Monday, 1 November 2010

My Favourite Tools

At present I have a few plans up my sleeve. One of them is the launch of a new Etsy shop! Yes, I've been in The Netherlands for more than a year now and I've decided to share some of my favourite paper products and a few of my own creations with the DIY brides and bridegrooms out there! I don't want to say too much too soon, but while I am waiting for my paper orders to arrive from Italy I thought we could start with a few basics for making wedding invitations and stationery, so that you know the basics by the time that my Etsy shop opens! (I hope to be up and running by the end of November.)

Today we'll look at my favourite tools that I use for making invitations by hand. Depending on the nature of your design, you might not have to use all of these, but these are what I use all the time!
Cutting Mat
At the bottom I have a plastic sheet on which I work when I cut, punch and go crazy. Mine is just a simple sheet of plastic (3mm thick), but more fancy self-healing mats are also available from craft shops. A cutting mat protects the surface of the table that you're working on. Keep your cutting mat clean! You don't want dirt sticking to the mat to stick to your precious invitations!
Paper Trimmer
Another favourite tool is my desk cutter or paper trimmer. Mine is by Carl, but many brands are available at scrapbooking or craft shops. They can be quite expensive, so if you're not convinced that you'll be papercrafting after the wedding, it's probably not worth buying one. But please don't use scissors to cut your paper. Use a hobby knife/scalpel and a steel ruler on a cutting mat as an alternative. You just cannot achieve those neat straight edges that a well designed card requires with scissors!
Bone Folder
A bone folder is used to score paper and to flatten folded lines so that they're nice and crisp. Bone folders were traditionally made from bone, but nowadays you also get variations made from plastic. Once again your bone folder should always be clean to avoid marks on especially light coloured paper. If you can't find a bone folder or prefer not to invest in one, you may also use an old, dry ballpoint pen and a ruler to score paper and cardstock. (Just make sure that it is completely dry!) For crisp folds a plastic ruler should also do the trick, although I find a bone folder much easier to work with, because of the smooth surface and the rounded shape.
Embossing Tool
My embossing tool is nothing fancy - one that I've picked up at a flea market years ago. It has two fairly small points and may be used to score paper (against a steel ruler) or to emboss paper. (Embossing templates are available from most craft shops.) I use my embossing tool to sharpen creases if a fold of a diecut isn't as crisp as I would like it to be. I also (a)buse my embossing tool by using it to push small embellishments such as flat-backed pearls or crystals into position.
I also do embroidery, so I love my very sharp, pointed embroidery scissors, but any sharp scissors would be useful. I don't allow anyone to cut paper with my embroidery scissors, since paper very soon makes scissor blades blunt, but I use the scissors to cut ribbon, fabric scraps, plastic film, threads, etc!
Tweezers are available from craft shops, but you might find them for much cheaper at your local pharmacy. Tweezers are optional, but I always keep mine handy to pick up small embellishments or to position them on cards.
Eyelet Setter
My eyelet setter is by Making Memories, but there are many brands available. An eyelet setter is used to set eyelets, but it also comes in handy to make neat holes for ribbon, string and so forth. The Making Memories eyelet setter is quite noisy, so don't use it while the baby sleeps, but it is my favourite. Once again it was quite expensive, but if you plan on using it often, it certainly is value for money. I will, however, recommend a cheaper eyelet setter, if you're not that keen on doing a lot of papercrafts after the wedding! Or, if you don't need holes or eyelets, you don't need an eyelet setter at all!
Steel Ruler
I use a steel ruler, because the steel doesn't damage so easily when you use the ruler as a guide for a cutting blade. A plastic ruler just doesn't last when you use it with a craft knife or scalpel. If you know you are going to use your ruler with a craft knife, try to find one with a layer of cork at the back. This prevents the ruler from slipping too easily.