I’ve tried out a few different brands of albums and page protectors this year for Project Life, and there’s been a pretty big difference in quality between the products. I’m just popping in to give you a quick rundown of what I liked and disliked about the different options, and to tell you the plan for 2013.
Last year, I decided to slowly switch all of my scrapbooking albums from post-bound albums to D-ring albums, which have a three-ring binder mechanism. (Here are explanations of the different kinds of albums if you’re not familiar with them.) I started out this year in Project Life using an American Crafts 12-Inch by 12-Inch D-Ring Modern Scrapbooking Album. That wasn’t the best album choice. These Modern albums have a cloth spine, but bare chipboard covers. I loved that look, but didn’t think about the fact that not finishing the chipboard meant that it would stain super easily. I’ll fix that with a coat of Mod Podge or something eventually. But the albums still aren’t doing all that great: the corners are bending and fraying and some of the beginning pages have gotten bent back. But overall, they’ve been sturdy (especially considered how much they’ve been worked with) and the D-Rings are still working perfectly (I was worried about switching to D-ring because I didn’t want them to get off track). This leads me to belive that it’s just the chipboard that’s the problem: the American Crafts Cloth D-Rings and the American Crafts Leather D-Rings are probably just fine (leave a comment if you’ve used them!)
When I’d filled up the American Crafts binders I already had on hand, I decided to try the Project Life Black Signature Binder. Oh man, I love it. I love that it’s clean and classic, so it will look good as part of my home decor. I love the subtle black-on-black pattern. I love that the corners have metal covers on them to prevent fraying (though Jonas did get one of those corners off, so I might have to end up gluing them on). I love that they have a spot on the spine for a label. I love whatever it is that they’re covered with (vinyl?). It’s smooth and pretty. And I love that there’s a little plastic piece on the inside that prevents your pages from bending back (very important). If everything keeps going as it has been, I’ll be married to these albums forever. Also I’d assume that any of the D-Rings We R Memory Keepers albums are awesome, as they’re the company producing the PL albums.
One thing to consider, however, when comparing price points, is that most albums come with 10 or so 12 x 12 page protectors, but the Project Life binders don’t come with any (presumably because the people using them are using a wide variety of page protector types).
Next year I’ll be going with the Seafoam Edition binder. I’m actually going with the Seafoam Edition everything: it’s perfect. Anyway, the plan is to buy a whole bunch more Black and Seafoam albums and alternate the colors by year. So the (probably 2) 2011 albums will be Seafoam, the three (or four!) albums for 2012 will be Black, 2013 will Seafoam, etc. My bookshelf will be so pretty! Now if only they had a grey album too. Maybe I’ll grab a few of the We R Faux Leather 3-Ring Binder 12″X12″-Charcoal Grey albums too, for past years? Hmmmm.
Pocketed Page Protectors
The page protectors are the central part of Project Life: using pocketed page protectors has really revolutionized the way I keep memories. I’m finding myself more and more focused on documenting life and less and less focused on scrapbooking stuff. And I love that. It’s my favorite. But here’s something that’s really really important: not all page protectors are created equal.
I have a lot of American Crafts 12-Inch by 12-Inch Horizontal Photo Protectors because they were on clearance at my local scrapbooking store for 75% off last year. So I bought like, all of them. I intended on using them to organize my old and heritage family photos, and I will be using them on that… eventually. I’ve been using them pretty frequently throughout the year for Project Life just because they’re on-hand, but they’re my least favorite. They reflect terribly (it’s so hard to take photos of them without getting awful glare!) and they are a lot thinner. They are also kind of flimsy; when you flip through the album, they bend at the center and sort of get “stuck” and folded in half. Which is weird, because the American Crafts 6-Inch by 12-Inch Page Protectors are just fine.
I think that the pocketed page protectors have problems because of how they are designed. Most pocketed page protectors only have pockets on the front side of the protector, so you have to slip in the elements for the front of the page and the back of the page in back-to-back. For these, you slip in the photos for the front in the front and the photos for the back in the back. I think that using all of that extra plastic is what causes these to be lower quality: because there are more plastic layers, the plastic is thinner and of lower quality. I should also note that the pockets are on the 4 inch side of the pockets in the center, so you slip them in horizontally instead of vertically. I don’t know if anyone cares about that, but it’s not something that’s mentioned in the product descriptions and it matters if you like to have tabs on the tops of your photos that stick of of the page protectors.
I also tried out some We R Memory Keepers Multi Packs of page protectors. I was pretty impressed with the quality, but some of the layouts for the multi-pack are kind of weird. And you slip into some of the pockets from the top and some of them from the side, which is also strange. I’ve had some problems with things falling out of the pockets that have the openings on the sides. I always have to attach my photos in for some of the designs, which is pretty frustrating. But the clarity and plastic quality is good.
Saving the best for last, let’s talk about the Project Life Page Protectors. They’re my favorite, even though I didn’t start off the year with many. Now that there are SO MANY OPTIONS, I’m married to these too. The quality is almost identical to We R Memory Keepers (which makes me wonder if they’re the manufacturer for the page protectors as well as the albums), but I haven’t had any run ins with from-the-side pockets (though some of the designs could feature those). I’m planning on using primarily these for 2013 (though I’ll be using up some of the American Crafts and We R Memory Keeper protectors that are left over). I’ll probably be using a lot of Design A, Design C, the Small Variety Pack 2, and the 6 x 12 . I’m pretty excited about it.
Oh, and I’m also super excited that this stuff will all be available in physical stores next year! I’m glad that I’ll be able to cut out shipping costs AND support my local economy! Wahoo!
What products have you been using? What do you like / dislike about them?