If you are just starting out in card making, you will be wondering what tools, equipment and supplies you are going to need. You don’t want to spend a fortune but you do want to make sure you have all the basics. This article will hopefully give you some pointers about what tools and supplies you might find useful when you start card making.
I have been a card maker for around 10 years now and as you can imagine, I have quite a stash of tools and equipment that I have collected over the years. To be perfectly honest, 95% of this stuff is unnecessary and rarely gets used.
I started off my card making with just a few tools and managed to make lovely little cards which I sold at a local market and to friends and family. As I have added to this vast collection of ‘stuff’, my cards may have got more complicated but I still think those first simple efforts had a charm all of their own.
So this got me thinking…if I had to get rid of everything,except for a few key things, what would I keep? Here is my top twelve cardmaking tools and supplies which I can’t do without and a few comments to go along with them. Why twelve? Well, I wanted it to be a top ten list but I just couldn’t narrow it down, so it is a top twelve list instead!
An obvious one I know but it really is worth getting the right pair for the right job. I actually have heaps of scissors now but I started off with just one, a mid-size pair. Choosing a medium sized pair of good sharp scissors, enabled me to cut both smaller tricker things but still be able to accurately cut larger things too. As your collection expands, you can add smaller nail scissors and decorative scissors (eg wavy, scalloped etc) but if you are just starting out, just make use of a medium sized pair that you are comfortable with and already have in your cupboard.
A ruler is an absolute must. As you get used to making cards and positioning things, you will develop an ‘eye’, so thatyou are able to place things accurately just by looking at it. I still like to usea ruler when I am doing very simple cards with a single element, as a slightmistake in positioning can stand out like a sore thumb. I also use a ruler tomake sure my folds are accurate and for trimming. My first ruler was a plastic one but I recommend getting a metal ruler as you can then use it with a craft knife without cutting the ruler itself.
My craft knife is an indispensible part of my kit. I use it all the time for trimming and cutting papers, cards and chipboard. When you have to cut out a piece of card inside a design, scissors are too unwieldy to use initially, so I tend to use a craft knife to make the first cuts to allow me to get my scissors in. You get a lovely straight and crisp cut too, which you often can’t get with scissors and a craft knife will cut through a good weight of card, as long as it is sharp.
If you are going to be using a craft knife, you should invest in a craft mat to use it with. My husband bought me my supersized craft mat quite early on and it is still going strong after being cut, dented, heated with a heat tool by mistake and drawn on. You can see how tatty it is in the photo above. Most craft mats will have measurements on, which is useful for lining things up but most of all, they just provide a good flat surface for you to go crazy with your crafting, without wrecking the antique table Aunty Flossy left you.
I started off with a small daisy punch and I can’t stress how useful it was. With just one punch, I was able to make a whole host of different designs on my cards. By using the punched out shape or the hole it left behind and arranging them in different ways, using different colours and embellishments, I was able to create a vast range of card designs. Punches,like rubber stamps, can be addictive and I have to admit that I have more than 100 in my collection now. I still use this daisy punch but I have other favourites too, like my lovely scallop circle punch.
If I could only choose one rubber stamp, I would go with a good basic flower design or one thatI can use in lots of different ways. Even with one design, you can vary the result by how you colour it, by mounting it on different cards, by cutting it out and layering it etc, so you can get lots of different looks from one single investment.
Basic Black Ink Pad
With my stamp, I need an ink pad. If I was to choose one ink pad, I would go for my basic black waterproof ink pad that doesn’t run when colouring in with watercolour pencils, pens or paints. I love this archival pad from Ranger, which gives a lovely clear image. Have a look at our article on ink pads for more information on different types of ink pads.
You don’t need to have one of these but they are actually a very useful tool. If you don’t want to buy one, then you can get by using the back of a knife or an old dried up ballpoint pen for scoring. In fact, I didn’t get one until quite late on and only then realised how useful a tool it is. I actually prefer using this tool rather than a bone folder for scoring card. I also use it to create embossed effects with my brass stencils, or to make embossed squares to mount embellishments onto and I have even used it for applying white glue to tricky places.
I am definitely a glue girl when it comes to card making. I do use double sided tape too sometimes. The thing is that, most of the time, I am not perfect and I do make mistakes, so a I find a glue stick very forgiving to use as it allows me to lift off and reposition if I have got it wrong first time. I like to use a clear glue stick and apply it in a swift and definite motion, to avoid overloading the cardstock with glue. If you get your cardstock or paper wet, it will warp and look tatty. I do realise that there is a very strong contingent of double-sided tape supporters out there, so I will say that it is really a matter of choice with this one and in fact you will almost certainly end up owning and using a range of adhesives and glues.
There are so many different ways to colour in your stamped images, including inks, watercolour crayons, Copic markers, paints and brush pens. Some of them are an expensive investment if you are just starting out, so watercolour pencils are a good first step. I got my first set of pencils a few years ago in the discount store and I haven’t tired of using them now. They are easy to transport, so I can take them with me on holiday and they give a lovely soft effect like watercolour paints.
You can use a normal brush with your watercolour pencils but if you are going to be colouring stamped images a lot, a water-brush is a good investment and I love using mine.You use the brush to wash over where you have coloured with your watercolour pencils or crayons. The brush will blend the pencils, to give a true watercolour effect and you can use it to create light and dark to give your image depth. You can get water-brushes in thin, medium and thick, for using on small, medium and large areas respectively but the medium sized one is probably the most useful and is right there in my top 12 card making tools.
I adore my heat tool. This is one of my oldest and most treasured craft tools and has been a faithful addition to my stash. The main use for my heat tool is using it with embossing powders, for shrink plastic and to heat set ink. I have been hooked on heat embossing, since I first watched gold form before my eyes on a stamped image. I was fascinated and proceeded to make 300 stamped and embossed gift tags for my first ever craft table. In those early days, I used a toaster to melt my embossed images, until I nearly set fire to my kitchen! Very shortly after that, my husband bought me my heat tool…I think he was worried I was going to burn down the whole house at some stage. Well, I guess, this list should be top thirteen craft tools and supplies, as I couldn’t really do without my gold embossing powder to use with my heat tool either!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and that it has given you some ideas for stocking up your craft cupboard to start card making.
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