The quality of your components makes a big difference in the quality of finish and this is particularly true when it comes to cardstock.
For storage solutions for cardstock in the craft room, you can tour my Cardstock Organisation.
Different cardstocks are made for different mediums and techniques too, so I’ll attempt to explain them below.
One of the biggest issues we have at our kiwi craft tables is the difference in size between our standard A4 pages and the American A4 measurements. Of course, all the beautiful background and framing dies fit the American standard, not ours. The dies in question are generally manufactured to 4.25″ x 5.5″ (which confusingly, Americans call this A2 size!) and this is the size of all their cards and envelopes.
American A4 measures 8.5″ x 11″ – cut into quarters is 4.25″ x 5.5″. The most common cardstock used by American crafters is the Neenah Classic Crest Solar White, or Desert Storm (a Kraft coloured cardstock).
To add to the confusion, American cardstock is measured in pounds, whereas our NZ papers and cardstocks are measured in grams per square metre (gsm). However, pounds don’t always equal gsm, so it can be hard to match!
NZ A4 measures 8.25″ x 11.75″ (21cm x 29.7cm). Cut in halves/quarters, we still get nice sized card bases and fronts – they are just a little slimmer and taller than the American counterpart. There are metric rectangular dies available to fit, so you can still have the pretty stitched frames and mats – I will link to those in a later post. Personally, I cut my NZ A4 down to get one card base/pair of fronts with the American measurements, and use the waste piece for a mat piece, stamping and die cutting other elements, or as sentiment strips.
There are two NZ retailers I’m aware of that stock the Neenah Classic Crest Solar white cardstock which is a staple in my craft room. I like the nice sturdy weight of the #110lb (similar to a 270-300gsm weight cardstock) which is perfect for card bases. I use the #80lb (210-250gsm) for card fronts, die cutting, stamping and colouring images etc. You can purchase Neenah Classic Crest Solar White cardstock at KraftersCart and Ribbon Rose.
Another way to be able to use the 4.25″ x 5.5″ sized dies without wasting so much paper is to use cardstock that comes in 9″ x 12″ size – easy to cut your card bases and fronts to size with minimum strips of waste (which I keep anyway for sentiment strips and embossing handles)
TIP: Keep your scraps – I keep all my little scrappy bits of white cardstock in a small drawer near my craft table. They come in very handy for test pieces, pull tabs, die cuts, and ‘handles’ to keep the heat gun away from my fingers and same fingers out of the inks and powders on my die cuts!
Which Cardstock for What?
Best for Card Bases
I like a nice sturdy card base – a strong card base to hold up the layers of ink and dimension can really make your card look and feel high quality.
Neenah Classic Crest Solar White #110 is my personal favourite for card bases. It is a nice white and die cuts beautifully. It can also be used for colouring with markers as it holds ink well. It’s sturdy cardstock which makes it perfect for creating interactive cards, especially pull sliders and any components that move.
Bazzill Marshmallow cardstock comes in both 8.5″ x 11″ and 12″ x 12″. It is very comparable to Neenah cardstock, and I love the smooth creaminess of it.
It is sturdy enough to be used as card bases, layering pieces, intricate die cutting and can also be used for inking – distress oxides blend beautifully on this cardstock.
This cardstock is usually sold by the sheet.
Strathmore Bristol Smooth cardstock comes in a 9″x12″ pad, and can be cut down to create two American A2 card bases.
I find this cardstock to be a beautiful and creamy off-white colour, which matches tonally with watercolour cardstock. It is a slightly lighter weight than the Neenah #110, but holds up well as a card base.
Stampin Up! Whisper White is available in both a heavy weight and a lighter weight. This is the NZ standard A4 size. The heavier weight is more suitable for a card base.
Stampin Up! also has a great range of coloured cardstocks (with matching inks). They are not as sturdy as the above suggestions, but I include them here because this range is readily available in New Zealand.
I don’t often make cards with coloured cardstock as the base, but when I do, Lawn Fawn and Gina K Designs cardstock are my personal favourites.
They are a nice sturdy weight which hold up nicely and come in a brilliant range of colours.
Both companies have ink ranges which match their cardstocks – I know this is an important factor to some. Lawn Fawn even has matching trimmings for some of their ink and cardstock range.
Both companies also have matching coloured envelopes – these aren’t generally available in NZ however, but your favourite local retailer might be able to order some in for you.
New to the New Zealand market are the Hero Arts Hues Cardstock range. These are absolutely gorgeous and come in a brilliant range of colours – Arctic Blue, Nautical and Pitch Black would be my absolute favourites!
The Hero Hues cardstock is heavy weight, certainly suitable for perfectly sturdy card bases.
Best for Inking and adding Colour
There are a variety of inks and colouring mediums available, and they have different properties requiring cardstock to suit their purpose. While all the cardstocks listed above would also suit stamping images, you want to ensure you’re using the right cardstock for the colour you want to add to it.
Bristol Smooth is a beautiful smooth surfaced cardstock – excellent for ink blending. Getting a seamless blend is much easier on this cardstock than many others.
Most stamping ink pads are dye inks, but this cardstock suits the hybrid inks too (such as Distress Oxides). Using the mini blending tool and foams, the blending brushes or sponge daubers all get good results.
Watercolour markers, aqua pens and pencils can be used on this cardstock too, provided there isn’t too much water being added. Because of the smooth surface with no ‘tooth’ it is perfect for pencil sketching, fine line and detailed art.
Pictured here, are both the Strathmore Bristol and the Koh-i-Noor Bristol in the 9″ x 12″ sized pads. The difference between the two is simply colour. The Koh-i-Noor is a nice bright white, whilst the Strathmore is more a creamy off-white.
Also pictured is the Fabriano Bristol which is NZ A4 sized. At just $9.99 for the 20 page pad, it is quite good value, and I use it for printing out swatches, workbooks for online classes, stamping and colouring, and die cutting. An A3 sized pad is also available.
The best cardstock for alcohol markers by far is the Copic X-Press It. It is designed expressly for this purpose. It holds colour well, making it much easier to achieve smooth blends with your markers.
Neenah Classic Crest Solar White #80lb is great for colouring with markers. Copic markers are alcohol based (same as Stampin Up! alcohol markers, Promarkers, Spectrum Noir) and they put ink down nicely on this cardstock. The colour will bleed through to the back, but as the images are generally placed onto a card front, this isn’t really an issue for me. (If you don’t want your colour to bleed through, you’ll need to use the #110lb, or other equally heavy cardstock).
I also use the Neenah #80lb when I’m doing some direct ink blending or stencilling, when I don’t plan on using water, as it warps. I do happily use shimmer sprays though!
And of course, the Stampin Up! Whisper White cardstock is perfect for colouring, basic ink blending and stencilling, stamping and die cutting.
Best for Watercolour
I am not a watercolour artist in any way – merely a dabbler. There are many different watercolour cardstocks available if you are serious about your art, and it would be beneficial to check out the art stores such as Gordon Harris for the right cardstock for your needs. Below, I have listed ‘beginner’ or ‘student quality’ cardstock, which I use in my craft room.
Some inks, such as watercolour powders and distress inks and oxides, require water to get the inky reactions, movement and different tones they are capable of, and a good watercolour cardstock is what is needed to hold the water.
Watercolour cardstock can be heat embossed with background stamp images for extra fun with colour.
Watercolour cardstock is readily available in art shops, stationery shops, emporiums and craft stores. The two DAS pads pictured here are the ones I have found available in my own local stores. The only difference between the two pictured is the weight of the cardstock.
These two watercolour pads are ‘student quality’ – if you are wanting a smoother finish with your watercolours, especially if you are using higher pigmented mediums and are wanting smooth tones and blends, you will want to purchase a higher quality, or ‘artists’ quality’ paper pad – you will notice an immediate difference in the blending properties on a higher quality paper. Check out your local art store, or this one at Gordon Harris.
Most watercolour cardstock is not actually white, rather an off-white colour. I have found the Strathmore Bristol (as described above) to be the perfect card base when using a watercolour cardstock for an inked background piece, as it matches tonally which gives a nice finish on your card.
Tim Holtz has a watercolour cardstock in his range that is a nice bright white, and it is available in small packs of 10 sheets measuring 4.25″ x 5.5″.
Thank you for visiting – I hope you have found the above information helpful in your card making journey. As new products are released and trends change, you might like to bookmark this page to keep up to date. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.