Let's Get Back To Basics
Handmade cards because:
- No one displays an email on the mantle
- No one shows off a text on the refrigerator
- No one saves a Facebook post in a box of treasures
I began making cards more than a decade ago. I consider that I was ahead of the curve, as I'd been a picture framer for a decade before and knew the basics. The basics are pretty much as follows:
- Knowing how to read a ruler
- Understanding card and matting sizes
- Matching colors
- Importance of acid-free materials
Yet even for me, there was a learning curve as I ventured into stamping. While some things came naturally, there were suddenly all these tools and techniques to learn. As well as important decisions to be made as I began assembling my craft arsenal.
- Basic Tools of the trade
- Different types of Ink/Ink Pads
- Heat embossing VS. Dry embossing
- Die Cutting VS. Fussy Cutting
- Kinds of stamps
- Types of adhesives
- Stamping Blocks or Stamping Platform
I'm hoping to make a collective here for beginners, as well as seasoned vets of the cardmaking world to have a place to get back to basics.
Reading a Ruler
A ruler and/or tape measure are a paper crafter's best friends. Learning to read the increments is vital to your success. For the most part, the 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4" markings will be your most used. I suggest getting to know the 1/8" increments once you're comfortable with the larger fractions.
If you're not a math person, don't worry! Most tutorials will include sizes to cut elements at. All you have to master is reading the ruler, and you'll be up and running.
Side note: If you're still not sure about this, head on over to YouTube and search How To Read A Ruler. There are some great instructional videos to help you on your way!
I actually have 3 different measuring implements I use on a regular basis:
- The Tim Holtz 12" design ruler
- An 18" metal ruler for cutting 12" x 12" by hand
- Measuring tape
I also always design on grid paper from Stampin' Up!® It's got built-in rulers and grids which make lining things up a breeze.
Basic Card and Matting Sizes
When I first began making cards, I went for the name brand size because I didn't know any better. By name brand, I'm referring to American Greetings and Hallmark who tend to work in A7 (or 5" x 7") formats. I actually worked like this for years until I joined Stampin' Up!® and saw that the most common handmade greeting card size was actually A2 (4 1/4" x 5 1/2").
Why is this a big deal you may ask? Well, as we all know, craft supplies are expensive. And the A2 card size allows your supplies to stretch much farther. After all, you get two card bases out on one sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock. Furthermore, you can get four card fronts from one sheet. If you're working in larger scale, you'll get just one base per sheet and two fronts.
Learning to put colors together can be a daunting task, but it becomes easier with a color wheel. Now, there are many variations of color wheels, but a basic wheel without tints is all you need to get started. You will see the primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (purple, green, orange) colors as well as tertiary (red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange). This is basic color theory at work.
Any colors opposite on the wheel will go together, or you can select any colors which make a rectangle if you prefer 4 colors for your design.
If you want to go further down the rabbit hole (it's a fascinating journey) there is a fantastic page on the basics of color theory here.
Acid Free Materials
I could go on a long lecture here about acid-free materials. After all, I framed artwork and photographs for ten years, so I know first-hand the damage acid can do. I'll settle for showing you a series of pictures of what acid can do, finishing with the artwork in a new acid-free frame job.
You can easily view the area the artwork once sat in the mat.
This paper and matting was once white. The acid in the materials discolored both artwork and matting.
The art itself is discolored in multiple shades from light exposure as well as acid damage.
Here is the finished piece, framed with 100% acid-free materials, adhesives, and museum quality glass.
The above is the reason why memory keeping and cardmaking materials have acid-free or photo-safe on them. Luckily these days, nearly all paper crafting supplies are already acid-free, but I highly recommend to anyone considering memory keeping (scrapbooking) that you double check your adhesives and papers before putting the work in!
I'll be adding more information on cardmaking basics regularly, so be sure to use the signup form at the top of the page to keep in touch and get the latest updates via email!