A Beginner's Introduction To Card Making

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Introduction

Cardmaking is a craft that's currently sweeping the nation. This is partly because it is not just an enjoyable activity, but one which creates a product that is actually of use to the maker. For example, your husband may love going out to play golf on warm weekends and that's absolutely fine, but he will generally not come home with anything of use other than improved skills and idle gossip from the course. However, when you sit down to make a card for a relatives up-and-coming birthday, or make a selection of cards to keep safe for use at a later date, you are not only participating in a relaxing, enjoyable activity, but you are doing so with a purpose, and in doing so are producing a product.

There is another main reason why the craft is becoming a craze over the country. Shop-bought cards are incomparable to anything made by hand in my opinion and the recipient is always much more pleased to receive a card that someone has taken the time to prepare over something picked from a shop selection. You're giving someone something much more personal when you've taken the time to make a card yourself. So if you haven't already, you might definitely want to consider making cards of your own.


Getting Started

So you're interested in taking up the hobby but really don't know where to start. Is it expensive? Is it complicated? Will it be difficult to find all the things I need? The answer to all of these questions really is no. Five years ago it may have been a different story, but now the craft is so popular that you can get all the help and supplies you need at a wide range of places. Your first stop for supplies of course is right here on eBay. Similarly, you can buy all sorts of books and templates you can use to make the perfect card for that special occasion. But it's no good looking for supplies when you don't know what you need, so to get you going here's a basic and not by any means comprehensive list of things you might want to start with. Each list item is explained in more detail below.

  1. Card blanks & envelopes
  2. Peel-off stickers
  3. Stamps & ink pads
  4. Mulberry (handmade) papers
  5. Toppers or embellishments

Card Blanks & Envelopes

To begin with, I recommend using a set of 5 or 10 pre-scored or pre-folded cards which more-often-than-not come with envelopes to match. Try standard size A5 first as they are most common and are easy to practice with. They come in a variety of colours, so start with something fairly neutral to get a feel for the craft. You will often see card described as "## gsm", which stands for grams per square meter and basically denotes the quality (weight, which can often indicates thickness) of the card. Start with something between 260gsm and 300gsm to get an idea of what you like. Card blanks vary in price dependant on style, quality and quantity but a pack of 10 plain and standard A5 blanks should set you back around £3.00 - £4.00.


Peel-Off Stickers

Peel-offs are sheets of stickers used to decorate your card and give messages. For example, you can get peel-offs with 'Happy Birthday' messages, relative titles, letters, numbers, pictures and more, and you can get them in a whole array of colours, fonts and styles. The most common are silver and gold and these are usually cheaper than the newer coloured varieties, so start with a few sheets of basic ones. You may want one sheet from each of the categories I named above, or you may simply want to start with one sheet of 'Happy Birthday' messages. In shops, each sheet is around 99p (some more expensive ones may be £1.99 or more), but you can buy in bulk on eBay for less.


Stamps & Ink Pads

Another way to decorate your cards is using ink stamps. The good thing about these is the stamp itself can be used hundreds of times, but you do of course needs to replace the ink pads from time to time. You can get stamps in many different sizes and designs and ink can come in all sorts of colours and types, from quick-dry to metallics. Stamps can be used to form the centrepiece of a card, for example you may use a stamp with a large love heart for Valentines or one with balloons for a young birthday. The stamps themselves range in price (dependant on size) from about £2.00 to £5.00, and like everything can be bought cheaply in bulk on eBay. The ink pads are usually about this price too and a well-trusted make is called Ink It!, the number one for craft stamps who I strongly recommend for good quality prints.


Mulberry (Handmade) Papers

Mulberry paper is perfect for mounting toppers or stamping a centrepiece. They are handmade and come in almost unlimited variation. To begin with, you may want to buy a small or cheap pack so you can really understand their purpose. Try looking at what a card topper would look like first if it were just placed in the centre of the card, then if it were first mounted on some nice paper to see what a difference it makes. Basic packs of mulberry paper can be bought at around £2.00 but can go up to about £6.00 + depending on the quality and quantity included. You can also buy packs of cut-off or 'scrap' mulberry papers which are very useful for mounting as you often get a wider variety of colours and styles.


Toppers Or Embellishments

These are optional and a little more expensive, but for special cards they may be just what you need. They are often handmade and come in many different varieties, from miniature dollies with dresses and hair, to hand-cut and designed love hearts mounted on several layers of paper. These final touches can make the difference between a good card and a stunning one, but where they are often handmade or just made in so much detail, they can cost about £1.00-£2.00 each so I wouldn't recommend using one for every card you make. But certainly look out for them, especially in bulk (sets of 5 or more) as they are brilliant when they're affordable.


Summary

That's pretty much all you need to get started with this rewarding hobby. I intend to write more guides on the subject that go into more depth and even some with project ideas. If you need any further help on the subject then please do not hesitate to send me a message and I will get back to you, usually within one or two days. I hope you found the guide useful, any feedback on it is always gratefully received.

Good luck!
Emma North
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