Crafting with Arthritis

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Crafting with Arthritis

Not only is punching an economical way to use paper scraps, it’s visually interesting, and for someone who used to avoid paper punching because of arthritis pain, it’s just fun!

I have struggled with mild pain in my hands for over 15 years. Since the sporadic discomfort has mostly occurred when I do crafting projects that involve squeezing plastic paint bottles, using scissors for long periods of time, and using paper punches, I have either avoided those activities when possible or worked though the pain and token plenty of ibuprofen.

After several years of pain and frustration, I decided to talk to my doctor, and I was surprised to hear him say that my pain was caused from arthritis. When I received this diagnosis, I was afraid that my crafting days would be limited. Fortunately, I was able to control the occasional discomfort with anti-inflammatory medication and careful monitoring of the pain in my hands, changing activities or stopping at the first sign of pain. I did retire myself from the fabric painting hobby I had enjoyed for many years (so much squeezing of plastic paint bottles!), which left more time for scrapbooking, card making, and paper crafting.

When I was asked to join the crafts design team for Fiskars, I was elated, yet apprehensive. I wondered if I would be able to work with a company that had so many tools...especially paper punches! What I didn’t realize then was that Fiskars had completely changed the paper punch as I knew it. The Fiskars Squeeze Punch required much less force to create an image, and Fiskars had lots of fun, creative punch designs that were so easy to use.

Since I began working with the Fiskars Squeeze Punches, I have punched literally thousands of shapes with absolutely no pain in my hands. One of my favorite scrapbook layout designs involves repeating a punched shape over an entire 12-inch X 12-inch page. I’ve used this technique over and over with different shapes for the background.

I’ve created a variation of my favorite design here, starting with a patterned paper covered in printed circles. I punched about twenty circles using the medium Fiskars Round ‘n Round Squeeze Punch and arranged them around my photos and another piece of cardstock that I cut to 8.5 inches by 7.5 inches. I punched round corners into the top of this smaller paper using the Fiskars Around the Bend Squeeze Punch to echo the circular nature of the other page elements.

Arthritis Article LO Process1_rev

When I was happy with the placement of the punched circles, I adhered everything and printed a small journaling box, again rounding two corners, and added the title. I always like to add a little bit of my own handwriting to my scrapbook pages, so when I figure out when these photos were taken, I will hand write the date where I left a small amount of space at the bottom of the journaling box.

Arthritis Article LO Detail_rev

Several years ago, I would not have considered punching all those circles for one layout because the resulting discomfort wouldn’t have been worth it. But this layout was quick and fun, and punching the circles was effortless and completely painless.
Since life is just full of paper-crafting opportunities, I’ll share something I recently volunteered to do in my Sunday school class. With a few friends, I am making cards to send to class members on a weekly basis, just reminding them that they are being thought of and prayed for during the week, remembering birthdays, and celebrating anniversaries. To get started, we are making about two hundred cards.

Arthritis Article Card Mass Produce_rev

With four busy kids at home, I sometimes wish I had more time to just be crafty, especially when it comes to making cards. The busier I get, the more I try to duplicate cards if I manage to find a creative moment. Instead of making one card for someone, I’ll make five or ten of them. This method of mass-production is working well for the Sunday school card project. Since we are making twenty-five copies each of eight to ten designs, a mass-production plan is necessary. Since the Squeeze Punches don’t require much effort from my hand, this massive card-making event isn’t going to cause extra pain, and that’s a priority for me.

Arthritis Article Card

To mass-produce the card shown here,

  1. Cut one 12-inch by 12-inch piece of cardstock into three pieces, each measuring 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Repeat until you have your desired number of card pieces.
  2. Fold these pieces in half so that each card is 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. Using the Fiskars Around the Bend Squeeze Corner Punch, round the corners on the opposite side of the card’s fold.
  3. For each card you plan to make, cut a solid (or almost solid) blue piece of patterned paper to measure 3 inches tall by 4 inches wide.
  4. Punch a tree top using the Seal of Approval Squeeze Punch. Do this for each card.
  5. Punch a tree trunk for each card.
  6. Print the sentiments using a 14-point font and 1.5 line spacing so they can be easily cut into strips.
  7. Assemble cards with the blue piece starting 1 inch from the fold in the card, adhere all pieces.
  8. Admire the growing stack of cards!