Marie-Pierre Capistran used a series of “small and versatile” gems as bullet points for her list journaling.

“Small and versatile” embellishments–like buttons, gems, brads, epoxies, and beads–are great for grounding and adding bits of color or texture to your scrapbook page.

These versatile “bits” go with most subjects because they’re meaning neutral. In other words, while a brown button tied with floss will set a “cozy” tone, it’s not going to trigger thoughts of freedom or loyalty or anything “deep.”

Another reason these embellishments work with a variety of subjects and other themed elements is that they’re available in lots of colors and looks (shiny, distressed, modern, old-fashioned).

Use small and versatile elements for:


Use Buttons individually, in clusters, in series, and in combination with other embellishments.

On “Bloom,” Jennifer Matott wanted to use embellishments to simulate the look of scattered seeds.

She began by punching “confetti” with a dotted border punch by EK Success. (Tip: spray adhesive worked great to glue these down since it dries without much stickiness if used lightly.)

Jennifer added sprinkled buttons to her design for repetitions with variety — they’re circular like the confetti, but larger and with more depth and texture.

Bloom by Jennifer Matott | Supplies: Buttons: Crate Paper Papers: Authentique Letters: Making Memories & American Crafts Thickers Tag Punches: EK Success & Martha Stewart (butterfly)

Katie Scott blocked out photos, journaling and a quilted rectangle for “1974.” (She’d actually made the quilted block ahead of time with no plan for a specific topic because she liked the trendy look of the technique.)

Because the quilt reminded Katie of her Grandma’s quilts and time spent with her Grandma in the 70s, Katie pulled out photos from that time, settling on one of her dad and herself playing a board game.

The quilting and the homey subject made stitched-down buttons a fitting embellishment. Five buttons — each in a different color — are aligned alongside the list journaling and act as bullet points. Katie stitched the buttons down with Xs made with brown embroidery, another touch that fits with the quilted look and the nostalgic subject.

1974 by Katie Scott | Supplies: Basic Grey & Jillibean Soup 6×6 patterned paper pads; square punch; buttons from October Afternoon; white cardstock; brown fine tip Sharpie; machine stitching; ribbon; American Crafts number stickers and pencil to outline them.


Brads provide a tidiness you don’t always get with buttons. Accent scallops on a journaler, paper, or border. Add a realistic detail to an image. Dot an “i.” Outline a shape or part of a shape.

Debbie placed a series of three brads (three is a magic number in design) at top right on “J.” These brads ground the scallops to the page, add contrast, and repeat the metal of the larger embellishment at bottom left.

J by Debbie Hodge | Supplies: Findings by Jenn Allyson; Petals by Sara Gleason; Alpha Set 5, Burlap Scraps, ArtPlay Snow Fun by Anna Aspnes; Chasing Fireflies by Paislee Press; Bollywood Dreams by ViVa Artistry

Because of the many layers on “A Brand New Hobby,” Sue Althouse took a simple but intentional approach using just a few “small and versatile” embellishments.

Brads placed at top left and bottom right fasten small tags to the page and establish a downward diagonal path for the eye.

The three wooden buttons emphasize the theme of the layout and are placed in a series at the bottom of one photo, grounding it to other elements.

A Brand New Hobby by Sue Althouse | Supplies: Cardstock – Bazzill; Patterned Paper, Stickers, Tags, Brads – Echo Park; Chipboard Letters and Buttons – American Crafts; Ink – Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink; Sewing Floss – My Mind’s Eye

Debbie lined up a series of three small embellishments centered with her journaling and title blocks. Two brads, a punched circle and a button provide repetitions of the circle shape and the color yellow — with variety.

One Way by Debbie Hodge | Thankful for You by Jenn Barrette and Zoe Pern; Slab Alpha by Cathy Zielske; Brad Bonanza 3 by Pattie Knox; Metal Monogram Alpha 2, Clipped Stacks No 4 by Katie Pertiet; Multilayered Fotoblendz 1 by Anna Aspnes

Gems, rhinestones, and sequins

Use gems, rhinestones, and sequins for sparkle and fun. Use a single gem or sequin for a precise and eye-catching detail. Fill an area with gems. Sprinkle rhinestones on a random path. Place bling along the outline of a shape

Leah Farquharson sprinkled tiny sequins and gems on “Yeah, I Sew.” Their path leads the eye into the beginning of the title and connects each of the clusters on the page.

Yeah I Sew by Leah Farquharson | Supplies: Background created using an acrylic paint wash technique. Supplies: patterned paper, foam letters: American Crafts. Tape: Echo Park. Transparency: Hambly Screenprints. Vintage bits, and random stuffs: Gauche Alchemy. Background white corrugated paper: Gauche Alchemy.

Deborah Wagner used ready-made digital swirls of rhinesonts on this page about the “daring” toenail color here daughter persuaded her to try. She likes the girly glitz they add to the layout.

Mother-Daughter Moment by Deborah Wagner | Supplies form Designer Digitals: Katie Pertiet: Photo Journal Clusters No. 2, Pelican Park Kit, Alandia Tropics Kit, Water Photo Masks No. 1, Cloudscape Brushes No. 1, Photo Corners No. 3; Patty Knox: Gemstone Swirls Puttin on the Glitz; Mindy Terasawa: Pink Florale Paper Pack; Lynn Grieveson: Totally Trashed – Windswept Paper Pack; Ali Edwards: Family Hand-Drawn Brushes.

Michelle Houghton scrapbooked a series of “sparkler” shots even though they were not great shots of the people involved. She used a better group shot as her focal point photo, emphasizing it with a detailed hand-doodled frame. She topped many of the stars in the hand-doodled frame with gems for punches of color and to emphasize the “glittery” nature of sparklers.

Fireworks by Michelle Houghton | Supplies: Cardstock – Bazzill and Kraft Patterned paper and journal spot – Cosmo Cricket Foam letters – American Crafts Thickers Ink pens – Sharpie and American Crafts Rhinstones – Darice

Marie-Pierre Capistran made “Remember Being 3 is” as a part of bigger project called “All About Arielle.”

She wrote a list, using rhinestones as bullet points, of what happened during Arielle’s 3rd year of life, including: sleep in mommy’s bed, start pre-school, learn english, watch Jake, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse and Doc McStuffins, not wanting to go to bed, fall all the time and get up saying “I’m all right”, cut your own hair yourself and much much more.

With so much journaling on the page, Marie-Pierre left a white frame around the bigger picture to emphasize it.

Remember Being 3 by Marie-Pierre Capistran | Supplies: Paper: My minds eye – Life Stories; some red glitter paper. Alpha: AC Thickers Niki Riki; Making Memories shimmer alpha; rub-ons O’Barbo typewriter alpha Gems: Queen&co. Rhinestones yellow Stamp: date stamp punch: SU! hearts Labels: 7 Gypsies mini label stickers


Audrey Tan  wanted a fun and playful look on this page about her son loving holding a classmate’s dog. She sprinkled  beads over the flatter blended photo and brushwork to add to the whimsical look.

Sweet! by Audrey Tan | Supplies: Anna Aspnes: ArtPlay Palette Epic, Kriss Kross Stitched Overlays No1, Artsy Clocks No4 & Urban Talk Damage No1 Dido Designs: Notion Set Tangie Baxter: AJC11 Parcel 30 Font: Happy Hanneke


A mix of small and versatile embellishments

Amy Kingsford combined beads, brads, and flowers to make a scattering on top of the white brushwork on Together. They add dimension to the flat brushwork. She added three dark purple buttons, placing them to create a visual triangle that frames her photo.

Together by Amy Kingsford | Supplies: Passionflower Collab by Danielly Young and Brine Designs, Note to Self Add-On by Biografitti, Billet Doux Alpha by One Little Bird Design and Brad by HGD by Laurie Ann.

Keep your small and meaning-neutral embellishments close at hand for adding color, contrast, flow and interest to your pages. They work great alongside themed embellishments and on their own.