Shaunas Secrets of Scrapbooking

Written by: Shauna Berglund-Immel
Published by: Hot Off the Press

Every so often, it seems as if the scrapbooking industry is glutted with products, how-to books, and specialty tools that seem more quaint than useful. Luckily, scrappers have recourse to a few publishers and authors who have something more to say.

Shauna Berglund-Immel's Shauna's Secrets is set up well in that each page has a title, such as "using black & white with color photos" that gives you a heads up about the main "lesson" of the page. However, there are a number of other significant and helpful, design lessons on each page as well, such as the importance of balancing design elements and how to make your central image more significant without overwhelming the other photos or journaling elements on your page.

What I love the most about Berglund-Immel's work is that it's simple. Perhaps it is her degree in art and real training in aesthetics at work here, but she never gives in to the cutesiness that can afflict other scrapbookers. Her style is simple, clean, and elegant, while at the same time using interesting elements and individual stylistic expression. Her photos remain the center of the page, as well they should, but she obviously has fun with various products and scrapbooking goodies. Importantly, the principles and aesthetic advice can be easily extrapolated to other paper-based arts, such as collage or altered books. What color, materials, and layout advice work for scrapbooking is equally true for any craft or art that must concern itself with placement, color, overall focus of a piece, and so on. Learn what you can where you can, and you can learn here.

Layouts cover a nice spectrum of techniques and design elements, including the following: chalking, coordinating two-page spreads, pocket pages, large frames, collage elements, and ghosting photos. Some of this is a repeat of what you might have learned elsewhere, such as the use of tags, but it's still good information—a refresher on the idea never hurts, and the author's perspective is one of the best in the field for how to use (but not abuse) various decorative elements. Even if you think you know all there is to know about, say, torn edges, you'll probably still learning something here or at the very least remind yourself of just how fresh, useful, and interesting these techniques can be.

Hot Off the Press (HOTP) books are a good value, and this book is no exception. Even the inside of the front cover, printed as usual with the bibliographic info and a brief author bio, this time also has a heads up about where the unique page initials came from (HOTP's Alphabet Tiles book). At fifty-six pages, the book sounds much shorter than it is; in many how-to art or craft books, there is a lot of wasted space, but not so here—this book is packed with tips, design instruction, and insight. Besides, the inside front and back covers are also filled with info for you, and the price is lower than your average art instruction book. The cover price is pretty cheap to essentially glean the benefits of Berglund-Immel's art school tuition.

My only wish, which is for the scrapbooking industry in general, is that more layouts dealt with adults without children, from sports events to college to birthdays to everyday. Not all of us have children (either "not yet" or "never will"), and even if we do, there are events we attend without our spawn in tow.

Shauna's Secrets is a scrapbooking book that's meant to be used by real, on the ground scrapbookers, who do not have unlimited budgets or time. This book will help you make the most of what you have, without trying to sell you specialty tools and products that you can't afford and won't ever use again. While every layout in the book features HOTP papers, you can easily see how whatever you have will also work, which extends to the subject of the photos, as well. You may not have black and white photos of a daughter at play on the beach, but maybe you do have some (or could make some in PhotoShop) from your best friend's third wedding. Either way, the layout in question and the feature technique work.

Not many scrapbooking books are good for repeated information, meaning that they're good for a library check-out, but not a purchase. This book, however, will defy your attempts to squeeze it dry in a mere two week library period; you'll find yourself finding something new to remember on each page with each new reading. Months from now, you'll be able to take it down from your shelf, re-read it, and find something new to refresh your creativity and jump-start your appreciation of your tools and photos. If you're a scrapbooker, an altered book artist, or basically anyone who deals with layout and color with papers, then this book is for you.