Picture of Mechanical Iris Greeting Card
December 2011 103.jpg
January 2012 065.jpg
January 2012 080.jpg
January 2012 072.jpg
January 2012 070.jpg
Need an awesome card for your next special occasion? How about something with moving parts that reveal a surprise photo or image?

While these mechanical iris cards are a little time consuming to assemble, they're definitely worth the effort. The versatile design can be used for everything from adorable baby announcements to party invitations. Create a camera for a picture perfect valentine's day card or a submarine porthole for a steampunk Christmas card - the possibilities are endless.

If you're into irises, you should also check out these awesome instructables that were instrumental in making this card come together:
Mechanical Iris by carlbass
Paper Mechanical Iris by dombeef
Paper Iris Glasses by art.makes

Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of What you'll need
You'll need:
  • the template provided with this instructable (in either pdf or Adobe Illustrator)
  • cardstock or thin cardboard
  • mini brads
  • an x-acto knife or scissors
  • double sided foam tape - you can use cardboard and glue if you don't have foam tape
  • a printer
Depending on how you want your finished card to look, you might also want:
  • a glue stick or other glue
  • paint
  • markers
  • photos
  • glitter, stickers, sequins or other decorative stuff
Finally, if you plan on making lost and lots of these cards (for wedding invitations or a big holiday mailing list), you may want:
  • a digital cutting machine
  • an account with Ponoko or a similar service
robodavey1 year ago

I love these cards! You could try using iris-calculator.com to get your dimensions, it might help stop the pieces getting caught.
I think everyone is going to get an iris birthday card from now on! Awesome stuff!

DUO00372 years ago
Cool! I'm gonna HAVE to make one!
bianca2672 years ago
You mention running one of these files through a cutter machine? I have one but don't see how they could be used to transfer it to a cutting file? Do you have a pdf that prints the registration marks?
ModMischief (author)  bianca2672 years ago
You can use the software that goes with your cutting machine to convert the pdf to the correct type of file. We use Make the Cut which works with many different machines.
lordvile2 years ago
hello im a year 9 student tryuing to make this and i am having major porblems with it if you could make a video tutorial that would be mucch appreciated
msyfritt2 years ago
Thanks. Looks like I got it all figured out. I'm going to use this to make a Magic 8 Ball box. I think I will modify this with Laser cut wood and brass sheets for the blades.
msyfritt2 years ago
Do you have a video of the assembly for this? I would like to use it for a project and this one is the best and easiest I have seen.

Great job!
ModMischief (author)  msyfritt2 years ago
I don't currently have a video for this card, but I'll try to remember to film one the next time I'm putting one of these cards together.
dsherlock3 years ago
Very nice.
What did you use to make that .pdf file?
ideatomik3 years ago
Awesome instructable, and the first one I've made! I used aluminum sheets for mine, but it works just fine:


Did you cut the aluminum with an ex-acto knife?
The blades are actually really thin and I cut then with a scissor from floppy disks' little metal covers. The circles in the outer ring were made out of a thicker aluminum sheet and cut with a cup saw, and the square was cut with a common metal saw.
tinker2343 years ago
wow i love the idea i think i might make one of these someday
strmrnnr3 years ago
Thank You. My dream home will have a larger scale version of this iris in it somewhere. I think air powered by a low voltage compressor.
bajablue3 years ago
Love it!
I wonder if you want to make a camera, how to use a rubber band to make it ''automatic'' you know you pull the outter ring to close the iris (in this case the camera's diaphragma) it automatically opens again, like taking a photo. Any idea? i want to make for my brother.
Ymerej883 years ago
This is an awesome idea, and great timing too!
I'm going to try making an Aperture Science version for my brothers birthday (only 2 days away, aaaah!). It will go perfectly with the present, a Portal 2 water bottle from Think Geek.
Thanks for the istructable, I'll post a pic or two here if you like, when (if) I finish it.
If you're interested in a Portal-themed iris, check out my Aperture Science Business Card instructable.
monsterlego3 years ago
Cool idea.