I love card shops (this one is so, so cool) and I have been known to buy the perfect birthday card for someone almost a year in advance. A card is such a simple thing, but finding the perfect one makes me so happy. Over the years, I’ve started to create my own paper products (cards, gift tags, labels – stuff like that), and more recently, I’ve started to learn different techniques. There is now a Paper Source four blocks and 3 avenues away from my apartment (there are none in Pittsburgh yet), which I think has contributed to my love of all things paper. Typically, I go with the A2 luxe cards in Cream and I chose the envelope color depending on what it’s for. My favorite go-to envelope color for every day cards is the luxe Blush. Both colors are really soft, and with the cream, it’s a little more subtle than a bright white. In the photo above, I used Cream (left), Pure White (middle), and Paper Bag (right). Overtime, I’ve accumulated kind of a lot of supplies, but in a tiny apartment, I have to be careful to keep my collection at bay so that everything fits in my craft bin (that’s a thing). Because of this, I’ve learned that you can do a lot with a little.
This is really all I needed to make the cards above – the only thing missing is the embossing tool (this is similar to what I have). My go-to tools are a fine tip glue pen, glitter (this is the best set ever), embossing ink, embossing powder, a stamp and a dobber. These are some of the variations that can be made with the above:
Glue Pen + Glitter
This card is the most simple and easy to make. My handwriting is not the best, but I’ve found that a glue pen is actually very forgiving. Once you add the glitter, it looks nice automatically. I’ve also learned that to get the best results, have the glitter chosen and ready to go before you use the glue. I’ve had the same glue pen for about a year and a half and am just now running out – I’ve written something as along as a full quote and something as short as one word, like this one. When writing something longer, it helps to go word by word and to apply the glitter as you go. The glitter and glue pen options is a great way to design the cover of a folded card.
Glue Pen + Embossing Powder + Stamp + Embossing Tool
This one can be made with any kind of stamp and embossing ink (or even glue). Similar to any other kind of stamping technique, this card is really simple, but has a more luxe look from the powder. The trick I’ve learned as I have practiced embossing is to gently press the stamp straight into the ink pad and to pull it away the same way. My instinct is to wiggle the stamp around to get the most coverage, but what happens is that the ink bleeds onto more of the stamp outside of the image and this makes the lines of the stamp less pronounced. I usually stamp 2-3 times, pour the embossing powder, and repeat so that the ink does not dry in the process. I also try to touch the surface of the card as little as possible because trace amounts of the powder will stick and melt where it shouldn’t when it’s time for the heating tool. After I have the number of stamps that I want, I tap the edges of the card against whatever surface I’m using to shake off any excess powder. If you are using the heat tool, it works best to hold it a few inches away and to move it slowly around the paper. After a few seconds, the powder will start to melt to create the foil effect. If you aren’t using a heat tool, the same thing can be done with glue and glitter.
Dobber + Ink Pad
This is the technique I’ve experimented with most recently. The dobber and ink create a sort of watercolor / ombré effect. When I tried this, my first thought was to dab the card with ink and gradually create a darker bottom and dab only a bit at the top. The problem was that the circular shape of the tool was visible each time. What I’ve found is that the best way to create a more fluid look is to use the tool almost like a marker. Here, I moved the dobber back and forth horizontally, almost like coloring in a large surface, and repeated in the areas that I wanted to be more saturated. It took me a couple of tries to get the effect that I wanted, but I love how it gives the paper a completely different look. This would be a cool technique for recipe cards or invitations.
I really love finding the perfect card for a birthday or special occasion because it feels like they can articulate a feeling in the form of a keepsake. There are so many amazing options already, but there is something about hand making something with someone in mind that makes it even better.