Before you start making cards part 2: Sticking, folding and using text
There are many different types of adhesive and tape and it will save you time and heartache if you choose the correct one.
Paper adhesive or all-purpose adhesive
A solid glue-stick type is usually less messy than liquid glues and is fine for a wide range of uses. White craft glue is a good, general-purpose glue that is suitable for most materials.
Double-sided tape and masking tape
Double-sided tape is handy for sticking most things, but is an expensive option if used in bulk. It is available in different widths. Masking tape is generally low-tack, so can be used to hold things in place temporarily.
Foam mounting pads
Since these have a thickness to them, they are ideal to raise pieces off the surface to give a three-dimensional quality.
Measuring, folding and cutting techniques
These basic techniques will be used time and again so they are gathered together here where you can find them easily. Technique types are grouped together so alternative methods are easy to evaluate.
- Marking and cutting
When marking measurements, use light pencil marks so they can be rubbed out easily later. For many projects you need to begin with at least two edges straight and at right angles to each other. Use a setsquare to check; draw a guideline and trim one edge if necessary.
For the cleanest cut, use a steel ruler and a craft knife with a new blade. When cutting, you have the most control when cutting toward yourself. Press the blade firmly and evenly as you move the knife along the line.
When cutting shaped openings, draw the outline carefully in pencil first. Place the item on a cutting mat and cut around the outline with a sharp craft knife. Keep the blade as vertical as possible while you cut ‚ take your time and try to achieve a smooth shape first time. Rub out any remaining pencil when you have finished.
Scoring fold lines before you fold thin cardstock or thick paper will give a much neater and crisper fold. Experiment with different scoring techniques on a scrap piece of the material first.
Mark the ends of the fold line on the cardboard or paper lightly with a soft pencil. Place a ruler between the marks as a guide and score the line along it by pressing down firmly with the point of a bone folder. Rub out the pencil marks.
A scoring board can save time if you have many folds to make. Use the markings to align the piece of material to be scored, finding a groove that matches your fold position. Holding the material securely in place, run the tip of the bone folder firmly down the groove.
You will usually achieve a much crisper fold if you score the line first, although some materials will fold easily without scoring.
After scoring the fold line if necessary, fold the cardboard or paper over. Most materials will fold better with the scored 'valley' on the inside, but vellum folds better with it on the outside. For a sharp crease, flatten the fold with the broad side of a bone folder.
The design may call for the material to be folded several times, for instance an aperture card may have an integral backing that folds to the inside. To create a double fold card, score both lines on the same side then trim 3mm (1/8in) off the outer edge of the right-hand panel, which will fold in to cover the back of the middle panel. The left-hand panel folds the same way to make the back of the card.
For a concertina design, make the first score line on one side of the material and the second score line on the reverse side. Form the concertina by folding one panel forwards and one panel backwards.
- Test folds on a piece of scrap material first if possible, to see how well the techniques work.
- Coarser materials with loose or obvious fibres, or with inclusions, may not fold very cleanly.
- Remember, it is easier to fold the paper in the direction of the grain.
Almost all greeting cards will have some form of text, even if it is only a word or phrase. Neat handwriting is perfectly acceptable, but if you are not confident about achieving a good result there are other options, there are even computer-generated fonts that look like handwriting.
- Letter stickers
Letter stickers are available in a wide range of fonts, sizes and colours.
Before removing the backing, arrange the stickers in a straight line where they are to go, using a ruler as a guide. Peel off the backing and stick the letters down one by one. Placing the stickers in a straight line looks more formal.
For a more random, casual look, arrange the letters by eye on the page at slightly differing levels. When you are happy with the arrangement, peel off the backing and stick the letters down one by one.
- Rub-down lettering
Rub-down lettering can be applied directly to a greetings card and is available in alphabets and as ready-made words or mottoes.
Choose what you want to transfer, peel away the protective backing and rub down on the front of the carrier sheet following the manufacturer's instructions.
If the sheet did not come with a rubbing tool, use a wooden craft stick or a scoop-tip embossing tool. When the word is in place, carefully peel off the carrier sheet. Cover the word with the backing paper and lightly burnish over it with the rubbing tool, don't press too hard or you may damage the letters.
- Computer printed lettering
Using a computer to generate text offers endless opportunities, particularly with a colour printer. A computer with a reasonable quality printer will produce attractive looking and grammatically correct text quickly and easily. You can play around onscreen before printing, trying different fonts, sizes and colours, and often arrange text in circles or other shapes with the click of a mouse. Most printers will print on unconventional paper as long as it is not too thick, flimsy or slippery, but even conventional printer paper offers quite a few options.
- Letter stamps
Alphabet stamps can be very flexible, you can use them with inkpads or embossing powder.
To print in a straight line, make up the word with the individual letters and push the faces against a steel ruler to make sure all the letters are sitting level.
Move the ruler away carefully without moving the letters and lay a strip of masking tape along the side of the letter handles. Wrap the tape right around the handles to keep the letters together in a block as you stamp.
Use the block to stamp the word in position on the paper. To add extra interest you could try using different colours for different words or to highlight one word to make it stand out more. If you are stamping several lines, draw light guidelines in pencil.
To stamp an uneven line, use individual letters. Start in the centre, using the centre letter of the text, and then stamp toward the ends, spacing by eye. If you are stamping under an image, position it but don't stick it down until you have finished stamping, so you can adjust its position if necessary.
- Found letters
Letters torn or cut from magazines and made up into words using a collage technique can also be very effective.
Carefully tear or cut out all the different letters you need. Mix fonts, sizes and colours for an interesting final effect.
Stick each letter down individually, using paper adhesive. You can either stick them direct to the page, or onto another sheet of paper that you then apply to the page.
All about fonts
Serif fonts have fine cross-lines that finish off the strokes of each letter; sans-serif fonts do not so the letters have plain ends. Most fonts are also available in different styles, such as bold or italic, so you can introduce variety even if you stick to a single typeface. A computer generally comes pre-loaded with a selection of fonts and more can be downloaded free from some websites.
As with anything else, fashion in fonts does tend to change, so choosing a font ultimately comes down to personal preference. Try to pick one that suits the card: a script font will suit a vintage-style greeting card better than a sans-serif, which has a more contemporary look.
Don't use too many different fonts on one card, the result will probably look rather untidy unless they are combined very skilfully.
The content on this page is taken from Ultimate Papercraft Bible, published by Collins & Brown.
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Last updated: 3 months ago