How to Give Your Scrapbook a Distressed Look

If you’re doing a scrapbook that will contain old photos, perhaps of Grandma and Grandpa when they were kids, you don’t want to ruin the look by using brightly colored papers and shiny brass decorations. You want the scrapbook to look antique from beginning to end.

There are lots of distressed-look items you can purchase for scrapbooks, like weather-worn leather books, faded-looking papers, and cutouts that resemble scenes from long ago. But, why pay extra money for something to look old, when you can make the scrapbook supplies look aged by using a few particular techniques.

Bright colors and patterns take away from black and white photos of yesteryear. Choose colors of gray, brown, antique-white, or pastels of yellow or blue. Make the papers look even more distressed by sanding a certain spot on the paper, ripping off a corner, or crinkling the paper, here and there. Other techniques include using a fork or comb to make indentations in the paper, using a dropper to make spots of liquid, here and there on the paper.

Make borders look very old by using masking tape in your choice of widths. Cut the tape to the lengths you’ll need and stick them onto a slick cabinet top or something similar. The tape should be able to be lifted off with ease, from the surface you choose. Stack together layers of tape if you want a thick border. Draw any kind of design onto the tape, using a pencil or black pen. If desired, use no pattern, just the tape. Brush with a light brown varnish to coat the tape. Allow to dry and remove from surface, then stick them in the book. The varnish makes the tape look very old but the pattern you draw (or stamp) can still be seen.

Dip lace, ribbon, cloth and other items into tea. Bring tea bags to a boil, allow to cool, then soak cloth items in the solution. Remove and allow to dry. The tea turns things a yellowish brown color that looks very antique. The tea method works well for white buttons, white silk flowers, even white or off-white paper. Use a white wash cloth and dip it in the solution. Wring it out really well before laying it on the paper. Remove and quick-dry the paper. The paper will look old and crinkled.

You’ll find plenty of images online that you can use for your antique scrapbook. Print out “Coca-Cola” signs, Victorian-age shoes and hats, or sayings from long ago. Print out copies of old newspaper headlines, or use a portion of the newspaper page as the background paper for the entire scrapbook page.

Think of things that could’ve been implemented in the days of the era-theme of the book. If it was the early 1900’s, for example, someone making a scrapbook may have used cardboard, fabric scraps, newspaper, magazine pictures, stationery, old shoe strings, buttons or snaps, package fronts (peel away the thicknesses of the cardboard to leave the picture on a staple food package). Flour sacks, sugar bags, leather strips, twine, yarn – these are some of the things that would look great in your antique scrapbook because they were the types of things available in those days.

Make these things even older-looking by coating some with brown varnish, tearing or marring some of the items, dripping paint on some things, or even using sandpaper for antiquing. Your book will have a much more authentic look when you implement some of these techniques.

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