You’ve sorted some of your pictures, and you have something to say about them. Now what?

There are some basic things you should learn to get started – other things you’ll learn by doing. I suggest you start small so you don’t get overwhelmed!

You really don’t need to buy everything. All the fancy tools are great – but you don’t really need them. I produced three large albums before I bought any of the tools – I got into a group of social scrapbookers, and for $5 per week I was able to use other people’s tools, and they even provided the coffee.

So – what do you really need?

Let’s talk a little terminology first:

If you’re going to put time and effort into making a legacy for your children and grandchildren, you’ll want to be sure the products you use are archival quality. That means the materials have undergone laboratory testing to make sure the acidic and buffered content is within safe limits. All your products should be acid and lignin free, and if you can find it, bleed resistant and buffered.

Acid causes paper and photos to disintegrate, and this process is significantly slowed when acid is removed from the paper during the manufacturing process. Unfortunately, not all scrapbooking materials are photo-safe, so be sure you are fussy on this point.

The bonding element that holds wood fibres together in their natural state is called “lignin”. Newsprint contains lignin and that’s why it yellows and becomes brittle over time. So be sure any papers you buy are also “lignin free.” I would also suggest that if you want to include any newspaper articles in your scrapbook, scan them and print them on acid-free, lignin-free paper.

The adhesives, inks, and embellishments you use should also be archival safe. Also beware of any hard embellishments that may, over time, punch through a photo on the other side.

Once your page is completed it should also be placed in a sheet protector – that way the photos will be spared from fingerprints, coffee stains or spills.

Also, be sure the album you choose is of sufficient quality that it won’t fall apart quickly. I’ve seen some that have fallen apart before they are even completed, and a few folks have come to me to “fix” their poor quality albums – or they have redone the work in a better album just a few months later.

There are a number of good companies that manufacture reasonably good products – just spend some time learning about the products before you buy. For top of the line products, I prefer an album with a strap hinge, and would recommend Creative Memories as an excellent source. The company has quality products with excellent guarantees, which I haven’t seen from other companies.