All the cardmaking terms explained



Acetate is available in clear or coloured transparent sheets and can be used behind apertures, as an overlay, or for glass painting. 

All over the page punches

These branded punches by Martha Stewart are held together by magnets so you can punch a shape anywhere on your sheet of paper. Fiskars also have a version: Everywhere Window punches.

Anti-static bag

Use one of these to eradicate finger prints and static from card before embossing. That way, you won’t get any stray embossing powder where it doesn’t belong!


An aperture is a shaped hole cut from the front of a base card.




This is the technique of layering fabric shapes onto a fabric background.


Artists’ Trading Cards are the artistic version of business cards. They’re individually decorated then swapped with other artists, with contact details on the reverse.

Baker's twine

Historically used by butchers and bakers, this rustic-looking twine adds a great finishing touch to cards.

Basket weaving

Basket weaving involves weaving threads, ribbons or strips of fabric over then under one another to create a woven effect.

Blender pen

Use a blender pen when colouring in stamped images to blend your colours subtly, lighten them or tidy up any bleeding colour.

Blending tool

Use this foam-ended tool to blend inks seamlessly together, creating a professional finish.

Book box card

A deep card with sides made from pleated interlocking pieces of card to give a 3D effect.

Bone folder

This dull-edged tool is used in papercrafting to give your card folds a sharp, professional-looking edge.

Border punch

A border or edge punch has a repeat pattern that you can use to create beautiful borders – just line up your paper with the guides to ensure a continuous pattern.


This is the American name for paper fasteners, with split pins that go through paper then pull apart and flatten on the reverse to secure. They’re available in lots of different designs.


This involves applying ink to surfaces using a rubber roller to create stunning background effects.

Card Candi

Card Candi is a range of dome-shaped adhesive embellishments, made by Craftwork Cards. They come in many different colours, textures and patterns and make a great alternative to adhesive gems!


A loose-woven gauze-like cotton cloth which is traditionally used in cheese making. It’s ideal for rustic-looking bows!


This material is used to make letters or 3D embellishments.

Circle cutter

An adjustable bladed tool for cutting perfect circles.

Clear stamps

Clear stamps are a type of unmounted stamp. They are made of clear polymer and will ‘cling’ onto an acrylic block without adhesive.

Concertina card

This is made from a long piece of card that is folded first to the right and then to the left, so that it opens and closes in the manner of a concertina. It is also referred to as an accordion card.

Concertina panel

A panel of card folded into mountain and valley folds. Use at the bottom of a tent fold card to allow your card to be posted flat.

Core’dinations card

A brand of card where the inside core of the card is a different colour to that printed on the surface. When you tear or sand it, the inner core becomes visible creating a two-toned texture.

Cotton lace

A decorative lace fabric. Available with an adhesive backing, making it ideal for card making!

Crackle Accents

Crackle Accents is a liquid which gives card and paper a really effective, aged, antique effect.

Craft CD-ROM

A computer disc of templates and designs.

Craft foam

Foam sheets that come in a variety of colours and thicknesses. The sheets can be cut with dies, then inked up to be used as DIY outline stamps.

Craft wire

Thin, coloured wire that you can bend into shape to decorate your cards.


This is a brand of digital die-cutter.


Crochet uses a crocheting hook and thread to create fabrics. You can easily incorporate it into your cardmaking designs by creating little fabric embellishments.

Crochet ribbon

This gorgeous, delicate embellishment is a pretty alternative to standard ribbon and comes in regular and adhesive versions. Try Papermania for lovely colours!


This is a brand of traditional style die-cutter (see section on die-cutters, below).

Daisy punch

A punch that produces little flower shapes.


These are little bottles filled with paint or ink, with a spongy tip that helps you to apply colour evenly.


There are two very different découpage techniques. The first is the art of creating a 3D image from paper layers. The smaller parts of a repeated image are cut out and layered on top of the original image with sticky fixers. The second is when pieces of specialist découpage paper are used to cover an object to decorate it, usually using watered-down PVA glue or Mod Podge.


Pre-cut shapes usually presented in A4 sheets of card, which you simply push out and attach to your base card as embellishments.


A die-cutting machine cuts out shapes from paper or card. The machine sandwiches metal dies (templates) over your chosen card, which is then fed through a roller by turning a handle on the machine. The pressure on the die creates the cut.

Digital die-cutters

These machines cut out shapes at the touch of a button, with no need for metal dies.


A digital collection of materials that can include papers, alphabets and toppers.

Digi papers

Printed papers that you purchase online and download and print at home. Great for an instant stash boost!

Digi stamp

A digital image, usually outlined in black, that can be printed out and coloured in.


A technique where card or paper is distressed with a tool to create a rough-edged, aged finish.

Distress Ink

The Distress Inks range of ink pads from Tim Holtz are ideal for adding a vintage, stained, or aged effect to your cards. They can be used for stamping, blended or added direct to paper.


This is where you download an image (often of patterned papers) from the internet. You can then print it out as much as you like to use on your cards. Downloads can be free or paid for, depending on the source. Download free patterned papers and lots of card ideas from Cardmaking & Papercraft and Quick Cards Made Easy here.

Easel card

This type of card has a section that stands up, held in place by a button or other embellishment.


Embossing adds a raised, textured shape, either as a pattern, a motif or a greeting. The traditional way of embossing is by hand, using either a stencil or an embossing board with an embossing tool. You can also use an embossing folder (see below) with a die-cutting machine to create the same effect.

Embossing folder

This is an accessory for a traditional die-cutting machine. It creates an embossed pattern on card when fed through the machine.

Embossing paste

This thick paste is smoothed on top of a stencil with a palette knife. Once dry, it leaves a raised surface, creating an embossed effect.

Embossing powder

These are grainy powders that melt when heated with a heat gun to create a shiny, raised finish (see heat embossing). They are available in a variety of colours and textures for different effects.

Enamel dots

Similar to adhesive gems, these smooth colourful plastic dots (or squares!) give your cards a lovely finishing touch.


These are small metal embellishments with a hole in the middle. You attach them to cards with an eyelet setter, which punches a hole and then fixes the eyelet in place.

Eyelet setter

This handy tool allows you to quickly and easily place eyelets without needing a hammer.

Fabric papers

These are very thin sheets of fabric that have a sticky backing, allowing them to be attached to card and paper.


This is made of very fine velvety fibres sold in lots of different colours. It can be added to cards and papercraft projects in the same way as glitter. Click here to read our guide to flock.

Flower pressing

Traditionally created by pressing in a book, today there are more sophisticated methods of producing dried flowers, with a number of ready-made presses and also the microwave press available. Use tweezers to handle flowers and a cocktail stick to apply glue. A heat seal film is placed over the flowers to seal the blooms onto card.

Glass painting

This technique is traditionally practised by painting on glass, but you can also use glass paint on acetate, which is handy for cardmakers as it’s much easier to incorporate into projects.

Glimmer Mist

This is a water-based spray containing mica pigments. It gives a shimmering effect when sprayed onto paper or card.

Glossy Accents

A 3D gloss medium that can be used to highlight parts of a stamped image or card. It’s great for adding texture and can also be used like glue, to attach embellishments.

Heat embossing

This gives stamped images a glossy, raised finish. It involves sprinkling embossing powder onto an image stamped with pigment ink, and then heating with a heat gun, which melts the powder and creates the shiny, raised finish.

Heat gun

This tool gives a jet of heat (like a hairdryer without the airflow) to melt embossing powder and heat shrink plastic.

Iris folding

This involves building up an image using folded strips of paper. It’s a great way to use up any paper scraps.

Metal embossing

This is the same technique as embossing, but metal is used instead of card to create a slightly different effect.


These are dies that cut out shapes like circles, scalloped circles and rectangles, which are very useful for framing images on cards. They are sold in sets with different sizes that fit inside each other. They can be used with a variety of die-cutting machines.


This is the traditional Japanese art of using paper folding to create 3D shapes. They look great alone or added to cards.

Parchment craft

Parchment craft is the art of embossing and piercing specialist paper to create a pattern.


These are a style of sticker, with simple outlines or greetings that peel off from a sheet.

Pigment ink

This is a slow-drying ink, recommended for use when heat embossing as it remains tacky for longer so the embossing powder has time to stick.

Polymer clay

Modelling clay used to create 3D embellishments.

Pop-up cards

This is the technique of attaching an image or lettering inside a base card, so that it springs up when opened.


These are a brand of alcohol-based, blendable marker pen. They are hugely popular for colouring in stamped images to give professional results.


These are used to punch out little shapes to decorate cards. There is a huge variety available, including border punches and nesting punches. You can use the punched out shapes as embellishments too!


This involves using a quilling tool and special strips of paper to create swirls and coils to make an eye-catching 3D image.

Repositionable glue

A specially formulated adhesive that allows items to be removed and repositioned without damaging the surface – even after the glue has dried.

Rotary trimmer

A rotary trimmer is a manual paper cutter with a round blade that rotates as it cuts (see trimmers below).



These are a type of transfer that work much like stickers. Remove the backing and rub down with a tool or lolly stick to transfer the image onto card.

Shrink plastic

This is sold in sheets that, when heated, shrink to a fraction of their original size. You can stamp, colour and cut it into shapes before shrinking with a heat gun to make embellishments for cards.


This is a brand of traditional die-cutting machine used to cut out shapes from paper and card.

Slider cards

These are special cards with a moving element, which reveals a hidden message to the recipient.


Rubber stamps are used with coloured inks (any type will do) to create a perfect outline every time. Stamps can be wood-mounted in the traditional fashion, or unmounted (see unmounted stamps).

StazOn ink

This is a permanent solvent-based ink that will stamp on almost any surface. It is recommended when stamping onto shrink plastic and acetate or glossy card and paper.


These are versatile tools which can be used with inks, paints or chalks to create an outline on paper, or with an embossing tool to give a raised outline to your chosen design.

Sticky fixers

These are tiny, sticky foam pads used to give a 3D effect when attaching panels to a base card, or between layers of découpage.


Trimmers are a must-have for any serious cardmaker. There are two categories – guillotines and rotary trimmers. Guillotines have a long blade which slices down and rotary trimmers have a rolling blade.

Twinkling H2Os

These are a brand of extra-special watercolour paints, which have mica pigments embedded in them to create a shimmery finish.

Unmounted stamps

Unmounted stamps are sold without the traditional wooden mount. They come in two main varieties – opaque rubber, or clear polymer. Both varieties are generally cheaper and easier to store than wood-mounted stamps. To use them, you need to attach them to a clear acrylic block. These are inexpensive and sold separately.

VersaMark ink

This is a clear pigment ink that creates a ‘watermark’ version of the stamped image when stamped onto coloured card. VersaMark is also ideal for heat embossing, as embossing powder is sprinkled onto the clear stamped image and sticks to the tacky ink, before being melted with a heat gun.


A paint that’s mixed with water and used to add colour to pictures.

Waterfall cards

This clever technique allows you to pull a tab on the front of a base card to make several panels flip over in succession, creating a waterfall-style cascade.


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