Why I Love Brads

Taken right out of the office and brought into the world of paper crafting, brads have quickly become a staple embellishment for craft projects. So what is it about these little paper fasteners that paper crafters just can't get enough of? I love brads because everything about them is completely versatile.

Using Brads 101
Never used a brad before? No problem! Here’s a quick tutorial:

To make inserting a brad super simple, start by punching or poking a hole in your project wherever you'd like to add the brad. For mini brads, a 1/16" hole punch works great, and for larger brads, a 1/8" hole punch should do the trick.

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Next, insert the brad prongs into the hole, turn the project over and spread the prongs apart on the back side. The spread prongs will hold the brad in place on your project.

And now, onto the wonders of brads!

From mini brads to Great Big Brads, brads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all perfectly sized for any paper craft you can dream up. Regardless of the size of your project (a handmade card, an 8"x8" or 12"x12" scrapbook page, a sarabinder™, handmade calendar or any other project) brads are a totally versatile embellishment because they're never so big that they overwhelm the project. Even at 22mm wide, Great Big Brads look fabulous on small crafts like cards and tags. Rather than having to spend extra money buying different embellishments for different projects, stocking up your collection of supplies with a few packages of brads (at just a few dollars per pack) will give you a variety of accents that will work with all your paper crafts.

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scrapbook project
Primary mini brads attach a tag, a journaling block, and even a 12"x12" overlay to this adorable page. The overlay was attached by placing a mini brad in the centers of the letter "o" found throughout the printed overlay border.

Not only do brads make fabulous little decorative accents on your paper crafts, they're functional, too! Place brads anywhere on your project for added color, metallic shine and dimension, or use them to hold elements on your page. Brads are great for securing tags, overlays, silk flowers, ribbons and even photos to your project. Just insert the brad through the embellishment or photo, then create a hole on your project wherever you'd like to attach it. Insert the brad through the hole and spread apart the prongs on the back side of the project to hold the embellishment or photo in place.

Think brads only come in round shapes and basic colors? No way! Scrapbook supply manufacturers are always coming up with new shapes, styles, colors and sizes of brads. From basic gold round brads to brads painted with adorable patterns, from wire brads to brads shaped like hearts, stars, trees, animals and more, you're guaranteed to find just the right size, color and shape of brad to accent any theme you're working with. And to make it super easy to add buttons to your project (without having to break out the needle and thread!), don't forget to check out all 10 colors of new Button Brads.

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scrapbook project
Sanded and inked Great Big Brads, sanded white embossed brads and inked navy brads add shabby chic charm to this masculine layout.

Another reason brads are so versatile? They're perfect to use right out of the package, but you can also customize and personalize them with cool altering techniques!

Sanding. Sanding the top of a brad will give it a well-worn, scuffed look, perfect for embellishing shabby chic and vintage projects. To sand the top of a brad, hold an emery board or a small piece of fine-grade sandpaper in your dominant hand and hold the brad by the prongs in the other hand. Lightly rub the emery board or sandpaper up and down, side to side or in circles around the edges or on the top surface of the brad. Sanding a metallic brad will give it a dull, scuffed look while sanding a painted brad will also give it a scuffed look and expose the color of the metal underneath.

Inking. Since brads are made of metal, you'll need to use an ink pad made for inking non-porous surfaces like a StazOn. To ink the edges of a brad, set the ink pad on a flat surface and hold the brad by the prongs, then touch the edge of the brad to the ink pad and roll the brad across the ink pad to ink all the way around the edges. To ink to the top of a brad, place the ink pad on a flat surface and hold the brad by the prongs, then dab the top of the brad onto the ink pad until you reach the desired effect. Since Great Big Brads are larger than other brads, they're also great for stamping on. Insert the brad into a piece of scratch paper and lay it on a flat surface before stamping. Then, select your favorite letter, number or small image stamps, ink them with an ink pad like a StazOn, then lightly press the stamp onto the top surface of the brad.

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Rub-Ons. One of the coolest new innovations in the world of brads isn't even a brad at all! Did you know you can use rub-ons on metal brads? Just insert the brad into a piece of scratch paper and lay it on a flat surface. Cut out a rub-on to fit on top of the brad, peel away the rub-on's protective liner and lay the rub-on on top of the brad. Use a craft stick to transfer the rub-on onto the surface of the brad, then add the customized brad anywhere on your project!

So if you're looking for inexpensive embellishments that do double-duty as a decorative accent and a functional way to attach elements to your projects, look no further than brads! They're easy to use, easy to experiment with, and you're sure to love all the dimension and color they add to your paper crafts.

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