Part of what makes starting an album so nerve-wracking is that there are so many supplies available to purchase. It is easy to get excited and add unnecessary items to your shopping cart. Just like grocery shopping, don’t go when you are hungry, and make a list.
The next question is simple. What should you put on your list?
The bare minimum includes: an album, page protectors, extra paper, photo safe pen, photo adhesive, picture trimmer, good set of scissors, and time.
There are many different types of albums on the market available to choose from. One of the decision factors should be what you will be using this album for. Do you want a large album to display on your coffee table, a smaller album to bring out when you have company, or a special album that your kids can fumble through. Size is important. A larger album will allow you to display more photos on a page, often making more striking presentation. If all you need is a small album; don’t purchase a large one.
No matter what size album you want, there are specifics that you should look for in the quality of an album. You want a book with a hard surface, with pages that are easy to remove, replace, and that you can make additions to. Key word here is EASY. You don’t want to start working in your album only to find that you accidentally skipped a page and not be able to easily remove and adjust as needed. Working in your album should be easy. You should be able to open an album 2/3 of the way and have a flat surface to work in. If this isn’t the case, you aren’t getting a quality album. While you can find a nice album at a craft or specialty scrapbooking store, Creative Memories, a direct sales company, has some of the best books available on the market today. Look to spend between twenty to fifty dollars on an album, depending on size.
I started my first album on 8 ½ X 11 paper sheets and placed them in page protectors in a three ring binder. While I have great binders to present my work, I would prefer now going back to having a good quality, long lasting album. This is a mistake that I made and it is just not feasible to pull out all of my work to start from scratch.
The paper in your album should be photo safe, acid free, and lignen free. Acid is what makes your pictures deteriorate, fade, or look old. Most products on the market today are photo safe and acid free, however this should also be indicated on product packaging. Lignen is what is utilized in producing newspaper. In most cases a newspaper is already yellowed by the second or third day it has sat on your table because oxygen simply discolors the cheap paper. We don’t want our photographs or paper that we use in an album to turn yellow or discolor with time, so make sure you album indicates that it is lignen free. Another must have is reinforced pages; a binding on each side of your page, allowing you to turn pages along this edge without leaving greasy finger marks. Along this edge is where people usually turn pages. The reinforced edge lessens the need for page protectors, although many people still use them to preserve their albums longer.
While a reinforced edge will keep hands from dirtying your pages, a page protector can preserve your pages from liquid spills and dust particles from scattering on your artwork. Using page protectors is a good idea if you are going to keep your album on a coffee table or main living area with a lot of traffic.
On to other supplies. Album pages tend to come in specific colors, white, black, or natural. Most people use white surface pages and accent their pictures with different colored paper. There are a lot of different colors or patterned paper available, just be sure that what you purchase is photo safe and acid free. While some accent paper on the market is also lignen free, it may be more expensive, and if you aren’t using white accent paper, isn’t as necessary as when looking for complete album pages. Paper is usually found in packs in different sizes. Generally accent paper shouldn’t be used to cover an entire page of an album, so purchasing smaller paper than your album is okay.
A photo safe pen is necessary to help you journal, or tell your pictures stories on paper. Much like a caption, a journal entry will share special thoughts or memories that you can’t actually see in a picture.
There are different types of photo adhesive, with different types of dispensers, even glue — whatever option you choose, just make sure it is photo-safe and acid free. You can’t use Elmer’s style glue on your photos, or scotch tape. Dispensers I feel are the easiest to maneuver, however there are also corner adhesives, and tape-for larger pictures. Generally these products aren’t too costly, so trying two different types of adhesive to find out what works best for you wouldn’t be too frivolous.
A picture trimmer and a good set of scissors are essential in preparing your pictures for ‘˜installation’. There are many types of trimmers on the market, you want to look for something that has a self sharpening blade, a safety feature so that you can’t slide your finger over the blade and cut yourself accidentally, and a guide to hold your pictures or paper in place as you trim. Having something portable will help if you tend to move projects around in your home, or if you are looking to crop with friends at different locations. Craft stores have a decent selection, or Creative Memories also carries a great personal trimmer. Personally I like the Creative Memories version because it has all of the above and a mat with grids so I can perfectly line up or even measure my pictures as I trim them.
You may find as you browse several different shape cutters available. These are nice to accent pictures and pages throughout an album, but aren’t necessary. Some people just have to have specific shaped pictures, ovals, circles, pentagons, hearts, and what not — . I have several different styles of cutters. I find that I have so many pictures to keep up with that it is easiest just to keep the pictures a universal shape, get them in albums and have some great captions alongside my pictures. Cutting pictures in specific shapes takes much longer and generally isn’t needed in the beginning stages of working on an album.
You want scissors that are easy to use, flexible in your hands, and have a clean blade. Don’t use scissors that you’ve had around the house with packing tape-or worse stuck to the blades. Mostly you will use your scissors to cut paper that are generally too large for your picture trimmer or if you want your paper or pictures cut in a particular shape.
There are so many other products currently on the market that you may find yourself stuffing into your basket as you browse the stores, however it really isn’t necessary to make any additional purchases currently. You can always go back and make adjustments to pages after you have the general guide of what you are looking for. Don’t overwhelm yourself at the start.
Stickers, pre-made borders, letters, and other paraphanalia may be handy at some point in your journey in completing your album, but put these purchases on the back burner for now. Let us focus now on getting the hang of trimming pictures and organizing them in an album.