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Back to the Basics!

With a new year often comes a desire for new beginnings and for exploring different things. It is also a time of year when there are new and eager card makers excited about trying a new craft. This issue is to help our new crop of card makers and also to serve as a refresher for our seasoned ones. Learning the basics of any craft and building a strong foundation is the first step to achieving success and ensuring that your experience will be enjoyable.

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Projects by Sharon M. Reinhart
One of the first things to consider is putting together a basic paper-crafting or card-making tool kit. In my last update I put this question to our readers, so be sure to take a look at the feedback that we received in this issue's Reader Letters. The list below is what I believe to be some key items to include in your card maker's tool kit:
  • Paper trimmer
  • Scoring tool or scoring blade
  • Bone folder
  • Metal-edged ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Piercing tool and foam mat
  • Notebook
  • Variety of adhesives including liner tape (such as Scor-tape), adhesive dots and even dimensional adhesives (such as the foam mounting tape by 3M). For small embellishments and intricate die-cut shapes, liquid glue (such as the Tombow brand) comes in handy. Or if you would like to create a sticker adhesive on die-cut or punched shapes try the Xyron style of adhesives.
As your skills grow, so will your kit. You may find these other tools useful to have:
  • Craft knife and mat
  • 1/8-inch hole punch
  • Tweezers or small pliers
  • Decorative-edge scissors

Choosing papers and cardstocks seems to be a good next step. Almost any type of paper can be used; however, for the actual card base it is advisable to use a slightly heavier weight. The two basic weights that you will come across are text weight and cover weight or cardstock. Text-weight paper also comes in different weights, but for our purposes, it is usually similar in touch to photocopy paper or business letterhead. The cover-weight paper or cardstock that is normally used in card making is similar in touch to a business card or a postcard. A cover weight or cardstock of 65 lb. to 110 lb. will provide a good card base. Text-weight papers are great for layering or if you are completing different folding techniques such as origami, tea-bag folding or iris folding.

It is also important to understand the language or terminology associated with a particular craft. Some of the most common terms used in paper crafting are:
  • Score -- to create an indentation in the paper in order to have a crisp fold, usually accomplished with a scoring blade, stylus or bone folder
  • Burnish -- the use of the side of the bone folder when folding or to rub the surface with in order to secure something
  • Dashed line -- in patterns usually refers to a fold line
  • Solid line -- in patterns usually refers to a cut line
  • Mountain fold -- upward fold like a mountain
  • Valley fold -- downward fold like a valley
  • Portrait -- card orientation similar to a portrait of a person, longest measurement is vertical
  • Landscape -- card orientation similar to a picture of a landscape or the horizon, longest measurement is horizontal
  • Die cut -- a shape that is cut using a die template and machine
  • Pressure emboss -- texture or designs created with embossing folders, dies, stencils or a stylus by hand or with the use of machine pressure
  • Heat or thermal emboss -- created with inks, embossinig powders or enamels plus a heat tool, resulting in a slightly raised image
  • Heat tool -- a high-heat blowing tool that is much hotter than a hair blower
  • Direct to paper (DTP) -- technique where inks are applied directly to the paper from the ink pad
There are also many different shapes, sizes and styles of cards. Some of the most common sizes are:
  • 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches (A2)
  • 5 x 7 inches (A7)
  • Business-envelope size: 8 1/2 x 4 inches
  • 5-, 5 1/2- and 6-inch-square cards
  • Gatefold cards: a style of card that has two folds -- the right and left flaps join in the middle like a gate
  • Accordion cards: a style of card with vertical score lines that create multiple panels
All of these cards, except for the square cards, can be made with a portrait or landscape orientation, and all of them can be made with a top or side fold.

All of the inspiration projects here have been made with a line of printed papers by Kaisercraft, which include printed 12 x 12-inch sheets of paper as well as sheets with panels that have sentiments printed on them in a variety of sizes and colors. The other cardstock used is Double Dots double-sided cardstock by Bo Bunny, which has dots on one side and solid color on the reverse. Basic white and black cardstocks have also been used. Using these types of papers makes it easy for those just starting with card making.

Project 1 is an A2 portrait orientation side-fold card. This card uses a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch piece of the Bo Bunny cardstock as the card base. The cardstock is scored at 4 1/4 inches and folded in half with the solid side up. Papers of varied sizes are then layered together and adhered to the card front. The finishing touches of flowers and leaves have been created with a die template from Stampin' Up and then adorned with adhesive rhinestones.

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Project 1

Project 2 is also an example of an A2 card; however, this one has been made in a landscape orientation. This card has a special little cut-and-fold feature on the card front that is easy to complete and results in further visual interest. Start with a 4 1/4 x 11-inch strip of cardstock. Score at 5 1/2 inches and fold in half. Next, score the front panel 2 inches in from the right side. Measure 1 inch from the score line at top and bottom, and lightly mark. Measure and mark the vertical center on outside right edge at 2 1/8 inches. Cut from the center mark to the 1-inch marks at top and bottom. Fold back the panel onto the card front and adhere. The card inside has been layered with printed paper and the sentiment panel has been die-cut into a circle and layered onto a larger circle. Add a little banner strip and some rhinestones, and voila, a pretty card!

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Project 2

Lastly, Project 3 is an example of a method to create an accordion card if you do not have access to long paper. This card, in folded form, measures 4 inches square. To make this card base, cut two 4 x 8-inch pieces of white cardstock. Score and fold each piece at 4 inches. Adhere two panels together, overlapping one 4-inch panel onto the other, creating three 4-inch panels. By using this method, you can make any length of accordion card. Next, layer printed papers to the front panel and the three inside panels. Finish the card by decorating and embellishing each panel with sentiment strips from the printed 12 x 12-inch paper.

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Project 3

Many techniques exist, and you may find you enjoy one more so than another. It might be stamping or die-cutting or a combination of several techniques. Or you might just love it all! The CardMaker update archive is a wonderful resource to search for techniques and ideas. Another great resource is the CardMaker Editor's Blog.

Now that we have touched on the basics, and you can see that basic is definitely not boring, I hope you will explore your options further. Remember: There are no mistakes, just many different ways of doing things. And there are two sides to the paper if need be! I hope you have been inspired to create, and remember to enjoy the process.