Every year since I've been making things, I've strived to give my parents nice, hand-made gifts that exceed all of my prior work. The bad news is that - after several years of building things - the bar has risen extraordinarily high. Even for simple gift giving holidays, such as Mother's Day, I find myself struggling to come up with ideas.
Fortunately, for Mother's Day this past weekend, I had at least one trick left up my sleeve. I combined my prior familiarity with paper circuits with my fascination of pop-up and paper animation techniques to create a cute card to remind my mom that she helped me grow into the person I am now!
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Step 1: Gather Your Supplies:
To make a beautiful, flower-themed Mother's Day card, you'll need the following:
- Bristol Board (or watercolor paper)
- Watercolors (blue and green)
- Copper tape
- Coin Cell Battery
- White LED
- Vinyl (unless you're printing your designs out.)
- Foam Tape
- Elmer's Glue Stick
- Vinyl Cutter (or a printer)
- X-Acto Knife
- Cutting Mat
- Paint Brushes
- Rinse Cup
Step 2: Cut Your Bristol
You're going to need 3 pieces of bristol board or watercolor paper to make this card!
Part A is the front of the card. It is the part that slides on the track. It starts out at 5.5" x 4", but it will get trimmed down later.
Part B is the back of the card. It holds Part A and Part C together, and it is where all of the magic happens. It is 5.5" x 8", and it is folded halfway down the long dimension, so that the folded card is 5.5" x 4".
Part C is the inside of the card. It is 4.5" x 7", and folded halfway down the long dimension.
Step 3: Water Color Your Backgrounds.
Paint one side of Part A with a light blue wash.
Paint one side of the folded Part B with the same light blue wash, leaving about an inch at the bottom bare. After the blue wash has dried, paint a green wash on the remaining strip.
Paint all of one side of Part C with the light blue wash, leaving about an inch at the bottom. That bottom strip is light green, just like Part B.
Step 4: Cut Slots & Tabs for Sliding Motion.
Trim off a 1" section of Part A, leaving a rounded bit for the flower.
Cut 2 1/2" long tabs, starting 1/2" in from either side of the card. I made mine 1/4" wide, for stability.
Hold Part A over Part B, and note where those tabs end by poking into Part B at those points with an X-Acto knife.
Cut a slot running towards the centerfold of the card at each of those locations. Make sure that you leave paper connecting the top and bottom, which will act as a natural stop for the sliding Part A.
Step 5: Cut & Assemble Stickers (or Print Pieces)
Font used: Moonflower (Bold)
I used my makerspace's Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutter to cut out each individual sticker. To make the multilayered stickers, I cut out each layer on the appropriately colored vinyl, and then used transfer tape to stack the stickers on top of one another.
If you also have a vinyl cutter, I've included a file with my original artwork for the card - the clouds and hearts are not included because those were generated in the software itself.
If you do not have a vinyl cutter, I've included a PNG of everything that you can print out and cut out!
Step 6: Trim the Flower Petals.
Cut each of the flower petals up to the center piece where there is a divot. The cut petals allow for some movement and some more depth to the flower.
Step 7: Stick Down Your Decorations!
For both flower heads, I cut a rough, but light, circle across the paper on the back of the vinyl. This allowed me to selectively stick on the center of the flower.
If you're using vinyl, you can just stick your decorations onto the paper. If you're using printed decorations, you'll want to use your Elmer's glue stick.
Part A has several stickers on it. It has the smaller of the two flower heads, the smaller of the two suns, 3 clouds, and the "To my mom:" banner.
Part B has the smaller of the two flower stems. You place the flower stem roughly in line with where the Part A flower head is. It also has the "who helped me reach new heights" text block.
What's really important about applying these stickers is that you'll need to use your X-Acto knife to cut through the stickers to continue the slot that you initially made in this card. This will allow Part A to slide still!
Part C has all of the rest of the stickers. If you're making this a light up card, make sure you place a heart in the bottom right corner of this insert. That will become your button for the LED.
Step 8: Draw on Your Circuit.
For this card, we're making a simply paper circuit, consisting of one battery and one LED.
Draw your circuit on the inside of Part B, with the slotted side of the card pointing away from you.
Cut and glue a small scrap of extra bristol board on the bottom right corner. This will form your button. Draw the circuit as I have it shown.
I always try to make the positive side of the battery be the one face down on the card, which means you have to avoid shorting the circuit when you place your copper tape.
Step 9: Build Your Circuit Into the Card.
Lay copper tape onto the track you've drawn, including on the inside of the little flap you made in the previous step.
Bend the leads of the LED so that it can stand on its own, and orient it correctly along the track. Cover the leads of the LED with more copper tape.
Step 10: Block Accidental Button Presses!
Because this button has no physical resistance against being pressed, it's important that you block accidental button presses - or the battery will run out really quick!
Stack 2 or 3 layers of foam tape around the battery. (I also used this to keep the battery from just falling out of my card.) When you're satisfied that everything works (and when you have your battery installed), remove the covers of the tape around the battery, and press the switch firmly onto the tape pieces.
Step 11: Assemble the Card.
Place more foam tape around the card. Make sure that you do not place tape directly next to the slots of Part B. If you do, that will interfere with Part A's ability to slide! After you gently press Part C onto the foam tape, you need to trim out a piece of the card so that the light can shine through. I used my X-Acto knife to do that.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and this build as much as my mom enjoyed this card! If you need more whimsy or delightful stationary in your life, this basic idea can be adapted for almost any holiday!
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