Monday, 13 January 2014

Card Making on the Cheap

I know several people who used to enjoy making their own cards but no longer do so because of the expense. Paper crafting materials are big business these days and buying them can be quite costly. It is often less expensive to buy a card ready made than it is to make one yourself.

It's true that a person can spend a great deal of money on card making supplies but equally true that wonderful paper crafts can be made while spending almost nothing at all.  If you acquire the habit of looking around you and imagining how things can be repurposed, card making is still an affordable hobby.

You do need some tools to get started with paper crafting.  There are lots and lots of them available at scrapbooking stores but, really, you can get by with just a few basics.  Here are the ones I most often use:
  • Scissors
  • An Xacto knife
  • A ruler, preferably cork backed so it won't slip
  • Glue sticks
  • Tacky glue
  • Double sided tape
  • A pencil
  • A pencil sharpener
  • A metal knitting needle or dull edged letter opener for scoring fold lines in paper & cardboard
I also recommend that you buy a package of heavy 8-/12 x 11-inch white card stock from an office supply store.  It's much less expensive than cardstock from a scrapbooking or hobby store and can be used to make the bodies of most of your cards.  Save the colourful stuff and special embellishments to glue on the front of your white card body.

Other things that are nice for card making, but not essential are:
  • Coloured card stock (Best purchased from the dollar store - I often get four 12 x 12 sheets for $1.25 - and used in small quantities on card fronts only.)
  • Decorative edge scissors 
  • Glitter glue (I buy this from the sale bins a Micheal's or at the dollar store)
  • Acrylic craft paint (often most affordable at either the dollar store or Walmart)

Once you have the basic tools on hand, you can start looking around for materials with which to embellish your cards. Here are some of the many found materials that can be used:
  • Children's artwork
  • Greeting cards you've received (Great for cutting up and re-using in new combinations)
  • Pictures and patterned papers from magazines and advertising flyers
  • Tissue paper and wrapping paper (Reuse paper from your packages if you can. You can iron it if you want it smooth, or leave it crinkled for added texture.)
  • Sewing patterns and embroidery transfers
  • Foil candy wrappers
  • Mylar bags used to package cookies and crackers

  • Pretty packaging like tissue boxes and chocolate boxes
  • Plain box board from cereal and cracker boxes (to use for postcards or to layer behind things for added dimension)

  • Used books including old manuals, dictionaries, textbooks, cookbooks, and children's books
  • Maps (Old National Geographic magazines can be a great source for these.) 
  • Canceled stamps and postmarks

  • Clear plastic bakery containers
  • Printmaking media. This can be almost anything with a texture or to which a texture can be added, including bubble wrap, styrofoam meat trays, string, wool, rubber bands, and corrugated cardboard
  • Flowers and leaves for pressing and pasting or for printmaking

  • Old calendars

  • Fabric scraps, ribbon, yarn, buttons, lace, embroidery thread, felt
  • Scraps of paper from other projects.  Every single bit of card stock or scrapbooking paper you buy or salvage, no matter how small, can be used.  Make your dollar stretch by saving even the smallest off-cuts.

I'm sure you'll find lots more material to work with. Once you get in the habit of looking at the objects around you as potential card embellishments, you'll find inspiration almost everywhere. You'll start seeing interesting designs in the most commonplace things.

The trick to not spending a ton of money on making cards is to let the materials suggest your design rather than making the design first and then shopping for materials with which to execute it.  Gather your materials on your work table and play with combinations until something sparks an idea, then take it from there.

Don't worry if your finished product is not perfect.  People appreciate the gift of time and effort you make every time you send a homemade card, and the individual touches are what make your cards so much more interesting than something that might be found in the store.

Roll up your sleeves, get out the scissors and the glue sticks and have some fun.