For a novice crafter, a paper arts store or the scrapbooking section of a craft store can be completely overwhelming. Walking in, you are surrounded by isles of paper, embellishments for every holiday from Thanksgiving to Groundhog’s Day, and a feeling of “Do I really need all of this to make a simple birthday card?” The answer is, simply, no. A few basics from the craft store, maybe a splurge here or there from a scrapbooking store, and you’re off. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do with a few simple supplies that won’t break your bank. It is very easy to spend way too much money on items that you think are necessary, but you can make great cards without going over budget!
A great card starts with great paper. You can buy it by the sheet, which allows you to pick and choose all of your favorites. If you’re making multiple cards for a specific event, this is probably the way to go, but if you’re looking for some basics that will get you through numerous holidays and occasions, you may want to buy a stack. Stacks are groups of paper grouped together usually by color or style. You can get a stack of pastel paper, metallic paper, Christmas paper, etc. Look through the stacks to see what’s inside. With a little imagination, you can usually find lots of uses for that paper beyond the theme. Some of the paper I used in my Valentines came from a Christmas stack that I bought two weeks after Christmas, sixty percent off.
Depending on the event, your card may or may not need a sentiment. Further, depending on your penmanship, this could or could not be an issue. For me, I don’t even like to sign my name to a card, let alone attempt a “Happy Birthday.” If you are even slightly computer savvy, you can print your sentiment, just keep in mind that most scrapbooking paper comes in 12″ by 12″ squares, so it will need to be cut down before it can fit through your printer. Here’s a little tip: use textboxes to help. When making my Valentines, I knew I wanted the center embellishment to be 3″ by 3″. I inserted a textbox into my document and adjusted the size to measure exactly that. Then I could center my wording and adjust my font size accordingly to fill the entire space. No guessing, and then reprinting if I decided it was either too big or too small. Plus, after it was printed, I could use the lines of the textbox as cutting guides. There was no concern about cutting a perfect square! You can use clipart in a similar way, and all of these tools are right there on your computer, free. If using a computer is not your style, I recommend investing in a set of rubber alphabet stamps. Pick a versatile font and purchase maybe two neutral color ink pads. You can use these to add names to the outside of envelopes or to put a short sentiment on a card. I am not a fan of stickers or rub-ons. It seems that whenever I sit down to make a card, I never have the letters I need, but I have an abundance of q’s and z’s!
Next, how are you going to embellish your cards? The possibilities here are endless. This is also where you will probably spend the most money. Again, try to look for items that could cross over to multiple occasions. Ribbons are a great place to start. Look for two or three colors that coordinate with a majority of the colors in your stack of paper. You can buy a bag of buttons in a variety of colors and sizes that could accent cards for birthdays to birth announcements. Brads can be found in variety packs that contain a range of colors. These are great embellishments for someone just starting out. They can be put in the corners of your card to add interest. These accents can also be used in combination. A piece of ribbon placed approximately one-third of the way up from the bottom of your card, with a brad through it, off center, and “Thank You” printed on a coordinating piece of paper….that’s a beautiful card! The more you play, the more ideas you will have and the more intricate your cards will become.
I find that the best way to be inspired and get new ideas for card making is to visit a specialty paper crafting shop. I am always amazed at what those talented people can do with just inks and rubber stamps. Their cards are absolutely beautiful. If you find one that you love, ask someone how it was made, or, better yet, ask if there is a class that teaches how to make that card. Most shops will allow you to use their equipment during the class, and some also give a discount for any supplies you purchase before and after class. Also, keep your eyes open for sales at your major craft supply stores. If you catch them at the right time, you can stock up on supplies for a variety of occasions at a great price.
On a personal note, thank you to all of my friends who have contacted me to say how much they love Nikki, In Stitches. Your support means the world to me. So many of you are asking great questions about crafting, and I hope that you will use this forum in the future so that our conversations can be shared with everyone that visits this blog.
P.S. Thanks to Emmy for my first comment and inspiration for today’s post!
Nikki, In Stitches