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Tools, tricks and techniques

When you first start card making and shopping for products, you'll find that you've got to master an entire dictionary of crafting terms and phrases for things you thought you already knew. Here are some of the key offenders...


Card toppers

These are pre-made decorations, often with a self adhesive backing. They give an interesting 3D effect and are a good option for beginners. No glue is required and a simple card need only consist of a card topper placed on blank card.


These can be used to add that special finishing touch to your card making projects. Embellishments are basically anything you can stick onto your cards to compliment the design and include stickers, card toppers, wooden shapes, skeleton leaves, wire, beads, ribbons, eyelets, braids, foam shapes, pom poms, faceted stones, petite flowers, mirror tiles and much much more.


Dry embossing – this technique uses eithera light source, for example a light box, metal templates and an embossing tool or specialist embossing systems to create raised designs and textures on card, vellum paper and metal foil. For added effect, the raised surface can be coloured with a pen or pencil. 

Heat embossing – this technique uses embossing powder, pigment or specialist clear embossing ink and a heat tool to create raised designs on card, paper and craft foam. This technique is most often used to add an extra dimension to rubber stamped images.


Glass painting

This involves the use of specialist water or solvent based glass paints and glass paint outliner or peel off stickers to create designs on glass or acetate. Pick up a HobbyCraft 'How to Glass Paint' leaflet for further information on this craft.


Iris folding

This simple technique involves folded strips of coloured or patterned paper that are layered, according to a template, into a spiral pattern behind an aperture in a card blank. The name originates from the folded paper designs resembling the iris of a camera.

3D Decoupage

3D Decoupage is about creating three dimensional pictures from multiple copies of one image. Individual elements are cut out and glued into layers to 'build out' the picture, using foam pads or glue dots, curved tipped scissors or a craft knife and a cutting mat.

Outline stickers

These are self adhesive coloured greetings, letters and shapes that offer an easy and stylish way to personalise your cards. They can be used on a variety of surfaces including card, gift boxes, wedding stationery and photo albums. A wide range of messages from Good Luck and Best Wishes to Congratulations and Happy Birthday are available in a variety of colours.

Parchment craft

This technique involves the embossing and piercing of vellum paper with a needle to give it a raised appearance that often looks like lace.


Punching and cutting

Hole punches and decorative scissors can be used to create a variety of different patterned edges and shaped holes on paper and light weight card. The 'punched' shapes can also be used to add layers and interest to your cards. Always practice on a piece of scrap paper first.


This is the ancient art of rolling thin strips of paper into different shapes and using the shapes to form designs on cards, boxes and pictures.


Rubber stamping

This is a quick and effective method of producing repeat patterns. Stamps are used with an ink pad and can be embellished with embossing powder to create a raised finish. Once dry, stamps can be coloured in with felt pen or watercolour pencils. 

Shaker cards

Shaker cards are made using an aperture card blank and confetti which can be made from sequins or beads or shapes produced from punching. The aperture is sealed with acetate by surrounding it with self-adhesive foam strips, making a cavity which is filled with the 'confetti'.

Teabag folding

This folding technique originated in Holland and was first created by folding the paper envelopes that teabags were packaged in – hence its name. It is a paper art form used to create 3D greetings cards and invitations by folding paper. Designs can be created using any paper, although a range of specialist papers are also available.


Border punches

Create a continuous border on paper or light weight card by using the white pattern printed onto the border punch, begin by punching once anywhere along the border. Slide the punched section over to the left or right until it lines up directly with the white printed section on the tool. Continue in both directions until the entire border is punched. Use markings on the punch as a guide to centre or turn corners.


Decorative hole punches

If your punch won't press, the material you're punching could be too thick so use a lighter weight paper or card. To resharpen your punch, punch through aluminium foil or sandpaper.


Paper edgers or decorative edged scissors

To cut a straight line with your paper edgers, use a ruler and pencil to draw a straight line on the backside of the paper to be cut. As you cut with the paper edger, make sure the edge of a pattern touches the line exactly the same each time the pattern is cut.


Die Cutting Machines

Several die cutting systems are available that allow you to cut out images or alphabets from your own card stock, paper etc. This enables you to cut out items for pages in specific colours and papers which co-ordinate with your layout and other embellishments. It's a quick and easy way of producing multiple copies of the sameshape, a task that is very difficult to do with scissors. Choose from a manual machine, such as Cuttlebug, Sizzix Big Shot and Sidekick, or electronic software based machines, such as Eclips or Slice.

Texture plates

Place card or paper over your texture plate, secure with low tack tape and rub with a stylus, coloured pencil or crayon. This gives a great effect for die cuts and backgrounds.



Last updated: over 3 years ago