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Cardstock Basics

Updated on February 21, 2023
linfcor profile image

As a professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to turn family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Scrapbook Paper Basics

Wandering into my paper stacks and selecting just the right paper for my scrapbook pages is a real adventure to me. I feel like Alice In Wonderland, looking and finding just the right paper for my next project. There are just so many options for scrapbook artists. I can wander any craft store for at least an hour just looking at paper alone. So, if you are a beginner or have just stayed with card stock, consider this your invitation to wander into my scrapbook paper garden and pick some of my favorite papers for you own.

Always remember to use acid and lignin free paper in all your projects. Contact with any acid in paper will cause your photos to fade, get yellow and eventually disintegrate. Lignin reacts to light and will cause your paper to fade.

You can buy scrapbook paper in the standard 12 x 12 size which is used for scrapbook pages. It also comes in a 6 x 6 size which is generally used for matting. Lots of companies also make paper to be used in standard albums, so take some time to think about your project and what you will need for it

Buying cardstock in stacks is a really good way to go when you are doing a themed scrapbook. The stacks come in a package or set and have papers that will match each other. There are so many themes is stacked paper that you can find almost anything you are looking for. The nice thing about stacks is that they almost always have embellishment pages that match the theme. These are great if you are just starting out. You can generally get matching mats for many of the themes.

You can also buy paper as single sheets. This is great when you want to have some special paper for a theme or project that you might only want to use specifically that one time.

Scrapbook papers come in different weights. You will usually see the weight of the paper on the package. For the base of your scrapbook page, you will want about an 80 lb weight, which is about as thick as a business card. I know there are a lot of so called "sale" packs of card stock. I have generally been disappointed in the results from these light weights. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for"

All About Cardstock

The Framework For Your Scrapbook Pages

Cardstock is a heavier weight acid free paper and is considered the canvas of your scrapbook pages. It comes in just about every color of the rainbow. It can take the weight of your photos and embellishments and often comes in a stack of hues in one package. This is the most economical way to purchase cardstock, especially when you are starting out. Cardstock is also great for making photo mats and die cuts. Although it does come in different sizes, most of the time, you will be using 12inch by 12 inch. That is the standard scrapbook size.

It generally comes in matte and glossy paper.

How To Embellish Cardstock

  1. Rip It Tear the edges of cardstock to give it a vintage look. You can ink the edges to give more dimension
  2. Sand It Take fine sandpaper and gently sand the cardstock to give it a distressed look
  3. Heat Embossed Cardstock Stamp the cardstock and heat emboss the cardstock for a custom look
  4. Fold The Cardstock Fold the cardstock with a bone folder to crease the lines. It makes crisp lines that you can use in your design
  5. Crimp The Cardstock Run the cardstock through a crimper to get a look of corrugated cardboard
  6. Tone On Tone Technique Punch shapes from the same color paper and glue them onto the cardstock for a look that has dimension
  7. Punched All Over Punch holes all through the cardstock to make an open punched paper
  8. Bleached Cardstock Brush bleach onto cardstock to give it an artistic look

Patterned Paper

There are so many amazing types of papers with every color and theme that you can imagine. Pattern papers add so much to your pages. It can be used in a variety of ways. Patterned paper is often printed on both sides, so it is very versatile. The trick to using patterned papers is to select one color from the pattern to be used as your anchor in the card stock and build from there. Another trick to using patterned papers is to select a monochromatic color scheme. That means sticking to one color in varying tones of the main color of the pattern. Another trick is to create a buffer between patterns with a solid color if you are using more than one pattern. Another idea is to balance busy papers so that your main focus still remains the photo rather than the papers. You can buy patterned papers by the sheet or by the stack. Some of the easiest patterned papers to work with, especially in the beginning are gingham, checks, strips and dots

Buying card stock in pads is a really good choice ! The papers all coordinate and making layouts is so much easier.

Tips For Using Patterned Scrapbook Paper

  • Use A color that is featured in an article of clothing in the picture Look at the picture and chose a color from the clothing of the people in it
  • Use A Color From A Background If the picture is in a garden, chose a green. If it is a beach color, chose a blue or a tan
  • Match the Theme Of The Picture If it is Christmas, red and green come to mind, Halloween and fall brings tones of oranges. Fourth of July call for red, white and blue

Always place a solid color mat between your photo and any patterned paper. This helps anchor the photo and helps to feature the photo. Otherwise the photo will blend into the pattern

Some Patterned Paper Options

Like every other scrapbook paper, you always get more bang for your buck with a paper stack. I love the glitter papers, which add a lot of glamour to almost every theme. The Old World papers are perfect for either heritage photos or areas where you want to add an antique feel. The lace papers go well with weddings, teas and birthdays. They have a more feminine feel to them. And I added two bright color packs just for the summer and brighter occasions in your life

Vellum Paper

Translucent or vellum paper used for layering, dry embossing, stamping and more. Come in a variety of colors and textures too. Great at providing a distinctive look or to soften the look of bold colors.Vellum has a tendency to show the adhesive through the paper, so it is better to stack or attach over the vellum using brads or other layers of card stock

It comes as single pages, packs or pads. You can buy it as a single color or a variety pack.

It’s terrific for matting photos, journaling and using with templates to create embellishments. Vellum is not as porous as your other scrapbooking papers, so adhesives and inks won’t be absorbed as quickly. And because vellum paper is so transparent, most adhesives will show through. There is a special vellum adhesive that won’t show through but you can also place the glue so it’s hidden under another element on the page or use brads to attach.

Make sure to use a vellum color that matches your theme or the other colors on your scrapbook page.

Textured Papers

These papers have light texture and rich dimension, and come in lots of styles. They can be used to call attention or focus to an area, There are choices like suede, glimmer, hammered and peacock, just to name a few.

Flocked Papers

Flocked papers are printed with a fuzzy textured design. These papers are great as background papers because they add so much dimension to the scrapbook page.

All my papers are stored in stacked drawers to keep the paper flat and clean
All my papers are stored in stacked drawers to keep the paper flat and clean

How To Store Your Scrapbook Paper Stash

The main purpose to storing your scrapbook paper is to keep it clean. For me, I have a multi-drawer cabinet that holds the paper flat and I have to say that I am running tight on space, so I see another storage unit of some type in my future. Since most scrapbook paper is 12''x12", if you have a file container or drawer that will fit it that's perfect. Otherwise you can check in your local craft store where you will see lots of plastic options for storing your paper. I try to keep my paper organized. You can do that by color, type or whatever works for you. There are also paper storage boxes that will sit on a bookshelf. I do recommend that you have a label maker or some labels that you can use. Chose a storage unit that will fit the space that you have.

Paper Storage Tip

To handle the dust issue, place the top piece of paper in each tray into a 12 x 12 page protector, or place an empty page protector directly on top of the stack (trim the hole-punched edge off so the protector fits perfectly inside the tray).

Glitter Paper

There is one kind of paper that everyone loves to use and that is glitter paper. used sparingly it adds a lot of zing to your pages. It comes in so many beautiful colors. Almost any color you can think of- a full rainbow is available. A little goes a long way, so your investment will take you far. Here are a few suggestions for glitter paper on your scrapbook pages:

  • Making letters and words- You can cut out layers and words with your electronic or manual cutting machine. Making your own saves you money over buying the glitter letters available in your craft store.
  • Using it for borders and titles- You can use the glitter paper to accent your titles and separate sections of your scrapbook page.
  • As embellishments-you can make swirls, shapes and almost anything to create an eye catching accent

Choosing Paper For Your Scrapbook Page

Because there are so many choices in scrapbook papers, it can be overwhelming especially to the beginner. Choosing the right paper for your scrapbook page is important. You want to make sure that your pages last a lifetime and beyond.

Saving Money On Scrapbook Paper

Watch for scrapbook paper sales ! Often in your local craft store they will run sales ! Look at the paper to make sure that the paper on sale is heavy enough to support your projects. Make sure to sign up at the Micheal's, Joann's and Hobby Lobby websites. You will get sale information as well as valuable coupons that will save you money

A Final Thought-Save Those Scraps

Never throw away any scrap paper

Call me frugal, if you will, but I never throw away any scraps from paper that I have cut. I keep all my scraps in a file drawer labeled with file folders by color. I file patterned paper by theme. I spend good money for my paper, so I use up every last piece of it. You can use pieces for matting, titles, embellishments, journaling and so much more. Start creating your own stash and you will be glad that you did


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