The Wild, Wonderful World of Embellishments

Bring beauty, texture, and excitement to your scrapbook pages

Welcome to the most fun part of scrapbooking. Here's a look at some of the most popular kinds of decorative embellishments that you can use to jazz up your scrapbook.

Decorative embellishments bring beauty, texture, and excitement to your pages. Adding them is undoubtedly the most fun part of scrapbooking. A visit to a scrapbooking or craft store can dazzle you with an almost overwhelming selection of goodies. They’re hard to resist. It is convenient and time saving to have a large assortment of things at home, but it’s better on your budget and storage space if you buy embellishments only when you need them.

What’s available and how do you use them? I won’t attempt to be encyclopedic in my list– there are just too many, and new products are constantly being introduced. So, in alphabetical order, I’ll talk about the most popular embellishments, and in other articles, you’ll see how they are used in scrapbook layouts.

Clockwise from lower left: covered slide mount, foam letters, tags, metal accents, fibers, crafters chalks, decorative mesh metal frames.

Beads. Small beads can be strung together and used as borders or frames. Micro beads are extremely tiny, holeless beads. A good way to use microbeads is to cover an area with adhesive and then sprinkle it with these beads for sparkle.

Brads. Brads for crafters are a far cry from those round brass ones in office-supply stores. You’ll find large ones, small ones, tiny ones; colored ones, sparkly ones, and ones in countless shapes: penguins, flowers, coffee cups, butterflies– you name it. You can use them to attach things, of course, but rows and clusters of them add a decorative touch. Pierce the paper first so you won’t wrinkle the paper..

Buttons. These make cute decorations, either singly or clustered together. And they come in hundreds of shapes other than round. You can sew them or glue them to the background. If the button has a plastic shank, you can clip it off with a shank-remover tool.

Charms. You know them from charm bracelets, but they can add a "charming" note to a page. Charms for scrapbooks are not made of precious metals, but they are just as lovely when hung from a bit of ribbon or glued to the page.

Chipboard. Chipboard, a thick paper made of pressed fibers often found in packages of paper products, is now very popular for scrapbooking. It comes in a variety of colors and innumerable shapes, including letters and words. You can paint it, rubber-stamp on it, sand the edges to distress it, cover it with decorative paper, and embellish it with all manner of products. You can also buy it in sheets and cut your own accents out of it.

Colorants. Acrylic paints, watercolors, sprays, chalks, markers, pens, and crayons can embellish the embellishments or enhance the background paper. Many of them are available in metallics or with sparkly bits of mica in them. Decorative chalks are specially made for paper crafts and can be sponged on to give just the right color you want on a blank piece of paper. Press a sheet of paper over your work when you are done or use a spray fixative so the color won’t rub off. Markers and pens are indispensable for adding decorative lines and for journaling. You can also use markers on rubber stamps to print multicolored images.

Corners. Little and big, triangular mounting corners can add interest to the corners of your photos or pages. Buy them or make your own in colors and patterns.

Diecuts. These are pieces of chipboard or cardstock cut into a variety of shapes and borders. You can enhance plain ones with colorants or by covering them with decorative paper.

Eyelets. You need a special setter to attach these small metal rings that come in a multitude of colors. Use them wherever you want a circular embellishment, such as the center of a flower, or line up a row of them to make a border.

Fibers. Think fancy yarn. You can use long lengths of to create borders, smaller pieces just as accents, wrap diecuts with them, or hang embellishments from them. The color range is unbounded.

Clockwise from lower left: eyelets, brads, paper and fabric flowers, stickers, sequins, alphabet stickers, rub-ons, glitter glue.

Flowers. We’re talking flowers on various sizes, made of paper, fabric, chipboard, and other materials. Their colors can resemble nature’s, or they can be unreal or even patterned. You can buy them or make them yourself. A nice touch is to attach them to the background with a colorful brad or eyelet in the center

Frames. Little frames, not the ones you hang on your wall, can fit around a photo or block of journaling in your scrapbook to add emphasis or just be pretty. You’ll find them in metal, paper, and chipboard. Or make them yourself. If you have 35mm slides that are not worth saving, don’t throw them out. Remove the film and cover the mount with paint, fibers, or decorative paper for unique frames. If you never shot slides, you can buy plastic mounts at Adorama.

Game pieces. Puzzle pieces and small pieces from games make playful additions to the appropriate pages. Some are available in craft stores; others you’ll find at garage sales – or in your own attic.

Glitter. Ohh, I love glittery, sparkly things. Glitter is a chopped metallic- plastic material. Some varieties have very fine particles, others have coarser particles. Apply it to a thin layer of adhesive or double-sided tape. For fine lines and dots of glitter, there are squeezable bottles filled with glitter that is already mixed with glue. Similar to glitter are other products that produce glittery accents; look for crushed glass and mica flakes. The color range of glitters is fabulous.

Gold leaf. This is really not gold, but these ultrathin sheets and flakes look almost as regal as the real thing and are affordable. In addition to gold, they’re available in silver, copper, and variegated colors. To apply, spread down a thin layer of adhesive; when it’s almost dry, place down the leaf, and brush it firmly and gently with a brush, saving the excess to reuse. Turn off your air conditioner because the slightest breeze will send the tissue-thin pieces flying all over the room.

Letters. Often referred to as "alphas," stickers, rub-ons, die cuts, punched, stamped or dimensional–letters are available in many forms to be used in creating titles and journaling.

Mesh. Mesh for crafters is comes in many colors and several weaves. Some brands are self-adhesive. You can cut it, emboss it, glitter it, and punch it to add texture to your pages. It’s available in rolls and sheets.

Metal. There are all sorts of little metal things you can use to add a clever bit of dimension. I mentioned frames and brads, but how about safety pins, staples, hair clips, flattened bottle caps, and tiny hinges– some from the craft store, some from other places? Try the hardware store and grab some metal tape or an assortment of washers. Metal can be colored with alcohol inks or markers, To protect your photographs, make sure a heavy embellishment does not come in contact with a photo on the facing page.

Punchies . Funny word, but that’s what they call the shaped pieces you get when you punch shapes out of paper.

Rhinestones. If you love bling as much as I do, you’ll love rhinestones. Some are self adhesive, some need a drop of glue, some are diamond-clear, some are colored, some are large, some are small; all make a page sparkle.

Ribbon. Plain or fancy, ribbons can be used as borders, frames around photos, cris-crossed across the page, or used to suspend charms. Although the range of colors is fantastic, you can make a custom color by coloring a white ribbon with a marker.

Rub Ons. Why are they called "rub ons"? Because they are images that you transfer to your surface by rubbing with a popsicle stick or something similar. They come as letters and graphic designs, and the result is that they look just like they were printed on the page.

Sequins (a.k.a. spangles) are shiny plastic , usually round but now in many shapes, colors, sizes.

Stickers. You name a theme and you’ll find stickers to illustrate it. Flat or dimensional, brightly colored or translucent, matte or metallic– stickers have to be the most popular and plentiful of all embellishments. Use them as accents, frames, or borders– or to hide mistakes.

Tags. Tags are definitely the "in" thing in scrapbook embellishments. You can use them for journaling and titles. They can act as picture frames. You can even decorate them with other embellishments. However you use them, they add zest to a page.

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