For years, I didn't go anywhere without my journal. It became my personal scrapbook, and one that I wouldn't share with anyone. After I got married, and perhaps as a way to reminisce about the years before, I did a whole 'official' scrapbook on my 12 years of World Adventures: The Solo Years.
I did it mainly for me -- for something creative and fun, but along the way, I realized that I could share it with friends and family who had never before seen photos or heard stories from the places I'd traveled, because I had kept my journals so secretive.
In an era before email became the norm, people were lucky to get a postcard out of me for months at a time. My scrapbooks helped to bridge the gap once I returned to the States. Once I started, there was no stopping me -- especially in the months while the Sailor was gone to sea, I'd cut and paste all manner of life events.
They are not your typical run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter scrapbooks. They are messy, bulging, mismatched, and full of luggage tags and adventure... a little bit like my life sometimes, I suppose.
Although I still splurged on some things (and still do), I've discovered a few ways to stay within my budget for my paper passion, besides simply waiting for stuff to go on clearance.
1. Look for inspiration everywhere.
You don't always need something encased in plastic with a UPC symbol on the back to get the job done. One of the most amazing pieces of art I've ever seen in my life was by a little Belorussian girl who created a scene with a horse out of tree bark and twigs. TWIGS. You may not have to go that far, but think of the fun things you could make out of those throwaway cardboard coffee sleeves and a bit of leftover ribbon from an old wreath.
Like a wood fire, for instance.
2. Save everything.
I'm not talking about turning into a hoarder, but you know those handmade wedding invitations and Christmas cards you're about to throw away? See what you can salvage first! Torn wrapping paper? Paste it as a layer on one of your pages. Used stamps? Extra photos that accidentally got printed? Magazines with creative flair or neat type? All of these items can be turned into bits and pieces for your scrapbook pages.
I'm quite partial to stamps, myself.
3. Don't be afraid to use everyday objects.
This kind of goes along with #2, but sometimes I actually buy stuff that I know I can get a secondary use out of later. I've used sandpaper on several pages, food labels and calendars, and I purposely buy tissues that have neat designs on them, so I can reuse the cardboard later.
Besides sand, I have a whole garden of flowers currently growing in my scrapbooks.
4. Look for items in unconventional places.
My recent addiction to SMASH Books has been fueled by the fact that I just found a bunch half off the normal craft store price, at TJMaxx. Those, coupled with vintage sewing and knitting magazines from the thrifts, and I had half a book finished in no time. Scour thrift stores and flea markets for old ephemera like maps, magazines and even sewing patterns, to add a vintage touch to your pages.
Vintage is very in vogue at the moment and what better way to recycle?
5. Swap and share with a friend.
One of my childhood friends is an avid scrapbooker, and she regularly sends me extra paper or bits that she eyes as my 'style'. Personally, I swoon at those giant stacks of brand new paper. If you can't find them on sale, find a buddy who will split the cost with you. Most of the stacks contain multiple sheets of the same design, so you can easily share.
And even when you can't think of a way to use the stuff,
stick it on an inspiration board in the meantime.
6. Find your own style!
Even though I've just given you my tips on crafting cheaply... find what works for you! The creative process will be null and void if you do all of the above and gain no satisfaction out of it. The same friend who mails me paper has a very different style from me, but I absolutely love looking at her scrapbooks. She has a neatness and meticulousness to her layouts that I envy. But if I tried to do things her way, I don't think I'd find the process as fun. Likewise, if she tried my style!
So find your own style and have fun with it. And if you decide to do things on the cheap and save some cash, you have all the more reason to splurge on something later.