Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cardmaking 101: Embellish It

Did you miss a previous post in this series:
Card Basics
Digi Images

Embellish It:
Dressing up your card with fun add ons!

em·bel·lish·ment  (m-blsh-mnt) n.
1. an ornament or decoration.
2. an elaborative addition, as to a statement.
3. the act of decorating something (in the hope of making it more attractive)

Embellishment on your cards is where your style truly shines in card making!  For those who prefer clean & simple (CAS) styles, the one or two carefully chosen decorations will share the spotlight with your main image.  For those who like to load up their cards with fun things, choosing the coordinating elements is a joy.  

Clean & Simple - using patterned paper
 There are so many types of embellishments out there, and I wish there were a formula I could give you (1 sentiment + 3 gems + 5 flowers = perfectly embellished card!) but really, there is no formula.  If you take a moment to search handmade cards on google or Pinterest you will see that cards can be embellished many, MANY, ways!  Embellishment is what makes your cards uniquely yours - which is why this post will be mostly dedicated to some simple concepts, that will hopefully help you understand how embellishment can affect the final view of your card.    

a bit more embellishment
In the Card Basics post, I touched briefly on design elements - such as balance.  I want to mention this again, because when embellishing your cards, balance is a definite concern.  Particularly for those CAS cards. If you are starting with a slightly unbalanced sketch, this is the point that you can add some balance to your card by where you place your embellishment.  

Think of your card being balanced on a triangle like shown.  If your embellishment and layout are all to the right hand side of the card, your card will fall to the right.  The same if everything is to the left.  A balanced card, will remain centered on that triangle.  There is one "weird" element though.  White space (unembellished space) has a visual weight to it as well.  However, when using white space, keep in mind that it needs to be uninterrupted, and equal to, or greater, than the elements that it is balancing.  Without that equality, it tends to look more like you missed decorating a spot.  

Layering your embellishments will help to add some interest.  Ideally, you will be coming into this step of your card making, with your image unadhered to your card.  So you can add elements that your image will "sit" on top of.  Typically, when I make a card, I tend to go in this order: 

  1. Fabric layers: Lace, ribbon, stitching, cheesecloth or tulle (if this is not adhered behind a paper layer).
  2. Hard set layers: Buttons stitched on, corners attached, gem flourishes added (if they will be under the image, if they are over the image, they are added after the image is placed).
  3. Image/sentiment layers: Any paper pieces that will poke out from under the image added, plus the image is adhered down, and the sentiment is placed.  
  4. Flowers layer: flowers, leaves, vines and any floral filler is added
  5. Fill-in layer: gems or any other small filler elements added at this point.  
Regardless of what order you add things in, be sure to do a dry run with your embellishments before actually adhering them to the card.  Trust me, it sucks to realize AFTER you've glued down something that you've covered a portion of the paper that you wanted exposed, or that the element is just not QUITE proportionate.  

"Spot", "fill-in", what am I talking about?  Well, the easy way to understand is to think of your card being divided into sections.  

When you embellish your cards, you are using this grid to help you place items.  If you like CAS cards, you will want at least 4-5 sections of the square card, and 3-4 sections of the rectangular card to be empty of any decoration.  If you prefer more embellished cards, you will want each section to be [half or more] filled with at LEAST one element. (And, yes, your image and sentiment count as "filling" a section.)

The final thing to discuss with card embellishment, is your glue of choice.  Be sure you have a variety of glues to fit the elements you intend to work with.  I love my hot glue gun because it's an immediate bond and lasts, but it's not the best for adhering metal.  For that, I use Glossy Accents or E6000 (Glossy Accents IS shiny, so if it will show at ALL keep that in mind).  Learn your dry times, so you don't wind up with elements that slide when you've picked a card up to early.   And, if you use a hot glue gun, give your card a once over with your heat tool (or a hot air hairdryer) to "melt" those nasty little strings of glue away.  

Keep in mind, card embellishments can become expensive.  But they don't have to be!  There are numerous tutorials out there that can teach you how to make your own flowers, and buttons, as well as how to color gemstones to match your projects.  YouTube and Pinterest - as well as other crafters - are great resources for inexpensive and effective tools and techniques.  

Next week we will be discussing the Send Off: How to Package and ship your cards

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