Not exactly a scrapbook
June 19, 2020 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm not going anywhere this summer, so I want to take some time to put all the cool photos and memorabilia I've collected over the years into some kind of...form. Something more involved than a photo album, but not like a scrapbook with the fancy stickers and the expensive paper. What could this look like, and what would I need to buy to make it happen?

So I guess what I'm envisioning is having a few pages for each trip I've taken, where I can write down a few interesting things that happened and also stick in some photos and random stuff I collected (I have a whole box of ticket stubs, transit cards, maps, etc.), with the goal of having something I can flip through and reminisce with/something I can show my mom who always asks to see photos from my trip and then I don't show her.

I have no artistic ability and I'm definitely not looking for a new hobby, so the type of scrapbooking that was super big a few years ago is out. But I also don't want it to look really crappy? Like I thought about just shoving stuff into a three-ring binder but eh. I just want a cool travel journal with some stuff glued in it.

So questions I guess are:

1. Is this something you've encountered and can you link me or tell me about it? (My Google searches keep turning up those elaborate scrapbooks with the puffy Eiffel Tower stickers and calligraphy, which is very neat but I am not going to learn it)

2. What would be the best supplies for this kind of thing? Like *should* I just be gluing stuff to cardstock and sticking it in a three-ring binder? Should I just glue stuff to the pages of a moleskine or something? Or are there more purpose-built solutions? (I have photo albums and I have a ticket stub album, but that's not it.) What size thing should I look for?

Note that due to pandemic I'm not going to wander around a Michaels, so stuff I can get online is key.
posted by goodbyewaffles to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is just an idea, but maybe lay things out the way you want it, and then scan and upload to a photo service like Shutterfly? They have themed photo albums, and currently they even have a "Make My Book" service that's free at the moment.
posted by toastyk at 7:52 AM on June 19, 2020

You might want to Google (or search Instagram or YouTube) for the terms “travelers notebook” and “memory keeping.”
posted by elphaba at 7:54 AM on June 19, 2020

I've done this off and one for about 20 years. I don't use a particular notebook, but rather make a habit of buying high-quality blank books (acid-free pages, sewn binding, etc) so I always have a stash. For me, the sweet spot for size is something a bit smaller than US letter size. Like 7x9 or the close to that. My current one is this.

And yeah, I just paste stuff onto the pages and write notes: for example, I once spent a day shearing sheep in New Zealand, so my book from that trip has a page where I pasted in a piece of the map of used to find my way to the farm, a lock of wool tied with a thread and pasted in, and a handwritten bit noting things the shearer said ("you're looking for a forceful gentleness there" and "your cuticles are gonna shine for week after this!"). Later, I clipped a postcard I had sent home that day onto the page.

I don't follow a particular pattern, and I've never looked at anyone else's books. Some trips have pages and pages, some have a line or two. But I look back at mine all the time; it's comforting and joyful.
posted by minervous at 8:01 AM on June 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

I think the easiest solution for this sort of thing, assuming you want physical copies of the memorabilia and not to scan it and make photo books, is to get a binder that will accept a mix of those self-adhesive photo pages and plastic photo pockets. Actual photos, ticket stubs, transit cards and other flat memorabilia can be adhered to the photo pages, along with whatever written description you want, and then any larger items like folding maps and such can go in the photo pockets.

You can also use scrapbooking supplies like cardstock and glue instead of the self-adhesive photo pages if you prefer a nicer, coloured backing. You don't have to go all fancy and buy the stickers and things -- simple layouts using scrapbooking supplies work well. Be willing to trim photos (get a small paper trimmer) and pay attention to symmetry and keeping space consistent between items and you can get nice looking pages without being twee.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:30 AM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

If all the memorabilia is flatish, you can scan it in (or just take a close up photo on your phone) and then upload the files to a site with all your other photos. Shutterfly/Snapfish/Walgreens type places have pretty decent tools for helping you lay things out and often have sales so you don't have to pay $40 for a 20 page book. You could leave a spot open if you want to glue something in, but you probably want to make sure you get a matte finish if you plan to do that.
You might be surprised at the price for a post bound cover, solid colored sheets, glue, and some page protectors. I bet you can get it all for under $40. Some places sell kits with non-obnoxious styles and all the things you should need except scissors and a straight edge.
posted by soelo at 9:02 AM on June 19, 2020

Should I just glue stuff to the pages of a moleskine or something?
One issue is that the bindings on most of these are not made to handle a lot of extra stuff between the pages. Also, you want to think about only using one side of each page since you don't want things rubbing against each other. You can write on the facing page, but only glue on one side.
posted by soelo at 9:06 AM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Consider shadow boxes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:11 AM on June 19, 2020

A roll or two of nice coordinating washi tape might be helpful too in that it can bring an artistic feel without requiring any particular skill. You can cut it into squares or rectangles to tape items in, or just run a strip next to something else (like put down a strip next to some text). It can serve the role of making the pages look coordinated in a design style without a lot of thought and energy.

Also, a site like Jetpens has interesting options for glue. You wouldn't need anything expensive, but few dollars thrown at a nice glue pen or double-sided tape strips might make the process a lot more enjoyable than something that is stinky and/or messy.
posted by past unusual at 9:14 AM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

My daughter and I did something like toastyk mentions after my mother died, and things had calmed down. My daughter was kind enough to scan on a flat bed scanner (part of our multi-function printer) with multiple photos per scan, and then we cropped/saved our favorites and then used Shutterfly to create a digital album and had a number of copies printed. I gave them to family members I thought would like one and everyone seemed very appreciative.

Using a document scanner (like our Fujitsu) doesn't seem to do as good a job, and I (at least) could never get decent results by taking a photo of a photo with my phone.

Of course this advice won't apply if you were hoping to have physical articles in your scrap book, but on the other hand it does help with the things you see as problematic.
posted by forthright at 10:40 AM on June 19, 2020

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