I use the Cuttlebug A@ embossing folders in my Sizzix BigShot and they are just great for the card making I do. You can turn out really lovely card backgrounds quickly and easily. I have also used the Cuttlebug dies in my machine with good results. A lot of what's out there can be used in a "competitors" machine but there are exceptions and some stuff works better then others. It's best to consider exactly what your main use is likely to be and then researching the different machines.
You can definitely find some info. on building and designing it at instructables.com but in terms of getting this much cardboard free or low-cost it probably won't be easy. Of course corrugated can be purchase in flat sheets from many sources such as Unline. It's a pretty cool idea. Good luck and remember to come back and post some pics of what u make!
I almost always use markers to color in images. I find it's best to start with VersaFine« Archival Ink which when completely dry doesn't ever seem to bleed. The markers I use are a professional graphics line PrismaColor« Premier, and they have a broad point on one end and a fine point on the other. They are relatively expensive (approx. $2-3 each) but last very long time and great for blending. I believe that they are what you'd call "alcohol based" markers, which I suspect helps them to blend, dry nice and not bleed.
Some pics of recent cards I have made that were donated to our military to use to keep in touch with loved ones back home. I've been part of this ongoing non-profit project for about 3 years now and this latest donation has brought my total number of cards up to 4008. WooHoo! It's really been a rewarding experience to be able to say thanks in my own small way for all they do for us.
Nice cards. I especially like the color combos in the B'Day cards. The blue & brown combo is beautiful... and a perfect masculine card too. As a card maker I find that "feminine" cards are easier to make. I donate my cards to OperationWriteHome (which supplies blank cards to our military for them to use to keep in touch with home) so coming up with designs that are good for anyone are what I most often aim for.
Nice cards! I especially like the Thank You ones. I'm a card maker too and always seem to find myself drawn towards clean and simple layouts myself. especially with such beautiful patterned paper. Thanks for posting your pics. I am always excited to find some other card makers on the forums.
You can probably locate quite a few sources online but paper is heavy so shipping it won't be cheap. If you have an Xpedex store in your area, they are a paper supplier that supplies paper to printing shops and carry a large variety of papers. While they won't specifically have "art paper" they will have a large selection of heavyweight cardstock. You might also try an art supply store. If you can buy large size pads, you can bring them to a print shop that should be able to cut them down to a smaller size, allowing you to get a stack of paper from one pad.