The 3R’s of Card Making - Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose

What are the 3R's

The history of the 3R's goes back into the mists of time. I'm sure you've heard of the teaching 3R's – reading, writing and arithmetic. More recently educators have added extra 3R's – respect, responsibility and relationships, or alternatively – resourcefulness, responsibility and respect.

In specialised educational fields alternative 3R's are used. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education has additional 3R's – respect, relationships and reconciliation. In sexuality education systems the 3R's could be – rights, respect, responsibility.

Another famous set of 3R's is in sustainability – reduce, reuse and recycle. The animal welfare lobby has introduced a set of 3R's for animals use in research – replacement, reduction and refinement. So does card making have its own set of 3R's? 

The 3R's in card making

My 3R's for card making are – recycle, reuse and repurpose. This closely mirrors the 3R's of sustainability. This is no accident, as being a good environmental steward while card making has its own additional benefits.

Using the 3R's is the best way I know of creating unique cards that cannot be copied. These 3R's are also a very useful to make your card making as economical as possible.

The 3R's of card makingRecycle

The most obvious way to use recycling in card making is to cut apart old cards and turn them into new cards. One lady of my acquaintance uses this method exclusively and makes cards that she is able to sell to supplement her retirement income.

The card that you can see on the left above is made using this technique. This Christmas card was made by cutting apart an old one that I had saved. The front picture was cut into two separate pictures to make two cards. the second card is shown below. The back of the card was used as the matting for the pictures and the text in the second card. In this way no effort was needed to match the colours of the picture and the matting.

To complete the card a stamped sentiment was used. The sentiment could also be produced with a computer and then printed on the card stock prior to making the card, as I did for the second card. This is a cheaper way for new card makers who already have access to a computer and printer; as ink colour, size and font can be varied to suit the project. 

I used this technique while batch making many unique Christmas cards. I made an A4 sheets of different Christmas greetings in various colours appropriate for Christmas cards. I made sheets that had both vertical and horizontal messages well space to allow larger or smaller message block size. I then printed this on light card which I cut out. One time I accidentally printed in greyscale, but this was also very useful as it gave different silvery light grey to black sentiments which matched many cards. This is only one example of serendipity in card making. I have found to not throw away 'mistakes' because they are often useful elsewhere.

The image in this card is from the backing card stock from a new die. I used the die to cut a sentiment closely matched in colour and layered it slightly offset from the sentiment printed on the card stock. This made the sentiment jump out from the page.

The number of things that can be recycled for use in card making is too many to mention here. I have used recycled haberdashery items such as lace, ribbons and other cords as well as buttons that I have found or have come with items that have been either given to me or bought.

 You should search for beautiful patterns from printed patterned card stock used as backing or wrapping for items you have bought. I do this often and have also recycled tea bag packaging and thank you postcards received with my order from a company I bought garden supplies from. I have made very cheap but beautiful thank you cards from printed and coloured vellum that was left over from projects that my mother made. These cards were given to shop attendants under stress during COVID-19 panic buying.

These mesh bags are used to bundle different kinds of fruit or vegetables in the supermarket. Can you think of ways these could be used in card making?

I also recycle ribbons and other cords from attaching tags to new items I have bought, or these and other items that I have found. These can make quite beautiful cards i.e. Serendipity in card making.

Also other items can be recycled and it only requires your own thinking outside the square ability. As an example I have used mesh bags as shown on the right for many different cards of various themes.

The 3R's of card making – Reuse

The first stamp I ever purchased. This was a very useful for multi-purposes.

Specialised card making equipment can be expensive. If you are short of funds or want to make best use of your investment, choosing stamps and/or dies that can have multiple uses is an excellent way of saving money in the long run.

This stamp above was the very first stamp that I purchased. You can see it has been used many, many times from the ink stains on the block. I purchased this particular one because it had multiple uses. Firstly, I could use the entire message for both the card front and the inside message. None of the words overlap so, if you are careful, any of them can be separately inked for various messages.

For example, the obvious ones are Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. The Christmas can be separately inked. The Happy and the Christmas can be joined to make a different Christmas sentiment instead. With separate inkings of the Merry Christmas/and a/Happy New Year sections, a three line message can be produced. ...

I have made many cards using the die set that is the basis of these cards. I used another die set that was from the same collection for some of them. The basic dye set was for the apron. It had the basic apron with a rounded top and bottom pocket, with basic kitchen/ gardening tools. The workshop tools were in a second set.

This card did not use the pockets that came with the die set. The basic apron die was cut twice, then the top half of the second diecut was removed and the remaining part used as the pocket. This produced a carpenters apron style which matched the workshop tools. Addition of a sentiment and a piece of dyed ribbon completed the card.

Using the gardening tools that come with the apron die set, gardening apron themed cards can be made. These can be made masculine/ feminine or neutral by choice of colour and sentiment.

By using other elements from the apron and workshop tools die sets I have produced Mother's Day cards that could also have been feminine birthday cards with change of sentiment. These had kitchen and sewing themes.

The 3R's of card making – Repurpose

Many card makers are already crafters from many other crafting areas. With a bit of lateral thinking, techniques and consumables from these other crafts can be incorporated into cards.

While other paper crafts may be a more obvious source of ideas, for the most unique cards; ideas, techniques or equipment can be obtained from much more diverse crafting techniques. The novice card maker, or more experience card makers can make the best use of other crafting equipment they have invested in by incorporating their use into card making.

The haberdashery equipment mentioned above, along with knitting, crocheting and other yarn based crafts can in be incorporated into cards. Various painting/ drawing techniques can also be used for cards. Along with many other crafting techniques.

The straws I used to make the barbershop themed card

Another way of using repurposing in card making, is to use items in different ways other than what they were intended for. For example, I have used red and white striped party loot bags and straws from the party supplies area of a discount store to make a masculine barbershop themed card. 

Discount shops are favourite place for me to trawl, as they are a great source of cheap repurposed imputes for my card making. As an example, there are many items that can be repurposed in the Christmas supplies area of discount stores. Some of these items are simply used as decoration, but, smaller useful gift items can be incorporated in such a way that they can be removed and used – creating what I call "Gift" cards.

Check my Facebook business page out here

  1. Home
  2. >
  3. the 3R's