Piece by piece and bit by bit, transform paper scraps into beautiful, one-of-a-kind, simply serendipity papers for your crafting enjoyment.
by Sharon M. Reinhart
Creating your own paper is a wonderful way to use paper scraps, “oops!” pieces from previous projects and even those not-so-thrilling papers that, although you liked when you purchased, have lost their appeal. It also gives you the ability to personalize your creation, putting a piece of yourself into the process—a little more creative license. Like many techniques, the serendipity technique has evolved over time. Here, we will explore methods that offer the ability to manipulate papers and supplies in order to create something new for use as a base or focal point in your card creations.
Serendipity is an instance whereby one finds something good accidentally. Often referred to as “serendipity squares,” this technique lends itself to far more than just squares. Much like paper collage, the name “serendipity” seems to remove the fear often associated with the term “collage” where various materials are pasted onto a single surface to create an artistic composition.
For card making, I often like to create half (51/2 x 81/2-inch) or full (81/2 x 11-inch) serendipity sheets, and sometimes quarter sheets for artist trading cards (ATCs), choosing the size based on how much material I will need.
To begin, you will need a collection of paper scraps. Listed here is a sampling of the type of papers that may be used:
• Cardstock—plain and printed, glossy or matte finish
• Text-weight papers—plain and printed
• Insides of security envelopes
• Suede or felt papers
• Handmade papers or parchment sheets
• Gift wrap/tissue paper
• Textured or distressed papers
• Old magazines, books and dictionary pages
• Chiyogami papers
Choose a coordinating color theme or even a monochromatic color theme by staying in the same color family and collecting different shades of that color. Organizing your scraps by color ahead of time helps with this process. Some resources for color combinations lie right within the colors in your printed papers themselves. Other inspiration may be found in clothing, fabric, home decor and even the wallpaper and tile aisles in the hardware store. Advertisements in magazines are also a wonderful source of inspiration.
Tear and/or cut paper scraps into 1- to 11/2-inch or smaller pieces. Adhere the pieces to a cardstock base that either coordinates or makes your paper pieces pop. There are no rules. Simply adhere the papers using a glue stick or Xyron machine, making sure edges are well secured.
I like to start toward the center of my page and work outward, but where you begin is entirely your choice. You can even leave some of the base cardstock uncovered. Extend the pieces off the edges of the cardstock base and trim off when the page is complete to create an even edge (Fig. 1).
Working on a discarded magazine or phone book works well as you can simply turn the page to reveal a clean, adhesive-free work surface. To create your own added dimension and interest, use a variety of textured papers. Crimped, crumpled, embossed, rough and smooth, or straight edge, torn and fancy-cut edges all add to the interest of serendipity paper.
Once papers have been adhered, cut, punch or die-cut your serendipity paper into the desired size or shape. From there, embellishments may be added to the surface as shown on the 21/2 x 31/2-inch Artist Trading Cards shown below (Figs. 2 and 3).
Take your serendipity sheets a step further by adding stamped and embossed images (Fig. 4).
Note: Make sure all glue is completely dry before stamping and embossing. Some lightweight papers like mulberry paper allow the glue to seep through to the front. Alternatively, simply stamp with inks and do not heat-emboss (Fig. 5).
Drywall tape, micro beads, acrylic paint and the leftover pieces from peel-off stickers are more embellishment options, along with any of the materials listed below:
• Rubber-stamped images
• Metallic threads
• Punched shapes
• Glitter/glitter glue
• Rub-on transfers
• Rub-on metallic cream
• Magic Mesh
• Mica powders
When using the above products, it may be helpful to use a rotary paper trimmer, cutter or die-cut system. It is best to add beads after cutting your serendipity paper. As you fall in love with this technique, I am sure your paper scraps will have a completely new meaning and place of importance within your creations.
Sources: Cardstock from Bazzill Basics Paper Inc.; cream specialty paper from The Paper Company™/TPC Studio™; Mini Paper Collection from FabScraps; Family & Friends stamp set from Magnetic Poetry; distress ink pad from Ranger Industries Inc.; small glass beads, metal tip and clear adhesive from Art Institute Glitter Inc.; Glass Glintz glass embellishment from Eco Green Crafts; Beaded Circles (#S4-292) and Standard Circles SM (#S4-116) die-cuts from Spellbinders™ Paper Arts; Square Lattice embossing folder (#119976) from Stampin’ Up!; die-cutting and embossing machine from Sizzix.