Punches are fun and flexible tools for embellishing cards. Flexible, because there are so many different ways to use them. If you're just starting out, however, it may seem overwhelming. So here are the basics about using punches.
There are several different types of punches, depending on their purpose or difference in manufacturer's design. My personal favorites are Martha Stewart and Stampin' Up! punches, because of the variety of designs and the sturdy construction. My least favorite are the little thumb size push button punches, because they are just harder to use on anything except thin paper.
If you plan your punching by centering the design in a square of cardstock or designer paper, you can use both the punched-out portion and the surrounding cardstock (as a frame) on your cards
Tip: Turn the punch upside down so you can see where the cut lines will be and have more control over where you're punching.
Corner punches have a notch where the corner of the paper goes. Being careful to place the corner squarely in the notch will ensure a clean cut.
Slot punches can be used to thread a ribboon through a tag or the front of your card.
To use a border punch, after first punching the image, line the punched image up with the design to the left or right of the punching mechanism.
You can click the image to enlarge, but on the left are the first set of punched birds, and on the right I have lined them up so they exactly cover the silhouette image.
You can "lubricate" your punch by punching a piece of waxed paper.
If you try to punch and the mechanism won't close to make the cut, it may be you're not squeezing hard enough. You don't have to be gentle. It's also possible that the punch itself is out of alignment in some way. When I made my Christmas cards last year, after about a kazillion punches I had a problem and realized that I had slightly bent the plastic handle of the punch. I ended up finishing by holding the punch in both hands so I could put pressure on the front end as well as the handle. (Here's a picture of the punched image and the wreath from that card, so you can see why I was punching so many little branches.)
For some great examples of punch art, check out these previous tutorials: Punch People, and Punch People II.
Please leave a comment with any 101 level tips you have for using punches.
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