, unless you use a dark leaded pencil, never write on the backs of your keepsakes, as the pressure from the writing instrument could easily ruin them.

Special Thanks
Carol Kim, marketing manager at Kate's Paperie.

In this segment, we used a large linen-covered sketchbook, blue infantile photo album, Kolo luxury vineyard, Semikolon linen album, Jolees photo corners and stickers, memory-book dots, archival mist, Deckle ruler, Scotch vellum tape, Tape 'N' Roller, Neutral-pH adhesive, Jolees boutique corners, Deco paper, and century boxes.

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