I thought I'd share with you a few ideas for recycling everyday materials to make lovely cards that cost pennies.
Brown paperBrown paper or other similar types of packaging make great backgrounds on cards. The sort of stuff you get loosely wrapped around your items in the over-sized amazon box is perfect. If it doesn't look particularly arty, try scrunching, tearing or layering it to create different effects. You could also use inks to decorate it or stamp patterns over it.
The bits of packaging in between layers in a box of chocolatesDo these have a name?! I have no idea why they are strictly necessary, but most boxes of chocolates seem to have them. And they come in lovely colours! It creates a nice 3D effect and provides an interesting texture. I've just acquired a pink one which I can't wait to use.
Ribbon and stringy thingsWhen you start looking for ribbon and string you'll be amazed at how much you would ordinarily throw away. A couple of weekends ago we were having a family celebration and I was given the ribbon off of the cake. And I got some raffia from a bunch of flowers (the flowers weren't mine, I just riffled through the rubbish!). My family now save me bits of ribbon and I often get presented with a little pile when I go and visit.
BeadsBeads look great on cards. If you have any old beaded jewellery don't throw it out, cut the thread and save the beads. Or look for cheap bead jewellery in charity shops that you can rescue the beads from. Some particularly hideous bracelets may actually yield some very nice beads. You could make them into shapes using wire or nylon thread, or simply run a string of beads down the side of the card.
Tissue paperOften used as packaging or wrapping, tissue paper is really easy to salvage. If it's creased you could scrunch it up even more, or use a slow drying glue and smooth the tissue out over your card. You can create some wonderful effects by tearing and layering.