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Scrapbooker's Dictionary

Additional Articles
The scrapbooking world is full of new terms that you may not know. Read below to learn exactly what your fellow crafters are talking about when they're getting crafty!
Acetate. A synthetic filament, Yarn, or material derived from the acetic ester of cellulose, which doesn't mean much except to chemists. But for scrapbookers it?s important to note that this substance causes photographs and documents to deteriorate and fade. Tri-acetates are archival; di-acetates are not. 

Acid. Acids are substances that have pH value of less than 7. When paper is made it uses chemicals that are acidic. Over time, these chemicals cause paper to "yellow" or "brown" and ruin photographs.

Acidic. A term used when something contains acid or has a pH level lower than 7.0.

Acid-free. Often used as a compound adjective "acid-free" and the mantra of serious scrapbookers. If a product is acid-free, technically it means it has a pH value of less than 7.0, but more importantly, it means that it won't ruin photographs or cause paper fibers to disintegrate, become brittle, crack, or turn "brown." See alkaline.

Acid migration. Acid can migrate from acidic materials to non-acidic or pH neutral materials through direct contact or indirectly from gases produced by the acidic materials. For example, storing scrapbook pages in acidic albums can cause damage to the pages from the gases emitted by the covers. Greater and quicker damage comes from placing pages or photos in direct contact with paper, cardstock, ink or adhesives that are not acid-free. Paper can become acidic over time if it is not buffered.

Acrylics. A particular family of plastics important to the archival process because of the low-or non-existent acidity, and because they are very stable, light-weight, weather-resistant, and colorfast, and can be made transparent. In other words, scrapbookers want page protectors and other materials made from acrylic substances and not vinyl. Acrylics can also refer to a type of paint. When dry, acrylics are water-resistant and permanent. They're easy to work with and you mix them with water to use. 

Adhesive. Glue, paste, tape or other substance that causes things to stick together.

Alkaline. Substances that have a pH level of more than 7.0 are alkaline and are the opposite of acidic. Paper products having a high alkaline content are more permanent and durable.

Archival. Used to denote that a material is permanent, durable, chemically stable or long-lasting, and can therefore be safely used for preservation of photos, writing, etc. The term is also sometimes used to mean "acid-free." Unfortunately, there are no standards to determine how durable or how "permanent" an item is that is designated "archival." The term also refers to storage procedures that are reversible and do not permanently alter an item. So, scrapbookers ideally use only those items that are archival for their albums so that they will last a very, very long time.

Bond (or writing) paper. A superior variety of paper used primarily for journals, histories, genealogy, letters, and in computer printers and copy machines.

Buffer. An alkaline substance [generally calcium carbonate (CaCO3)] added to the paper to make it acid-free.

Buffered. A term used in the paper industry indicating that an alkaline filler has been added during the paper-making process, which makes the paper acid-free. It also increases the smoothness of the paper surface, improves brightness and opacity, and helps prevent ink from feathering. The alkaline reserve in the paper helps absorb any acid found in items mounted on it (such as a birthday card), thereby protecting the photos from possible corruption from the acidic item. Some experts disagree about the efficacy of buffering and the possibility that it may affect the stability of color photos.

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The primary filler added in the paper-making process that makes paper acid-free. Hurray for CaC03!

Cardstock (cover paper). A general term for heavier papers commonly used for the covers of catalogs and brochures, and frequently used in scrapbooking. The correct term for heavier-weight paper is cover paper. Scrapbookers usually prefer to use cardstock (cover paper) because of its texture and weight.

Carrier. The liquid that makes the ink flow out of a pen.

CD-ROM. A compact disc that can store large amounts of digitized photographs and data files.

Cellulose-nitrate negative. A negative film used prior to 1950.

Chlorophenal red. A chemical that indicates the pH of paper (or if the paper is acid-free) when used in a pH test.

Coated paper. A paper with a finishing layer on one or both sides of the core sheet. This is done to improve its finish in terms of printability, color, smoothness, opacity, etc.

Colorfast. A pigment or dye that is resistant to environmental exposure, such as light, acid, heat and other atmospheric conditions. Scrapbookers use colorfast pens to preserve the journaling and other writing that they add to their albums.

Condensation. Humidity that is trapped and forms a vapor, causing mold, water stains and deterioration of stored valuables. Water damage, including that from condensation is highly dangerous to photos and album pages. Be sure to store your albums in dry areas and off of floors that may be humid or flooded.

Conservation. The care and treatment that attempts to stabilize items (such as paper documents, photographs, textiles or memorabilia) through chemical means or by strengthening items physically, which results in sustaining the items' survival for as long as possible in their original form. Scrapbookers aid in this process by securing their photos to pages with journaling about their contents.

Copy negative. A negative made by reproducing a photograph or reproducing flat artwork. The negative can then be used to make enlargements, reductions, or other prints.

Cover paper. A heavier paper that adds some stability to photographs without adding bulk to your book. See cardstock.

Cropping. Altering the boundaries of a finished photograph by trimming or masking the photograph.

Dark-storage life. Relating to the length of time photographic material will remain in its original condition before deteriorating.

Deacidification. An alkaline-salt process that raises the pH level in paper. It impregnates the paper with a high alkaline reserve and neutralizes existing acids while preventing the development of future acids.

Digital. A process that uses numerical digits to create a uniform picture on a computer.

Digital camera. A camera that creates a photograph in digital form.

Durability. An item's ability to resist the effects of wear and tear from use.

Dye. A colored substance (which is soluble) that is added to ink, paper and textiles. Generally speaking, dye colors are not permanent enough to be used for fine-art applications where long-term lightfastness is required. Scrapbookers usually prefer pigment-based inks for use in their albums.

Emulsion. The silver-gelatin image layer of the processed film.

Encapsulation. A safe process for protecting valuable newspaper articles and other paper documents.

Fiber-based paper (FB). A photographic paper used to develop black-and-white photographs. Because of the way it is made, fiber-based paper can have a 200-year life expectancy (if taken care of and processed correctly). Formerly, it was the standard type of photographic paper, but today, fiber-based paper is mainly used for fine-art black-and-white prints.

Fugitive dye. A dye that is not permanent. It will fade when exposed to light, run when water is applied and will transfer color to other items.

Groundwood pulp. A wood pulp produced by mechanically grinding logs. It is primarily used to make low-grade papers for newspapers and magazines. Under the best of conditions, these usually last no more than 25 years.

Hand tinting (hand coloring). The process of applying colors with oils or dyes to the surface of a black-and-white photograph, giving it the appearance of a colored photograph.

Humidity. The measurement of the moisture content of air.

Interleaving. An acid-free sheet that is placed between pages in a scrapbook (or in organizing) when no sheet protector is used. The sheet prevents a photo from touching another one, which could result in scratching and damage to the emulsion.

Lamination. The permanent bonding of two layers of plastic film to one or two sides of a flat item. This process is done by applying high heat and pressure (which makes it irreversible) and is not recommended for valuable items.

Lightfast. A term describing a material not affected or faded by sunlight, fluorescent tubes and light bulbs.

Lignin. The substance that gives plants and trees their strength and rigidity, and also binds wood fibers together. When wood is broken down to make paper, the lignin becomes unstable. Paper that contains large amounts of lignin, such as newsprint, is very acidic and will turn yellow when exposed to light and humidity. If paper containing lignin touches your photos, they too can turn yellow.

Lignin free. Often written lignan-free. To be considered lignin-free, paper can contain a maximum of one percent lignin.

Memory card. A card that stores information in an electronic format for digital cameras and small computers.

Migration. The transfer of chemicals to neighboring materials. Example: An acidic paper can make an item next to it acidic because the chemicals migrate.

Mylar D. An uncoated, clear, polyester plastic made by Dupont. It is chemically stable and does not release harmful gases. Mylar D is used in sheet protectors and photograph sleeves and is safe for encapsulation.

Neutral pH. The center reading of 7.0 on the pH scale of 0-14. It is neither acidic nor alkaline. For manufacturers, the acceptable pH neutral range is from 6.5-7.5.

Non-bleeding. A term that describes an ink that does not spread from the original mark on the paper's surface. Non-bleeding depends on both the degree of sizing in the paper and the use of solvents (other than water) in ink.

Non-migrating. A composition in a material that will not transfer or spread to a neighboring item.

Odorless. Having no odor. An odor may be a sign of a chemical breakdown. The emitted gas will speed up the deterioration of stored materials; therefore, most products used in preservation should be odorless. Note: The one exception is inks that use preservatives with a slight odor.

Opaque. Any substance or surface that will not allow any light to pass through. It is the opposite of transparent.

page protectors . Transparent plastic sheets used to display and protect pages. One of the primary staples of experienced scrapbookers. Caution: do not use vinyl page protectors ; they are acidic.

pH. A measurement of the degree of acidity and alkalinity. On a scale ranging from 0-14, pH 7.0 is neutral, above 7.0 is alkaline (or acid-free) and below 7.0 is acidic. The scale is a logarithmic progression, meaning 6.0 is 10 times more acidic than 7.0. pH can only be measured on water-soluble materials. Note: The letters "pH" come from the French words for "hydrogen power."

Permanence. A term referring to a material's ability to maintain its strength and color over an extended period of time (in some cases, several hundred years) without significant deterioration under normal use and storage conditions.

Permanent. A term describing materials that are chemically stable. Permanent materials are not prone to deterioration (either from internal chemical reactions or from reactions with the environment) under normal use and prudent storage conditions(i.e. not too hot or humid).

Photographic Processes. In studying color, there are two processes that you hear talked about, additive and subtractive. "Additive Color Process" uses the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue, to make other colors combining appropriate proportions of three primary colors. "Subtractive Color Process" removes all but the desired colors. This is done by passing light through a filter which subtracts all other colors.

Pigment. A dry, powdery agent that possesses color. A pigment will not adhere to a surface, so a binder is required to unite the pigment to paper. A pigment does not dissolve in liquid and all pigments of very high quality will endure indefinitely under proper conditions, although some may undergo loss of color if exposed to direct sunlight.

Plasticizer. An unsafe softening agent added in the manufacturing of plastics, adhesives, or paper to make them soft and flexible.

Polyester. A clear, inert, uncoated, strong plastic used in preservation procedures, to improve the wet and dry strength of an item. Polyester is used in making folders, book jackets and sheet protectors, and is also used for encapsulation. Common trade names are Mylar D and Melinex by Dupont.

Polyethylene. A flexible, chemically stable, naturally slippery plastic with little tendency to cling. It is normally manufactured without anti-block and slip agents. Polyethylene is used primarily in the manufacturing of photographic sleeves and poly bags. It can also be used to protect brittle paper, by placing the paper between two sheets of the film, then sealing it with double-sided adhesive tape around the edges.

Polypropylene. A clear, pliable, chemically stable plastic used in the manufacturing of photographic sleeves.

Polyvinyl acetate (PVA). A plastic with properties that cause photographs and documents to deteriorate and fade. Note: The pH-neutral glue called "PVA," which is commonly used for book binding and box making, is not suitable for use with photographs.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). An unstable plastic, generally called "vinyl" and "Naugahyde," that may exude oily plasticizers or emit corrosive and acidic hydrogen-chloride gas. It is easily identified by its strong plastic odor. Do not use sheet protectors, binders, photo enclosures, corners or any other product made from vinyl with your photographs, negatives and memorabilia.

Post-consumer waste. Paper that has been recovered following consumer use.

Pre-consumer waste. Paper that has been recovered following the paper-making process, but before being used by consumers.

Preservation. The act of stabilizing an item from deterioration by using the correct methods and materials designed to maintain the conditions and longevity of the item. We scrapbookers take this process very seriously, as well as having a lot of fun with it!

Pulp. A wet slurry of fibers and water that is the basic ingredient of paper.

Rag paper. Paper made from fibers of non-wood origin, including cotton rags, cotton linters, or cotton or linen pulp. Rag papers contain from 25 to 100 percent cotton-fiber pulp, making them durable and, if alkaline, permanent. It is a misconception that 100 percent rag is pH neutral.

Ream. A ream is 500 sheets of paper, regardless of the paper size or thickness.

Recycled paper. Paper that meets the minimum reclaimed-content standards established by federal, state and municipal governments, and the paper industry. Fiber content usually consists of post- and pre-consumer reclaimed fiber plus virgin pulp. The acidity of this paper can be determined by a pH testing pen.

Red eye. The bright pink or red color that can appear in the pupils of people or animals pictured in a photo when a flash is used.

Resin-coated paper (RC). A photographic paper with a water-resistant backing that absorbs less moisture than fiber-based photos, consequently reducing processing time.

Reversible. A preservation process or treatment that can be undone without changing the object, returning it to its original state.

Safety film. Film introduced in the 1950s that replaced the volatile cellulose-nitrate film. It is called safety film because it is made from an acetate base that is not flammable; it will melt but not burn.

Scanned image. An digital image that has been created by a computer scanner. This image can then be edited and placed on an Internet website to be viewed by others.

Sepia. A brownish color produced on photographs in the photographic process. The process of creating sepia ink pigment does use some acid. Because acid in ink is as detrimental to paper as acid is in the paper itself. Although sepia inks are reasonably permanent in dull light, they tend to fade rapidly when exposed to bright natural light.

Sizing. A coating applied to the paper surface that increases water resistance, eliminates abrasiveness and fuzz, and improves bonding strength.

Slipcase. An open-ended box that holds a binder. It serves to put contents in dark storage and protect them from dust and light.

Solvent. A substance that dissolves another substance to form a solution. Example: Water is a solvent for sugar.

Substrate. A surface or medium on which inks may be applied, such as paper, canvas or plastic.

Text paper. A general term for light-weight papers commonly used for stationery. Text paper is an uncoated printing paper of unusually high quality, available in a wide range of finishes and colors.

Transparency. A positive photographic image on a clear base film that has to be viewed on a light table or in a slide projector. (Commonly called a slide.)

Vinyl. See polyvinyl chloride.

Unbuffered. During the paper-making process, the buffering step is sometimes eliminated. If a buffer or alkaline compound is added during the paper-making process, the paper is acid-free (or alkaline). Some conservators state that buffering reacts with a photograph's top emulsion layer as well as with silk and wool textiles. When interleaving photographic materials, an unbuffered paper is preferred. Note: An unbuffered sheet is vulnerable to migrating, and atmospheric acids and pollutants.

USB Stick. A small external receptacle that you plug into the USB slot on your computer. This small "stick" looking device can hold and store digital photos, documents, songs, and more, safely.  

Water soluble. A substance that dissolves in water. Water-soluble inks are not suitable for permanent/archival use by scrapbookers.