If I am new to stamping, where do I start?

It seems like yesterday when I attended my first Stampin’ Up! workshop to lay my hands on stamps and ink to create a card. Prior to working with Stampin’ Up!, and other similar companies beautiful products, I included making greeting cards as part of my everyday crafting. I would make a card if I was in a crunch and stores were closed or if I wanted my kids to get in on the art process. I really had no idea whatsoever of the possibilities there were with working with coordinating products.

Once I decided to actually order a product, as you see I was convinced I could use my current craft stash and have no temptation to add more than I needed, I then realized what it meant to have paper and inks that matched and how much artistic fulfillment I could gain from a small project. I had only gotten the joy of art from brush on canvas before. Don’t get me wrong, I craft EVERYTHING it seems LOL, but there is a different feeling I get when I start and finish a project quickly and can then send it away to it’s happy receiver. My one stamp set soon turned into the need for a stamp pad (not my generic stamp pads) and paper. From there I think you can guess where the story leads.

I share this story with you all to demonstrate how it can be challenging to start a new hobby without the guidance of a few words of wisdom. Once you decide to jump into the cardmaking world, you will need to have some basic supplies plus a few products that suit your taste. I will try my best in this article to help guide you in the right direction with some choices you may find yourself making.

First up is basic supplies. For most any craft project, you need a pair of scissors to be certain, but knowing that you want things to hold up to a certain standard will need more than scissors are able to perform. Here is a list of things I feel are necessary to start out your venture in cardmaking.

Paper Trimmer.  Most any brand will work for cardmaking purposes but what I have found to make the difference through experience is finding a trimmer that suits your taste. I feel I need a trimmer that had a flat measuring surface that can cut my paper to a 5 1/2″ width (without having to extend an arm to the side). If the trimmer has a scoring function as well then I would make it my choice. It saves me from purchasing, as well as saving space, an additional tool to pull out each time I make a card. I use the Stampin’ Trimmer from Stampin’ Up! that cuts and scores in one tool.

Adhesive. There are a TON of adhesives out there and it’s hard to know which one to use and when to use it. My advise is to have fun trying them all to see what you  like to work with. I find that I reach for certain adhesives for certain circumstances. But know this…. you must use a few different types in cardmaking. Not everything can be attached with a tape runner nor do you want glue dripping and weighing down your magnificent creation. I use Snail Adhesive (tape runner) to hold paper mat layers together and sometimes adhere to the card base. I use liquid glue to give me a little few seconds of positioning time with getting my card components the way I want them. Mini Glue Dots are super for sticking sequins to your card, attaching vellum or just about thing that goes on top of your card layers. They are small and easy to position and suit my needs well in many circumstances. Foam tape strips work well for making shaker cards or getting a straight line of adhesive and small Dimensionals are just the right depth to get a layer to pop up from the card. Dimensionals may also be cut into smaller strips to get into tiny pieces. Fast Fuse tape runner is a very strong adhesive and works wonderful to hold layers together, keep ribbon in place or many other uses. It’s a must have for me. Tear-n-Tape is a double sided tape that is on a roll and can be torn away into strips to fit your needs. It’s nice and strong and durable, another must have for my cardmaking supplies. There are also a number of two-way glue pens on the market, and I suggest you try one out to see if it’s for you. Quickie Glue Pen works nicely as well as the Zig 2 Way Glue Squeeze & Roll pen (I like them both).  Stampin’ Up! make a Fine Tip Glue that is also excellent to get into small places or put down a drip or less without making a big mess. It’s worth the time to try as well.

Acrylic Clear Blocks. Being as stamps come in a few different forms (not all are available to wood mount) and are meant to be used with a clear acrylic block, you will need a few sizes to start out. The most most used block size for me is Block D from Stampin’ Up!. D is 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ and fits many many many stamp sizes. One thing to know about stamping is that you really need to use the right size block to your stamp. If you were to use a large block on a small stamp, it will result is a distorted image and the stamp will “rock” when being applied to paper. When making a stamped image, Little pressure is needed and only in the center of the block/image. The rest of the work is done by the block itself. This is best experienced for yourself in most cases. I suggest you use the blocks that correspond with whatever you want to stamp. Stampin’ Up! does indicate the needed block size on the stamp set packing and this will be a fantastic guideline to know know which size to use.

Stamp Cleaner/Acrylic Block Cleaner. There are some times in life that you need a baby wipe, LOL, and stamping is one of these times. I do not always use baby wipes but I need them for certain circumstances. Some crafters use alcohol wipes to clean up stamps and blocks, and I use them on occasion, but what I use the most is Stampin’ Mist from Stampin’ Up!. Before I was a demonstrator, I used Stampin’ Mist. It works better than anything else I have tried and it smells amazing! Pair it with the Stampin’ Scrub pad and you are all set. The stamp solution has a conditioner built in that cleans and conditions the stamp, which I can see works well. I suggest you try what works best for you and see what suits your style of crafting.

Scissors. I did talk about scissors earlier but not in detail. I have found that a nice pair of snipping scissors is a must have. Quick and comfortable to put my hands into, I use them all day. I use Stampin’ Up!’s Paper Snips that compare to EK Success Cutter Bee snips. Another type of scissor is the large craft scissors that are nice and heavy, cut a long and straight line and feel good in your hands. Gingher is a great, but expensive, brand but you could get by with just the right pair of Fiskars. Search for and place your hands on a pair before you purchase and I think you will be happy with your choice.

Work Area. This will cover the area you choose to do your crafting as well as it’s light source. Both are necessary to your crafting and both are equally important. I use a generic card table for crafting (it can be moved around) and an Ott Light desk lamp for lighting. I also have overhead room lighting but I find direct light from the Ott Light works wonders with what I can accomplish. I also use a piece of grid paper that has built in measurements (on top of a piece of fun foam for cushion) will suffice for most of my needs. There are times that I use a hardboard to hold down a piece of watercolor paper, so keep in mind the need to accommodate each project you work on on an “as needed” basis. Stamping will need a piece of paper to toss out after used and watercoloring will need a hard board and at least a paper towel to use during the coloring process. Just remember to fully think out what your project will require before you start. Time and surroundings are important for many crafters to be able to concentrate on a project, and I value these things as well. However, with two young boys around me full time, I have learned to use small moments to work on a project with great results. Do what you can, when you can do it has become my crafting motto 🙂

Paper, Ink & Stamps. This is the big one. I would assume that if you are reading my blog that you are at least familiar with Stampin’ Up! and what the company offers. I can’t advise you to purchase another company’s products to use in your supplies (because S.U. can not be beat for quality) but I can say that you can compare Stampin’ Up! products against other companies. The paper from “big box stores” honestly does not compare to the quality of Stampin’ Up! in any way. The fact that Stampin’ Up! takes the trouble of matching their ink to their paper, makes my budgeted crafting time much better. It is really good to know that you are getting quality by comparing it to something else. I will suggest that you choose your project’s components as you feel led. If the craft store has a sale on paper and you think you can use it in your crafting, it may be a good idea to try it. I do know from personal experience that I like Stampin’ Up! paper better than any other. Another thought is to attend a class or two and try out the products before your purchase. This is a low cost way to keep your investment to a minimum and maximize the supplies you choose. Most classes range from $5 to $15 to make cards, so find a class and jump in. Ask other crafters what they prefer and build a repository of knowledge that allows you to make well thought out decisions.


All in all, these are the most basic supplies needed in card making. Some other avenues to pursue may be to acquire the supplies to make a certain technique. If you like the look of die cuts, investing in a die cutting machine such as the Big Shot will be worth your craft allowance. The supplies for heat embossing are low cost and lend a high impact to a finished card. Specialty markers such as Zig or Copic are fun to work with and each give a unique look but may be suited more to a planned purchase and not an impulse buy.

Once you have your supplies, learn a few techniques and get a feel for what you like. Decide what kind of cards you want to give and plan your projects accordingly. The days you will spend in making cards to give to others are very rewarding and the gift is always appreciated. Starting a new craft is an exciting time and planning your purchases is one way to look back on your beginning with happiness.

Here are links to some of my favorite craft supplies:

I hope the information provided today will be of help to you in making an informed decision. If there is anything I did not cover here, please do feel free to drop me a line or add a comment to start a conversation.

Let’s make it together!

-Jenny Hall
Independent Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator

[email protected]

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