All the Things: Stuff you might want as a new card maker

Cathy ZielskeCards43 Comments
So… not sure if you noticed, but in addition to scrapbooking, I’m making cards now, too.

You know how it started, right? The publisher of Scrapbook & Cards Today said I could work with product from our awesome advertisers, so I picked Stampin’ Up, and they sent me a Big Shot. And then I started to play. And then I started watching YouTube videos (Hello Yoda Jennifer McGuire Ink!) And then I fell unconditionally and irrevocably in love with card making. (Yes, that is my inner Bella Swan talking.)

And then I started shopping.


The upside for me is that my business is scrapbooking and now includes cardmaking, so these purchases are direct tax deductions. That’s how it goes. There ain’t nothin’ sketchy there at all for the IRS. It’s pretty clear.

The downside is, it still costs money. And because I tend to go all in on stuff, that means many shopping carts have been filled and purchased from Simon Says Stamp. In fact, it was all that shopping that let me to contact Simon and ask, “Would you want to work with me on stamps?” But make no mistake, I’m still filling up carts and shopping.

It got me thinking about what do I really need as a new cardmaker. Now need is a bit misleading. I need food, water and sleep. I technically don’t need anything else, but there are things that make this process easier (and a lot of fun). Here are some things that have helped this new card maker jump in with both feet.
Manual Die Cut Machine—This is the main tool for using metal craft dies and metal craft dies will make you lose your mind with glee once you start figuring out how they work. For me, it started out so simply! Just a few shape dies and I was hooked! I have a Big Shot and I think it’s a miraculous thing.
Shape Dies—A set of rectangle shape dies would be a fantastic first purchase for anyone looking to get into card making. I have three rectangle sets, all from Lawn Fawn (and a fourth one is going into my cart asap!) I have the Stitched Rectangle sets (the large set and the small set), and the Large Dotted Rectangles Set (planning to buy the Small Dotted set.) Why this type of die? Because you can build your card on panels before mounting your work onto a finished card base. If I had to choose either the large or small size of these sets, I’d go with the large. I use the second to largest size (3.25 x 4.25) for nearly all of my cards.
Inks—Well, of course you’ll need some inks, and this one is a bit tricky for me to make a recommendation. I will say this: get a great black ink, such as Memento black (this ink works great with Copic markers, if you plan to go that route some day). Right now, I’m sticking with dye inks. Here are a few options to consider.

  1. Get some cube sets: Hero Arts makes awesome mini cubes of colors that already work together. You could pick a favorite and just have one set to play with. The Hero Cubes are designed to work with layering stamps (another whole area of stamping that is magical and addicting), but I’ll get to that a bit later. Lawn Fawn also makes cubes. And of course, the one and only Tim Holtz has all of his distress inks in cubes, too! And if you really love one of the pads, you can upgrade later to a full size pad. You don’t need it all at once, so this is a good place to start.
  2. Look at collections of inks: you can purchase entire collections of ink. I feel like this approach, while it may seem a bit extravagant, once you get ’em, you have ’em. But I would say only do that if you think you’re really going to go all in. Lawn Fawn has their entire collection here, and I’m not gonna lie… it’s tempting.
  3. Versamark Ink—You probably already have this, but if you plan to do any heat embossing, you’ll need it handy.
Embossing stuff—You’ll need the basics. In addition to some Versamark ink, you’ll need a heat tool and some basic embossing powder. (Just start with white if you’re new to this stuff, because it’s completely magic how it shows up on dark surfaces, or vellum!) Honestly, having the basics will come in so handy. I literally just got my hands on a new Wagner Heat Embossing Tool. If it’s good enough for Jennifer McGuire, it’s good enough for me!
Stamps and dies—Last but not least, you’ll want a stamp set you love and a matching die set. For me, this has been magical. That you can stamp something and then cut it out perfectly and then DO stuff with it? GET OUT! And yes, I am starting to amass sets. So far, I have loved playing with: Simon Says Stamp Roses For You (stamps and dies), and Mama Elephant Party Animals (stamps and dies). Really, though, this is up to you. For example, I mentioned layering stamps earlier, and those can be really fun to play with as well. I just got the Beautiful Day set from Altenew and feel like it’s going to be really fun to play with.

OH! And one more thing: if you buy metal dies, you’ll need to buy some snips to cut them apart. And possibly some BandAids.

Get a Frickin’ MISTI! I added this to the list after this post went live, and I cannot BELIEVE I forgot it, because I kid you not: THIS tool? This is what is making stamping a successful thing for me to do. I have both the mini you see above, and the full sized MISTI. I feel like this is such a worthwhile investment. Truly! If I could have only one? Get the full size. I just didn’t know how much I would LOVE this tool so I went with the less expensive mini. Now I have both because the people at My Sweet Petunia are awesome!
Coloring Tools—This one, I’m going to leave wide open. You can color stamped images with colored pencils, Tombow Markers, Copic Markers—whatever you feel like trying, it’s up to you. I will tell you this: Copics are the shit. It is my goal in crafty life to acquire as many as possible. They may be more addictive than nicotine. I speak from experience.

Scoring Tool—This is something I literally JUST got, a tool to score cards and WHAT a difference it makes. I am using the Simply Scored tool from Stampin’ Up and it’s working like a charm! It’s definitely a bit on the large side, and I know a lot of card makers use this one by Martha Stewart.
And last but not least: white cardstock! Before a few weeks ago, I had never used Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I feel as though I am a woman discovering paper for the first time. It is smooth and it has a really high whiteness factor. It’s perfect for stamping and coloring and for using as card panels and card bases. Cannot recommend this enough. I have a full ream sitting on my desk. Good, good stuff!

Now I realize this is a lot to take in. I do. And you most certainly do NOT need All The Things off the bat. But this might be helpful if you’re looking to take the plunge. I will continue sharing my discoveries and experiences in this new card making world. I haven’t had this much fun making shit in a really long time.
While I have done a ridiculous amount of shopping in the past month, I will also tell you that after I jumped in with both feet, many wonderful companies have shared products with me, and I would like to thank them right now!

Hero Arts
Lawn Fawn
Simon Says Stamp
Stampin’ Up!
Tim Holtz
Neat & Tangled
Gina K. Designs
My Sweet Petunia

The warm welcome from the card making community has been literally a soul injection. I mean, I knew scrapbookers were good people. Turns out, so are the card makers.

To read more about this card making foray, click here for all my card posts thus far.

If you’d like to see how I learned to make the card above, watch this terrific video from Laura Bassen, my newest card making crush!


Thank You Card Supplies:

Cathy ZielskeAll the Things: Stuff you might want as a new card maker

43 Comments on “All the Things: Stuff you might want as a new card maker”

  1. #1
    Karen S

    Hey Cathy! So happy to see your card adventures! I have a question – instead of investing in matching stamp and die sets, could you use your Silhouette to cut them out?

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Good question! The only thing is, I would assume that these stamp sets are not available in the Silhouette Store. 🙂

      But yes, you can totally do print and cuts. I have never had much success with that myself. I spent literally hours one Christmas trying to do it and had a bit of success, but more frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Cameo! But this moves me away from relying on my computer, and I think that’s part of the fun, too! To just be able to make stuff that doesn’t involve my computer.

      Also, I love how many of these stamp and die sets are set up, with that cut having a narrow white cushion of space around the stamped image. I don’t know if you can find a similar thing in print and cut? That is something I am not sure of. But I love that look.

      Also, the coloring. Now I haven’t done a ton of coloring with the Copics, but it’s just a look that you might have a harder time recreating with a print and cut. 🙂

      1. #1.1.1
        Karen S

        I totally relate to the frustration of print and cut. I’ve nearly thrown my Cameo out the window twice with that feature!

        Wanting to avoid that pain, I went googling and found this link She scans the acetate sheet with the stamp set and then traces. I would think you could use offset to get the white border.

        I’ve got to thank you for being such an inspiration. You’re always challenging yourself! That’s awesome.

      2. #1.1.2

        Technique Tuesday sells cut files for their sets. As a cardmaker, I will say some of the dies are easier than configuring the Silhouette. I also might not know easy ways to get the Silhouette to cut around a stamped image.

  2. #2

    It is so fun to watch you go ‘all in’ on stamping. Do you know if the thin metal dies will work with my little Sizzix Side Kick?

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Now that I don’t know, but I would assume? Anyone want to pipe in? (Says the newbie die cutter!)

  3. #3
    Janet Lech Picado

    Love your honesty, Cathy! I caught the cardmaking bug a few years ago (I think it all started with Darlene Devries) and I’m totally addicted to Youtube and following Jennifer McGuire, Laura Bassen, Kristina Werner, Paulina of PPP, Lydia Feidler, and a host of others! I started buying scrapbooking supplies and never used much of it, then caught onto cardmaking. I’ve been wanting the buy the Brother Scan N Cut but haven’t got around to it yet. But it does what you said. Scans images and cuts them, either on the line or you can specify border. It also cuts basic shapes.
    Anyway, thanks.
    PS Dont tell my husband how much I spend on crafty supplies 😛

    1. #3.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’ll have to check out some of those women!

      Every time my hubby looks at a new purchase, before he says anything, I just shrug and say, “Tax write off.” lol!

      1. #3.1.1
        Tammy B

        You should also check out Debby Hughes of Limedoodle. She’s amazing! Or Jessica Frost-Ballas or Wanda Guess or Francine Vuilleme or…the list goes on!! I read Lydia Fieldlers blog because she is funny and real and honest. Kinda like another blogger we all know! ? You would totally get her!

  4. #4
    Sabrina Kapp

    Can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying living this experience vicariously! I’ve slowed down on scrapbooking over the last couple of years, but make most of my cards now. None as cute as yours, and without a die cutting tool. The wheels (and dollar signs, ha) are spinning!! Enjoy – and thanks for sharing your journey!!

  5. #5

    It has been so much fun to watch you venture into card making! I’ve followed you for years with the crap-free scrapbooking and I am happy to see some of that coming through on your card designs too. Those stitched border dies – I’ve had my eye on those and after seeing your post today, I decided I better make that purchase before they sell out! I suspect that many of the things you mention in this post will be purchased by a lot of others today because you’ve put your “stamp of approval” on them! Some of the stamp sets are already sold out so if that’s any indication…. And I think those companies need to cut you a commission check for helping them to sell product! Please keep making the videos on how you make your cards! The first 2 were great and so easy to follow along with! Now, to find a job where these kinds of purchases can be a tax write off… thats the next goal! ha ha!

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Those dies… yep, they’re great!

      And these companies are so generous to share stuff with me. My craft expenses have already passed 2016 this year, and it’s only April. Lol! But that’s okay. It’s also inspiring my scrapbooking! So excited about some of the pages I’m working on for my next design class!

    2. #5.2

      Ohh… we need a ‘Certified by Cathy’ stamp of approval… I would expect a run on these products also ?

  6. #6

    Have you given any thought to the MISTI vs the stamper that Tim Holtz is coming out with soon? Was it strictly an availability issue? Rumor has it that one of these could be my birthday present…

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Honestly, I have not! I only recently found out about Tim’s! But I have to say, I do love the MISTI! (I have the mini AND the regular sized one!)

  7. #7

    Oh Cathy. . .you are totally my inspiration! I have been dabbling with cards since a friend of mine introduced me to Copic markers about 2 years ago, but haven’t gone “all in” and gotten “all the things” however, you as you have been for me through the years are the push I might need to start making cards. Once my friend showed me her Copics, I started watching videos on You Tube as well and found Kristina Werner which got me to Jennifer McGuire–they are both queens as you have mentioned! Love what you are doing and keep the cards coming. I do want to take he plunge and get one stamp and die set that I can use and love for a while until I get my “sea legs”.

    Quick tip: check out Spectrum Noir markers. . .they are second string to Copics and work well too and by far less expensive. I may or may not have the bulk of the color schemes–LOL

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I will check those out! I’ve heard good things about them.

      But yes, I have been watching YouTube videos EVERY night. I never knew how a) relaxing it was and b) how expensive it could be! lol!

  8. #8
    Jessica Cole

    I absolutely LOVE watching your card making videos, reading your posts, and following your adventures on Instagram! I’ve been doing scrapbooking for years and recently have been very intrigued worth card making. Buuut, where does one start?!? Please keep doing these post. My credit card and I are addicted 😉

  9. #9

    I’m so enjoying your videos and posts! As soon as I saw your first card video–I added you to Bloglovin’. I just wanted to tell you I ride my exercise bike for at least an hour every morning and watching YouTube videos really helps me get through that! You, my friend, are adding giggles to the workout! Thanks!

  10. #10

    You can use the pic scan with silhouette on stamp sets. I haven’t tried it yet, but have a friend who uses it all the time. Our scanner is a piece of crap!!!

  11. #11
    Cynthia Faulkner

    My favorite things hybrid inks are also Copic friendly, come in great colors and also the small cubes.

  12. #12

    Cathy: These posts are like watching the kids on Christmas Morning! Exactly what I need these days.

    You are getting tons of wonderful advice. The only thing I would add is to think about getting a loose-leaf notebook and begin keeping track of all your stamp sets by stamping every stamp in the set, labeling with the name of the set and the company. Believe me, your sets will be like bunny rabbits and you will lose track of what you have. Sets come with tiny stamps that complement the set but aren’t the main image. These tiny stamps get lost in the crowd and sometimes are exactly what you need. I have a notebook for full-set images, and also one with just words. (I stamp the words from the sets again in the words book.)

  13. #13

    Ha. This newfound passion for cardmaking of yours is so funny to me since that was the gateway to scrapbooking for so many of us ; ) Just wait until you discover DIY pop-up cards.

  14. #14

    Cathy, Cathy, Cathy. You’ve done it again. (How many times have I said that?) I fully intended to finish up my March Project Life pages this morning, but made the mistake (?) of reading your blog….got hung up in the Comments section & began exploring marker options. Holy cats! I’ve been making cards for years & only recently ventured into embossing. I was feeling very good about that, and then you had to go & start telling us about your entry into the marker/card making world. (BTW, I am actually thrilled to death & of course always love your simple style) Long ago I ruled out Copics &, interestingly, the closest scrapbooking store (an hour’s drive) refuses to carry them because of their cost. I am sure they are the “shits,” as you say, but still too rich for me. When I saw Helen’s post above about Spectrum Noir, I decided to look into them. I’ve pretty much decided that’s the way I will go now. I could never afford enough of the Copics to do much, & I’ll start with the SN basics. I’ve been shading with colored pencils for quite a while & love that, so I know it’s just another step into marker blending. There goes my thought that I finally have “enough” scrapbooking/card making tools. HA! And so much for finishing those PL pages today.

    I do want to add something about paper. I stumbled onto some wonderful card stock, from Red River Paper. This is called 60lb Paper Canvas & is very high quality. It is textured, so not sure how that will work with markers. When printing from my computer on an inkjet, it provides fantastic images—sharp & clear color. I’ve been using it for my cards for a couple years.

  15. #15
    Kim Kern

    Cathy – Do you use the Simply Scored Scoring Tool to score a line down you paper for folding a card in half? Or for something more than that? Also do you find that it makes a big difference in folding a card neatly & evenly? I am going to a Stampin’ Up! party tonight and am wondering if it is something I want to invest in, as I have been making cards for 20+ years off and on.

    Kim Kern

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes! I do! Just for that. Honestly? Makes a huge difference! Now, you could go with a smaller item, I mean, it’s big. It takes up some space in my cabinet, but it makes SUCH a difference. I was scoring by using my Fiskars, and instead of running the blade, I was just using the plastic guide to use my bone folder… long story short, I really could not get a card to line up and fold properly. So now, it feels really nice to be able to do it!

      1. #15.1.1
        Kim Kern

        So I did it, last night I tried and then bought the Scoring Tool. Do you have the diagonal template that can go with it? My demonstrator had that but I didn’t see it in the catalog. It was a little harder to use but good for making envelopes & boxes I guess. 🙂

        Tried to post a cute card I made last night with the Cool Treats Popsicle set but couldn’t get it to work. 🙁

  16. #16
    Christine H.

    Okay I totally get the relaxation and enjoyment that comes from creating things. I really do and I’m right there with you on that. But what are you going to do with the cards you make? I would LOVE to buy all the things and create little masterpieces but I don’t know what to do with everything I make! I don’t have a lot of friends and family to send the cards to and I can’t justify starting a hobby that doesn’t produce something of value (to me). I “justify” my scrapbooking because I scrapbook my year with your digital products and I have a book to show the results of my time and investment at the end of the year. Not judging in the least because I totally get how creating feeds our souls. I promise! Just wanted to get your thoughts on what you will DO with the cards you make! Love you Cathy and everything you create! I am loving watching you make new creative discoveries!

    1. #16.1
      Cathy Zielske

      That’s a great question, because I, too, don’t have a ton of people to send to. I figure the next time that anyone in the industry does a card drive for any benefits of any kind, I’ll load ’em up and send them! Or, I could make cards to give to family members to send, too. Like make a box of thank you cards and give them as a gift.

      I think, much like my scrapbooking, I never think too far ahead of what I will do with it. I think that has helped to perpetuate the joy of just creating. 🙂

  17. #17
    Stacy A

    So because I need to have “all the things” I actually have owned many of these must-haves for years (seriously…years) and have done NOTHING with them! You’re my inspiration to get this stuff out and start working with it….but not until school’s out. I’ve hit the manic, crazy part of the end of the school year and cannot possibly think about adding more. But June 10th? Watch out!

  18. #18
    Rita H

    I’m totally enjoying your card making posts! I have been making detailed cards for years and love my Copics. To reduce the cost, I bought every Copic marker carried by Hobby Lobby, with 40% off coupons. It took a while but some weeks I bought a new marker every day!! Then I hit up Michael’s with their coupons and filled in some more of my colors. And don’t forget to use the Copic phone app to keep track of what you have purchased! Keep going – can’t wait for your next installment!

    1. #18.1

      I didn’t know there was a Copic phone app! I geeked out when I started collecting Copics and made my first ever spreadsheet in Numbers on my iPhone. I keep the colors listed together and add the color number and name to the spreadsheet. I also made one for my mini Distress Cubes. Thanks for sharing that idea!

  19. #19

    What a fun post. I can see how this can be addicting – more instant gratification than scrapbooking (at least for me) Thanks for all these suggestions and I love your commentary.

    1. #20.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Amy, I’m no expert but they react to water like watercolors do. I think that’s the primary difference.

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