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How I Make my Cards by Hand by Michelle Cohen

Michele Cohen, the talented artist of the handmade deck Curious Tarot , shares her method for making Tarot cards (a sturdy deck of double card stock, with no lamination needed).

1. I get high quality color laser copies of my front and back designs made on cardstock, not plain laser paper. I have 4 different front designs per 8.5 x 11 sheet, and four same back designs on each sheet. So two copies make four cards. (I use two separate pieces of cardstock, not a single front-and-back copy. I like the thickness of the cards with two pieces stuck together.) My copies of the card backs are a little bigger than the fronts. This way, when I cut out the cards while looking at the front side, cutting around the red border with scissors, I know the back will be covered if the fronts and backs are not lined up exactly right. For this reason I would not recommend having any kind of border on the backs of your cards, just something solid or a random pattern, with maybe a design in the center.

2. Before doing any cutting, I spray the fronts of BOTH of the 2 sheets of copies I will be working with (1 sheet of 4 different fronts, one sheet of 4 backs) with a couple thin coats of "Sureguard" brand photographic lacquer in "Lustre. "Blair" brand Gloss Spray Clear spray also works well, but I like the Sureguard best. I've tried several sprays, and these are the best I've found so far.

3. Next, it's time to glue and cut. I make four cards at a time this way: First, I choose one page of fronts and one page of backs, lay them picture-side down and spray a pretty light coat of 3M brand Super 77 spray adhesive on each. Other kinds of glues and adhesives I experimented with just did not work as well, for various reasons, and I tried A LOT! I let them sit for about 2 minutes, then using some old scissors (they're going to get messed up and gluey) I cut out the front and back cards BUT ONLY ROUGHLY. I leave about inch of white around the outsides of the cards- there are a couple of reasons for this I won't go into here. After I have my eight pieces ready with glue on their backs, I match them up front to back and CAREFULLY press them together. The adhesive is basically permanent upon contact with another sprayed surface, so I am very slow and careful to get them lined up right. After they are stuck together I use my best, sharpest scissors to cut out the cards into their final form. I use one of those punches from a craft supply store to do the rounded corners. For the first several decks I made I didn't have this corner punch, and finding it has made my life a LOT easier!

4. But I'm not done yet. Now that the cards are cut out, I color around the edges with a black WATER BASED marker, because the raw white paper doesn't look good around the dark edges of my cards. I tried using a permanent marker on my first deck, but it was a disaster because the permanent black ink slowly bled and crept into the red of my border! Another reason I color the edges is that it's an unfortunate characteristic of laser copies that the ink tends to chip or scratch somewhat easily off of the cut edges. Otherwise, it's quite tough, scratch and water resistant, as well as smear and fade proof.

5. Done! Except they need a final wipe/polish because for some reason, a fine dusty substance, a product of either the adhesive or the finishing spray or perhaps the two together, forms on the cards, and needs to be wiped off.

6. OK, Now they're done.

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