I’ve been messing around in the world of smashbooks since February and I love them. I recently got a ditto book and decided to do a comparison post.
I love scrapbooking, but personally I think it’s a little bit on the pricey side, and I’m not really a fan of all the digital layouts that seem to be all the rage in the scrap world. I like to do things by hand (and cheaply). I know that it’s really just a more expensive initial investment and once you get all the tools needed you don’t have to spend quite as much money, but man… the cool stuff costs a lot. I also was one of those girls who liked to cut out pictures, words, horoscopes, etc from my piles of teen and seventeen and (dare I say it) Tiger Beat and paste them in my diaries, or decorate the covers of them, or whatever. (In keeping with all the great traditions, when I did this in high school, I used a composition notebook filled with song lyrics and angsty poetry.)
The SMASH line:
- they are reasonably inexpensive. the regular sized album is under $20 and comes pre-bound with patterned/printed paper, matched to the ‘theme’ of the book (doodle, eco, international, pretty, retro, etc). The pages sometimes include prompts (there’s a top ten page in every regular sized book I’ve seen so far) and lined paper (for angsty poetry, of course).
- cute accessories which are also reasonably inexpensive. K & Company seems to release new products at somewhat regular intervals, including accessories, though there have been several new albums since I got my first one in February.
- I am in love with the pen/glue stick combo on the side. I like having it right there whenever I need it for anything, and the glue holds well and I honestly wish I had about a dozen pens with that tip. K&Co also made a blue pen/stick and a pink pen/stick for those times when you need a little color in your life, BUT I always take caution when I’m using those because the colors are a bit pale and hard to see sometimes.
- other than the first page (I’m one of those people who never wants to use the first page of a notebook/journal because it’s the first page) I like how easy it is to work around the prompts on a page. For instance, I’m working on a vacation smashbook right now in the blue retro book, and I love the “favorite things” page, the “we’re outta here” page, and the “food” pages because they make it easy to work around (my vacation was in New Orleans, and having so many food pages makes me feel less like a total fattie when I’m sorting through the 20-some-odd pictures of food I somehow ended up with).
- I literally want to carry my smashbook around and show it to everyone. Okay, maybe not everyone (because even though there are magazine clippings and receipts and not a lot else, it seems, it’s still personal) but I like to show it off. Just like a scrapbook. A cheap, every day scrapbook. Which is just exactly what it was designed to be, and exactly what I want when I go down the scrapbooking aisle at a craft store.
- Most of my “scrapping budget” (I use both terms very loosely) goes to stickers and random stuff I find in the clearance section at Michaels. I have splurged on 2 sets of alphabet stamps and a stamp pad. The rest is literally stickers, stickers, and stickers, and stamps and glitter glue that came from the $1 bin. Occasionally I’ll find something in there that’s like, tags, or brads, or decorative borders, and that’s fine. I think I have a set of cards with a circus print that are blank on the inside because they were 50 cents. And I use them. And there is absolutely zero guilt because I’m not trying to produce an award winning page.
- And finally, there is no page layout here. Traditional scrapping always seems to involve this—a preliminary little sketch and carefully picking and choosing all ephemera and making sure that it’s all pleasing and you don’t have a big glob of stuff up in the top corner and a bare spot somewhere else. I put stuff where I want to put stuff and I don’t sit and plan it out.
The ditto line:
- still reasonably inexpensive, but a little pricier than the smashbooks seem to be. for $10 you get a three-ring binder made of chipboard in either 8”x8” or 8.5”x11”. Add $15 and you get just under 100 pieces of journaling inserts (72 journal pages, 12 photo insert pages, 12 envelopes, and 2 sticker sheets). And they are journal pages, so there isn’t a lot of design to them. 12 of them are a calendar on the front and lined on the back, 12 have a to-do list on the front and a small blank box for ideas and doodles on the back, and 12 are just lined like notebook paper. I got the 8.5x11 set so I can only comment on those, but they are just brown and white, but reasonably thick. I use sharpies, and they don’t bleed through.
- there aren’t as many accessories, but on the plus side, the 8x8 pages can be used in an 8.5x11 size book and vice versa. What accessories they do have are cute (I got some zippered bags and they work well), but can get pricey (I also ordered an 8x8 set of additional journal pages, paid almost $10 and got 12 sheets of paper).
- There is no pen/glue stick combo on the side. Unfortunately this is a huge downside, as I have been totally spoiled by that pen/stick thing. This is actually the reason why I got the zippered pouches, so I could carry a bunch of colored sharpies with me when I take the journal somewhere.
- There aren’t any prompts or anything on the pages, which makes it feel a little more intimidating. I look at all the lines and I think, what is there to write about today? And that’s a little bit of a buzzkill. Since it’s still reasonably pretty I feel somewhat guilty about putting negative things in there, which really sucks when, say, you’re sick for a week and can’t really think of anything but “holy crap my brain is leaking out of my ears.” It’s just lines. I haven’t pasted a whole lot in there yet because I am still smashing regularly and save all of my receipts and things for those books, BUT I like having the calendar right there and sometimes write totally silly things in the squares, like “there was a thunderstorm today!” (which feels rare in Oklahoma) or “we went to the flea market!” It’s like one-sentence journaling for when I don’t feel like writing a novel, and I really like that.
- I… kind of don’t want to show this to anyone. I carry it with me almost every day, but I hide it from people and sometimes just leave it out in my car because it seems so much more personal. It’s my journal, even though a lot of the stuff I put in it isn’t personal, it automatically makes it secret and sacred or something.
- “Scrapping budget” for this has been relatively zero outside of the initial money I spent on the book, pages and zipper pouches. I had to buy a single hole punch, because the holes on the album aren’t sized for a three-ring binder hole punch. I stick a lot of “stuff” in there, and in fact this is one of the reasons I ended up getting one in the first place—one thing it definitely has over the smash line is that I can add whatever I want, instead of having to cut it up, or tape it in, or add a folder or whatever. I just hole punch it and stick it in place.
- The pages don’t squeak when you turn them!! The binding on the smashbook makes the pages squeak from basically the first second you add anything, which annoys some people. It doesn’t bother me too much, except for the fact that I’m really worried I’m going to tear something out, but this is worth mentioning.
I wrote this, basically, because when I was trying to decide if I wanted a ditto I looked high and low for something like this to show me the differences between this and a smashbook. I honestly like them both, but I would recommend them to different people. I am a reasonably odd person in that I both enjoy the total freedom of the smashbook and at times I prefer the structure and simplicity of the ditto. I do wish the ditto had more stuff, and sometimes that I felt freer to glue stuff into my ditto, especially considering I feel a little funny spending what I did on a journal that is basically chipboard (something I could easily make myself if I didn’t work all day and had the time to do so) and not one of those fancy leather jobbers from B&N. My mind immediately made the comparison between the two and that’s why I had a hard time justifying the ditto when i have 7 or 8 smashbooks. But the truth is, they’re totally different products.
(If just one person got something out of this I will feel totally justified. LOL)