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Show me with a raise of your hand, how many of you have this inability to stand confident in your card making skills? Lots of hands, I’m sure. No worries, I obviously can’t see you, but I’ve been around enough crafters and taught classes enough to know that you are not alone. So, I am here to share some insight and some ways to approach card making and hopefully help you kick that fear of not ‘doing it right’ to the curb!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those whom I would consider ‘talented crafters’ say “I can’t make a card to save my life!” Those of you who are claiming to be card-challenged, I want you to throw that idea out the window and challenge yourself to think a little differently. Card making really doesn’t have to be something intimidating. And even better news? There really aren’t any rules when it comes to card making other than having to be mindful of some postal regulations once you go to mail your card.
Some of you reading might consider yourself an avid scrapbooker, so that’s where your comfort lies. Card making, really, is nothing more than scrapbooking on a smaller canvas. Perhaps you’ve never made a layout before, but are quite skilled as a quilter? Card making really doesn’t have to be anything more than creating a quilt block on a card base with patterned paper as your medium instead of fabric.
Once you realize there is no wrong way to create a card, and once you find a way to relate something that you’re already skilled at to your card making the fear starts to fade away. Here are some other tips on the matter.
Make sure you have helpful tools.
Card making obviously requires consumables—your supplies. A successful card making experience also requires some essential non-consumables — your Fiskars tools.
Some obvious tools that make card making a little easier, and ones I can’t live without are:
1. Paper Trimmer: Preferably one that has the capability for an interchangeable blade, such as the SureCut Deluxe Craft Paper Trimmer. It has the option of using a scoring blade which helps make folding a crisp edge on your card very easy.
2. Card Making Trimmer: If you aren’t a scrapbooker and only plan to ever make cards, a smaller trimmer might be more your size. I like the Card Making Bypass Trimmer because of its portability and compact size.
3. Scissors: You can use any scissors that you like. I find myself reaching for my Easy Action Micro tip Scissors and Detail Scissors
4. Bone Folder: The bone folding tool is helpful in making sure when you fold your cardstock in half to create a card base that you’re getting a clean, crisp fold.
5. Paper Piercer: This tool will allow you to pre-pierce a hole through your card base prior to inserting brads. Oftentimes, when you insert a brad without piercing a hole first, you’ll end up with creases/wrinkles in your cardstock.
Other tools that aren’t exactly a requirement, but ones that I find myself using over and over again because of their versatility are:
1. Cutting Mat
2. Twist and Flip Corner Punch
3. Acrylic Stamping Block Set
4. Black Ink, Brown Ink and Stamps
5. Fingertip Knife
Tools are definitely an investment, but investing in quality tools will ensure years of use.
If you’re already a scrapbooker, then you have oodles of supplies that will work. As you’re making your next layout, cut those leftover scraps of patterned paper and cardstock down to a manageable size for card making and start a basket or tray to hold them until you are ready to make some cards. In fact, after I finish creating a layout, I’ll grab a card base and take a few extra minutes to use those leftover bits and pieces to create a card. If you already have the supplies out and coordinated, it really doesn’t take much extra time to put them to use by making a card.
If you aren’t already a scrapbooker with a plethora of supplies at your fingertips, I suggest you start by purchasing some basic neutral colors of cardstock (i.e. white, cream, kraft, black, grey), a 6x6 paper pad that has colors/patterns already coordinated for you, and a set of universal sentiments suitable for greeting cards, such as the Holiday Hooplah Repositionable Set or the All Year Cheer Repositionable Set.
From there, you can add whatever embellishments that fit the look you’re going for. Great choices to start with are ribbons, paper/silk flowers and self-adhesive rhinestones or pearls.
Start with a standard-sized card base.
In the card-making world, there are standard sizes of cards/envelopes that are often used. The majority of the time I create my cards by cutting my cardstock to 5 ½” x 8 ½”, then fold in half. A standard 8 ½” x 11” cardstock cut in half will yield 2 card bases. This creates a card similar in size to a standard notecard. If you’re looking for something a little larger, I recommend you cut your cardstock to 7” x 10”, folded in half to create a 5” x 7” card which is the standard size of store-bought greeting cards.
When purchasing envelopes, they will always have the standard size markings (i.e. A2, A6, A7, etc.) labeled on the packaging along with dimensions. For the two sizes described above, you’ll either need an A2 (notecard) or A7 (greeting card) envelope.
If you chose to create a card base that isn’t a standard size, or if you just want a patterned envelope instead of something solid, you can find many tutorials online for how to measure and create your own envelopes.
NOTE: If your card is extra bulky from embellishments, you may consider removing an additional ¼" from the dimensions of the card base to ensure your card fits nicely inside your envelope.
Let’s Talk Card Making.
Try something repetitive.
To start simply, try repetitive designs like lining up strips of paper, or punched circles. When you feel a little more comfortable and want to experiment with small changes, consider snipping the ends of your strips into a banner shapes, or instead of evenly spacing the circles, line them all toward the bottom or one side leaving some white space for a greeting. Repetitive designs are usually very graphic in nature. Graphic designs are always eye-catching.'
Making cards is a great way to try something new. Have a layout you like? Try it on a smaller scale. Have a quilt pattern you adore? Duplicate it with paper. Just learning a new technique? Start small and try it on a card first. Take advantage of the small canvas.
Let’s say you find yourself making a card design that you fall absolutely head over heels in love with. There is no harm in making it again, and again, and again. There’s no rule that says every card has to be a fresh new idea. In fact, creating cards in bulk, assembly line style, will actually save you time and stretch the use of your consumable supplies. If you really have the urge to change it up a bit, rotate the layout of the design by 90 degrees, change the sentiment or keep the design and just change the color story.
The sketch I used for the card above is from Jenyfur Pohl's.
Running low on inspiration? Find a website that offers card challenges or card sketches. You can also use layout sketches as inspiration. Sometimes the layout sketches require minor tweaks. There are a number of websites that provide ongoing sketches and challenges to creatively inspire your card making. Some of the more popular sites are: Card Positioning Systems, and Valerie Salmon's Got Sketch?.
Make sure you know your postal regulations.
When card making it is important to consider whether your creation will be hand-delivered or sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS). The cost of the cards you mail is all determined by size and thickness of your envelope. If you are mailing something that cannot be passed through automated machinery, like a card with lots of lumpy embellishments---or even just a card with brads--then you will be paying a bit extra for that envelope to be processed. Just a little something to be mindful of when embellishing your cards.