By Christina VanGinkel
Chipboard, for those new to scrapping, is the thin sheets of cardboard that you often find in the back of a pack of paper to keep the paper stiff and crease free. Chipboard can also be purchased from most art supply companies, as it is sold for mounting various types of arts and craft projects onto and is used for other crafts such as book making. The free kind is the best though, for the simple fact that putting something to use that would otherwise end up in the trash is always good.
Once you have acquired some plain chipboard, found or bought, you will be ready to create some fun and unique embellishments for your scrapbook layouts. Altering chipboard to fit your needs is easy, in part because it is sturdy, and so will accommodate almost any alteration you have in mind.
Before altering though, you will need to cut your chipboard into the lettering or shapes that you want. Chipboard can be cut with a good pair of scissors or craft knife. Simply trace your pattern onto the chipboard and cut. Keep in mind that many of the newer computerized cutters that have found their way into scrapbook domains will not cut chipboard, as the chipboard, even the very thinnest kind, is just too heavy, save for a few of the higher-end machines, which are made for cutting heavier weight materials. If you plan to use such a cutter to cut your chipboard designs, read your manual that came with the machine to be sure that it is capable of doing so; otherwise, you risk dulling or even possibly breaking a blade, or even causing damage to the machine.
Once you have you shapes or letters cut, it is time to alter them. Altering chipboard can be done in just about any way you can imagine. Look around at your scrapbook supplies and see what you have available. Stamps, ink, paper, heat embossing, and more can all be sued to alter chipboard. Paint is also great for altering it, as are many forms of distressing. A combination of practices is always good too.
The best way to see the results of these forms of altering chipboard is to a try them. Cut a few simple shapes or letters and practice. If you have a Xyron sticker machine, a simple way to alter a chipboard letter or shape is to run it through the machine mirrored. By this, I mean to run it through so that the top side of the shape or letter will be the sticky side. Once you have run it through, place it sticky side down onto a sheet of cardstock or paper of your choosing. With a craft knife, carefully trace around the shape so that you end up with your chipboard shape or letter with the paper of your choosing adhered to the top of it. Once applied, you are tentatively finished, or you could alter the letter or shape further by then using a distressing ink around the edges to give a more rustic look to the now altered chipboard. You could also take a piece of fine sandpaper and rough the edges first, or just rough the edges, foregoing the ink altogether.
Another fun way to alter chipboard letters to make them look much more sophisticated than the piece of cardboard that they really are is to use an embossing heat gun with embossing ink and powder. Simply press the chipboard shape down onto an embossing inkpad, fully covering the surface. I always roll the edges of the shape onto the ink, making sure that when I apply the powder I am getting as full a coverage as possible. Next, cover the inked area with embossing powder. Embossing powder comes in a wide variety of colors and sheens, so you choices are almost limitless. Once you have applied the powder, lightly tap away any excess, heat as directed, and voila!
Altering chipboard letters and shapes is a great way to add that little something extra, some pizzazz, to your next layout without adding a lot of extra cost. For the budget scrap booker, chipboard is really a dream come true when you consider all of the many ways it can be embellished and altered. Try it yourself and you will soon be wondering why you never thought of it before.