The Vintage Scrapbook – Eight Creative Ideas For Using Vintage Images in Your Scrapbooks

Vintage images can add a nostalgic dimension to your scrapbooking. Whether they are illustrations from an artist's hand, early photographs, or antique paper items like advertising, newspapers or other ephemera, they lend instant artwork to your scrapbooking project. These pictures from the past also capture the essence of an occasion or an emotion, verifying that the important things in life do not change over time.

Many kinds of vintage images are available digitally through simple online downloads – just try a Google search for "vintage images." Although most will be in the public domain, be aware of any usage restrictions you find.

Here are eight ideas to spark your imagination!

  1. Use the full image as a centerpiece. Choose an image that reflects the theme of your page; a photo of an antique car for your page about your son's new car; a jolly Victorian St. Nicholas for a Christmas page; a vintage Eiffel Tower photo for your Paris vacation page. Place the image centrally and lay out your photos around it.
  2. Enlarge the image as your background. Many images are perfect for backgrounds, such as handwriting on a paper or a pastoral scene. If the digital image is high resolution (150-300 dpi), you can probably enlarge it to the size of your scrapbook page. Use the background colors to determine your photo matting palette. Layout your photos, text and embellishments so the background image peeks through.
  3. Cut out "scraps" as embellishments. A major pastime for Victorian women was cutting out small illustrations (called "scraps") and pasting them in books – hence, scrapbooks. Many vintage images include comical figures, holiday symbols, good-luck charms, and more. Simply resize and print them from your computer and cut them out with manicure scissors. Glue them onto your page where you need a nostalgic embellishment!
  4. Create frames or borders from the images. Many vintage postcards and greeting cards were designed with fanciful decorative borders. Resize and print them on your computer, cut out the center, and you have an ornate vintage frame for your photos or text.
  5. Use vintage written sentiments as inspiration for your journaling. Long before Hallmark, Victorian-era postcards were created for all occasions (even Leap Year) with snippets of poetry and flowery sentiments. Incorporate these texts and artwork into your scrapbook page for a touching message from the past.
  6. Borrow the colors from an image to set the palette for your scrapbook page. Choose an image that attracts you with colors, bright or subdued, or even a striking black and white or sepia-tone photo. Use those colors and shades in your background, matting and texts to create a harmonized, coordinated look.
  7. Alter vintage images with paint, ink, rubber stamping or other treatments. "Altered art" is both fun and trendy. Take a basic image and add your own touches with paint, foil, cutting, folding, stamping, embossing, burning – pretty much anything. What you add and how you do it can make an image comical, provocative or nostalgic. When in doubt – it looks – put butterfly wings on a baby photo.
  8. Let your personal photos "interact" with vintage images. Find a vintage photo or illustration that fits your theme – perhaps a picture of a laid Santa. Now, size and cut out a silhouette of your child, and place her on Santa's lap. Or, start with a vintage beach scene, with everyone posing in long-legged bathing dresses. Add your daughter to the lineup in her bikini. You are limited only by your dexterity with scissors or your prowess with your computer's graphics software.

These eight ideas are just a start. Virtually any scrapbooking technique can be applied to vintage images. Happy scrapping!