What is Card Making? Everything You Need to Know About This Popular Paper Crafting Hobby

9 minute read

watercolor handmade card

Among the wide range of crafting options in the paper crafting world, card making is one of the most popular and meaningful crafts. Card making is a form of craft that aims to create a handmade card to give. The making and also the giving of the card create joy for both the giver and the receiver. Therefore, this activity does not only create beautiful works of art, but it also motivates gift giving and the fostering of special relationships between people.

Card making ideas, card making supplies, card making kits and MORE!

A lot of different techniques and products can be used to create a handmade card. Crafters from many different walks of life and crafting preferences enjoy learning card making ideas and bringing their own creative twists to the art of making cards. They use many different techniques to put their cards together. These may typically include stamping, die cutting, heat embossing, and other popular paper crafting techniques. At the same time, many supplies and methods that are traditionally used for scrapbooking can also be used to create these little works of art. If you look at many handmade cards, you may often spot patterned papers and embellishments intended for scrapbook use. In that way, card making often merges with other paper crafting hobbies in fun, creative ways.

card making supplies and process

Card making as a hobby has become very popular among crafters. Just as the hobby has expanded, so too have the sources for card making supplies, design ideas, and more. There are many places to find inspiration, from card making tutorials to card making ideas to craft blogs. Live and online card making classes are also frequent occurrences for crafters who want to dive deeper into the world of card making or simply wish to improve their crafting skills.

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Industry Updates

The greeting card industry as a whole has become quite large. Gifting cards for various occasions is a very common occurrence. People have habitually been giving greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and other  celebratory occasions for years. Greetings cards are even used during tragic occurrences, and sympathy cards, get well soon cards, and other similar cards are also common. People have always treasured a special personalized message from loved ones as they pass major milestones in their lives.

Handmade Christmas card

However, as has been the case with many other industries, technology has gotten in the way. The greeting card industry has seen a fall in recent times due to the invention of electronic greeting cards. Many people found it easier to send an e-card, as they have come to be known, then to physically pick up a card from the store and mail it. Despite the rise of the e-card, the giving and sending of physical cards could not be completely stifled. To counteract this phenomenon, greeting card companies began to try adding more of a handmade touch to their cards to add something a little more to the products they offer. Nothing could beat the special personalized touch of a physical card and a creative piece of artwork that could be held in one’s hand.

A Brief History of Card Making

It may be interesting to note that card making is not a recent invention. In fact, its roots can be seen as far back as many centuries ago. The history of card making can be traced back to either the ancient Chinese sending greeting cards on New Year’s Day or the early Egyptians sending greetings using papyrus scrolls. According to Wikipedia, it was in the 1850s when “the greeting card had been transformed from a relatively expensive, handmade and hand-delivered gift to a popular and affordable means of personal communication, due largely to advances in printing and mechanization.” If you want to know more about the history of cardstock paper for card making, CLICK HERE.

As the trend of exchanging handmade cards continued, it was followed by new trends like giving Christmas cards. According to Wikipedia, the first Christmas card or greeting card was designed by the artist John Calcott Horsley. He was hired by Sir Henry Cole to design “a holiday card that he could send to his friends and acquaintances.” This was back in 1843 in London. Further developments in technology such as color lithography in 1930 have “propelled the manufactured greeting card industry forward.” In the 1980s, consumers started searching for greeting cards that were slightly different from what was already available in the market. It was in the late 1990s when e-cards made their way into the market.

Now, greeting cards are a very common occurrence. People especially appreciate that handmade cards offer a special, more thoughtful touch.

Basic Card Making Supplies and Card Making Ideas

Cardmaking tools

Card making is a very huge and far-reaching crafting hobby and industry. Just as most creative hobbies fall on a range of different ideas, it is a broad category that includes tons of different types of card making designs, styles, and crafting approaches. There are so many different styles of card making that crafters may use to create their handmade cards. These range from clean and simple to very extravagant, with lots of layers and embellishments.

Cardmaking Techniques and Styles

Each crafter has a distinct style and often creates cards of a certain type. Therefore, crafters are often known for their signature cardmaking techniques and styles with recognizable features. However, crafters may also branch out and try crafting with a variety of styles, especially when they spend a lot of time making lots of cards.

Embossing paste and stencil from Altenew

As with the many different styles, there are also different cardmaking techniques that can be used to create different looks, card making designs, and textures. A brief scroll through cardmaking blogs or card making YouTube videos will show you just how many different ways cards can be made. Some of the most popular cardmaking techniques that are used by crafting beginners are stamping, watercoloring, decoupage, and mixed media. Cardmaking ideas and cardmaking tools definitely open up a whole world of possibilities for crafters!

Here is a quick and easy watercoloring technique on a handmade card that is super beginner-friendly!

Card Making For Different Occasions

Apart from a card’s style and the techniques that go into making a card, there is also variation when it comes to a card’s purpose. Handmade cards can be created for many different occasions. The most common types of cards that you will see on crafting forums are card making for birthdays and holiday cards (particularly Christmas cards), but cards can be sent for all occasions or even just to say hello. Other occasions include weddings, anniversaries, graduation, house warming, sympathy, get well soon, thank you, and more.

Thanksgiving handmade card

It’s also important to note that many card makers enjoy exchanging cards with family, friends, and other loved ones to simply remind them that they are thinking of them. You don't need an occasion to drop a special handmade card with a personalized message into someone’s mailbox and tell them you care. We like to think that the joy, time, and love that we put into creating a handmade card is then passed on to the recipient. Creating a handmade card is much more than just the art of creating a card; it’s a gift of joy and a ‘hug in an envelope’. In that way, the love and joy doesn’t end when the actually crafting component is complete. This is a big reason why card making is one of the most meaningful crafting hobbies.

Materials and Manufacturing of Card Making Supplies and Card Making Tools

handmade floral card from Altenew

There is no limit to types of materials and crafting supplies that can be used for card making. Card makers often dedicate an entire section of their house as their craft room or crafting space so they can store all their card making supplies and get their crafting done in one place whenever needed. There are so many different materials and cardmaking tools for card makers. Some basic supplies that the majority of card makers have on hand often include cardstock, paper, clear acrylic stamps, dye inks or pigment inks, embellishments, stencils, alcohol markers, dies, and watercoloring tools. However, crafting supplies aren’t limited to these. Many other supplies can be added to your handmade cards. For example, ribbon, twine, stickers, enamel dots, and patterned paper are but just a few.

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How to Start Card Making: Stamping, Die-cutting, Watercoloring, and More!

stamping mat from Altenew

One of the most popular techniques for creating handmade cards is stamping. Almost any handmade card you come across will have involved stamping in some way, shape, or form. Using stamping techniques for card making can be implemented in a variety of ways. For example, card makers may use stamps to add sentiments, to add colorful images, or to add images to color. These images can then be colored using different mediums: colored pencils, artist alcohol markers, inks, watercolors to name but a few. Here's a simple stamping technique that you can try on your next handmade card project.

When using stamping on your handmade projects you will also need to use stamping inks to transfer a stamp image onto paper. If you want to learn more about different kinds of inks for stamping, CLICK HERE

Inks for stamping come in a wide range of colors. This allows card makers to make cards in many different color palettes, designs, and themes. Many card makers use stamping as the central point of their card. They may stamp a large floral image in the center of the card, color it in with their favorite coloring mediums, and then add a sentiment relevant to the card’s purpose somewhere on top or on the side.

Die Cutting Essentials & Gradient Cardstock Bundle from Altenew

Another popular product to use in cardmaking tutorials is the category of dies for paper crafting. These, too, come in different forms - coordinating dies, sentiment dies, cover dies and stand-alone dies. With crafting dies, card makers are able to quickly and efficiently cut out beautiful designs with a die cutting machine that they can add to their cards. This helps avoid the difficult and monotonous experience of fussy cutting, especially when there are lots of tiny details to cut. Dies that coordinate with stamps are especially popular, as they allow card makers to easily stamp and cut out images and layer them as they see fit on their cards.

cardmaking embellishments from Altenew

Other useful cardmaking tools are pre-printed papers and embellishments. These products can speed up time when creating a handmade card, and there are lots of these available in the card making market.

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Crafting free 101 class - cardmaking

Card making is a wonderful creative hobby that lets crafters create beautiful mini pieces of art. Not only is this hobby relaxing, but it also can be very rewarding. You can spread joy through these special and personalized handmade cards. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

This always depends on what you intend to do with it. For stamping though it’s always best to use a smooth white cardstock. This will make your stamped images stamp nice and smooth in the colors you choose to stamp with.
There are a few basic supplies that you will need for card making, these being cardstock and adhesive. The next step is to work out what you may want to put on your card, be that patterned papers, embellishments, die cuts or stamped images. For stamping you will need stamps, ink and acrylic blocks to start.
This depends on what you want to do with it. For stamping it’s always best to use a smooth white cardstock. For die cut images you may want to use colored cardstock. If it is a layering die cut, having colored cardstocks in various shades helps.
It is very easy to use washi tape on cards. Simply unroll the desired length of washi tape and adhere into place on your card.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Paper Crafting

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