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The vacation scrapbook page:

Creating vintage frames or borders

The Caribbean island of Anguilla has a special place in our hearts. Beautiful white beaches.  Water that is actually turquoise.  And shells like you've never seen. Josh and his friends spent a wonderful week there last May, and he brought home a box of the most exquisite shells. They reminded us of the shell-border postcards so popular at seaside resorts in the early 20th century. And that played right into our vacation scrapbook layout.

Many vintage postcards were designed with elaborate borders surrounding the central illustration or photo. In fact, borders were often reused, with the publishers switching out the central subject as needed. The shell-border postcards we found, published by Langsdorf Company circa 1909, featured scenes from various beaches across America.

Anguilla is a sensuous locale, so we wanted to include some tactile elements to our scrapbooking. The fringed palm tree fronds are simple cut paper, and the beach is sand paper - from the hardware store.


  • Vacation scrapbook materialsVintage image (Free PDF download).
  • Background paper: blue 12" X 12" paper.
  • Trim papers: turquoise, white, orange and green. 
  • One sheet of sandpaper, 9" X 11" (see Tips).
  • Journaling pen.
  • Marker or paint pen, black.
  • Transparent tape.
  • Glue stick or other non-acid paper adhesive.
  • Small scissors, like manicure scissors.
  • Scissors or paper cutter.


  1. Print the vintage images on heavy photo paper and trim them. With small scissors, carefully cut out the centers, leaving the borders.  From the postcard with the large shells, cut out the individual shells (to scatter on the beach).
  2. Resize your photos to fit within the frames, print and trim them.
  3. Vacation scrapbook backgroundCut the sandpaper into two strips, about  3.5" wide.  Piece the two strips together somewhere in the middle with an overlapping curved diagonal cut, to span the 12" page, and glue it to the bottom edge of the blue background.
  4. Rip a jagged-edged 12" strip of turquoise paper.  Adhere it to the white paper, and tear the white paper to leave a "foamy" 1/2" edge.  Glue it along the top edge of the sandpaper. Instant ocean.
  5. Cut a curving palm tree trunk from the orange paper.  Cut three palm fonds from the green paper.  Fringe the fronds.  Cut a small ship from the white paper.  
  6. Journal the who, what, when, where and why on white paper, and cut it in the shape of a puffy cloud.
  7. Position all of your elements on the background, and adhere them with glue stick or adhesive. Tape your photos into the shell frames from the back. Use tacky craft glue to adhere the shells to the sandpaper.
  8. With a black marker or paint pen, add the seagulls and the details on the ship and palm tree.


  • You should have heard us picking out the sandpaper at the hardware store: "That's not the right color, maybe a finer grit would be lighter;" "This one looks more like Hawaii;"  "Too light, you can see the printing on the back."  We sounded like we had no idea what sandpaper was for.  But we did - it is for imitating a sandy beach. If the black printing on the back of the sandpaper shows through the front, just mount it on black paper, or spray paint the back black. 
  • When cutting out scraps (like the shells) with fine detail, two techniques will help. First, hold the scissors at a 45-degree angle toward the back of the paper to reduce the white edge that will show.  Second, move the paper as you cut, not the scissors.
  • If you need to change the size of the image for your scrapbook layout, refer to the information in the FAQ on resizing a PDF image.
  • There are many different kinds of scrapbook covers and bindings, so you will need to adapt your page design for your particular book.

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