A - Z of Craft Jargon

Acetate: Transparent plastic – generally sold in sheets. This product is similar to that which companies use to create a ‘window’ in their packaging, so that the contents may be seen.

Acetate domes/bubbles: Similar to above, & shaped by machines. You see them on your toothbrush packaging, where a machine has sealed the brush to a piece of card using heat to shape the acetate. The craft ‘domes’ have been shaped so you can use them to create a sealed aperture on your card, to protect 3D work such as decoupage, or to create a shaker - see shaker cards.

 Acrylic/clear/polymer stamps: Up until recently the majority of stamps were cast in rubber & mounted, with cushioning, to a block of wood. But innovation has entered the craft world & the majority of stamps are now cast in clear polymer. The polymer stamp is naturally ‘clingy’, so attaches easily to an acrylic block (see below) which is also clear, thus enabling the user to position a stamped image with greater accuracy than ever before. If the stamp does stop clinging to the block, you simply wash it in warm soapy water & leave to dry naturally & it will regain its clingy properties again.

Acrylic blocks:  Are pieces of acrylic set into a block shape. They come in numerous sizes & you simply buy the ones that suit the size of clear stamps you own. They will become ink stained when used with permanent inks, such as Stazon, this won’t affect their performance though can be cleaned off with an appropriate ink remover, available under the same brand name. You can wash the blocks in warm soapy water to remove any particles of glitter etc. that become attached.

Acrylic gems: Available widely, these imitation jewels are cast in acrylic but in decorative shapes, such as gems, flowers, leaves, stars etc. They are generally coated on the back with silver foil, to give them more sparkle. You can purchase them with or without adhesive & this is reflected in the price. They can be stuck to many surfaces using the right glue, e.g. for card or paper a normal tacky glue will be ideal, fabrics such as a ribbon bow etc, a glue gel is better suited to the job.

Adhesive foam pads/Sticky fixers/buds (3D pads):  Narrow foam with adhesive on both sides, generally comes on carrier sheets cut into sections, they come in a variety of sizes (both shape & depth).

Adhesive foam tape/Shaker tape: As above but on one continuous roll. They come in a variety of widths & depths & are ideal for shaker card construction – see shaker cards.

Air dry clay: Widely available in art & craft suppliers. Generally sold in a brick of 500g or 1kg, comes in terracotta or white, though there may be other colours available? As the name suggests, the clay can be dried without the intervention of heat from an oven or kiln, simply leave on a warm window sill until dry. Would be suitable for small embellishments for your projects, but a polymer or paper clay would be better suited to larger embellishments, as both are much lighter than the air dry version.

Background stamp:  As opposed to a more detailed stamp, the background stamp is generally much larger so it can cover larger areas with one pass.

Bakers twine: Similar to packaging string, but revolutionized for crafters. Generally two colours are twisted together to form the twine & are available from many manufacturers in a wealth of colour combinations.

Binding machine: Various designs are available on the market from an office type to a dedicated craft model – which comes at a price. Some use plastic binding ‘combs’ others use wire, but they all do the same job - they bind pages together to form a book.

Bone folder: Shaped tool usually made from plastic so very inexpensive. It is used to form score lines in your work - breaking down the fibers of the card or paper to make folding easier- after making the fold, the tool is then used to smooth out the fold giving a more professional finish.

Book/hinged rings: Similar to metal curtain rings, but with a hinge rather than a loop, thus enabling the ring to be opened & closed. They come in a variety of sizes & finishes & are widely available in craft outlets.

 Border punches:  Paper punched designed with a repeating pattern enabling the user to create a continuous decorative border of any length.

 Brads:  These come in a vast array of shapes, sizes & colours, anything from a stud to a flower & a wrench/spanner to diamante studs, but basically they are all based on the same principle. Regardless of the design, they have two ‘legs’ at the back. The idea is that you would make a small hole in the work that you want to attach, push the ‘legs’ through the hole & open them up to secure - used widely to hold several layers of silk or paper flowers together too. Great for attaching transparent materials to your project too – no adhesive to have to hide!

 Chipboard: Dense board similar to cereal packets, though generally thicker. Can be bought in natural state for book covers etc. But more widely used covered with sheets of embellishments & then die cut by machine.

 Craft chalk: Generally comes packaged in much the same way as kids water colour paint, on a palette with a hinged lid. Very compacted, coloured chalk tablets with applicators similar to those you would apply eye shadow. Creates beautiful pastel shades on your work, but generally needs to be sealed to prevent it rubbing off – but you can do this with a very light application of cheap hair spray.

 Craft crop:  A group of crafters meeting to share ideas & inspiration.

 Craft glue/PVA glue: Glue specially formulated to use with paper & card etc.

 Craft knife:  A blade housed in a handle, many forms are available, to be used in conjunction with a cutting mat & steel edged ruler.

 Core’dinations card: Brand name for a card range that has a different colour core inside of the card, so ideal for distressing techniques.

 Corner punches: Punches designed to decorate corners of paper & sometimes card – depending on the brand.

Crackle accents: A gloss liquid used to create a glazed, cracked look similar to the finish of old oil paintings.

 Crop: As opposed to a craft crop, to crop some paper, photograph or card etc. is to cut off a section of it.

 Cutting mat: Essential kit when using a craft knife, there are various types on the market & they come in a variety of sizes depending on the size of the area you have to work on. Opt for A3 if you have the room, definitely the most versatile.

 Decorative edged scissors: Scissors with blades that have been designed to cut a pattern rather than a straight edge. They are widely available, varying in price.

 Decoupage: Modern decoupage consists of one main image & then several layers with parts of that image cut away, until only the focal point in the foreground remains. When layered up on 3D pads, or using silicone glue give a 3D effect.

 Die cut:  A decorative shape/design usually cut from card, chipboard or paper by mechanical means.

 Dies: A metal shape with a raised edge used to create shapes & patterns - when used in conjunction with a manual die cutting machine.

 Die cutting machine (manual): Is basically a pair of rollers housed inside a casing with a external winding handle – much like an old fashioned mangle. When used with the dies (see above) & the acrylic plates that accompany the machine, the rollers apply pressure to the die enabling the raised edge to cut through the card or paper being used. There are many on the market produced by various companies, only the Sizzix brands need their own dedicated dies, the rest are inter-changeable between all of the other machines.

 Die cutting machine (digital): A machine with a cutting blade, which guided by cartridges you purchase will cut out shapes, letters words etc. Needs mains electricity to be able operate.

Distressing: This one has a number of definitions but basically it is any techniques that will make the project, or elements of the project look aged & slightly tattered.

 Double sided tape/tissue tape (DST): An adhesive tape that comes on a roll, unlike regular tapes such as masking tape etc. this tape is adhesive on both sides, so comes with a carrier paper attached. It is almost transparent when applied, but not transparent enough to use with acetate or fine vellums without being visible. Used widely to adhere backing papers & layers to your work, but is quite sticky so hard to remove.

Many people use a glue stick on top of the adhesive once they position it & remove the carrier paper, as this gives you a short period to adjust the positioning if necessary.

Another method is to lift away the carrier paper from two opposing corners & fold at an angle so it protrudes from behind. This way you have only those two corners to position & then you carefully pull the carrier paper that is protruding, to remove it & fix the layer into position.  

Downloads: Stuff on the World Wide Web (www.). Images & files etc that you are allowed to copy to your own computer; the files on this site for example.

 Dye based ink: There are various types of inks that you can use in crafting, die based inks are good when you want to colour with Promarkers, or other brands of spirit based pens. But it is not intended for use when used in conjunction with embossing powder, as it isn’t sticky enough & dries too quickly.

 Embellishments: This includes everything (other than the actual paper) that you can use to decorate your projects. From buttons & bows to die cuts & tags, & everything else that you can attach to projects.

 Embossing: There are two types of embossing. Dry embossing is when you create a raised impression on a piece of card or paper, this can be done with a light box & stencils, or by means of a manual die cutting & embossing machine. It creates individual images or all over patterns, depending on which stencils or embossing folders you own, (similar to textured wall paper which you paint over).

The other form of embossing is known as heat embossing, it uses rubber or acrylic stamps, pigment ink, embossing powder & a heat gun. This gives a similar effect to the silver or gold greeting on Christmas cards.

 Embossing Folder: Used in conjunction with a manual die cutting machine, such as Cuttlebug or Grand Calibur, it is a piece of plastic that is folded in half & the a positive design is etched on to one half & the negative on the other. When the card or paper is sandwiched inside the folder & run through the machine, it creates an embossed image or pattern, depending on the folder used.

 Embossing powder: Used in conjunction with a pigment ink pad & heat gun this powder bonds to the stamped impression & when heated, melts making the impression permanent. This method is ideal if you want to use water colours to tint your stamped impression, as the ink has been sealed by the heated powder, so cannot bleed.

Eyelets: Larger eyelets can be seen on lace up trainers, as they are used to reinforce the holes. There is a huge variety of eyelet available to crafters, in a myriad of colours & shapes. They need to be fixed into place using setting tools: see below. A perfect way to attach opaque materials to your projects, such as acetate & vellum, which would otherwise be difficult to attach, as by their very nature most adhesives would be visible through the material.

 Eyelet setting tools: Again, there are a variety of these available, from mini hammers with manual hand held setting tools, to pieces of kit that are huge & cumbersome & hard to operate, & everything n between. Their purpose is to spread the unfinished end of the eyelet to secure it in place.

 Faux: Simply means fake as in faux fur etc.

 Faux stitching: If you don’t have a sewing machine, or don’t want to go to all of the bother of setting it up simply for a 30 second job, then faux stitching is the next best thing! There are several ways of doing this: you can get a little roller that puts the holes in, ready for you to use a needle & thread; you can manually put the holes in yourself & then use a needle & thread; you can simply draw dots & dashes with a fine pen & a ruler; you can buy a rubber/clear stamp designed to do the job for you - these can be obtained in a variety of stitch patterns.

 'Flower Soft': Is a brand name, but as far as I know nothing like it is available? You apply it in the same way as you would glitter, so generally with a wet glue, you can add it to a floral scene to give the flowers more dimension. Or you can add it to the top if wrapped wires to create little flower clusters.

Flocking Powder: This comes with or without glitter added. It imitates flocked wallpaper & can be applied to lines of double sided sticky tape to create a simple but effective background, or to individual elements cut from double sided sticky paper. Unlike glitter, where you simply shake it over the glue & then shake off the excess, with flocking powder you need to rub it in to the adhesive to get the full effect of flocking.

Foiled/Mirri card: Regular card that has been bonded with a fine layer of plastic ‘aluminium’ type material to give it a mirror type effect.

Friendly plastic: A narrow band of plastic often coloured or coated to enhance it. When heated it becomes malleable & can be formed into 3D shapes to create rings & other jewellery, etc. The different colours & finishes can be layered up to form striking effects. Light weight so ideal for making embellishments for your projects.

 Funky foam/craft foam: You don’t need to spend craft prices on this stuff; you can buy it from the kid’s activity section. It is dense sponge/foam that has been cut into sheets/shapes. It comes in a myriad of colours & you can cut it using some punches & most manual die cutting machines. You can also warm it slightly with a heat gun & stamp into it. Gives die cut flowers a whole new dimension!

 Glass cutting mat: Rather than the regular craft cutting mat that you can’t go near with a heat gun, a glass cutting mat is impervious to heat! They come with the grid & measurements on that are standard on a regular cutting mat, & they are supposed to make cutting with a craft knife easier. I have tried them out & they do make cutting easier, but you will need to tape whatever you are cutting down onto the mat, or it will slip & slide around. They are great for messy jobs like inking edges etc. as they simply wipe clean!

 Glitter: There are a huge variety of brands on the market, including the stuff you buy for kids. You can get course or fine stuff & you can even get flakes now too. They all do the same job which is sticking to an adhesive surface.

 Glitter card/board: This product is created by covering an entire sheet of card with adhesive & covering it with glitter. The quality varies enormously, & isn’t particularly determined by price. The best way to tell the quality is to see how much loose glitter is inside the packaging! You can use glitter card on a manual die cutting machine & with some punches, but it isn’t advisable to use it on an electronic die cutting machine (unless otherwise stated on the packaging) as the particles of glitter will clog up the mechanism & could even break your machine!

 Glitter glue: Glue with glitter in, the stuff you can buy for kids - but you can pay a lot more & buy craft stuff that has a lot more glitter particles included. Or you could simply use the kids stuff & sprinkle with more glitter before the glue dries?

 Glue dots: There are also a range of these, from tiny ‘diddy dots’ that come on a little roll & can be used for sticking anything from backing paper to light weight embellishments, to large glue dots either on a roll covered with lightweight acetate to protect them, to the same thing but on sheets. These ones are ideal for attaching flowers, bows, & heavier embellishments such as buttons & small coins to your projects.

 Glue gel: Again, there are several types available: Silicone glue that is mainly used in decoupage or to attach unusual shaped objects to your projects, such as shells etc. The silicone free glue gel, which works in the same way. There is also photo glue that is designed to stick paper, photographs & embellishments directly to your project, this isn’t intended to create a 3D effect, & the bonus of this is that any excess can simply be rubbed away.

 Grunge: The dictionary definition states“a style or fashion derived from a movement in rock music: in fashion characterized by unkempt clothing & in music by aggressive, nihilistic songs”. In craft terms it is used to describe the method of inking the edges of your embellishments or base card, or other processes which create the appearance of ‘unkempt’.

 Guillotine/Paper trimmer: In stationary & craft terms, rather than the French revolution variety, a guillotine is used in the same way as a paper trimmer, to cut paper & card. But where the trimmer has a circular blade that needs replacing when it gets blunt, a guillotine is self sharpening. A trimmer offers a variety of blades which can cut decorative edges; a guillotine simply cuts a straight line.

 Half pearls (acrylic): Imitation or faux pearls come in a myriad of colours & sizes & are used to add finishing touches to your projects. They are flat backed to allow the application of adhesive to allow you to fix them into position.

Heat embossing: As described in embossing (above). In conjunction with a pigment ink, embossing powder is ‘heat set’ using a heat gun, specifically designed for the purpose.

Heat gun: A tool specifically designed for the purpose of heat setting embossing powder. See above.

 Hot glue gun: In conjunction with glue sticks, a hot glue gun is designed to heat up the glue to make a permanent bond, ideal for heavier embellishments & in creating boxes. They work particularly well when attaching with paper flowers.

Iris folding: A technique using paper strips to decorate & fill a shaped aperture.

 Kinetic/Moveable Cards: Cards that you can interact with, via a tab to pull that will reveal something, a flap to open, a wheel to spin etc. Loosely a pop up card could fit into this category too.

 Kraft card/paper: Brown untreated paper or card.

 Light box: When the stencil is positioned on top of the light box & a light coloured piece of card put on top, the light box allows you to dry emboss the design of the stencil onto the card using a stylus. See Embossing.

 Matting & layering: It is a simple & effective way of framing a focal point, or drawing the eye to it. Simply cut a piece of card or paper slightly larger than the first, so create a fine border around the edge of it. You can layer up as many mats as you want, leaving a border of each showing on every layer.

Mulberry paper: Fibrous paper, often used in tearing techniques. Simply dampen where you want the tear to be & pull apart, allow to dry & then separate the fibres to ‘feather’ the tear.

Nestabilities/Nesties: A brand of dies for use in a manual die cutting machine. They are ‘nested’ shapes so instant matting & layering can be created.

Over stamping: This is the term used to describe smudges of ink that appear around a stamped image. This is caused by the ink pad catching the edges of the rubber or acrylic around the stamp itself.

 Paper clay: Similar to air dry clay, only much lighter in weight making it ideal to create embellishments, though very difficult to track down in retail quantities. Used routinely in pre-school group settings.

Paper trimmer: See guillotine.

 Paper punch: Available widely in hundreds of shapes, sizes & designs.There are several types - specifically individual, border or corner though there are others. Most decorative punches are suitable for punching through paper, but will struggle with card. You will find that the more elaborate the design, the less likely it is to cut through a card weight.

 Parchment: Is a heavier weight of vellum, suited particularly to parchment craft otherwise known as pergamano. The paper has been treated to make it translucent & if used with stencils & a light box this paper creates dry embossed images, it can also be used to create beautiful & intricate lace work using needle tools. But that is a craft in its own right, so I won’t go into detail here.  

 Peel-offs: Where a sheet of adhesive vinyl has been through an industrial machine to create individual stickers. Sold on the sheet you ‘peel off’ the one you want from the backing paper. They are available in every imaginable shape & size, including borders, corners & wording.

 Permanent ink/StazOn:  A brand of ink pad that is permanent, so ideal for stamping onto non porous surfaces, such as glass. Ideal for use when using water colour paints to colour a stamped image, or stamping onto card with a pearlescent or shiny finish, also acetate.

 Pigment ink: Specifically designed for heat embossing projects, as it stays wet long enough to add embossing powder & heat emboss.

 Polymer clay: The most famous brand name being Fimo. Polymer clay comes in hundreds of colours & is generally sold in little brick shaped packages. It is designed to mould anything from beads, to jewellery pendants, small scale models & is also suitable to use in small resin moulds etc. It is baked in the oven to set & can be painted, varnished, guilded etc.

Quilling: A method of coiling paper strips to create anything from animals & flowers to garden gates & gazebos.

 Quilling tools: The tools required to achieve the effects above, but you can make a DIY one by cutting into the end of a skewer.

 Quilling paper strips: Paper that has been cut by the manufacturer into very narrow strips to work with the quilling tools above. You can easily make your own if you have a large guillotine.

 Recycle: Crafters are the World’s best recyclers! Salvage buttons & bows from old clothing before putting into the recycle box. Any ribbons are treasures too. The empty boxes from soap powder tablets can make great storage solutions for your craft stash. Cereal boxes also make great file boxes with a bit or reinforcement. Paper clips from documents can be re-used on projects. Acetate bubbles from packaging make great shaker cards & the regular stuff makes great windows in cards too. Discarded gift wrap, old greeting cards, bits of lace, etc. are all treasures to craft with.

 Red lined tape/super sticky tape: When it says super sticky, it really is; fabulous for attaching heavier embellishments, for creating boxes, kinetic mechanisms etc etc. Comes in two or three widths, all are useful it just depends on the project you are planning.

 Rubber stamps: Images cut into rubber, generally wood mounted, though not always. If you buy the un-mounted one’s you will need to buy specialist adhesive cushioning to get good results, though you can use a glue stick & acrylic block in an emergency!

Rub-ons:  Transparent lettering or images, with special adhesive on the back. The idea is to cut the one you need from the carrier sheet, & with the cover sheet in place, rub the item into position with a bone folder or lollipop stick, which is generally provided.

 Sanding block: Unlike the block of wood with sand paper wrapped around that the guys use, we have our own specialist tool. It is a block of dense foam with Velcro attached. It comes with sized sanding paper pieces also with Velcro attached, so you can replace them as needed. One of my favourite tools to use to distress edges, elements & card stock.

 Score: When you want to fold a piece of card, you will get a much more professional finish if you score it first. You can do this with any number of things from an old very blunt screwdriver, (wear down any sharp edges by rubbing against exterior brickwork) to an embossing stylus. By scoring the line it breaks down the fibers in the card making it easier to fold.

 Scrapbooking: Putting together a collection of pictures, written memories, travel tickets & other embellishments to create a ‘memory book’ for future generations to treasure. They can be on any subject; baby, wedding, graduation, holiday etc. etc.

 Shadow stamping: This is when you stamp the image & do not re-ink the stamp but use it again to get a fainter impression.

 Shaker card: A card with a sealed ‘window’ where you can layer up images as they will be protected, & also add beads, confetti etc. to create a ‘shaker’ – the noise it will make if rattled.

 Shrink plastic: Special formulation of plastic that, when heated shrinks to around half of its original size! It comes in clear, opaque, black & cream & there are lots of patterned one’s around to. You can stamp on it & then colour the image, trim around it & shrink it to make a charm to match the image on your card, etc. Just make sure you put a hole in before you shrink it if you ate intending to use it as a pendant of some sort!

 Silicone glue: See Glue Gel

 Stick pins/Hat pins: Long pointed pins with a decorative top. This decoration could be a design welded to the pin, or simply beads threaded on & then fixed. Very popular with card makers as they look beautiful simply sticking out of a bow, etc.

Stencil: A design that has been cut out which enables you to use the ‘negative’ portion to ink, emboss, draw around, paint etc. etc.

 Super smooth printer paper: If you print stuff off to craft with, then you need to use paper designed for the job. Super smooth paper is higher in density than regular copy paper, so the ink is not absorbed into the paper itself but sits on top of it. Copier paper absorbs the ink into its core, which is why your image isn’t as sharp as it could be, but also why you use a lot more ink. If you are paying for brand name inks for your printer, then you need to buy super smooth paper as it really will cut down on your ink costs - & you really will see the difference in the quality of the image the first time you print off onto the paper.

 Tacky glue: There is PVA glue & then there is tacky glue, there is no comparison in quality. The regular PVA glue costs a lot less but you use more & it makes your paper & card warp as it contains so much moisture. Tacky glue (doesn’t matter which brand) is more concentrated, so you need far less, it has a nozzle applicator, so you can get a teeny blob of glue exactly in the right place, to stick little gems to, etc. Because it is so concentrated, it doesn’t warp your card or paper either. Ideal for attaching everything from the backing paper to tiny gems, also perfect for constructing boxes, as it dries almost instantly – so no need to peg the corners!

Tea bag folding: The name comes from what was originally used to create the designs, teabag envelopes. (Think they must have been far pretty than those you get in hotel rooms & posh cafes here in the UK)! Anyhow, they are now square shaped designs that when folded in particular ways & then interlocked, form beautiful rosettes, & other embellishments, such as Christmas tree designs etc. It is a very economical way to create your own embellishments.

 Templates: Anything that you can draw around to create whatever the template relates to. I use them a lot on site. They can be constructed from almost anything from card to acetate & everything between. They are used to create mini embellishments, such as flowers & handbags, for boxes & envelopes, for shaping or folding card in a particular way. etc. etc.

 Unmounted stamps: If it doesn’t come attached to a wooden or acrylic block, then it is termed ‘unmounted’, so you will need to have your own acrylic blocks at home to use them. If it is an acrylic/clear stamp, then it goes directly onto the block as they simply cling. If they are rubber, you will need to by special adhesive cushioning both to be able to stick them to the block & to get the best impression possible.

 Upcycle: New ‘buzz’ word – pretty much means the same as recycle.

 Vellum: A translucent paper that can be embossed & will show up lighter on the front of the embossing. It is available in a vast range of colours & patterns. Can also be used & purchased as inserts for cards & in many cases will come already printed with a verse/design or both.

 Washi tape: A decorated self adhesive paper tape which comes in a myriad of designs & colours & is widely available. 

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Great Tip!

Embossing vellum through an embossing folder.

It is really easy to emboss vellum through your embossing folders, simply fold a piece of regular copier paper in half & slip your vellum inside, place inside your embossing folder & run through the machine as usual.


This prevents the vellum from cracking & you get a fabulous impression not only on the vellum, but on the paper too!


For larger embossing folders just use full sheets of coper paper to 'sandwich' the vellum.