Monday, November 7, 2011

52 card wall art tutorial

As promised, here is the full tutorial for the "52 Reasons I Love You" gift. I hope you like it as much as I loved creating it, and can find a way to adapt it to fit your needs. I highly recommend hiding the cards throughout the house for a day full of discovery!
I started with a brand new deck of playing cards- cheap, easy to find,  and usually kept on-hand.  One of the good things about using a brand new pack was that they are perfectly flat, and crease-free.
Next, I used Tim Holtz "distress ink" to add an aged look to the cards. The color "tea stained" is perfect, and I applied the ink inconsistently and liberally, which created a great vintage look. These inks, which are sold in pad-form and applied with a wood handled felt pad are super-easy to apply and help to create the perfect base to these little collages.
Once I allowed the ink to dry on the cards (approx. 15 minutes) I punched a small hole in the top of each card.  I used the pattern on the back-side of the card as a guide to help keep consistency in the placement of each hold. Since I knew they would be hanging it was very important that the holes be in the very center of the card as well as the same distance from the top.
I gathered a variety of old paper ephemeral to layer on the face side of the card. My selections ranged from french book text to old ledger paper as well as old dictionary sheets. The more variety the better!
Using the card to get a rough measurement I tore each piece of paper into strips (shown above), then into squares that fill up the ideal amount of space on the face side. I chose the these proportions because I knew I would be adding several more layers and I wanted to be sure the paper would show through.
 Next, affix the ephemera with glue and press flat. Be sure to pay attention to which end is "up"!
In order to create a clean and easy-to-read surface for my text I painted a small area of each card with a white/brown paint mixture.
Since I felt that straight white paint would be to harsh, I mixed the smallest amount of brown paint in with the white  to give it an antique-y look.
As you can see, I created small blocks of paint on top of the ephemera in totally random formation. I tried to avoid painting over what I considered the most attractive part of the ephemera in all cases.
I highly recommend using a mat finish paint, and applying 2-3 thick layers of paint. As you will see, the acrylic paint I used was semi gloss and caused smudging of my ink even though I was using a Sharpie.  Avoid this if you can :)

Once the paint is dry you can begin embellishing the face sides of the card. For the gift I was creating I wrote a different   reasons I love Joe before adding the ribbon/charm/do-dad, but you can do it in whatever order you'd like.
Whenever possible I trying to chose a vintage item that corresponded to the trait I had written on the 
card. Hot glue worked perfectly for affixing the old embellishments. Plus, I love the quick dry time!

When it occurred to me that I had 52 cards to embellish I decided to finish many of them off with a simple sticker, rub-on, or rubber stamp. I didn't want to feel overwhelmed, but wanted to add a special touch to each card so these quick fixes were life-savers!

Once I had finished with all of the playing cards it was time to move on to the frame. I knew all of the cards fit nicely in grid formation on a piece of 20"x 30" foam core. So while using one of those 40% off coupons that Michaels and AC Moore constantly offer I was able to buy a 20x30 frame for around $32. Not too bad.

I removed the glass from the frame and replaced it with a piece of foam core that I had already covered in a piece of vintage fabric.  (I wrote about how to stretch and pin fabric in this tutorial) Then I re-inserted the foam core and secured it in place. 
The last step was to use straight pins to even space each of the cards over the entire surface. (The 4 top rows have 11 cards each, and a bottom row has 8 cards.)  Once the pins are in place you can hang the playing cards facing out, in, or a combination. 
Here is a peek at a few of the other cards I created. I hope you can see the wide variety of items you can use to embellish the back of the cards. If you do decide to hang the cards, please be conscious of where you attach the embellishments as they can cause the cards to hang sideways. 


Cottage and Broome said...

A very sweet project, I love how you framed it at the end. Laura Cottage and Broome

Carmen Sutton said...

The perfect gift! I'm sure that it was great fun to hunt for all of the lovely cards. A true work of LOVE.

Laurie said...

This is so beautiful, and a great and romantic work of art. Just like your marriage! Thank you for sharing!

Avi said...

Lovely! Sentiments are always so much nicer hand crafted :)
Reminds me of the 1 year anniversary present I made for my boyfriend. I illustrated each monthly date we had on the 25th and wrote how I felt during that time.
He absolutely loved it!

Thanks for the tutorial. I'll keep this in mind next time I need something crafty.

Unknown said...

wondrously lovely!!

buy starwars accounts said...

WoW! what an amazing creation. love it.. thanks for posting this one.