Inspirational Altered Card Deck
A couple of years ago, I participated in an International Card Deck Swap organised by artist and author Jessica Brogan. Each participant created an inspirational altered deck of 52 cards and sent them to Jessica, who mixed up the cards and sent back a new and unique 52 card deck to each person containing art created from all the participants around the world. The swap is still held on an annual basis so if you are interested, you can visit her website. Its a wonderful, meaningful and creative way to give and receive.
I wrote several blog posts about the deck I created, but I've closed down my blog since then. As I still receive enquiries from time to time, I thought I might share a bit about it here for anyone inspired to create their own 'one of a kind' deck, either for themselves or for a swap.
I used a standard deck of playing cards that I bought from the supermarket for around $2.00. They were 52 x 89mm in size. I used the Queen's Slipper brand, but any brand should do. There is a larger poker size which is 63 x 89mm. Its up to you which size you choose. Some people create their own card deck by cutting up pieces of cardboard and that works too.
First off, I painted a base layer of gesso over the front side of each card (the playing side). This helps with adherence, as the cards are quite slippery. Sometimes the cards may curl, but they usually flatten out again when dry. Next I covered the gesso with an acrylic paint wash, and then added a layer of stencilling. This creates the background. At this stage, you could also add a coat of gel medium/varnish to make the paint shine. I used the Liquitex brand.
To decorate the cards, I used strips of washi tape, paper labels, paper flowers, rub on transfers and stickers, and whatever else I had at home. I stuck down the paper labels with double sided sticky tape. You could also use glue, but I felt that the sticky tape was less messy. I used my imagination and intuition to decorate the cards in whatever way felt fun.
I brainstormed a list of inspirational words to use for the deck. I used words and messages that inspired me and which I hoped would be meaningful to others as well. You could also use quotes, sayings, poetry and lyrics. The text was a combination of rub on transfers, ink stamping, handwriting and ready made words. The stamped lettering was done with wooden alphabet stamps from eBay and an ink stamping pad. The stamp set is similar to this one here.
Other ideas: you could cut out images and words from magazines, type out words on your computer and print them out, as well as use printouts of images. Include tags, fabric, or decorations to jazz up your cards.
To finish up, you could add another layer of gel medium/varnish to seal your art. I varnished some of my cards, but not the cards where I felt the ink might run. Whatever you do, please don't use Modge Podge because apparently its sticky and causes the cards to stick together and its difficult to prise them apart.
Finally, I printed out my name and website on to sticky labels and stuck them on to the backs of the cards. I didn't decorate the back side of the cards, but you can if you want to.
So that's how I created my deck and I hope this gives you some useful ideas that you can use to create your own set! It might seem like a lot of work, but its super fun. You can make it more simple if you prefer. The best thing is to just create, play and do what feels fun. Good luck!
Here is the special set of cards that I received from the Swap. It was a lovely treat to receive hand made cards from all around the world and a joy to see all the variety of images and styles! I have some of these cards up on my pinboard in my studio. They provide beautiful inspiration when I need it.
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