When I started putting together 3D Paper boxes, bags and other models, I just jumped in head first and made quite a few mistakes, or rather learned by trial. I want everyone to have a good experience with 3D paper crafting, so here are some tips!
1) Use a paper weight appropriate for the project.
For the structure of 3D items, it is best to use anything from 65lb to 110 lb weight paper or cardstock. I find that 80lb is around the best overall weight. However, it really depends on the project. For small treat boxes, 65lb is more than sufficient. Smooth cardstock works better for cutting intricate cuts and boxes, but texture looks great on larger panels and boxes.
I found this Paper Weight Guide on Paperandmore.com that might come in handy. If you are like me, I rarely pay attention to weight, but they are on the package!
2) Use the right glue for the project.
For a 3D structure, PVA craft glue or most clear drying glues are generally recommended, as they adhere well. A few that work well for me to glue together cardstock are Aleene’s Tacky Glue and Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. I also like Tacky Quick Dry Glue. For thinner papers for decorative elements or panels on 3D designs, you could use glue sticks or a tape adhesive like Scotch ATG (Adhesive Tape Glider) . I also like to utilize Glue Dots to add flowers, jewels, or beads.
Lastly, I love foam tape or pop dots to create 3D affect for embellishments. I use the Front Porch Treasures Foam Mounting Tape, available at the 99 Cent Store.
3) Use the correct amount of glue.
When using liquid glue, make sure you use the right amount, as not to have leakage or get glue everywhere. Apply thin beads of glue to the items you need to glue. Test on thinner pieces of scraps for thinner paper, as glue could bleed through. Do not place large amount of glue near edge or seam of paper you are gluing.
This Scrapbook Expo video is a good demonstration of how to use liquid glue effectively on your paper projects and not get it everywhere!
4) Keep your hands clean of glue.
Make sure you keep your hands clean, to minimize glue transfer to the project. If you follow tips from Step 3, you should be okay. I always keep a paper towel handy to quickly wipe up any excess leakage, because I am guilty of getting glue on my stubby fingertips!
5) Use tools to help hold tabs until secure.
I use various to hold pieces in place to keep everything in its place until glue adheres. The best tool I have found is my finger. Holding a tab against a table works the best for me, if you can. For deeper and longer tabs, I have a take-out chopstick to apply pressure. I have also used pens for the same purpose, for hard-to-reach tabs. I have not used them, but I have seen others use clothespins to hold paper in place while glue is drying.
6) Follow instructions!
Even if you think you know something goes together, check first. Sometimes, there is a certain order of assembly that is intentional. A lot of us designers take a long time to create written detailed assembly instructions and/or produce YouTube videos. I know of many crafters that will just jump in without looking at the instructions. Look at them. Most time, it helps. If it does not, contact the person that created it to get help. If you ever have trouble with assembly of our products, please Contact Us.
7) Be patient.
Some 3D paper projects are quite detailed and require some time. Round and intricate designs often take time. That is normal. Take the time and the results will be fantastic!