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Crafting With a Vintage Look, Issue #027 - Special Scrapbook Edition!
July 27, 2009

Issue #027 - For the past several years, Martin's Kindergarten class parents have been giving him elaborate scrapbooks at the end of each year. These big books are filled with photos, notes and keepsakes from his children - and they are quirky, fun treasures.

This year's class scrapbook got us thinking about adding a school-themed scrapbook page among our vintage scrapbook layouts and crafts on Vintage Image Craft. We would have procrastinated another month, except for receiving a serious jolt of scrapbooking inspiration from an incredible book, Scrapbooks: An American History, and its dynamic author, Jessica Helfand. Suddenly, finishing that "Off to School" scrapbook for you seemed like the American thing to do.

So, this becomes our summer scrapbooking edition of Crafting With a Vintage Look, and we are excited to share...

  • Our "Off to School" scrapbook layout with FREE vintage images of Victorian school children.
  • The recent book, Scrapbooks: An American History; a written and photographic tribute to "visual autobiographies."
  • A conversation with writer and designer, Jessica Helfand, and a glimpse into the creation of Scrapbooks: An American History.
  • Another painfully authentic vintage craft from the 1916 edition of Henley's Encyclopedia.
Let's get crafting...

Off to School Scrapbook Layout
"Linus' first day at Union School"

It was all over Linus' face when he got on that school bus for his first day of school. Bewilderment, excitement, panic, anticipation, elation - one emotion after another. His parents were with him that first day, and caught it all on the digital camera.

This kaleidoscope of expressions made us envision a collage of images for his "Off to School" scrapbook layout. As we looked for vintage images from Victorian school days, we saw some of those same expressions -- so we went with it. Our page became a Victorian school "slate," with a collage of school children from that bygone era across the bottom. And Linus, center stage, joins the great educational tradition!

The FREE vintage image PDF download and scrapbook instructions are waiting for you at VintageImageCraft. See the complete project at:

Off to School Scrapbook Instructions

Even if you are not into scrapbooking, go to the project page and download the two-page PDF of Victorian school children. We bet you'll find a use for them! You can find other charming vintage images of children at our Vintage Image Download Gallery. Our goal is to create the "picture perfect" image resource for your crafts, scrapbooks and altered art projects. (And you can also visit our Etsy store at VintageImageCraft on Etsy!)

If the "Off to School Scrapbook" link above doesn't work for you, type into your browser:

Inspiring Books and Blogs

Cover photo of Scrapbooks: An American History by Jessica HelfandScrapbooks: An American History by Jessica Helfand, Yale University Press, 2008.

Jessica Helfand loves scrapbooks so much, she wants to teach us about them. No, not the usual "design by number" instructions, but an actual in-depth survey of how scrapbooks have reflected and recorded both the lives of individuals, and the tides of society, for hundreds of years. With photographic and transcribed excerpts from some 200 albums dating from the Victorian era through the present day, Jessica "tells the story of ordinary and extraordinary lives, innovative visual ideas, and social change within the larger context of American history" (Lauren Nemroff, We devoured Jessica's book, and agree with Allan Chochinov's (Core77) assessment: "More than a simple inventory of scrapbooking history, the book takes us through some intensely personal moments, life-affirming reflection, and kick-ass vernacular design.” This is a book that will give you new insights into our shared need to document, to record and to declare to the world "I was here."

You can purchase Scrapbooks: An American History from, Barnes & Noble, and most independent booksellers.

Interviews with Artists and Authors

Photo of Jessica Helfand, author of Scrapbooks: An American HistoryJessica Helfand is a writer, designer and educator, and she collects other people's scrapbooks - 200 so far and still accumulating. As her collection grew, so did her fascination with these idiosyncratic "visual biographies." In part, she credits her interest to her parents. Her mother collected portraits of all description, while her father amassed an equally diverse mass of printed medical ephemera. In the introduction to her seminal book, Scrapbooks: An American History, Jessica wrote that scrapbooks were a marriage of her parent's interests, "an ideal hybrid of humanity and paper: ephemeral portraits."

Articulate and analytical concerning both the history and current status of scrapbooking culture, Jessica’s writings have stirred up excitement and even some controversy. When we talked with her in July 2009, she was eager to describe her experiences surrounding Scrapbooks: An American History:

Read our entire Jessica Helfand interview here.

Crafts-from-Hell circa 1916

To keep with our scrapbooking theme, we thought we'd share these simple, 1916 instructions for making an effective photo-mounting adhesive right at home!. That's assuming you can make any sense at all of these recipes. Today's new word is "agglutinant."

Photographic Mountants

"Owing to the nature of the different papers used for printing photographs, it is a matter of extreme importance to use a mountant that shall not set up decomposition in the coating of the print. For example, a mountant that exhibits acidity or alkalinity is injurious with most varieties of paper; and in photography the following formulas for pastes, mucilages, etc., have therefore been selected with regard to their absolute immunity from setting up decomposition in the print or changing its tone in any way. One of the usual mountants is rice starch or else rice water. The latter is boiled to a thick jelly, strained, and the strained mass used as an agglutinant for attaching photographic prints to the mounts. There is nothing of an injurious nature whatever in this mountant, neither is there in a mucilage made with gum dragon.

"This gum (also called gum tragacanth) is usually in the form of curls (i.e., leaf gum), which take a long time to properly dissolve in water—several weeks, in fact—but during the past few years there has been put on the market a powdered gum dragon which does not occupy so many days in dissolving. To make a mucilage from gum dragon a very large volume of water is required. For example, 1 ounce of the gum, either leaf or powder, will swell up and convert 1 gallon of water into a thickish mucilage in the course of 2 or 3 weeks.

"Only cold water must be used, and before using the mucilage, all whitish lumps (which are particles of undissolved gum) should be picked out or else the mucilage strained. The time of solution can be considerably shortened (to a few hours) by acidifying the water in which the gum is placed with a little sulphuric or oxalic acid; but as the resultant mucilage would contain traces of their presence, such acids are not permissible when the gum-dragon mucilage is to be used for mounting photographs.

"Glycerine and gum arabic make a very good adhesive of a fluid nature suited to mounting photographs; and although glycerine is hygroscopic by itself, such tendency to absorb moisture is checked by the reverse nature of the gum arabic; consequently an ideal fluid mucilage is produced."

Excerpted from Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes, Volume 1, published in 1916, New York. We are sharing some of Henley's best (or worst) craft instructions, so you will realize how good you have it today. Try these at your own risk!

Next issue:

Look for our next monthly missive around August 20. Martin has been brewing up some incredible Halloween cards, so "be prepared and don't be scared!" We'll also have a sheet of FREE vintage images unlike any you've ever seen.

And, we'll share another craft-from-hell as described in the 1916 publication, Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes. Just try to avoid gluing your hands to your face with the medieval adhesive recipe we gave you in this edition.

We've been answering crafting questions left and right this past month, and we're always glad to hear when our advice is helpful. We are starting to get Christmas craft questions (are you people putting up your trees and addressing Christmas cards already?), so look for some early Christmas craft ideas in our next few issues of Crafting With a Vintage Look. Send us a note whenever the urge moves you.

Enjoy the "lazy, hazy, crazy" days of summer!

Scott & Martin

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