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What is Scrapbooking?

The dictionary defines a scrapbook as "a blank book in which miscellaneous items (as newspaper clippings or pictures)
are collected and preserved." Websters dates the origin of the word to 1825, so it is hardly a new concept.

Many of you will remember making scrapbooks as kids --saving ticket stubs, brochures from holiday destinations, notes and newspaper clippings, special birthday cards or postcards. That was scrapbooking THEN. Scrapbooking NOW retains some of those elements, such as preserving precious memories, but focuses on the important elements of safety and longevity, journaling, and creative expression.

Perhaps the most important of these is safety and longevity. Scrapbooks THEN used unsafe elements, like sugar paper, tape and rubber cement, or (Oh NO!) "magnetic" albums -- all things that will, over time, ruin your photos, making them yellow, fade, and deteriorate.
Read more...

Guide to Archival Safety

Scrapbooking is as much about preservation of your precious photos as it is about documenting your memories.

In order to understand how to keep your photos safe, you need to understand what to protect them from and why. Your photos are under assault from many everyday factors. Light, humidity, dust -- all these things can cause your precious photos to deteriorate . Modern scrapbooking is designed to preserve your photographs (and your memories) in as safe an environment as possible, in order to assure they will be able to be enjoyed for years to come. Here are some of the factors that can damage your photos and some suggestions on how you can remove the threat or minimise the damage

Acid

Acid is naturally found in paper, and over time it breaks down the fibre of the paper, causing it to become dry and brittle, eventually deteriorating into dust. The fact is that acid always migrates from an acidic material to a less acidic or neutral one. Protecting your photos begins with shielding them from acid naturally occurring in air, water or on your hands, as well as using acid free paper and plastic to store and display them in. Paper made to the international standard ISO9706 is considered archival and permanent, and therefore called acid free.

Buffered

Buffered paper has and alkaline substance (usually magnesium carbonate or calcium carbonate) added to it to prevent acid from migrating to the paper. It does not remove acid already in the paper. Acid free & buffered paper is best for your photos.

Dust

Dust is an abrasive, and getting dust on your photos can scratch and damage them. Putting your photos in protectors or in acid free albums can shield them from dust damage.

Heat

Heat will cause paper to decay more quickly -- and this includes photo paper. Store your photos someplace moderate, not in an attic or a garage.

Humidity

Something we all know about! Humidity levels above 70% can promote the growth of mould, which will damage your photos. But fluctuating humidity levels also damage the paper by causing it to expand and contact as it absorbs and then loses moisture. Be sure to protect your albums from humidity, in a moderate climate.

Light

Light can also fade your photos. Photos are printed on light-sensitive paper, so ultraviolet (UV) light will speed up the chemical reactions fade them. Unfortunately, they cannot be made completely stable because of this. Store your albums closed, on a shelf, away from sunlight, Some albums come with protective sleeves, which will keep light out, as well as dust. Black and White photos are more stable and longer lasting, so it is advisable you try to take a roll of B&W film once a year.

Lignin

Lignin is a substance found naturally occurring in the cells of plants -- including trees. Lignin in paper can react with light and heat to make the paper acidic, causing it to yellow and deteriorate. Again, ISO 9706 paper is lignin free.

Plastic

There are a number of plastic materials, some which are safe for your photos and some which are NOT.

Polyester: polyethylene terephthalate. Commonly known by names like Mylar, it is transparent, strong and chemically stable. It is safe for your photos.

PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride. Common, but vinyl releases fumes that are harmful to your photographs and will age and yellow them prematurely. You can often detect PVC in plastic by the smell.

Your hands

Believe it or not, the natural oil on your hands are actually highly acidic, and merely handling your photos can transfer this acid to them The best and safest course of action is to keep your photos in acid free photo albums and once you create a layout for your scrapbook to encase it in an acid free page protector.

Essential supplies for getting started

Once you have settled on an album , there are a few other supplies you will need to get started.

Photo safe adhesives -- depending on the task there is a great choice in adhesives from photo squares like Hermafix to glue pens and sticks to repositionable glue dots to Xyron adhesive application machines
Acid free paper and cardstock in a variety of colours for adding colour to your pages
Acid free, lightfast, archival quality pens for journaling.
Scissors for cutting paper and photos
A personal trimmer or paper cutter for cropping photos and mats. A paper cutter or personal trimmer will give you a cleaner cut than scissors and handy markings on the trimmer will allow you to cut without extra measuring

Choosing an album
Scrapbookers argue over what is the best album type more than any other issue. What is important to remember is that there are many types to choose from and you should choose the one you like best, that suits the purpose or style of album you wish to create. There are, however, a few hard and fast rules:

Only choose archival-quality albums -- Magnetic albums will ruin your photos!
Be sure the album is of sturdy construction. Flimsy albums will not stand up to frequent viewing!
Think about a slip case or cover protector for further protection.

Although when I first wrote this album sizes were more limited (basically 12 x 12 or 8 1/2 x 11, which is standard US letter size) you can now find post-bound (and some other style) albums in a wide variety of smaller sizes. My personal opinion is that these smaller sizes are more suited to special event or themed albums, whereas the larger sizes (and 12 x 12 is my own preference) are more suited to the chronological, daily history albums. If at all possible, I would suggest you go to a scrapbook or craft store to actually look at/handle the albums you are considering before making a FINAL final decision!

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