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Inspiration Deck Tutorial

One of the gals from my art group thought it was time to do an Inspiration Deck again, so we’re doing it!

But, rather than keeping it within our small group, she’s opening it up to anyone who wants to participate.  SO, if you’re interested, join us! Ask to join the Facebook group at then once you are in, go up and click on files, add your name (for as many decks as you want to make) along with the saying you want to reserve. There is no particular theme, just pick something that is meaningful to you, and make sure no one else has already signed up for it. You can do as many decks as you’d like, then you will receive that many completed decks in the end. They are great for gifts!

Several of the people doing it have not done one before, so I thought I’d do a little tutorial based on what I’ve learned in doing them myself.

Inspiration Decks are like ATCs (artist trading cards) except instead of being done on art paper, they are done by altering playing cards, the ones that measure 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. And yes, playing cards come in different sizes, and size DOES matter. Make sure you’re starting with the right size. Also, please use new ones, not ones that are old and frayed. Where I LOVE things that are “Tattered and Worn” (heeheehee!) not everyone does, and new ones work best for this.

For the purpose of our deck, we want to do 52 cards, so we have one card for each week of the year. So that means we need 52 people to do one deck each, or for some to make more than one deck, or the suggestion was made that we do 2 sayings per deck, then we’d only need 26 people. We’ll decide when we see how many people are interested.

So, you’re signed up and you have your deck of cards.

The next step is to decide what medium you want to use. You can use any medium that can be used on a card – fabric, paint, paper. You just want it pretty flat, not too much dimension, as they will rub a little, and things like buttons would be apt to come off.

Paint is the most commonly used medium, and if that is what you’re going to use, you need to start by putting down a layer of gesso on the side that have the numbers on them. The paint will flake off of the card without it. Some people leave the other side as is, others decorate it, but w/o a saying, and some put their contact info (mostly for those who want to advertise their business) on it. Whichever works for you is fine.



One thing you want to keep in mind, no matter what medium you use is that you need to do your design vertically, NOT horizontally, and leave the area in the upper left hand corner free of writing so a hole can be punched for putting a ring through. DO NOT punch the hole yourself. The hostess will determine what size she needs to make, and do them herself.

You don’t NEED to go crazy with them. This is supposed to be fun, so intricate, time-consuming designs, no matter how fun they are to do, will become tedious after the first 30 or so. Make it easy on yourself and keep it fairly simple. You want them to be attractive, but it is the sentiment that is the most important part.

They are easier to do if you do them “production style.” Clear off a table so you can line up all 52 cards at once, then do each step to all the cards at once. For example, gesso all of one side, let them dry, then flip them and gesso the other (if you’re going to paint both sides.) Then do the base coat on each, then do each layer or color to each card before going to the next step. It makes it go oh so much more quickly than doing the cards from start to finish one at a time. Trust me on this. I’ve done LOADS of production work. With the last deck I was involved in, I did 4 decks, and it looked like this!


Some of us are “over-achievers”  and I’m one of them. No matter how hard I try to “keep it simple” I just keep adding little details. BUT. I enjoy the process. I do not find it to be a chore to work on them for many hours. You do NOT need to make this an overwhelming project. It is not a competition. The idea is to share inspiration that uplifts you with others. So only put the amount of effort into it that you are ENJOYING! It should not be “work!” It should not be stressful!



The major issue I had with the cards when I was the hostess was that some came badly stuck together. If you are going to use a coating on them, it is best to NOT use mod-podge. It seemed to be the main culprit. I did NOT put a coating on mine. But if you chose to do so, make sure whatever you use will not get sticky, and give them plenty of time to dry before mailing.

If you are looking for ideas/inspiration, try googling ATC images, because these, are, for all intents and purposes, ATCs. And there are TONS of samples on the internet.

As you will see when you sign up, Kim Hyer is our hostess. The cards will be be mailed to her. She will punch the holes, collate the decks and mail them back to you. There is a small charge ($7.00) for participating to help defer the cost of the rings and mailing them. The $7.00 will cover up to two decks. If you are doing 3-4, the charge would be $14.00, as the small priority mail box will fit 2 decks. Most of you will fit into that 1-2 deck charge of $7.00. Please send the money with your deck.

We are looking at having all of the cards to Kim by September 1st. This is not a HARD deadline, but please do your best to have them to her by then. Being the hostess can be a little like herding cats, so let’s try to make it as easy on her as we can.

I think that’s it. If you have any questions, please ask on the Facebook page so everyone will see the question, and we’ll answer there!




About tatterednworn

I am a woman who has committed to living a creative life.

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