Card Making for Beginners: What You Need to Start
Have you ever wanted to make your own cards? This relaxing and (possibly) profitable hobby is one of those pastimes where you can proudly showcase the product of your time and effort spent. On top of that, it is definitely a hobby that you can share with others, whether you give a card as is or present it with a gift. You can start making cards at any age and you don’t need any complicated skills or tools to make a basic card.
What is card making?
The online Cambridge Dictionary defines a card as “a rectangular piece of stiff paper, folded in half, with a picture on the front and often a message printed inside, sent on a special occasion”. While cards have evolved into so much more, the fundamentals are still true and relevant.
Using the above-mentioned definition, here is a breakdown of the basic components of a card that can be used to start making cards if you are a beginner:
- A piece of paper
- A picture on the front
- A message inside
- A special occasion
What do you need to start?
You have to start somewhere and the best place to start is with the basics. It doesn’t have to be complicated and that is the beauty of it! You can make a simple card or you can add many elaborate details. It all depends on what you would like to make! Card making can also be an easy craft project to start with if you are a new crafter. Whether you have a lot of tools and gadgets to work with or not, you will be able to start making cards and try out different techniques.
You might have a few expenses to plan for if you don’t have some of the items below, but it is worth investing in it as most of these items you will be able to use over and over again, for card making and other crafty projects.
Following the breakdown of the basic components of a card, here are some essentials to get you started:
1. A piece of paper
Note: Unless you decide to make a very basic traditional card it is rarely just a piece of paper but rather multiple layers of papers with interesting shapes and folds.
While you can buy pre-cut cards it is not always available in the colour and style of your choice. That is why buying your own paper can be much more beneficial, even if it takes a little bit more time and effort to cut out the card. Paper can usually be purchased in the form of paper packs, paper pads, or single sheets of different sizes. Try to keep different types of paper in stock so that you can have enough options to work with to give the card some variety in colour, patterns, and texture. Cardstock is an all-around good option and can be plain, textured, metallic, or glossy. Some paper packs come with frames, borders, and other designs that you can cut out and use. Other options include scrapbook paper or even wrapping paper that can be used for layering. Make sure to save leftover paper to use in future projects!
When choosing paper for your card, make sure you use a thicker type of paper for the base layer of the card. A card is something that will be handled a lot and therefore it needs to be quite sturdy. However, if the paper you use is too thick it might not be able to fold well and it can result in unsightly folding marks. You can use thinner, more fragile paper to add extra layers and decorative elements instead of using it as a base layer.
Scissors of all sizes are useful, from using smaller scissors for fuzzy cutting or larger scissors for thicker paper to using scissors that can create interesting zig-zag or scalloped designs. Depending on what you are cutting, you can also make use of a craft knife, punches, or shape cutters.
Having rulers that show both centimetres and inches can come in handy when you come across tutorials from different countries with different measuring systems. Rulers with patterns can be used to create an interesting design with a marker that you can leave as is or cut out.
Tip: A quilting ruler is also a very useful tool for card making!
A bone folder can have many uses like scoring, creasing, or smoothing paper. This tool is especially useful for card making as cards tend to have some type of folding technique involved most of the time.
Tip: Always be on the lookout for other handy items that you can use in card making, for example, a lifting tool that allows you to carefully lift something you have accidentally attached to your card.
2. A picture on the front
Note: Although the traditional card has a picture on the front there is no limit to where you can place it as a picture or decoration of some sort can be added on the inside or the back of the card as well.
You can use embellishments like pearls, rhinestones, buttons, brads, eyelets, ribbons, lace, stickers, etc. Sometimes buying all your embellishments can turn out to be more expensive. You can make your own decorations by learning some new techniques, like how to do quilling or die-cutting, how to use fonts and digital designs, or how to make your own flowers.
Tip: Use a tweezer to pick up and place smaller embellishments that are a bit more difficult to handle so that you can place them exactly where you intend to.
Inks can be used to add a coloured border to your card layers. They can also be used with stamps and stencils.
Tip: Start by buying the colours you know you like to use or just stick to basic neutral colours at the beginning. You can always expand your collection later on.
Adhesives are essential for craft projects and there is no shortage of options to choose from. There’s craft glue, glitter glue, and stickers that are always useful to have. Then in terms of tape, you get thick and thin double-sided tape and you also get transparent tape and washi tape. Other types of tape have special uses, like foam tape (or pads) that you can use to lift something or red tape that has a very strong bond and is used for pockets and flaps.
3. A message inside
Note: The message doesn’t have to be on the inside and can be anywhere you want it to be.
You can use quotes or simply write from the heart. Make the message extra special by playing around with the lettering and using different fonts on different projects.
One of the great things about making cards is that you will probably use stuff you already have in your home, like an eraser, pencil, ruler, pens, highlighters, markers, etc. As they play a big role in how your lettering and designs are going to come out it is important to test out the different types of pens or markers to make sure you find the most suitable one.
Tip: Use an extra piece of paper to test the pens and markers by doing a few test runs to look at the colour, how fine the tip of the pen is or how quick the ink will dry.
4. A special occasion
Note: While it is beneficial to get some ideas for card themes to get you going, you can always create a special occasion of your own or just find an excuse to make a card for someone.
Here are a few special occasions that can be celebrated or commemorated by making a card:
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
What else do you need?
Find a space in your home that you can use to set up your craft area. Working on a cutting mat is a game-changer and will avoid damages to the table you are working on. There are big and small craft mats available to suit your needs.
You will need a place to put all the items you have purchased and collected for your cardmaking hobby. It is worth getting some containers with divisions that you can use to sort everything. The top priority is for the items to be accessible and visible so that you can use them as you need to.
Start making cards now
If you break up a card into its fundamental pieces you have a good place to start. Don’t be discouraged if your first few cards don’t turn out exactly as you have planned. It takes patience and a whole lot of practice!
While you work on your craft you can follow tutorials until you are confident enough to make your own designs. Card making tutorials can be found in articles or by watching craft videos. Even if you follow a tutorial or use a template, you can still personalise it by choosing your own colours, patterns, and other tweaks. As time goes by you will start focusing on other details like how to match colours, how to get your placement just right, and how to make interactive cards.
As you progress you will probably want to invest in more gadgets to make your crafting experience a bit more convenient or to open doors to new possibilities. For now, make a list of essentials you need to purchase to start making cards. When you go to the shops you can ask your local craft shop attendant to assist you if there is something you can’t find or you are unsure of anything. Don’t worry if you can’t get everything you need immediately. You will be surprised how you can make do with what you have and even use common household items as a starting point.
Check out the Card Making section on The Artistry for tutorials and inspiration. You can also watch out for the upcoming article on different ways you can fold your cards. If you didn’t know there’s more than one way to fold a card, then this article is definitely for you! You are welcome to post a comment below if there are any other card making topics you would like to know more about.