Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Make Your Own Stationery: Pop-Up Cards

Since you've already mastered heat embossing, it's time to move on to the next big thing in creative stationery: pop-up cards! Though they can be a bit time consuming, pop up cards aren't all that difficult, and the same principles apply to all manner of cards. Though the ones I've made are all colorful and cheerful, you could also make something a bit more subdued by subbing in white paper (a white-and-red "I <3 U" card would be really cute). Interested? Dust off your X-acto knife, crack open a fresh glue stick, and let's get started.  

But first things first: materials. To make these cards, you'll need: colored cardstock (or do like I did, and just buy some blank cards), text-weight paper (get a variety of colors), an X-acto knife, scissors, a glue stick, a pencil, and a really good eraser. That's it!

Start by folding your cardstock in half (if you're not using a pre-folded card). Then draw the outline of the pop-up section on your paper, making sure it lies across the crease. I used a pencil and very lightly drew the OMFG text. You want to extend the letters higher at the top on both the M and the G, because they will provide the horizontal connectors for your pop-out piece.

Take your knife and start cutting along the lines you traced. While I normally endorse drinking and crafting, now is a good time to put down the wine glass. Handling an X-acto knife is perilous even in the best of times, and you don't want to end up with cuts all over your hands and blood on your cards. But if you find yourself throwing booze-fueled card-making party, make sure you have Pretty Things beer on hand. (It's delicious, and it goes with the theme.)

At this point, you're going to want to erase all the pencil marks you made before you start perfecting the cuts and creases and whatnot. Use a good, un-smudged eraser, but if there are a few scuff marks, no worries. You can just glue some nice paper on top of them to cover it up.

Lightly draw a box around the pop-up region in pencil and cut a square around it. This will make your text more visible against the contrasting-color background.

Now push the part you're going to make pop-up out of the card. This is the trickiest step because you are forcing the paper to go against the existing center crease. Make sure all the connecting pieces fold at the same midpoint and crease the top and bottom connecting parts of the cut-out. As you close the card, be very careful to make sure the folds at the top of the text (above the M & G) line up.

Now it's time to glue the back piece on. Of course, you can use the same color for both pop-out and backing, but I like to put a new color behind it; I think it makes the card a lot more interesting. If you think you need to do any more cutting, do it before you glue. I cut out a few stars, but you can always get ambitious and do a message or something cute like that.

Completely cover the back of the card with glue, avoiding the letters and their connecting pieces. Press the second piece of paper down smoothly onto the glue, applying pressure to ease out any wrinkles. Trim all edges that fall outside. If you have a paper-cutter, use it now.

All right, you've made a pop-up card! But while you're basically done, this is actually the most fun part of all, where you can add silly accents like drawings, cut paper decorations, and personalized messages. With this card, I decided to go with a few more stars and a little banner with a heartfelt compliment. You can also decorate the outside of the card — I used the cut-out paper stars I made when I was working on the inside of the card. Nice paper is expensive, so it pays to recycle!

Here is the outside of the card. I kept it simple because the inside is so punchy.

And this is the inside, complete with the aforementioned banner and star decorations.

Now that you've got the basics down, feel free to heat emboss the crap out of that sucker. Or add some patterned paper, or write whatever supplementary message you want (as if "OMFG You Are Awesome" didn't say it all, right?). Here are some other cards I've made over the past few weeks. I reuse a lot of scraps from project to project, which explains the similar color-scheme. Apologies if it gives you Lisa Frank-style Middle School flashbacks — even if that was kinda the plan!

Katy Kelleher is a nightlife writer for NBC. She spends her free time playing with paper.

28 Comments / Post A Comment

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

If you're going to use the acronym OMFG, wouldn't it be more appropriate to use the message "your awesome"?


I think I love this, but the pictures won't load. Even re-tried in firefox...butterscotch stalin, could you see them?


@Ophelia They're working for me but I'm using safari.


@Ophelia It's working for me in Firefox (4.0.1)


@ennaenirehtac Thanks guys. Must be one of the weird admin settings that periodically drive me crazy on my (work-owned) computer.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@Ophelia Are you not allowed to have LOLs at your work? (It shows up fine in my way rare mobile browser)


This is the first crafting idea I will actually try to do in real life because pop-up anything is my FAVORITE. Thanks!


@ennaenirehtac I'm going to make one of these for my husband's birthday this month, if I can find a local craftstore!


@lovelettersinhell I promise they're not paying me to say this, but the Paper Source has an online store and it's awesome. Get the cover-weight cards and an X-acto knife and you can buy the rest of the stuff at CVS.

Lily Rowan

@ennaenirehtac Me too!


OMFG! I can do this! I am so making that card for my sister for her graduation!! Awesomesauce!!!1!


Oh, wow--I made one of these for one of my sisters a long time ago using her name, but she spitefully threw it in the trash. Thinking of making one that says "asshole" and sending it to her in the mail.


@applestoapples Do that! And hide a tiny video camera in it so you can enjoy her reaction before she throws that one in the trash too.


@theharpoon I am also thinking of being more subtle and modifying Katy's original design to say "OMFG-you are a douchebag."


@applestoapples I really like the idea of spiteful pop-ups! Though only when really deserved. I also kind of want to proposition someone via pop-up card (perhaps one that just says SEX with a bubble reading "tonight?")

Hot mayonnaise

@applestoapples: To add to the WTF, change "douchebag" to "juicebox."


@KatyK I would be 70% likely to accept a proposition if it arrived via crafty pop-up, as long as it was in blue and green.
Now I know what I'm doing on my next lunch break.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@applestoapples Oh, wow... By the way, does someone happen to have a band-aid? A big one?


@Hot mayonnaise
You know, I was wondering the other day during my all too long commute, would Donkey Kong suffice as a d-bag replacement? I mean, I dunno, maybe I was just wanting to call this dude who keeps calling and then not calling that. But I've never played the video game so maybe it doesn't work so well?
e.g., "AUGH, what an effing donkey kong!"


@sockiboos It does have a nice ring to it...


I do this a lot and it's ALWAYS a hit. I recently saw that a friend still has one I made up on her bookshelf, meaning it has lasted 6 years and 4 moves.

oh, disaster

If I learned anything in 1994, it was never to apologize for Lisa Frank.

But for real, I'm excited that this is something crafty I can handle.


I just move to Oklahoma, and I already miss the things I can't get here... including Pretty Things! Mmmm, Baby Tree... you are such a delicious beverage...


This is so exciting! I'm running off right now to make my boyfriend a "I <3 U" card with glitter. To which he will reply, "Uh, thanks?"


@jacqueline Yup. My exact evening plans, his exact anticipated reaction.


This is amazing! I've been hoping to create something handmade for my bff's birthday this weekend but ran out of time. I can absolutely make her a pop-up card though!


Yes so hard!! Oh man I am going to send pop-up cards for everything now. "Here's my rent!" "Thanks! (for providing me electricity)"

Yhen Ni Keith@facebook

thankz! very usefulllllllllllll! love it!

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