Scrapbooking Your Bear Collection

Tips on how to beautifully scrapbook your bear collection.

Scrapbooking is an ever increasingly popular hobby and can be a beautiful way for a bear artist to showcase her bears or for a bear collector to show off her bears or to make treasured memories of Bear Fairs they have gone to. As with any new hobby, you might think “Where would I start?” The quick and rather cheeky answer would be ... “With your photos,” of course, but there is more.

A visit to a good craft shop such as Craft World would be a great place to start once you have selected your favourite or best photos to scrapbook. I think it is best to look at what is available in person the first time you buy. That way you can take a few photos with you to hold against the coloured and patterned papers on offer to see exactly how they would match. Shopping online is best when you have already bought a few craft materials and experimented with them. The great thing about scrapbooking is that you can use photos which were not totally perfect since you can crop them to centre an off-centre photo, or you can make a cut-out of one teddy from a group. You could use a series of small photos to make a “film strip” or a group. One arrangement I did had a cut out teddy popping out of a small pink envelope, the type gift tags come in. You can even purchase tiny plastic or paper frames to put them in, but these are decisions you can make once you have gathered some materials around you. Experimenting and stretching your imagination is fun.

Craft World and other shops like it sell scrapbooks with inserts, sheets of card to fit into them, assorted printed, coloured and textured papers, bear shapes and stickers, and all sorts of things you might find interesting enough to embellish your scrapbooking sheets, but be on the look out for other interesting finds to include as embellishments.

A FEW TIPS FOR STARTERS

Invest in a few Scrapbooking magazines for inspiration and to check out what type of layouts appeal to you.

Think up themes and colour schemes.

Add some texture to the page by using corrugated card, hand made papers including those with pressed flowers or glitter in them, decoupage, ribbons, felt, feathers, skeleton leaves, wool or string, a swatch of mohair or fabric, or anything that isn’t too bulky.

Experiment using ripped tissue and paper and try combining layers of different colours and thicknesses of paper.

Add some metallic paper or foil.

If using photos of antique, old or modern but aged artist bears such as those of Jo Vernalls’ amazing Bears of Grace, you could think about using sepia tones, nostalgic prints and Victorian stickers. You could even photograph such bears in sepia if you have a digital camera.

Look for suitable printable images which can be printed from the internet.

Try to make every page tell a story by adding souvenirs from Bear Fairs, the entrance ticket, part of the programme, an exhibitor’s pass or a photo of you taken with the bear artist. (Get her to autograph it for posterity if you can. It could add value to a family heirloom in creation.)

Or add meaningful family memorabilia, such as a lock of baby’s hair if his or her first bear is being photographed, a postcard of Brighton if that’s where you bought the bear, or a scanned photo of Grandma if the bear was inherited from her.

Above all, don’t be afraid to experiment with layouts.

AND SOME ADVICE

When buying glues, make sure that the glue you use is compatible with photographs. Read the labels. Some types of glue are strong but warp the photographic paper spoiling the photos. If in doubt, use a simple Pritt Stick which causes no damage whatsoever.

Take care when positioning the photos. Using a ruler to help position them squarely helps, if you want them to be squarely centred. They don’t always have to be lined up squarely. You can move them around to see which arrangement works.

Having a craftwork guillotine is useful to get straight edges when cropping pictures. Scanned photos are handy too, as are photos downloaded from digital cameras as these can be edited and improved on, enlarged or made fit a section of your scrapbooking page.

FOR THE ADVANCED SCRAPBOOKER

Why not try the latest crafting fad – scrap canvassing? Many Pound Shops and art shops now sell artists canvasses at economical prices. These make a great base for scrapbooking on a larger scale. You can go as big as you want with it. Finished scrap canvasses can look terrific popped on a wall without a frame. You can work the same way as you would when scrapbooking, but you can be much more adventurous with textures. You can add items which are bigger and thicker, perhaps even including a very tiny bear or two on the arrangement. Needless to say, heavier items wouldn’t adhere with Pritt Stick though, so again you’d have to be careful with the type of glue used and heavy items might require Superglue, depending on the surfaces you are trying to glue together. Again, my advice is – read the labels when buying glue. Old keys make good embellishments when mounting old bear photos. Charms and trinkets can be good. I’ve seen shells used. Think also about the possibility of hand sewing directly onto the canvas. What about adding a small bear themed cross stitch, or of cutting a piece of short bear making fur into a cute bear shape to glue onto the canvas? You could even use child safety eyes and a nose on the little chap and embroider a mouth on him. Add a little knitted scarf. Let your imagination go, and most of all, have fun and happy crafting!

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