Punches Go Artsy

I have a confession to make. I have a big box of craft punches, and until now I've almost never used them. I mean, with all the other fun accents currently holding center stage in my albums, how could a small punched cardstock shape compete?

If your craft punches have worked their way into the back of your scrapbooking closet, it's time you rescued them. You've invested a small fortune in those punches, and there are dozens of ways to use them with all those fun, dimensional products you love. Stick with me, and I'll show you some captivating new ways to bring new dimension to your punch art.

If you've used your punches primarily to punch shapes from cardstock (and don't we all), here's a hefty list of other materials you can punch through:

Corrugated cardstock, Pressed leaves and other botanicals,Vintage postcards and other vintage papers Rubber-stamped images, Wrinkled cardstock, Colored plastic film,Transparency film, Assorted tags Large stickers Garment tags, Envelopes, Cork sheets, Foil sheets, Postmarks, Photographs

Get the idea? Then, after punching through some of the materials listed above, try your hand at dressing up the punched shapes with one or two of the following dimensional media:

  • Eyelets and fasteners
  • Threads and yarns
  • Wishing stones
  • Elastic cording
  • Tiny mirrors
  • Rhinestones
  • Sewing trims
  • Buttons
  • Sequins
  • Craft wire
  • Charms
  • Chains
  • Twine
  • Beads

Decide What You Need Just one punch shape is perfect for layouts that are heavy on photographs. There's no need to cram more embellishments than necessary on a page. But, rather than just punching and adhering the shape, take a few extra minutes to really dress it up. Or, instead of a smaller role on your layout, don't be afraid to let your punched shapes be the primary design element. When embellished, they can be fascinating features on your page.

Review What You've Got on Hand If you haven't done so in a while, take a few minutes to look over your collection of punches. It may well be that you have the perfect punch shape to mirror the theme of a layout you're working on.

When I wanted to create a layout encouraging my son to give his best effort at all he does, my eyes settled on a star punch and—eureka!—I came up with an "aim for the stars" theme. I could just as easily use these same star punches for a similar layout for one of my daughters, taking a feminine approach as I dressed up the punched stars.

Get Creative Don't overlook how versatile punches can be. Although they may seem a little pricey at first (especially the larger ones), with a little creativity they can become tools you use often.

Some of the more whimsical punches are perfect for finishing touches on a lighthearted layout or a child's layout. Remember, you can use the "leftover" silhouette pieces too. Mixed and matched with the regular punched shapes, these can add fun new twist to your punch art. And although it can be fun to go all out with the embellishment of punched shapes, so much decoration isn't always desirable. Even the simplest of touches can stretch a long way to make a simple design very effective.

Okay, there's your creative "push." Now go find that almost-forgotten box of craft punches and put those punches to work. They could become a regular feature on the pages of your scrapbooks.

Source: Rebecca Sower
This article was published in October 2002 issue of Creating Keepsakes.