Handmade Cards – part 2 – How to Make Pop-Up Elements

You can make simple card designs

You can make simple card designs “pop” with easy techniques.

Yesterday I shared my recent re-discovery of making greeting cards and gave you tips and basic information about how to make your own. Today I’d like to share a cool technique for adding dimension to your cards and tell you exactly how I put together a few simple designs. If you think you’re an “uncrafty” person, this one’s for you!

Pop-up elements add dimension to handmade greeting cards.

Pop-up elements add dimension to handmade greeting cards.

How to Make Pop-Up Elements on Handmade Cards

  1. If you want to raise an element off of the background, you can make pop-up dots with your glue gun rather than buying the little stickers in the craft store. It’s not hard at all. First you’ll want to make sure your element is stiff enough to hold up. Smaller images printed on card stock will work. Larger images will need to be backed and/or framed with another sheet of card stock.
  2. One your element is sufficiently sturdy not to wilt when lifted off of the surface of the card, flip the element over and add a dot (or two or more same-size dots) of hot glue on the back. Let the glue dots dry completely.

    Use a hot glue gun to make pop-up dots so elements of your design will pop off of the surface.

    Use a hot glue gun to make pop-up dots so elements of your design will pop off of the surface.

  3. Once your hot glue is totally dry, add a little more hot glue to each dot and immediately, but gently, press the element into place on your card. Don’t smash it down; just make sure the fresh glue is pressed onto the background without crushing the hardened glue dots or bending your element. Your element will stay popped off of the surface of the card.

Using Pop-Up Elements in Simple Handmade Card Designs

If you are not crafty then you’ll want to keep your designs super simple. It will save you frustration and it can also save you money since you won’t be buying stickers and ribbon and doo-dads to decorate your card.

The secret is to find a really neat image to anchor the design.

It's simple to make a card when you have a great background image!

It’s simple to make a card when you have a great background image!

Just look at the beautiful colors in this map image! It is so eye-catching that it doesn’t need much adornment. Quite honestly, the map is interesting to look at and I didn’t want to hide the details.

To make this card you’ll need:

  • a blank white greeting card and matching envelope from the craft store
  • a sheet of white card stock
  • a computer and printer to download and print your images
  • scissors
  • a paper cutter is nice to have but not necessary
  • a glue stick (one from the dollar store will do just fine!)
  • a hot glue gun and coordinating glue sticks

What to do:

  1. Start by downloading and printing your images. Mine came from The Graphics Fairy. Printing images can be the trickiest part since you have to size the background image to fit your card and the smaller image to fit the space in the background image. I dropped the images into Microsoft Publisher (I know, I know, but it’s what I have!) and used the rulers to make sure my background image was the correct size. Using publishing software also allowed me to lay out images for several cards on one page, which saved card stock, trees, and money. If you’re just printing for one card you’ll have tons of space on the page to print the smaller image in several sizes. Then you can choose the size you like the best for your card once you see the two images together.
  2. Trim the background image neatly. I left an even white margin all around the map for mine. The scale of the map image didn’t perfectly match the card but was close enough.
  3. Use the glue stick and apply a thin, even layer of glue over the back side of your background image, which is the map in this case. Carefully position the image on the front of the card and smooth it firmly into place. Rub those edges down well! I just used my hands to do this step, no fancy tools needed.
  4. Trim your smaller image. When I’m doing pop-ups I don’t like a lot of extra background paper around the image, so I silhouette pretty closely. I did leave the tiniest sliver of a white margin around my smaller image because that bit of white border keeps the globe from getting lost and emphasizes the shadow when the image is popped-up.
  5. Figure out where the smaller image is going on the card before you put any glue on the smaller image! Move it around a little. Pick the perfect spot.
  6. Using the steps outlined above, create the pop dots on your smaller image and then hot glue it to your card. I used two glue dots on the globe, one under the base of the stand and the other under the globe itself.
Simple background images look great trimmed to a close silhouette.

Simple background images look great trimmed to a close silhouette.

Same Technique, Different Card

You’ll recognize the globe in the background of the second card as the same image I used for the pop-up on the map card. (I’m obviously going for a more masculine look with these cards than I did with the fluffy white feathers I showed you yesterday!) The vintage post mark pop-up has a little bit of color to it.

The steps to make this card are almost identical to the map card. The difference is that I started with a blank brown card from the craft store and I silhouetted the globe before gluing it down rather than leaving a lot of white in the background.

The red frame adds color and extra strength to the pop-up image.

The red frame adds color and extra strength to the pop-up image.

Add a Frame (and Some Color)

The third card I’d like to show you (again) today is this railroad crossing card I made with my father in mind. I started with a blank brown card, then trimmed the crossing sign and attached it with a glue stick.

The image of the two trunks was a little larger and more complex, so I decided to frame the image with red card stock to reinforce it and give a shot of color to the design.

After I printed the trunk image I silhouetted it and then used the glue stick to glue it onto a piece of red card stock, leaving plenty of frame space all around. Once the glue was dry I silhouetted it again to leave a uniform red frame around the trunks. Then I used my glue gun, two glue dots, and the steps listed earlier to attach it to the card.

You can make simple card designs

You can make simple card designs “pop” with easy techniques.

I’ll show you more cards later this week and will share the specifics in case you’d like to use my cards as inspiration for your own.

It would be so much fun if you’d share your cards on my Facebook page and Twitter feed. I’d love to have you follow me there and on Pinterest.

How did the pop-ups work for you?

Update: You may also enjoy Handmade Cards – part 1 and Handmade Cards – part 3 – Ribbons, Stickers, and Flowers.

I moderate comments manually but will get them posted as quickly as possible. Please keep your comments kind and if you must disagree please do so without being disagreeable. Rude or inappropriate comments will obviously not be published.

2 responses to “Handmade Cards – part 2 – How to Make Pop-Up Elements

  1. Pingback: Handmade Cards – part 3 – Ribbons, Stickers, and Flowers | A Chat Over Coffee·

  2. Pingback: Handmade Cards – part 1 | A Chat Over Coffee·

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