DIY: Playing Card Crafts

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There was a period in time when I carried a deck of playing cards with me, wherever I went, just looking for an opportunity to practice my skills at rummy, or play solitaire while waiting for friends at the bar. Sadly, the opportunity to play cards rarely presented itself, which is why I still can’t play a decent hand of poker. However, those battered decks can find new life in any number of neat playing card crafts.

Playing cards are great raw material and like any great raw material, are quickly made into notebooks. There are a few different methods of doing this, depending on what type of card you have (standard playing card, vintage cards, loteria cards, tarot cards, game cards) and what’s on it.

Notebooks: For accordion notebooks, just measure and cut a few strips of paper, fold them accordion style, then glue stick the first fold of the paper to the card. You can leave it open or seal it by using a strip of heavy paper to create a spine. If you’d like a notebook that’s more traditional bound book style, then cut several sheets of paper to size, fold, then staple in the spine. You’ll still use some binding material to create a spine to the notebook itself, only this time, you’ll glue the cards to the spine material first, then glue in your paper sheets. This can be done at the top of the playing card too, so you get a flip style notebook, or with one playing card cut in half. Or, you can use two cards, cut into shapes, and layered to create a neat graphical notebook.

Tags: This one works best with vintage cards but it’s pretty easy: Punch hole, add ribbon. If you’d like, you can also cover the face of the card with scrapbook paper or tissue paper to pretty it up.

Valentine’s Cards: Make cards from cards? Sure, why not! All you need to do is write something romantic on the face of the cards, then punch some holes and string them together into an accordion using ribbon. Decorate the backs of the cards and wrap in a wax paper envelope. Luck be a lady tonight indeed.

Business Card Holder: For all you professional jokers out there, consider a playing card business holder. Just print out the template, cut and glue playing cards where indicated, laminate (or, cover in layers of packing tape for the broke-ass version), fold and seal. You’ll also need a bit of cord to wrap around the case to hold it shut.

Accessories: If you need a quick statement piece for a themed party or Halloween costume, then whipping up a playing-card accessory is pretty easy. There are bracelets (fold in half, overlap, tape), purses (tape playing cards to template, laminate, cut), hair clips (cut cards into circles, arrange in a flowered layer, top with a button, then glue to a clip base), even a playing card top hat (staple cards in a circle, fold to make brim).

Boxes: To make a neat box (with lid – and no tape!) out of playing cards, check out this YouTube tutorial. Heads up, you’ll need 21 playing cards to fold together to create the box but the instructions are a cake walk and it makes for a slick gift box. If all that folding is too much effort, just grab a glue gun and some orphaned game pieces to make a card house sculpture.

Art: While cards can be used as art in discrete ways – bordering a framed photo for example – the cards themselves can become mini works of art. To keep the playing card aspect, consider blowing up the image of the card and framing it. However, my absolute favorite thing to do with playing cards is an APC (altered playing card). There’s an amazing amount of pocket-sized art to be seen if you do a google image search for APCs, so get some inspiration and grab your desk. You’ll also need stamps, ink, glitter, paper, book pages, ribbon, buttons, fabric, and a lot of glue. APCs are about the layering, so try to lay a base and then work around that.

Fiesta: If you’ve got a shin dig, or hey – a card game – consider adding some playing card party favors. Cards can be glued around cardboard containers or cups to create centerpieces, cut and glued into drink umbrellas (yay drink umbrellas!), or framed and used as table numbers.

In the crafts-previously-mentioned-category, we have playing card garlands, serving trays and pendant lights. For garlands, simply trace a circle using a glass placed over your playing cards, cut, then sew together using a straight stitch. For the tray, acquire tray or flat surface, lay down playing cards, apply Mod Podge liberally, let dry. If you’ve got a piece of plastic or glass handy, it’s nice to lay that in too – protects against inevitable spills. It looks like the pendant light was created by cutting slits in the cards and weaving them together, but that takes more patience than I’m currently working with.


Images courtesy,,,,,

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.