11 Essential and Affordable Scrapbooking Tools

Scrapbooking doesn’t have to be an expensive pursuit — found objects and craft supplies you might have forgotten about can be a creative treasure trove — but if you’re just getting started with scrapbooking, there are a few necessities to procure.

Ideas: This may seem like a given, but without a few ideas, you may find yourself pinking sheers in-hand and nothing to cut. Before you get started, take some time to sort through your old photos and other keepsakes, and begin separating them out by a theme or another method of organization. Think of your scrapbook as a storybook, and you’re coming up with chapters for it. Some scrapbooking ideas include: Kids’ sports teams, beloved pets, great vacations, or favorite birthday parties. Or, if you’ve been good about dating your photos, consider going chronologically.

An album (or six): Another obvious pick, but once you’ve got your ideas in order, you’re going to need a place to put them! There are a variety of sizes and kinds of albums, including standard three-ring notebooks or micro-albums, so you can have fun with the scope of your project. You can even scour thrift shops for old, empty photo albums to use if you’re really on a budget. Just make sure to get some page-protectors, as well, to ensure that all of your memories are preserved in a way that they won’t get lost or ruined.

Sharp scissors: You handle your precious photos with care, so why would you hack at them with dull scissors, which can tear or otherwise muss them? Local cutlery shops or craft stores are often able to rehabilitate older pairs of scissors, but you may want to just invest in a new pair that’s expressly for scrapbooking.

Space: Trying to scrapbook in a cramped space is a recipe for spilled glue, smudged photos, and misplaced embellishments. Even if you’ve got a small apartment or studio space, make it more accommodating by laying down a mat of some kind. Even an old yoga mat with cardboard over it (cut open an old box and lay it flat) on the floor can help give you enough space to spread out and really look at everything you’re working with. And if you’re using a countertop that’s also a public space (like, say, the kitchen), make sure you give it a good wipe and dry before stacking your precious paper on top of it.

Fun paper: Colorful and patterned paper can be an expense, but purchasing individual sheets from the craft store is a good way to get the pieces you need without breaking the bank. Go in with an idea of what you’re looking for already, and you’ll be more likely to find exactly what you need. You may even want to bring your photos to the store with you to ensure you’ve got matching colors.

Hard-working paper: Cardstock is a must-have workhorse for scrapbooking, because it will keep your pages flat and sturdy. Look at it like your canvas; it’s a worthy investment. Most scrapbooking experts recommend having both white, black, and a neutral cream color to work with.

Embellishments: Glitter! Buttons! Ribbon! You can either purchase these things…or you can look around your house to see what you’ve already got. Think of it like a crafting scavenger hunt as you root through old boxes of supplies, unused clothes, and toys your kids have long discarded. Just make sure you ask permission before harvesting goods from someone else’s stuff!

Light: Squinting over a dark photo album? That’s bad for your eyes, head, and facial muscles. It can also make it difficult to match colors. Set up your crafting space near a window if you’ll be crafting in the daytime, or make sure that you’ve got enough lamps and other lighting for evening projects.

Adhesive: You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to adhesive, but really, it boils down to what you’re sticking to what. If you’re working mostly with paper, a gluestick or adhesive strips (kind of like double-sided tape) can work well, because they won’t cause the paper to wrinkle or bleed. However, if you’re working with buttons, ribbons, or other hard-to-stick embellishments, liquid adhesive or glue dots might be more your style.

Pens: If you’ll be doing your own lettering, a regular old ballpoint pen won’t do the trick. If you’re not sure which kind of pen tip you’re more comfortable with — felt? Brush-style? Who knows? — go to the art/craft store and try them out; most stores have an area where you can practice and try your hand with a few different pens. You’ll need black, navy, brown, and any other colors which might match your scheme.

Time: Don’t rush your scrapbook! If you’re giving it as a gift, be sure to schedule out plenty of time to work through the pages, align all of the elements, and let everything dry properly. This is supposed to be an enjoyable project, and if you’re hurrying through it joylessly, it’s just work!


Hanna Brooks Olsen FOLLOW >

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.