So you’re looking at the title of this week’s post and wondering to yourself, Can she really write a whole article about paper? How boring!
Not true! In fact, ask any paper crafter and you will discover we are just as fanatic about paper as knitters are for yarn or quilters are for fabric. She who dies with the largest paper stash wins!
To be serious for a moment, without paper all the cool stamps and ink would be for naught. Choosing the right paper for your project makes all the difference in the world as to how good that project turns out.
Selecting the right paper for stamping is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines. First, you want a smooth paper to stamp on. This is one of the reasons Stampin’ Up!’s Whisper White cardstock is a best seller. Its super-smooth surface makes stamping crisp, clear images a cinch. Experiment with a few different brands and find your favourite. Textured cardstock is great for layering in your projects, but I wouldn’t stamp on it unless you’re deliberately going for a grainy image.
The second thing to look for is the weight of your paper. In linens, you look for thread count. In the paper world, the greater the paper weight, the heavier, thicker, and sturdier the paper is. Paper weight is measured in pounds. Paper weight ranges from 15 lbs. (computer paper) to 125 lbs. (high–quality photo paper) and up. Cardstock weight is around 80 lbs. and is typically what stampers use to create cards and 3D projects like boxes. Patterned scrapbook paper (like SU’s Designer Series Paper) is lighter weight and better for layering with cardstock.
Next, you will want to know how absorbent your paper is. Some cardstocks have additives or coatings that will effect how your stamping ink reacts with your paper. Once again, experiment with different brands to discover your preferences. Tilt your paper in bright light. If you see some shine, you’ll get a nice, crisp image, but give yourself a little extra drying time. Very porous papers (like handmade or mulberry paper) are difficult to stamp on as the ink tends to bleed and feather when it contacts the paper.
The size of paper you choose is personal preference. Scrapbookers tend to favour 12x12 just so they have more paper to work with on their projects. If you just want to make cards, you may like the new 6x6 or 8x8 patterned paper pads that are available now. Most stampers will use 8 1/2x11 cardstock for the base of their cards, as one sheet cut in half yields 2 standard sized cards (4 1/4 x 5 1/2).
Finally, you may want to consider the acidity of your paper. Usually, this this just a concern for scrapbookers worried about the archival quality of their work. I have stamped wedding invitations however, where the couple wanted to be sure their cards and programs would reasonably stand the test of time. Be sure to purchase paper labelled “archival” or “acid free” if you desire this quality.
Now, I could go on for a very long time about all the different sorts of specialty papers there are out there. Glossy, glitter, flocked, transparent, the list goes on and on. In fact, I got into stamping and scrapbooking in a roundabout way. Originally, I was into making handmade paper and books. Did I mention I love paper?
The truth is from here on in, it’s just a whole fun world of possibilities. I’m not going to take that away from you. I love experimenting with different paper! Buy the colours, textures, or patterns that speak to you and go have fun!
Stay tuned for the next Stamping 101 where I discuss what should be in your basic tool kit. Until then, keep your whiskers clean!