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Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Cardmaking 101, Stars and Stamps, Tutorial | 6 comments

Tutorial – Clean and Simple

Tutorial – Clean and Simple

The words “Clean” and “Simple” are self-explanatory, but how do you describe what a “Clean and Simple” card is? One definition: “Clean and simple means there’s nowhere to hide your mistakes!”

It’s almost easier to talk about what it isn’t.

A CAS card isn’t ornate or froo froo. It doesn’t have a lot going on. A CAS card is the cardmaking equivalent of the “little black dress.” It’s elegant, understated; it might have a bit of sparkle or interesting angles, but with the CAS card or the little black dress less is more.

White Space

A CAS card will have a lot of undecorated space. It may or may not be white; it may or may not be textured, but this space allows the viewer’s eye to rest and focus on the focal point of the card without competition. Ever look at a card that had so much embellishment you were still noticing new elements on the third or fourth viewing? With a CAS card you’ll see the whole thing at once. It’s crisp. It’s clean. It’s simple.

The Little Black Dress of cardmaking

Does that mean if I slap a sticker on a folded piece of cardstock I’ve made a CAS card? No. Well, extremely unlikely. If I cut a neck hole and two arm slots in a trash bag will I have a “Little Black Dress?” Cards are going to look like the combination of materials and time and skill that go into them, no matter what the style. Use crisp, heavyweight card bases, stamp til you get it right, make sure everything is straight – and you’ll pull off CAS.


I’ve seen people explain CAS by saying the cards don’t have ribbon or brads or patterned paper on them. That’s just not true. They can have any or all of those things on them, even at the same time. It’s not likely there will be several different patterned papers on one card. Maybe you have a ribbon and a brad but not a bow. Maybe there’s a ribbon and bow but no patterned paper. It’s about editing. When in doubt, take one element out. Or, as Coco Chanel said, “When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.”


Do CAS cards use layers? Absolutely. you still want to make your focal point pop. You want your elements to stand out. Sometimes I see people asking on FB or in their blogs, “This card needs something, but I don’t know what.” People are always suggesting, “Add a bow! Put a ribbon on it! How about adding three brads in the bottom corner?” My first thought is usually, “Put a contrasting layer in behind your patterned paper or behind the sentiment.” Layers add depth and definition without adding distraction. Layers are good.

You might have noticed I’ve picked some sample cards that seem to break the “rules” for CAS cards, but I’d call all these cards Clean and Simple. So, what makes a CAS card? Maybe you just know it when you see it.



  1. Love it; thanks again!!

  2. I'm not sure how I'd define CAS either! But I do love the look of it. Two wonderful CAS resources that I've learned a lot from: Susan Raihala's Simplicity blog – – and the Clean and Simple Stamping sketch blog –

  3. I made it through the skip this morning. I thought your tutorial was just super!

  4. Beautiful! and thanks so much for the comparison to the little black dress. I love the look and think its "truer" to my style.

  5. Thanks. I’ll have to try more of these. Good info.

  6. Thank you for the very helpfull tutorial! Have a nice wekeend!


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