Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Using Brads

What is a brad?
A brad is a bit like the old style of paper fasteners, often used in stationary products and as an alternative way of securing envelopes. It’s a metal pin with two prongs going down its stem and the top can be coloured or decorative. Brads come in all shapes and sizes and are great to use on your scrapbook pages or within your handmade cards. They add colour, texture and charm to layouts and cards. Brads are one of those great embellishments that are both functional and decorative.

How to use brads:
Make a small hole in which to stick the brad through. I use a paper piercer to poke the hole in the paper/card. You could also use a small hole punch, the tip of your scissors or an sharp craft knife. The piercers do make a neater job of it though. Another useful piece of equipment is an old mouse mat – the type that has a spongy underneath. Turn the mouse mat over and place on top of a cutting mat or a magazine - not on directly on your table top! Place your paper/card flat on it and push through your piercing tool. Then insert your brad whilst it is still on the mat. Put the prongs of the brad through the hole and open up the prongs on the backside of the paper.

Brad Buddies™
Brad Buddies™ are lightweight metal shapes held onto paper with brads. To attach a Brad Buddy™, simply place the metal shape on your paper and mark the holes with a pencil. Remove the metal shape and make a hole at the pencil mark. Use the included brads to attach the metal image to your paper.

That’s it!
As you can see brads are really easy to use and require no special tools. That is one of the reasons these little embellishments are gaining so much popularity. Another reason for their popularity is that they are fairly inexpensive too.

A few ideas on how to use brads on your layouts:
connectors on paper piecing for moveable parts
attaching vellum
centre of flowers
centre of letters
spell out words (outline letters)
corners of picture mat
nails in a fence
"stone" in a ring
attach elements on a page by wrapping wire or fibre
to form "bullets" for a list of things
as an accent on the tail of a letter
in the hole of a tag
M & Ms
buttons on a shirt
decorations on an Easter egg
lights on top of a police car or fire truck
the "dot" on an i or j
attach handle to a basket
use as nails on wood
use to embellish the corner of tags, borders or titles
use star brads to replicate a night sky
Buttons on a dress

Most brads are shiny and perfect looking. If you like adding a rustic touch you can sand the top of your brads with sandpaper. This will scratch the brad up and if the colour is painted on it will allow the metal to shine through giving it that great shabby chic look!

If you find yourself in a pinch without the perfect colour of brad for your layout, do not fear. I have painted the tops of brads using regular acrylic paint. You can also use your markers too on silver or gold brads for a great look.
Another trick for brads is heat embossing the tops. Dip the top of the brad into ink and then into embossing powder. Heat with a heating gun and you will have a shiny embossed brad. This is also a great tip for getting the perfect colour to go with any layout. NB Try not to over heat the brad as this can cause it to become fragile and the backs may snap.

When you’re using vellums or some types of delicate ribbons, you’ll find that certain glues show through and can look unsightly. Brads come in very handy in such cases, as they can be used to fix vellums or ribbons to a project instead.

You can also add peel offs and rub ons to the top of some brads…the list really could go on and on!

Happy Crafting!