Cut Out + Keep

Altered Playing Cards

Small Canvases to add to cards, use as tags or bookmarks or trade. • Posted by nikimaki

Recycle old playing cards into mixed media art with gesso, inks and more.

You will need

Project Budget
Reasonably Priced


5 h 00


Nice & Simple
Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 175114 card%2bset Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 180114 pantone%2bcollage1 Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 180300 p1080298 Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 180310 p1080308 Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 180336 p1080344 Medium 107807 2f2015 03 04 180349 p1080350


Recycle old playing cards into mixed media art with gesso, inks and more.


  1. Small prepare cards

    Our family has been playing a game called SPLIT for at least eight years and we recently ran out of score sheets and the cards were Cheeto-stained, bent and in pretty bad shape (like me some days). So we grudgingly opened a new box (I had bought a couple when the company folded) but no one could bear the thought of throwing away the old cards. This project is born from happy memories meets uncharachteristic sentiment (we're usually pretty cold-hearted about stuff). I prepared the cards with a thick layer of gesso applied with a palette knife. You waste a lot less this way than if you use a brush and spreading is quick and as easy as buttering bread.

  2. Small etch

    This is a great time for mark-making so etch into some of the gesso. I mostly made hearts as they're easy. You can make marks with the back of a paintbrush, a skewer, pencil, stick - whatever.

  3. Small spray

    Drying time. *sigh* The bane of my existence and I've gotten weird about preferring natural air drying over using my heat gun. Why? It seems more stable to me. And I'm a nut.

  4. Small spray2

    Anyhow... Since I wanted to maximize what was accomplished during my (eternal) dry time I spritzed them with spray ink. This is a very unintentional step. Don't stress it. Some will look good, some will pool and muddle and look bad. It's all fine. Once it dries gesso and ink combine and the results are rarely recognizable from what you see at this stage.

  5. Small alcohol ink

    Then, just for sh*ts and giggles I splash around some alcohol ink. Love this stuff. Never used it as intended. I just splash, splash, splash the stuff all over my projects and then grin at it like the Cheshire Cat. It's good stuff. Covers everything. Spreads like a zombie virus. Win all around.

  6. Small letdry

    Here's one batch of cards. I did one craft mat (official distance measure in my house) worth of cards at a time. Waited an hour or three until they were safe to move off onto the table (Still very sticky, but moveable) and then made another set. It took all day but all 104 are now prepared.

  7. Small p1080298

    I sorted them according to the ones that were awesome and the ones that sucked. I'd dress it up but that would be dishonest. Me: Suck. Suck. Really, Nicole? Suck!!! Awesome. Everyone come see this, it's so cool! Suck. Suck. Good. Like it. Like it. Like it. Um, no. Then in my traditional backwards way of doing things, I started with the ones I hated so if I wrecked them, they were already destined for the trash and it would fall under the 'no harm no foul' rule. They were ugly. As you can see in the pic above (left side), my gold alcohol ink (just found it in a box) made brown splotches. Not even brown really, more like puce. Ick. So I added some ink, spread some large mica flakes and did my best to salvage them. Now I luuurve them. So pretty and fun. No Cheeto stains.