What I Would Tell Myself if I was Just Starting out in Cardmaking

Hind sight is always 20/20, we don’t see the path clearly until after we’ve traveled awhile! Don’t get me wrong, the journey of cardmaking is fun, exciting and uplifting. Today, I’m just sharing points that, to me, would be helpful knowing if I were just getting started. And, possibly this post can help if you’re a newbie business owner to this industry or you just want to pick up this craft as a hobby. So, here’s what I’d tell myself knowing what I know now:

1) Sign up for a monthly card kit.

I think card kits are wonderful because they’re usually centered around a theme and you’ll receive at least a large stamp set if not also the coordinating dies. Many companies offer them like: Hero Arts “My Monthly Hero Kit“, Spellbinders has several kits, Simon Says Stamp, Catherine Pooler’s Sursee kits, Gina K. Designs, etc. And, if the kits don’t sell out, they’re usually still available or the contents are. I didn’t learn about kits till much later and spent a lot of $$ unnecessarily because I didn’t know what I needed. Kits are really helpful because you have everything you need to make some cards. And, when you sign up for monthly kits, you get a new box each month, so who wouldn’t like to receive actual mail?!

2) Invest in good inks.

Can’t emphasize this enough. I didn’t know what black inks to get nor colorways. Plus, there’s so many different types; from dyes to pigments to combos to distress to hybrids to designer. I ended up giving away all the inks I had purchased in thrift stores that were just generic brands because hey didn’t ink well on paper and my stamping was more than frustrating.

After researching, watching tons of cardmaking videos and experimenting on my own, here’s my recommendations:

  • Gina K. Amalgam Black Inks (including Obsidian) – great for Copic coloring, works well on heavyweight cardstock like Neenah 80 lb to 110 lb.
  • Versafine Black Onyx Pigment ink (great for stamping images and getting a nice clean impression).
  • Distress and Distress Oxides (I would go with mini ink cubes as they come in 4s for the traditional distress) but for the Oxides (they don’t come in minis), I would go with a set of 12 and stick to the colors I would use the most.
  • Dye Inks. If I were speaking to myself starting out, I would say go with a particular ink line from 1 company and stick to that before branching out to use other inks.
  • Heat embossing. VersaMark is the one I use the most but as long as you have a watermark ink for heat embossing, you won’t go wrong.

3) Paper, Paper Paper!

If using the best inks is essential, then paper is even more so! And, there’s no bad and good paper just picking the right paper for the job is key. When I started, I was using plain cardstock from the store but what I found out quickly was that it wasn’t strong enough to handle embellishments.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When shopping for cardstock, don’t just look at the weight, but the gsm which is more important because not all weights are the same. So, for example the Neenah 110 lb. solar white cardstock is 297 gsm making it very suitable for card bases. Another brand (I haven’t used this yet, but Jennifer McGuire recommends) is Brutus Monroe, “Not your Mama’s Cardstock” which is actually 130 lb. I couldn’t find the gsm for this cardstock, but if Jennifer recommends it, it’s gotta be heavy enough! LOL

For Watercolor, I use:

  • Bristol Smooth Cold Press
  • Tim Holtz Watercolor cardstock
  • Acquarello Watercolour 100% Cotton Hot Pressed

For Copic or any Alcohol markers

  • Neenah Solar White 110 lb. or 80 lb. cardstock
  • Neenah Desert Storm 80 lb. cardstock
  • WPlus9 Kraft cardstock

For Alcohol inks

  • Tim Holtz heavyweight Yupo paper

For Stamping/Die cutting

  • I like to use heavyweight cardstock which usually is 80 to 110 lb. and I also like to use this for card panels that I layer on top of my card bases
  • Also, another paper that’s great for stamping and die cutting is Inkessentials Stamping paper

For card bases

  • I use Neenah Solar White 110 lb.
  • Simon Says Stamp cardstock 120 lb.
  • Hero Arts cardstock
  • Gina K. Designs cardstock (she also carries matching envelopes)
  • WPlus 9 cardstock

4) Stamp / Die sets

One really good piece of advice: “don’t feel like you have to have every stamp set and every die set you see on YT, Instagram, Pinterest or while shopping!” I can go crazy with all the stamps, dies that are on the market but to narrow it down a bit:

  • Sentiment stamps. I would grab stamp sets that have the typical sayings like: “Birthday”, “Anniversary”, “Get Well”, “Sympathy“, and encouraging words like “Love you“, “You’re the best“, also “Thank you“. You can work with just these to start with and add later. Also, I love sentiment strips that already have sayings on cardstock that you just cut out. Check out Simon Says Stamp’s sentiment strips, they also come in reverse (white letters on black background)
  • Dies / Coordinating dies. I know it gets expensive, so I recommend when buying stamp sets, try to get the coordinating dies that come with that set (if possible). Even if you have to narrow down shopping to maybe 1 or 2 sets at a time. You can always add later on. But by having the coordinating die to that stamp set, you can use your die cutting machine to cut out your stamped images if you don’t want to have fussy cut (hand cut) which I don’t like doing!

Also, if you’re buying dies without a stamp set, again I’d stick to regular sentiments and even large ones like: Thank you, Hugs, Love, Peace, Hello, Joy, etc. You can do a lot with large sentiment dies.

5) Training / Learning


Some of the links below are affiliates meaning if you purchase a class through those links, I’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support helps me run my small business including this blog 🙂


YouTube has a wealth of information from amazing cardmakers who show you step by step how they make their cards. You can get a lot of inspiration here but if you’re not into watching videos, try Pinterest! I created boards and pinned cards by other cardmakers that I liked and used that for inspiration. Sometimes, a cardmakers offer online card classes: Jennifer McGuire and Kristina Werner started OnlineCardClasses.com and they are very affordable. Once you pay for a class, you’ll get 24/7 access to it forever. Justine Hovey also offer her Technique Resource Binder online class where she shares techniques that she’s learned over the years. Some cardmakers also offers classes on Facebook so following your fav crafters will give alerts to when they publish a class or video. Also, check out Blueprint.com, CreativeBug.com.

My best piece advice that I’d tell myself is…

What I would tell myself if I was just starting out in cardmaking
What I would tell myself if I was just starting out in cardmaking