Top 12 Card Making Tips and Tools from the Pros

12 Tips and Tools for Card Makers and Paper Crafters

In this day and age there is nothing quite like receiving happy mail. A handcrafted card is so personal and special. Here at Craft Warehouse our paper crafts team are all card makers themselves, and they know there is also nothing quite like the joy of creating hand made cards for family and friends. This popular craft can seem a little intimidating to get started…. we can help make it easy to jump in and start stamping. You can get hands on experience in the store- we offer scheduled card crafting events every month, or ask about getting started stamping the next time you visit- we can help!

Here are our top 12 card making and paper craft tips from the pros!

All supplies available at Craft Warehouse stores. Come in and try these tools. You will also see many paper craft and card samples that have been made from our design team.

Top 12 Card Making Tips

1. Clear Stamps – Clear stamps may not be new – but we’re often surprised how many people don’t use clear stamps and are kind of intimidated by them. Clear stamps take up less space and are easier to store. But, most importantly, clear stamps are used with clear stamp blocks, which makes it easier to create the layout you want because you can see your design through the clear stamp block. You can also create “custom stamps” by combining small stamps together on the block. Using clear stamps and clear acrylic blocks have become a real game changer in stamping.

how to use clear stamps

2. Nuvo Drops – Nuvo Drops make gorgeous little raised dots on your paper craft projects- way more affordable then embellishment epoxies and you can customize size, layer color in color, and more. 

Nuvo Drops at Craft Warehouse

3. Distressing Paper Edges – One of the tricks that card makers and craft paper artists use is inking the sides and edges of cut paper. When you cut paper there will be a white core showing and just by darkening this edge with ink you can make your project look better. Many people use the ink to come in on the edge of the paper shape, which gives the paper an aged or grunged effect and adds a lot of depth to your piece. We like using the Tim Holtz Distress Ink pads for this. They were made just for this purpose and work best this way.

Distressing edges of paper with ink

The video below shows two different ways to do this. Both will make your finished project look more done. It just depends on which look you prefer. We like using the The Distress Inks come in many colors and in two sizes. Some colors are so soft you barely notice it, so don’t think you need to embrace the grunge look to use this tip.

4. The Quickstik Tool by We R Memory Keepers –  This quicker-picker-upper is what you will want when working with anything small; small bits of paper, googly eyes, sequins, pearls, rhinestones, charms, and more.  One end has a low tack sticky point which helps pick up and place small items. The other end has a clear small plastic chisel shape which is ideal for moving small or tiny items in place. Pull that chisel end out and you will find a pointed acrylic end as well. And speaking of acrylics, if you have long nails (or no nails) this will be extra handy for you.

Image result for quickstick we r memory keepers

5. Quality Matters – The better quality paper and ink you use, the better your project will turn out. For example, we prefer to use ultra smooth heavy weight (100lb) cardstock for stamping on to and coloring because it accepts all kinds of inks beautifully and you can achieve clear crisp images with stamping on to this kind of cardstock. We worked to put together high quality card and envelope packs, and cardstock packs under the name of ‘Card Makers Choice’ so you can find it easily and know you are on the path to success!

The kind of ink pad you use matters, too.  Our number one favorite ink pad is Versafine. You can read more about the best ink pads for paper projects here >

Card Making Tips from the Pros - Invest in Quality Products

6. Tape Runners – Tape Runners are kind of a game changer when doing paper crafts. They’re cleaner to use and hold better than most other other ways of gluing paper. The only drawback is that they can be hard to use with cut-outs or to get the glue on the edge. If this is something you’ve experience, try the Tombow Mono Dots Adhesive Tape Runner. The dot pattern means that it doesn’t clump up and it can be applied in curved lines. Equally as helpful is the fact that when it first goes on it’s removable so you can reposition it. After a while the adhesive will become permanent.

7. Creating Backgrounds with Ink Pads – You can create inked backgrounds with other ink pads, but once you use the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Ink pads you will know why we prefer them for this technique. The hybrid mix of pigment and dye ink formula that these ink pads are made from means that you can create beautiful seamlessly blended inked papers when applied with blending foam or a blending brush. These inked papers can then be used for backgrounds, or you can stamp over them, or cut out shapes from with punches and dies. Techniques abound with these ink pads including stamping, watercoloring, and more!

8. Envelope Punch Board – All the We R Memory Keepers Punch Boards are lots of fun and will be great additions to your paper crafting tools. The Envelope Punch Board is a favorite. First off, you can make your own envelopes up to size 6″ x 8.5″, so that’s handy for a card maker. Secondly, you can make envelopes as small as 2.5″ x 3.” This easy-to-use Envelope Punch works great for creating your own gift card envelopes, envelopes within envelopes and other projects. Includes a rounded corner punch. (also available in mini-envelope punch board which make envelopes as small as 1″ x 1″).

We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board

9. Coloring in Stamped Images – Coloring in stamps is one of the elements of card making that can intimidate people at first. it takes some time and practice to get the results you want, but it’s easier and more intuitive than you might imagine. Our card-making pros suggest that you start with watercolor pencils or color pencils- as this is something you’ve probably used before and they give you lots of control.

When you’re ready to move on to markers , we recommend the Tombow Dual Brush Markers. We have several 10pc sets- these are a great way to get started as the colors inside have been professionally paired together to create a pleasing color pallet. Each set comes with 1 clear blending pen – use this to aide in blending colors together. These dual brush pens are double ended- you’ll find a bullet tip on one end- great for drawing or smaller details, and a brush tip on the other end great for coloring, brush lettering, and more. You can get watercolor like results from these pens by first coloring with the brush end onto a plastic pallet or glass surface to create a color pallet, and then dip a slightly wet paint brush into the color and then paint!

coloring in stamps with tombow markers

10. Invest in some specialty items – Every card needs some extra oomph to get to that completed look you’re striving for. Sometimes it’s twine, sequins, Nuvo drops, ribbon…..we like adding some shimmery glisten or a surprise element to a card whenever we can. The Snow Marker is a great item to use to take your card up a level.

snow marker on cards
This snow marker was used to create snow on a greeting card, but also worked great to create an ocean surface on the shark card.

A newer item that has been a fast fave is the Liquid Stardust by Lawn Fawn. You can add this sparkle to your watercolors, your ink palette, or your alcohol inks and you’ll get sparkly colors. Or just apply straight from the bottle to add some glisten to any project.

Liquid Stardust for card making

11. Cleaning your Stamps – This next tip is something people ask us about regularly- how to clean your stamps? Many people will tell you they use baby wipes, and so long as they are alcohol free that is fine…but an even better choice is the Stamp Shammy by Lawn Fawn. All you need is a little water to moisten the shammy and then clean your stamps. It’s safe for your stamps, there are no chemicals being used, and as you use it over and over again you have no waste. (Yes, your shammy will become stained with the ink as it is cleaned from your stamps- this is what is supposed to happen- a stained shammy is proof that your stamps are well cared for). When Shammy dries out you simply re-wet.

Cleaning your Stamps

12. Die Cutting Machine – If all of these tips and tools are not new to you and you are in the market for something to up your card making magic – the next must-have would be a die cutting machine. You have a lot of options here. You can make a smaller investment and get a smaller machine like the Sidekick or you can get the larger die cutting machine like the Sizzix Big Shot.

AND, If you want to really expand your horizons and cut anything you want – take a look at the Silhouette Cameo – the ultimate cutting machine.

Die Cutting Machines for expert Card Making at Craft Warehouse

We hope these card-making tips have been helpful to you. All stores have at least one Card Make and Take every month. Many stores have card clubs where you can meet with other card makers, share tips, learn new skills and find out about new products. Find your Craft Warehouse store here to see their events >

Card Club at Hazel Dell Craft Warehouse in Vancouver, Wa