Paper, scissors and glue...what we love about scrapbooking is the simple ease of returning to those familiar grade school supplies! Yet scrapbooking doesn’t have to be just paper, scissors and glue. There are also embellishments.
What do I mean by embellishments? They’re fun little decorative accents, often three-dimensional, like buttons, brads or ribbons. Why add them to a scrapbook page? Because embellishments lend style, personality and texture, and can take a simple scrapbook layout to a whole new level. I have to warn you, though: Embellishments are addictive!
The Safety Issue The first thing scrappers ask is whether embellishments are safe for scrapbook pages. No doubt you’re aware that whatever touches your pages should be acid-free and lignin-free to protect your photos.
I have a few photo-safe favorites when it comes to embellishments: Buttons, brads and fabric accents like ribbon and silk flowers. All of these items are acid-free…and because they’re not paper, you don’t have to worry about them containing lignin.
That said, the one thing you’ll want to be aware of with three-dimensional embellishments is impressions. Attach a button to one album page, close the album and the button will press into the facing page. Over time, this can make an impression on the facing page.
There are a couple of ways to deal with this. First, choose relatively flat embellishments. Ribbons are perfect for this—they add texture and dimension without the bulk. Second, I create my pages as double-page spreads, so when I plan out my layout I make sure the button on my left-hand page won’t press into the photo on my right-hand page (I don’t care so much if it presses into the paper or another embellishment). And finally, don’t overload your album with too many pages, or stack other books on top of a closed album. In fact, I recommend storing albums upright rather than stacking them flat.
Ready to take a look at some different types of embellishments and how you can use them? Let’s go!
Buttons are one of the most familiar objects in our daily lives...but who would have thought to attach them to a scrapbook page? Personally, I’m glad someone did!
Buttons add color, dimension and personality to a page. I love round, flat-back buttons in different shapes and colors. They’re simple and they go with lots of different page themes. “Flat-back” means the buttons are smooth on the back...they don’t have a bumpy “shank”.
How do you attach them to a page? Well, you can stitch them on but I rarely do that. Instead, I’ll thread embroidery thread or a very thin strip of paper just through the holes, then use a Glue Dot™ to attach the buttons to my paper. How can you use buttons? I like to place a group of three in a cluster at one corner of my photo, or add one at each corner of my page or photo. I often vary the sizes of the buttons on a page, grouping two large buttons with a third smaller button, or mix colors.
Brads are one of those great embellishments that are functional as well as decorative. You can use brads to secure layers of paper together. This works really well if you’re attaching a transparent overlay sheet to your background paper or adding vellum to a page. I also use them at the top of a tag or put one at each corner of my matted photo.
When attaching brads, use a 1/16" hole punch or the tip of your scissors or X-acto® knife to first poke a hole in your paper. Put the prongs of the brad through the hole and open up the prongs on the backside of the paper. Easy!
You can get brads in all shapes, colors and sizes. They’re inexpensive, which means you can stock up on brads shaped like flowers, hats, leaves, soccer balls, balloons, baby feet, hearts, music notes and more. And if you love the look of eyelets but don’t want to bother with hammering the eyelets into your paper, try the new eyelet brads—all you do is punch a hole, insert the brad and you have the look of an eyelet without the fuss!
Similarly, button brads are a fun way to get the look of a button with the ease of a brad. These are just metal buttons with a brad on the backside. You get the effect without stitching or using adhesive.
And because brads are metal, you can add a rustic touch to your page by lightly sanding the top of the brad. Yes, with plain old regular sandpaper! If the color is painted on the brad, you’ll see some of the silver metal underneath.
I love ribbon and use it a lot on my pages. Ribbons are soft, non-abrasive and really versatile...in fact, you can use ribbons on just about any page theme. Sheer ribbon is perfect for feminine pages while black or brown grosgrain looks really striking on a masculine or heritage page.
My favorite technique is to tie a knot in a piece of ribbon, then trim the tails at an angle (to prevent them from fraying) and use a Mini Glue Dot™ to secure the knot at the corner of a photo or next to my journaling. It’s a really fast, easy way to add a little something extra to my page. You can also wrap ribbon around a photo or around your page as a border, securing the ends of the ribbon to the backside of the photo or paper with tape.
Ribbon is easy to secure to your page with Mini Glue Dots™ or glue stick…any dry adhesive will work—but I’d avoid using a wet glue like a tacky glue because it will seep through the ribbon and get really messy. You can also attach ribbon with brads (make a tiny hole through the ribbon before securing it) or even staples or clips for an artsy look.
Silk flowers are really trendy right now and they’re so cute on scrapbook pages—especially spring themes, gardening pages or little girl layouts. Simply attach the flower with a brad and you’re good to go! You can also layer the flowers, placing a small flower on top of a larger one and securing them both to the page with a brad. If you’re feeling adventurous, try chalking or stamping on the flower for even more dimension.
While a single flower makes a stylish impact on a page, you can also create a border of three flowers in a row going down one side of the page or along the top and bottom for maximum impact.
Okay, are you inspired by embellishments yet? (I told you they were addictive!) Now, before you hop in the car and drive to the fabric store for buttons, the office supply store for brads and the craft store for flowers—stop! I have a great solution for you!
Rather than shop all over town for embellishments, try a pack like Hot Off The Press’ Embellish-abilities™. These sets contain loads of brads, flowers, buttons and ribbons, all color-coordinated with each other. There are four sets so far: Vintage, Classic, Citrus and Retro, and each one coordinates with a sarapapers™ collection too—so you can have matching embellishments and papers!