40+ Unique Scrapbook Embellishments

One of the aspects of scrapbooking that I enjoy most is identifying out-of-the ordinary materials to use as embellishments.  I love walking through toy stores, office supply stores, dollar stores, garden stores, even hardware stores, looking for unusual items to include in my layouts. 

Following are some of my favorite unique scrapbook embellishments.  About all they have in common is that they're flat and they're *not* acid-free, so be sure to mount them on acid-free papers or take other precautions as necessary to protect your photos and ephemera.
  1. Wood cutouts & trim.  Most craft stores have a section devoted to wood cutouts.  Our local Michael's features cutouts in at least 30 shapes, which change seasonally, plus a year-round supply of squares, circles, stars, and other basic shapes.  I love coloring them with inks/chalks and they look great stamped.  If you can't find the shape you want, buy balsa and create your own.  By the way, some wood trims are also flat and can be used for scrapbooking.
  2. Cork.  I've just now started to see cork sheets show up in the scrapbooking sections of local stores.  Before, I usually found them hiding out in office supply stores.  These sheets make wonderful backgrounds, but are also effective embellishments when cut into shapes.
  3. Felt.  I tend to think of felt as a nursery-school supply, but these days it comes in pre-cut, page-sized sheets in a variety of colors and embossed/imprinted textures.
  4. Yarn.  I've discovered that for the price of one of those small packages of coordinating fibers, you can buy a whole ball of yarn.  I like the yarns that change colors every few feet (providing a choice of shades), and am especially partial to the furry/sparkly varieties.
  5. Sequins.  Speaking of sparkly, save yourself the expense of faux gemstones and take advantage of sequins.  They come in all sorts of shapes, colors, and sizes. 
  6. Dried flowers/plants/grasses.  I've become a huge fan of embellishing my pages with bits of dried foliage.  Sometimes I use items from my yard; more often, I use flattened clippings of baby's breath or other dried foliage sold for floral arrangements.  By the way, some stores even offer dried moss, which I've used in several layouts to add a bit of rustic green.
  7. Playing cards.  I have a deck of cards that I periodically rob for scrapbooking projects.  Sometimes I use them as "literal" embellishments - for a layout on our trip to Vegas, for example; other times, I use them more "figuratively," as when I used the queen of hearts for a display about my neice modeling her prom dress
  8. Game cards/pieces.  Don't throw those old board games away without looting the accessories!  Monopoly money/deeds, scrabble tiles, and cards can all be repurposed as embellishments.  (I've used a bunch of Community Chest cards from an old Monopoly game in a variety of layouts, including the "Get out of jail free" card for a spread about the time my adorable, beloved son emptied the contents of his beanbag chair all over his room.)
  9. Children's activity books.  Another item worth looting before you throw them away, childrens' activity books often have stickers, pictures and accessories (colorforms, velcro people, etc.) that can be reused.
  10. Fringe.  Possibly my affection for fringe stems from my youth in the 60s - whatever the root cause, it does perk up a scrapbook page!
  11. Plastic carpet latch-hook framing.  This comes in a variety of sizes and resembles a checkerboard pattern with spaces in between the intersecting strands of plastic.  I've used it to simulate lattice, as a cool background for an "all boy" layout, and as a frame upon which I attached pictures and other embellishments. 
  12. Chalkboards/chalkboard paint.  Chalkboard paper has begun popping up in local craft stores, which is cool.  But if you scrounge around the dollhouse accessories section of your craft store, you will likely find small, framed chalkboards that look great with a variety of different scrapbooking styles.  Just use regular chalk to add journaling, graffiti, titles, etc.
  13. Dollhouse accessories.  Speaking of dollhouse accessories, don't neglect to peruse this section of your local craft store for unique embellishments.  I've used a variety of off-beat items in my layouts, from dollhouse-sized kitchen utensils to dollhouse rugs, books/newspapers, school supplies, and "artwork"
  14. Jewelry. Now that jewelry-making has become mainstream, a variety of stores have stocked up on beautiful metal embellishments meant to be used for pins, earrings, broaches, and necklaces, but that work equally well as scrapbook embellishments.  I've even used jewelry chain in some of my layouts.  (The trick is to hit the "clearance" aisle and think out-of-the-box.)
  15. Stamps.  I'm not sure people actually engage in stamp-collecting any more, but I've been robbing my childhood collection for years now to add pizazz to my scrapbook pages.  My stamp collection includes lots of birds, animals, profiles, monumnets, nature scenes - designs that suit a vareity fo layouts.
  16. Confetti. Look for novelty confetti in the party section of any store.  These days it comes in shapes suitable for a variety of seasons and occassions (musical notes, birthday cakes, graduation caps, etc.).  I like to lay the confetti out on a piece of wax paper, spray the sides facing up with adhesive, then lay my paper over top, pressing down firmly so that the confetti adheres - thus ensuring that the confetti retains that natural scattered appearance (rather than looking arranged).
  17. Novelty buttons.  Using buttons in layouts isn't new news, but what I don't see a lot of is people using novelty buttons.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the sewing section of your local craft store - you'll find buttons in the shape of flowers, bugs, baseballs ... pretty much anything you can imagine!  The kinds with holes are naturally flat, but the ones that attach via plastic loops can be used if you don't mind taking the time to remove the loops with a pair of small wirecutters.
  18. Iron-on patches.  While you're in the sewing section, check out the supply of iron-on patches.  These are a relatively inexpensive way to add great color and texture to your layout.
  19. Mosaic tiles.  Most craft stores stock small tiles meant for mosaic-work.  Some of these are large and fat, but others are small and slender - perfect for adding color and texture to your layout. 
  20. Washers.  I love raiding my husband's workshop for scrapbooking supplies!  Washers are my go-to accessory - I like to line them up along the side of a page or along the top/bottom of photos.
  21. Postcards.  When on vacation, I always buy up a bunch of postcards with the idea of using them as scrapbook embellishments later.  "Kitchy" postcards and those that include maps of your destination work particularly well.  These days I often find them in shapes, which can be fun.
  22. Store-bought cards.  Holiday cards are a great source for high-quality graphics, and these days they often come pre-embellished with raised elements, fur, glitter, or other elements.  Simply trim the picture and add it to your layout!  I recycle birthday and Christmas cards in this fashion, though sometimes - if I'm looking for a hard-to-find turkey picture for Thanksgiving or just the right bunny picture for Easter - I'll actually go to Hallmark in hopes of finding exactly what I want.
  23. Decals/bumperstickers.  Those gel decals that are sold for holidays work well as scrapbook embellishments, as do decals intended for your car's bumper.  The ubiquitious "OBX" decal sold in every gift store in the Outer Banks proved the perfect embellishment for my layout on our family trip to the beach resort, and I've used our excess "honor roll" high school bumper stickers for high school layouts.
  24. Seed packets.  I love seed packet artwork!  It isn't just for layouts about gardening - I've used seed packets as elements on pages devoted to parks, spring, and my nieces.
  25. Flower/garden markers.  Garden stores sell a variety of stakes meant to be labelled and stuck into the ground so you don't forget what you've planted in each row.  I've found them in shiny steel, black, and wood - all of which have come in handy for scrapbooking.  They're particularly good for labeling.
  26. Popsicle sticks.  I've used them as frames, as title bars above pictures, and as caption bars below them.  Just treat the sticks first with some kind of sealant if you plan to write on them, as inks will run on untreated wood.
  27. Novelty paper clips.  The big chain office supply stores carry a variety of novelty paper clips, which rarely seem to sell so they always end up in the "clearance" aisle, where I scoop them up for a song.  I've got paper clips in the shapes of red/white/blue stars, pastel flowers, orange pumpkins, and green Christmas trees ... not to mention clips in a variety of metals and basic shapes (squares, ovals, spirals).  Such a simple way to add interest to a layout.
  28. Leather.  I originally bought leather cording for a boy scout project, then realized how great it would look on scrapbook pages about scouting.  It looks especially great laced through eyelets. 
  29. Tissue paper.  They sell tissue paper in such a variety of gorgeous colors and patterns these days, it's a shame to waste it all on wrapping gifts.  I've used tissue paper to add color to an Easter spread, to suggest flowers in a spread devoted to spring, and to create a cool "stained glass" effect for a Christmas layout
  30. Foam.  Most craft stores sell flat sheets of craft foam in a variety of colors and patterns, which is cool, but what usually draws my eye are the foam cut-out shapes sold for craft projects.  My local craft store rotates these in and out by season, offering Christmas/snowflake shapes in winter, flower/Easter shapes in spring, luau/fish shapes in summer, and pumpkin/fall leaf shapes in fall.  Sometimes I use them as-is; other times, I glam them up by adding inks, glitter, and/or outlining.
  31. Maps.  I love using maps in layouts!  Not necessarily standard roadmaps, but the sorts of maps you find in atlases or on paper restaurant placemats.  Nothing instantly communicates "travel" like a picture frame made of geography.
  32. Gift tags.  Don't know why I've got this down towards the bottom of the list, because gift tags are one of my go-to embellishments. During the Christmas season, practically every stores stocks them and often the designs are eyecatching.  I like to use four of them at a time and group them in rows or squares on the page. 
  33. Burlap.  I love the rugged, natural look of burlap, which makes it a perfect embellishment for pages devoted to camping, scouting, or other manly themes. 
  34. Origami papers & shapes.  Origami paper comes in a variety of unusual patterns, so can be used unfolded to add color/texture to a page.  But why stop there?  Flattened fish, cranes and other origami animals make eye-catching embellishments - the challenge, of course, is figuring out how to create them!
  35. Googly eyes.  Nothing adds fun to a layout that googly eyes!  Sometimes I add them to papercut animals to add a bit of whimsy.  They also work well on black paper for Halloween layouts (group them in twos, as if creatures are staring out from the darkness).  My favorite effect was when I used a bunch of them to matte a Halloween photo ... impossible not to smile at the finished product!
  36. Feathers.  Nothing brightens a page like gaudily colored feathers!  I've used yellow "chick" feathers to brighten up an Easter spread, purple/pink "boa" feathers to add texture to a princess spread, and green feathers to jolly up a St. Patrick's Day homage.
  37. Refrigerator magnets. They are often quite cute/clever, and flat enough to add fun to a layout without adding bulk.
  38. Lace.  Real lace (in the form of trim or doilies) adds delicacy to vintage layouts, and lacy hearts are a perfect pick for Valentines Day spreads.
  39. Sand.  Fill vellum envelopes with sand from your family beach trip, or create designs with glue and then pour sand overtop.  I love the texture and authenticity of adding sand borders to pictures of our summer vacations at the shore.
  40. Store frequent shopper/gift cards.  I don't know why they even give you the cards - they look you up by phone number once you're in the store!  Freeing up your frequent shopper cards to act as embellishments.  For instance, I used a Best Buy card to add interest to a page about our sons' video game addiction, and a used-up Starbucks gift card to embellish a page devoted to my husband's Starbucks obsession!
  41. Brown paper shopping bags.  I love cutting shapes out of the unprinted parts of the bag - the brown kraft paper lends a neat, rustic sort of texture to layout pages.
What unique embellishments have you employed in your scrapbook layouts? I'm always looking for new ideas!

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