What are the very best basic items to start making cards?
My blog is titled Budget Crafter. It is not titled frugal crafter or cheap crafter. While I am interested in saving money, my main goal is to help the new crafter acquire quality tools that will be used over and over. In this way, I feel a crafter will get the most return from her money. She will also enjoy using high quality tools, and won't feel the frustration from badly made tools.
I post two photos of tools that I use most often, and that I recommend to a beginning card maker.
The first photo shows cutting mat & work surface, measuring, marking, and cutting tools.
* EK Success, 12"x12" pink cutting mat with 1/4" grid marks in white.
Use grid marks to help line up card layers. Bright color and white line is easy to see.
Can cut on top of it to protect your table. Use a metal edged ruler and knife.
Most inks wipe clean, and it can be washed with water.
Can be stored in most containers designed to hold 12"x12" paper.
* Fiskars 9.5"x5.5" sliding cutter with cutting blade and scoring blade installed.
I find this cutter to have the best combination of cutting size, portability, and cut quality.
It is large enough for 90% of cutting needs, since most people make A2 sized cards.
To cut 12" paper, you can mark with a pencil and use scissors or the cutting mat & knife.
Refill blades are affordable and easy to find.
Both scoring blade (black) and cutting blade (orage) fits at the same time.
Just cut from one end and score from the other end. (The blade blocks 1/2" from end.)
Cuts cleanly up to 2 sheets of 60-80 lb card stock.
Black 1/4" grid marks are easy to see, and a silver wire on the track is very nice.
It's not too bulky on top, and also stores in a 12"x12" paper storage container.
* Other items include a sharp scissors (DuraSharp stainless 3" blade, 6.5" overall),
a solid knife with refillable blades (OLFA cutter model A),
several rulers (EK Success 6" clear with one metal cutting edge, Gaebel 12" stainless steel ruler -
has cork back to prevent sliding while cutting, and Omnigrid 12" clear ruler - has easy to read
yellow & black markings), markers (Pentel 0.5mm mechanical pencil with eraser and silver
Quilter's Pencil - pencil mark is faint so it does not need to be erased),
and a bone folder for pressing down crease.
I also have a second cutter, Quartet 6"x4" photo trimmer - with a blade that comes down. This is faster and cleaner for cutting smaller pieces and for accurately trimming precut pieces. I taped a 1/8" lined gridded template on top. Squeeze the cutting blade towards the inside for clean cuts.
The second photo shows a black inkpad, stamp scrub cleaner, wet wipes, and several clear blocks for mounting unmounted stamps or cling stamps.
Getting a good quality black inkpad is important because the cheap ones are not the same. My favorite one is Tsukineko VersaFine Archival pigment inkpad. It dries in 2-3 seconds. You can use markers to color over a stamped image and the black does not smudge. Word stamps come out crisp and detailed. It does not fade due to its archival pigment. Also, the ink lasts many years. You want to tap lightly on this inkpad to avoid getting a big glob on your stamp.
Using unmounted or cling stamps is an easy way to save storage space in your craft area and to save money. Unmounted stamps and cling stamps that do not provide its own wood mountings are usually cheaper than wood mounted stamps. It adds a bit of hassel because the stamp needs to be mounted each time on a block, and sometime the mounting is crooked and needs to be fixed. Generally it's a good trade-off. Photo shows clear blocks in useful sizes. Gridded blocks are better than blank ones. 1/2" thick blocks are easier to hold than 1/4" thick blocks.
Hope you liked reading about my curated list of most useful tools for a new card crafter.
Now go make some beautiful cards!