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Making Memories Last With Scrapbooks - by Lisabell

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Now that you've been to Disney World and want to capture the magic of your experiences there, come explore the creative art of "Scrapbooking". After reading the essential foundations for this adventure, join the Happy Cropping message board to ask more questions, share ideas, and make the memories last.

So, you've decided to take up a new hobby and, more importantly, decided to be the creative historian in your family. There are tons of scrapbooking supplies to be found, but the choices can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? First, it's important to know a few terms before you set off on your shopping trip. Many products in the scrapbooking section of your craft/hobby/scrapbook store have certain labels on them. Following is a brief explanation of what some of them mean.

Acid is the substance in many papers that will eventually turn them to dust. It is the destructive acidic action on the fibers that makes the paper structure itself weaken and eventually causes it to crumble. If an album you purchase is not labeled acid-free, you cannot be sure that it is. Acid will accelerate the aging process of your photos.

Acid and alkaline are rated from 0 to 14. A substance with a pH of 0 is very acidic; one with a pH of 14 is very alkaline. A pH of 7 (the center of the scale) may be considered acid-neutral. A paper with a pH value greater than 7 is generally considered "acid-free". Paper that is labeled acid-free may be produced with raw materials that naturally do not contain acid or are manufactured with special precautions taken to eliminate any active acid that might be present in the paper pulp.

Lignin is a natural substance found in tree pulp that causes paper to turn brown (much like newsprint will turn yellow and then brown over time.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Polyvinyl Chloride is a common plastic, but it should not be used in a photo album. PVC contains platicizers (or softening agents) that can migrate out of the vinyl with age and discolor or fade photographs.

Safe Plastics
Safe plastic that can be used for long-term storage includes polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and polystyrene. These plastics are chemically stable. Polypropylene is considered the best plastic for use with photographs.

Six Dangers to Photographs:

  1. Acid and other chemicals
  2. Humidity
  3. Temperature (heat and extreme temperature fluctuations
  4. Light
  5. Corrosive particles
  6. Human carelessness

Inks, Adhesives and Accessories

Writing Inks
Make sure that the pens you use in your albums are permanent, waterproof and are made with a single pigment. Do not use a standard ball point pen since, over time, the ink will fade over time to the point of illegibility.

Use adhesive that are specifically labeled photo-safe. Do not use rubber cement to mount your photos because it dries out behind the photos, causing the pictures to fall out of the book. Also, it is made with a sulfur compound which will cause your photos to yellow and fade.

Never use cellophane ("Scotch") tape or masking tape on your photos. The adhesive used with these tapes is too corrosive, is not reversible, and will leave a residue of adhesive on whatever it is in contact with. Also, cellophane tape turns a yellow or brown color in a very short time.

Once anything of unknown chemical composition is introduced in an album, there is some risk of contaminating its photo-safe quality. Be aware of that fact and decide for yourself how "pure" or photo-safe your albums should be. You might want to consider doing two separate types of albums: a Today Album and a Tomorrow Album.

A Tomorrow Album is maintained and stored with future generations in mind. Record all photo identification information (names, dates, places shown on the photos), use photo safe pens and do not include stickers, memorabilia or anything else that may contain acid. Limit its exposure to light and humidity, store in a cool, dry, dark place and only take it out for special occasions.

A Today Album is an "everyday" album. It is paged through and enjoyed on a regular and constant basis. Disney albums would most likely fall into this category. This is where fun, imaginative decorative ideas can be tried -- a place for lots of colorful embellishments and pizzazz. Of course, use common sense when creating these albums as well and keep photo-safe guidelines in mind. Also, all albums should be stored upright in rooms with low humidity and constant temperatures and handled as carefully as possible.

Scrapbook Albums

Your first purchase should be an album. Following is a list of some of the different types of albums available and the pros and cons of each.

Spiral Bound Albums
Spiral bound albums are fairly inexpensive. Many on the market are photo safe, but be sure to check the packaging to be sure. The down side of these albums is that there are a finite number of pages. You cannot add pages or resequence them. Also, you must carefully plan the layout of your scrapbook before you get started. Another limitation is that with repeated page turning, the holes that the binding runs through get bigger and bigger until they tear all the way through.

Post Bound Albums
If these are made with photo safe paper, they can be safe for your photos, but these present some of the the same limitations as the spiral bound version. The holes that the post goes through are subject to the same wear and tear and pages may eventually fall out of your album. The positive side of these is that the pages can be resequenced and you can also add pages.

Pocket Page Albums
These are similar to the Post Bound but they differ in that the paper is slipped into a plastic sleeve and then bound into the album by the posts (the screws that hold the album pages and cover together. These are only as durable as the plastic page protectors that are bound into the album.

Flex Hinge/Staple-Strap Albums
This is the type offered by Creative Memories. They are the most expensive but probably the safest and most durable. The pages have a heavy-duty staple sealed into the edge of each page. This staple then fits over a durable plastic strap which is threaded through a plastic guide and then "strapped" to the album cover. Page protectors slip over the page easily. These pages can be resequenced, however, you will be working on both sides of the page so you must do a bit of planning ahead of time. If this poses a limitation for you, Creative Memories also offers what is called a Portrait Sleeve. They are the same size as a scrapbook page and have the same binding, but they are simply a giant pocket within which you slip a completed page.

Lets Go Shopping.

You are now armed with some guidelines and terminology. It's time to make a list and go shopping.

For your first trip to the scrapbook/craft store, here is a recommended shopping list:

  1. An Album
  2. A sharp pair of scissors
  3. Photo-safe adhesive
  4. A plastic template for tracing and cutting our various shapes (circles & ovals...)
  5. A photo safe pen for journaling on your scrapbook pages
  6. Page protectors
    ....and a few fun things....
  7. Colored or decorative printed photo-safe paper
  8. Photo-safe stickers
  9. A pair or two of decorative edge scissors

Don't buy everything you see on your first trip (unless money is no object :) Over time you will develop your own style and determine your further supply needs. It's best to start simple and work from there.

Visit "Happy Cropping: Scrapbook Inspirations" for day-to-day tips and creative ideas.

Happy Cropping!

article edtor
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