Today I went on a store-to-store search for paper punches; not dog bones and big ol' butterflies, but intricate tiny shapes. Specifically, I was looking for tiny kikyou-style floral shapes with flair, spirals and wavy shapes that could imitate lace. I'm working on a new custom project and have an ambitious goal of recreating a lace-look (stay tuned to see how that turns out). In the meantime, I've been gathering tools and experimenting.
See, in this photo above, this is a punch with a bunch of stars and dots. The stars are a cool, soft star shape and in a few sizes, but really, I bought this for those dots and the TINY starbursts and stars - not the bigger ones. Those are GOLD, baby! For me, at least. This lovely punch above is a Martha Stewart Crafts Punch Around the Page 'Starry Sky'.
The flower in the punched shapes above is from the same Martha Stewart line, but 'Flower Shower'. It can be really challenging to find micro-size punches, and these two have been a wonderful addition to my tool set.
After spending too much time online studying punches and inquiring about the size of that dot in the corner of the butterfly, I realized that size matters and I needed to see these things in person. There's a ton of paper punches available online, but if you need something specific you need to hold the punch in your hand. And possibly, carefully, pry open a package to get a look at the punch, itself.
Now, I live in northern Vermont, and maybe where you live, the stuff craft stores carry is different, and maybe you're lucky enough to have MORE stores, or even paper-specific small shops that carry a load of paper punches! If so, lucky! Here near Burlington, we have three choices (and oh my, if you live here and know of an awesome shop somewhere that I overlooked, please let me know!): good ol' Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, and a relatively new to the mix A.C. Moore. Cool. I took my morning to visit all three and can now tell you what you'll find (or not) at each store!
First, I hit A.C. Moore - it's the furthest from me and I don't go there often because of that. A.C. Moore had a boatload of punches - a whole aisle, both sides had areas of different brands of punches and other paper cutting and embossing stuff. They carry the Martha Stewart Craft line. This is a big deal because Michaels no longer carries this line of craft supplies. So to find the MS punches at A.C. Moore was awesome since I had seen several punches online from MS that I thought might work for my needs and didn't know where I could find them in person. They also carry Fiskars punches, and ek tools punches. I was pretty psyched to have so many of the punches I had seen online right here for me to examine. A.C. Moore pretty much rocked for paper punches. I bought 4 and there were several more that I considered. I may go back. Total score.
Next up was JoAnn Fabrics. Now, I know it's JoAnn Fabrics, but I swear I've seen paper punches at this store in the past. Not today. Not only did they not have a single paper punch, but all their lovely sharp [fabric] scissors were locked up. Not sure who's going around swiping scissors so they felt this was a necessary step, but okay - I found this a deterrent to my browsing. A paper artist should just skip right over JoAnn's, unless you want to ask an employee to help you peruse the scissors - the embroidery scissors looked especially intriguing and fine tipped.
Lastly, I went to Michaels. Michaels seems to have decided to carry the largest SIZE punches they could find - lots of big, 1-2 inch circles and squares and tag shapes. Big, useless-to-me-today punches. They had the Fiskars punch I had already purchased at A.C. Moore, so that was almost cool. Nothing at all delicate or intricate in these punches.
I'll talk more another time about how I use punches in my miniatures, but for now, it's so good to know where to go to see a great selection.