Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Scrapbooking Tools - Read: Stuff You NEED!

Alright...let's get this thing a rollin'! I just finished wrapping and bagging 36 lb. of ground beef from my shopping trip and I'm ready to start writing! (For those who are curious, I bought twelve 3-lb. packages that were on sale for their lowest price of the year - this happens about every 8 months - and cut them down to 1-lb. portions. After an additional store discount I ended up paying $1.70/lb.) It made me happy.

Now...on with the scrapbooking!

For those of you not familiar with scrapbooking, there are A LOT of options when it comes to both supplies and tools. This was so not the case when I started. In 2002, I was lucky to find a craft store with 1/2 of an aisle of scrap supplies. Now...there are multiple craft stores with multiple aisles and even a few dedicated scrapbooking stores within 20 miles of me.

For an initial scrapper this can be totally overwhelming. But let me assure you...if you have some basics you'll be just fine and you can just grow your stash a little at a time. So...if you have nothing and you think this might be a hobby for you, here are the basic things you'll need :
  • Photos (You should've seen this one coming.)
  • Paper
  • Cutting tools
  • Adhesive

Anything beyond this...gravy. So, let's talk a little about the basics and then I'll share with you my top favorite scrapping tools.

1. Photos

There is no right or wrong way to do your photos. I only work by one rule...if it is an older photo (ie. family history) or a one of a kind photo (like class photos or maybe some school pictures) be careful. Older heritage photos should always be duplicated. Use the duplicate for scrapping and save the original. That way, if you're cropping (cutting the picture down to another size) and make a mistake, you haven't just destroyed the only copy of Grandpa & Grandma's wedding photo.

I use photos in all sizes and colors. I like glossy, but some people use a matte finish. Most of my photos are 4x6", but I also like to work in 5x7" and occasionally 8x10". I use mostly color photos, but I also edit them into black and white, sepia or antique.

We'll talk about more photo options another time.

2. Paper

Oh, I love thee. You may already be aware of my love of paper...I will share that with you some other time. There is much to be said on this topic. But for now, there are a couple of things to be aware of...type of paper and size.

Really it comes down to two basic types of paper...cardstock and regular scrapbook paper. Yes...there's vellum and fiber paper and blah, blah, blah, but let's keep it simple.

Cardstock is your heavier paper. It comes in both solid colors and patterned pieces. Cardstock is sturdier and generally patterned cardstock is more expensive than other paper. I keep primarily solid color cardstock.

Regular scrapbook paper is thinner and lighter. It too comes in both solids and patterns. Most of my regular paper is patterned. And I have A LOT of it.

Both types of paper can be used for anything. There is no right or wrong way to use paper. Both types of paper also can often be found in "stacks", meaning a set of paper that coordinates. This is most often the cheapest way to buy it.

And lastly, paper comes in many, many sizes. Most of my paper is 12 x 12" both because it is the most widely available and because it can be cut down to any size. I also have 8 1/2 x 11", 8 x 8" and 6 x 6".

There is so much more I can show you about paper...another day...

3. Cutting Tools

You need something to cut your paper and photos with. Sure, you can tear paper, but you won't always want to do this. You can use something as basic as a pair of garden variety scissors or you can use a paper trimmer. I have both in my arsenal. I'll share them with you here in a scissors are my very favorite tool. They're awesome.

4. Adhesive

You need something to stick stuff down - obviously. There are so many options here that it can honestly make you crazy. But...again, stick to the basics (pun intended). To start out, most scrappers begin working with either adhesive squares or a tape runner. I use both of these. I also have somethings called PopDots that bring things up off the paper and I have a little army of Xyron machines...I'll show you one here in a minute.

Once you have these're ready to go!

Now, I've been doing this for a while so I've had some really great products and some really crappy products that I will never use again. It's trial and error. Everyone has their own preferences. But, this is my blog so you're stuck with what I like...okay, what I love.

So, in somewhat ranked order...these are my favorites.

1. Tim Holtz Ionic Scissors

I adore these scissors. They are fantastically amazing. I got them at CKU in 2008 and I will never go back to another pair of scissors (at least for scrapbooking). I also own a pair each of CutterBees, HoneyBees and ColorBees designed for paper, sticky things and metal, respectively. These were what I used before. The Ionic? It does everything. They cut paper, sticky things, wire, chipboard, cork, fabric, etc. I've used them a lot. The best part? They never dull (at least mine haven't - they're as sharp as the day I bought them...and trust me, they have a lot of mileage) and they don't get sticky from cutting sticky things. Amazing. Tim Holtz is magic. The downside? They are wicked sharp. Mine used to have a plastic cover for the tips, but I managed to lose it. It has not resurfaced and I'm very sad about it. It's a sore subject.

2. The "a-Dile" Products

Okay...I'm cheating a little here. This is actually three separate tools: the Crop-a-Dile, it's big brother the Big Bite and it's cousin, the Corner Chomper.

The Crop-a-Dile is the original. This tool is pure genius. I used to need three tools for what this one can do. It has two sizes of hole punchers (top and bottom) as well as multiple sizes of eyelet setters (the black/silver blocks). If you haven't ever used an eyelet...I'll teach you another time. But let me just tell you that using them used to mean a hammer, fear of smashing a finger and the inability to use them past a child's bedtime. This is a major improvement. I use the hole punch a lot.

This bad boy is the Big Bite. It does the same things as the Crop-a-Dile, but it allows you to reach to the center of a 12x12" piece of paper, unlike the very limited Crop-a-Dile. It can punch holes in just about anything. I use it primarily on paper, but I've also punched through chipboard and metal tags with it. Sweet.

The last member of the family is the Corner Chomper. It's the least used for me, but it rounds corners in two different sizes. I also have punches that do the same thing, but the Chomper is much easier on the hands.

3. Adhesives

Again...totally cheating. But these guys really have to be grouped together. They compete slightly, but they're used for different things. I'm talking about my Tombo Adhesive, my Vario and my Xyrons.

This is Tombo Adhesive. It's a refillable tape runner that comes in both permanent and removable. I like the permanent. I also have a similar product called Dotto. It's growing on me, but Tombo is my old standby. Typically they last a long time and go a long way, but I used up two whole rolls finishing these.

Ah, the Vario. This is Dotto's big brother. The Vario is an adhesive square dispenser. Basically, this means it shoots out little white double-sided sticky tapes instead of glue like the tape runner. I like using these to adhere my photos. They still stick just as good as the Tombo, but if I sit the photo in the wrong spot, this is much easier to move.

This is a Xyron. It's a sticker maker. Awesome huh? This is just the little guy, making stickers of anything up to an inch wide. They come in different sizes. My largest one can make up to a 9" wide sticker. They work very simply. You put the item you want to be sticky into the upper hole. You pull the end of the tape, the item slides through and it comes out wedged between a piece of white paper and a clear covering. You peel off the clear and then peel your item off of the white. The side facing the white is now either a permanent or repositionable fashion depending on your cartridge. Some Xyrons even come with the ability to do double-sided lamination and magnet making. They're awesome. I use this little guy primarily to make letters sticky. I hate having to try and get adhesive on some flimsy paper "A". It just ticks me off and wastes a lot of glue. This is much easier.

4. Distress Ink

Ah Tim Holtz, you've done it again! These are so fun. I have them in a rainbow of colors, but the Walnut Stain and the Black Soot are my favorites. In writing this, I just discovered that he has 12 new colors available in addition to the original 24...oooh, want.

Meanwhile, you're looking at me like I'm a crazy person, wondering why I like ink. Trust me, once you start using it, you won't be able to let it go. I first used it when my friend Natalie told me about it like 5 years ago. I was resistant. It seemed like a dumb idea. But she showed me how to use it to edge paper and photos. Wow! It really makes things pop. I'll give you some examples on another day and maybe I can convert some of you nonbelievers.

5. Precision Pen

Once again, you're thinking I'm nuts. A pen is a pen is a pen. WRONG! This is my favorite pen for journaling. It's made by American Crafts, it's a fine point and the roller ball never gets stuck. It's even all the time. It's acid free, waterproof, fade proof and it doesn't bleed. I can write on a picture, run my finger over it 5 seconds later and it won't smudge. ever. In fact, mine is starting to run low and I'm afraid there will be tears on the day it goes dry. It makes me nervous just thinking about it. So if you're Christmas shopping for me...I would like this. :)

6. Pazzle

This is not it's most photogenic, but this is my Pazzle. It is an automated cutting machine. There are other similar products on the market that you may have heard of like Slice, Cricut or Silhouette. I like my Pazzle the best. Obviously. (FYI...I also have a Slice and it's super fun. I like taking it to crops.) The Pazzle was a Christmas present from Carole and I love it to pieces. I could go hug it right now...

The Pazzle hooks directly into my computer. The software comes with it. You can buy extra software from them, but I have never had to. This baby will cut letters in any size up to 12x12" and in any font on your computer. Some scrolly fonts take a little more work, but I've used a LOT of different fonts and totally love it. You can also cut different images including any clip art you have on your computer or images you design in the software. I'm telling you, this thing is genius.

The only downside...when things come out they aren't sticky. So...I end up putting them in the Xyron afterwards. I tried running a sheet through the Xyron first and then using the Pazzle. This worked with mixed results and I felt bad about wasting so much paper, so I just do it the other way.

So there you top...hey!! 10 tools. That was totally an accident, but it worked out really well, don't you think? If you have any questions about any of these items let me know. Same goes if you have another scrap tool you've seen or heard about. More than likely I've tried it or know someone who has (I'm crazy like that).

And now it's off to read. I need to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before Sunday. Tomorrow night I'll be finishing up my scrapbook pages for my cousin Jenna's blog auction over at Mom, the Intern (to help her raise money for a friend with cancer). I'll share those with you on Friday. Tomorrow I'm going to share my favorite embellishments. Who knows? It might work out to ten again!

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