Introduction: Mechanical Iris Greeting Card

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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

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

Step 2: Cut It Out!

If you, like me, are not lucky enough to own a digital cutting machine or laser cutter, you've got some quality time with an x-acto knife ahead of you.

Add any text and images you want printed on the card to the template.

Print the template onto cardstock.

Start cutting out all the pieces. For the piece that forms the back of the card you'll need to leave a thin flap to connect it to the front piece. Which side you leave the flap on will depend on which way you want your finished card to open.

Seriously consider the benefits of getting robots with lasers to do the cutting for you.

Step 3: Assemble!

With the mini brads, connect the shutter pieces to the front of the card, using the inner ring of holes.

Add the ring to the front and put another 5 mini brads through the holes to connect it to the shutter pieces.

Score and fold over the flap on the back piece. Stick it to the front of the card using foam tape.

If your card opens along the short edge, you may also want to add another strip of foam tape and cardstock along the bottom edge of the inside front of the card. This extra foam helps give the shutters room to move freely.

Step 4: Decorate

Paint, draw or embellish the card however you like.

Glue pictures to the inside or stick a gift card or other surprise behind the open iris.

Ideas to try:
  • Camera
  • Porthole on a submarine
  • Spaceship airlock
  • Aperture Science experiment
  • Sphincter ...
I'd love to see what you come up with!

Step 5: Improve the Design

One of the problems with this card is that the shutter pieces sometimes get caught on the ends of the brads.

Using tiny rivets or some other fasteners might fix this problem.

It might also be possible to modify the shape and size of the moving pieces so this is no longer an issue.

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