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I love paper! I love the smell of it, I love the feel of it, I love how versatile it is, and I love how you can create something with it that will put a smile on someone’s face.

There are so many different kinds of paper and when I first started out in paper crafting I found the assortment of paper types daunting. Not only are there many types of papers, but in each type there are a variety of weights, textures, and applications of use.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about paper often used in crafting. Please note that I won’t be covering all paper types in this blog post, such as commercial printing papers or rag paper, so if you are looking to be a counterfeiter I guess I won’t be of any help. Let me know in the comment section if you have any questions or “lessons learned” about paper.

Decorative/Patterned Paper: I have used all sorts of paper as “decorative” paper such as foils, gift wrap, repurposed envelopes (security envelopes often have such pretty patterns on the inside), the Sunday comics, and magazines. These are all fun ideas for decorations, wrapping gifts, and making one-time-use ornaments. However, for scrapbooking and card making I stick to paper that is labeled as “acid free”. If you are going to all the trouble and time of preserving a memory in a scrapbook or, in the case of giving someone a card, making a new memory keepsake, you want it to last without fear of decay or damage.

Cardstock: This type of paper nearly drove me crazy when I first started out in scrapbooking and card making! Cardstock comes in so many colors, weights, and finishes! Which one was I supposed to use? Over time I learned which papers hold up as cards, which work better in scrapbooking, and which ones work best with markers, or stamping, or watercolors (yes, there are cardstocks you can watercolor on with good results).

Here is some basic information to help you decide which cardstocks you want to stock in your craft room.

1. Cardstock sheet size - As paper crafters we most often come across cardstock in two common sizes: 8 1/2” x 11” or 12” x 12”. I like to buy my cardstock for my card bases in 8 1/2” x 11” size because then I can cut it in half to make a standard size A2 card. For scrapbooking projects I prefer the 12” x 12” sized cardstock. But be sure to save all your paper scraps, you can use them as embellishments!

2. Cardstock weights -  The most common cardstock weights are 65 lb (great for paper layers on top of card base and for scrapbooking), 80 lb (my favorite for card bases), and 100 lb or 110 lb (perfect for making gift tags or bases for cards needing more support due to multiple layers or larger size).

3. Cardstock finishes/texture/color/pattern - This is the fun part of selecting cardstock! There are so many finishes/textures/colors to choose from depending on your needs. Although pretty and shiny I generally stay away from “coated” cardstock because the applied coating usually doesn’t absorb most stamp ink, many markers, or watercolors. That takes us to “uncoated” cardstock. Of the uncoated cardstocks you now get to choose your texture.

Do you want a really smooth cardstock? Do you want an embossed cardstock (the embossing can often be very subtle and look woven or floral or any number of patterns)? Of course, if you can't find an embossed cardstock you like ready to purchase, you can always take a smooth cardstock and emboss it yourself. (Watch for my post on embossing coming soon.)
Store bought embossed cardstock.

Cardstock I embossed.

There are many colors and print patterns to choose from to round out your artistic needs. So build up your paper stash and have fun with selecting those cardstocks you like the best.

Chipboard - Often when I think of chipboard, I think of repurposing cereal boxes. Yes, that works and I have done that many a time. Sometimes, however, I buy sheets of chipboard if I want to make something heavier that requires slightly more support than the thinner cereal box chipboard. The last time I bought chipboard was to make my granddaughter a picture book.

Glitter paper - Oh, the joys of glitter paper! There is so much you can do with this fun paper. Cards, embellishments in scrapbooks, ornaments. The paper crafting possibilities are endless! Glitter paper is a matter of personal choice. I tend to look for glitter paper that holds its glitter securely because who wants glitter coming off on your hands when you are working with it? The best way to choose your glitter paper is by feel. Does it feel like quality/thick paper? Does the glitter fall off on your hand when you lightly brush across the top of it? If you want to make your own glitter paper, that is possible, too! (That will be an entirely different blog post at a future date.)

Watercolor paper - This paper was one of the most confusing to me when I first started paper crafting. Do I need hot pressed (smooth and hard), cold pressed (semi-rough, most commonly suggested for beginners), or rough paper? When all is said and done, I have narrowed it down to two watercolor papers I like.

1. If I am going to stamp/watercolor/cut out an image I like to use watercolor paper because it is a pretty white, works well with both the stamp ink and the movement/absorption of the watercolors. One sheet of this paper will last a long time because you are generally only using little pieces of it at a time.

2. If I am going to use the watercolor paper as the card base then I use paper I buy at Michael's called Artist's Loft Watercolor Pad. It is 140 lb, 9" x 12" and comes in a pad of 24 sheets. I tape it to my
cutting board using blue painter's tape along the edges, proceed with my watercoloring (generally a background wash), allow to dry, then carefully remove the paper from the cutting board. I can then trim the painting down to 8 1/2" x 11" and then cut it in half and have two A2 card bases.

Vellum - When I use vellum I think of elegance. One of my favorite ways to use vellum is to heat emboss on it. White vellum with heat embossing is so pretty. Watch for my blog post on using vellum in both card making and scrapbooking.
Vellum with gold embossing.

Heat Resistant Acetate - Okay... I realize that this is not technically a paper, but I love making shaker cards! Of course shaker cards require the use of a heat resistant acetate. My favorite is Hot Off The Press Heat Resistant Acetate, 8.5 by 11-Inch, 5-Pack because it works great if I am die cutting it, heat embossing it, or even doing some fussy cutting! Again, this 5-pack will last you a long time because in most cases you are only using small pieces of it per card.

Now you have a general idea of some of the papers you will want to start accumulating in your stash to get into paper crafting. If you are already a paper crafter are there some papers you couldn't get along without? Let me know in the comments section below.

Happy Paper Crafting!