Introduction: Paper Crafting 101

About: Paper Craft Designs, Tutorials, and Shop

Hi everyone, Today I will be showing you how to make a peice of an explosion box I’ve made in the past. Since this contest is also about sharing experience in crafting I have incorporated some tips and tricks along side of this instructables. I am now trying to turn my hobby from homemade to handmade.

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Step 1: Drafting

When engineers are building anything they come up with a blueprint first and that's basically a map for them to follow. Drafting your designs/ideas is the most important part of any paper crafting. May it be scribbles in your notebook or digital blueprints on your computer, this is a must. I’m used to the old school pencil and paper technique so I like to bust out my math set and even my calculator for this step.

Here’s how to draft the explosion box base layer:

Step 2: Materials

When you are done drafting it’s time to gather your materials. What I like to do is cut the cost down for any paper crafting projects I am doing. When purchasing paper It may cost a dollar here and there but if you can get sheets of paper twenty cents cheaper from a sale it will save you money in the long run. I have done enough explosion boxes and learned that it’s better to buy in bulk than in singles as you will be able to produce a lot more. This is also a plus If you decide to sell your product as it will increase your profit margins. Be sure to check out dollar stores too as they will have the same material as a hobby and craft retailer for cheaper.

The materials I have bought for this project are:

  • 12x12 Bazzil cardstock
  • Recollections cardstock 8.5x11
  • Foam adhesive
  • Tape runner
  • Hot glue
  • Ink pad

Step 3: Prototypes

Realize that when you make something for the first time, it will not be perfect. Try using scrap paper and material that will not be used for the final product. This will allow you to experiment and allow room for mistakes, when you are ready to use the material you have gathered to create the project your errors will be minimized because you will know what works and what doesn't work.

If you are selling your product, you want it to be perfect, without flaw, and the only way to accomplish this is to make your product over and over again until you find a quick, reliable, and easy procedure to carry out each and every time. I’ve gone through about 10 prototypes before figuring out the best way to put my box together. And the best techniques I’ve learned from them I’m sharing with you today.

Lastly if you are selling something that has any copyrights make sure you get the proper licensing before trying to sell it.

Step 4: Types of Paper

There are plenty of different types of papers out there suitable for various projects but depending on the functionality of your paper craft you will be able to narrow down the type of paper you need.

Thin papers like printer paper are good for projects that need the flexibility such as sticker making or paper mache.

Thicker papers like the Recollections brand papers are good for general scrapbooking and card making.

Heavy cardstock paper is great to use when you are adding structure and stability to your projects.

With my explosion box, I use papers of 2 different brands, Recollections and Bazzill Paper which I purchased at my local craft store, Michaels (read Materials section for money saving tips). I want to give my explosion box good structure so I layer it with 2-3 sheets of paper.

Experiment with different brands of paper. Paper comes in different sizes (usually 8.5x11 or 12x12), different textures (corrugated, smooth, embossed), different finishes (gloss, matte, glitter, pearlescent). You can even get sheets of vellum or decorative acetate paper for your projects.

Step 5: Cutting

I like to use a mixture of different cutting tools for my paper craft projects including a paper trimmer, scissors, x-acto knife, and precision shears. Paper trimmers are great for cutting straight lines repeatedly. Precision shears cuts into those small nooks and crannies you can’t reach with regular scissors. X-acto knifes allows you to accurately and precision cut out any shape you need. You can get away with just using scissors to cut everything but the other tools I mentioned will help a lot if you add them to your crafting arsenal

I also decided that I wanted to take another step in my paper crafting and made a purchase for a paper cutting machine. This will allow you to start producing at a quicker rate if you are wanting to run your own business. The paper cutting machine will help with all types of crafts and definitely cut out long tedious hours of cutting intricate designs.

If you mix all these cutting techniques together you will be able to create wonderful projects with ease and perfection.

Step 6: Scoring

I had always thought a scoring board was a fancy unnecessary tool until I bought one for myself. Scoring boards create amazing straight fold lines which make your projects look professional and clean - folding with a grain of paper is easy but against the grain without scoring, you’ll get ugly bumpy folds. You don’t have to invest in a scoring boarding (though it’s worth it), you can get away with using a ruler to use as an edge and scoring with an empty pen, blunt side of a pair of scissors, or scoring lightly with an x-acto knife.

Step 7: Decorating

God is in the details and the details of your crafts are the cherry on top of the sundae. The small things really put that extra touch to your projects, like inking, is something easy and quick to do that will make things stand out. Inking your pieces will give it depth and shading.

There are many other ways to decorate your project besides inking. If you need ideas scour the internet for some inspiration and put your own spin on it. It’s cool to copy techniques and after a while if you are able to take a style and make it yours it will make your project shine!

Step 8: Gluing Everything Together

Once all of your pieces are cut out, piecing everything together is quick and easy. Remember to keep your work space clean and generally dust free so that your glues work optimally.

If you go to your local craft store you will see a vast amount of adhesives open to your disposal. Finding the proper glue for your projects will dictate how professionally it is made and look. For paper crafts you can focus on wet and dry glues. A wet glue is an adhesive which is water based: white craft glues, glue sticks, glue pens. Wet glues are good for projects that require repositioning or gluing small pieces together. The one major con about wet glues and paper crafts is the tendency for warping while the glue dries. So for larger paper surfaces dry glues are the best. Dry glues include single/double sided tapes, glue dots, foam adhesive. I like using an Advanced Tape Glider (ATG) gun for quick gluing of large paper pieces. I use foam adhesive to give dimension to a piece (I used to cut out pieces of foam and glue it on but foam adhesive is definitely quick and easier).

It will take some time to learn which glues to use for certain projects. Make sure you experiment as it will allow you to pick and choose the ones that will work best for your paper projects.

I've also added a quick table of glues and their finishes for your convenience.

That concludes this Instructables. Feel free to ask me anything and I will get back to you. If you have any tips and techniques of your own leave them in the comments below as I will like to broaden my horizons.

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