Monday, October 10, 2011

How to Use Unique Papers in Cardmaking

There are lots of paper products that you aren't going to find in your local craft store that can be incorporated into your cardmaking.  Use your imagination and see what you can put to work!


Maps – Who doesn’t love a map?  Planning a trip, seeing new sights, experiencing a different place…all these thoughts readily come to mind upon seeing a map.  Doing a search on Pinterest for Maps brings up all types of craft ideas, so of course they can be easily translated for use in a card.  Best of all, maps are cheap and easy to get, too!  You may have some from your last vacation, or found one inserted in a National Geographic or other travel magazine you subscribe to.  If you live near a travel center, you can pick up maps and other local travel paraphernalia to your heart’s content.  Or contact your auto insurer; AAA sent me several for free.

Sheet Music – We’ve seen it all over the place in the craft world:  rolled up into a wreath (Miss Mustard Seed), Mod Podged onto a dresser, lamps, even turned into wallpaper!  Many people use vintage sheet music, which can be a bit more pricey and/or harder to find than more current pieces.  Not to fret, there are several easy solutions!  You may be able to find some free music online to print out.  In my case, I found a book of music at a garage sale for $0.50 – not difficult to find as there are lots of kids whose parents force piano lessons on them or kids who beg to play an instrument only to abandon it a month later.  Or check out a local music shop, they may have some sheets on clearance.  Even your old high school band portfolio could work.  Take the crisp white sheet, and use various Distress Inks on it, such as Tea Dye, Antique Linen, and Vintage Photo depending on the look you want.  Voila!  “Vintage” sheet music!

Photos – So obvious, yet it took me forever to come up with this.  We use photos of course in scrapbooking; why not use your own photos in card making?  If you are planning on giving the card to a friend or family member, you may already have a picture of the two of you that you could use.  Have extra prints of nature photos?  A beach vacation, a nature walk, mountains from that ski trip?  Use them as a background on your cards!  Popular paper company DCWV makes a stack of photo paper, but why not use your own images for a personal touch – printed on your choice of matte or glossy paper!

Newspaper – This is an interesting choice to use as a background.  If you live in or near a larger city, you may be able to find papers in other languages.  Chinese or Japanese papers lend an oriental themed card, a newspaper printed in Hindi or Thai would be so fun to use with lots of bright colors and gems, papers in French or Italian could show a romantic feeling card.  If you can’t find a foreign language paper at the newsstand, try your local library, the airport if you or a colleague are going on a trip, or see if you can print online.  I’d recommend using the thinnest paper you have, run it through your printer with the image of newsprint you find, then use Pumice Stone Or Old Paper Distress Ink, crumple the paper slightly and cut one side with a deckle edged scissor.

Books and Magazines – It’s really difficult for me to cut a book, but if it’s out of date or it is damaged or would be otherwise thrown away, it makes it easier.  Look for different fonts and genres.  Children’s reading material will be printed in a large, kid-friendly font – maybe good for a birthday or other fun event.  Article headlines are usually in a dramatic, bright font – could be used to say hello to an energetic friend.  You could choose to highlight a phrase you find interesting on your card, or cut out words and letters ransom-note-style to produce a unique saying. 

Other Ideas Open your eyes and your mind to what seems like regular paper to see its potential in your cards.  Take-out menus, theatre or opera programs, instruction manuals, paper bags from the grocer, etc.  As usual, your imagination is your only limitation!

And now onto some examples...

 Here are some maps that I got from AAA, vacations, etc. 
I used the one for Boston to make the following set of cards.

I started very straightforward, keeping straight angles and not too much distressing, using only a bit of Antique Linen Distress Ink.  The quote reads, "A person travels the world over in search of what he or she needs and returns home to find it." - George Moore

I was going for a bit of masculine feel on this one, [did it work?] keeping straight lines and no distressing at all.  The rope framed quote says, "The traveler is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep." - Margaret Mead

Here's where I finally started to do something interesting; tearing the sides of the map and distressing heavily using Vintage Photo.  The quote says, "Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." - Henry David Thoreau

Also much more creative with this one.  Ripped edges, and several different Distress Inks: Weathered Wood, Peeled Paint, Mustard Seed, and Black Soot.  Quote reads, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is an example using Sheet Music. 
It was part of my post for the World Card Making Day Hop.

Here's a shot at using a photo I already had.  This was taken on the island of Saint John, in the United States Virgin Islands on my honeymoon, May 2010.  To hide random people on the beach, I placed some paper, tag, and quote, "A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."  Some Martha Stewart Vintage Glitter in Turquoise, some Turquoise Stickles, and some shells wrap up this card.

This crazy card is an example of using the newspaper idea.  {I told you I wanted to a Hindi paper with fun colors, didn't I?}  I didn't feel like wasting $3.50 on a paper, so I found this image and printed it out instead.  Distress Ink in Pumice Stone, a bit of crinkling, and deckled edges make it look much more like it came off the newsstand.  A brightly embossed floral and Prima flowers filled with Stickles and gems make this a cute, if random, card.

Another super random card, but the point is to show you ideas and think out of the box!  This image was taken from the Everyday with Rachael Ray September 2011 magazine [you caught me, I couldn't bear to cut one of my books...!].  This image is of two salted caramel hot chocolate cups, and chipboard letters Y-U-M decorated with some Stickles in coordinating colors - Purple, Orange Peel, and Lagoon - on the side.  Yup.  That's all I did.

Hope you enjoyed how to use unique papers in your cardmaking.  I'd love to know something that you have used that wasn't found in a big box craft store!


  1. wow! great tips! love your idea, you are right you can find many unique papers out there that can be use in our projects.
    I will do this too.
    Also, I will search online how to use distressing inks I'm curious about that, new in crafting.
    I'm amazed with all the techniques.


  2. @Luanne

    I'm glad this post helped Luanne! I will be posting about Distress Inks soon. :-) Hopefully it will answer all your questions!


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