What is an Explosion Card? It’s a card that allows the recipient to open a folding portion of it and see something come out or appear. Sometimes people put in confetti or glitter. I’m only putting in a dozen punched-out paper hearts in each – they won’t make TOO much of a mess when opened!
This project is the result of old paper crafting templates I downloaded long ago, combined with brainstoming for ways to re-use old greeting cards, Christmas cards in this case. The folding assembly on the front of the card is very simple as far as explosion cards go, but since this card has a lot of parts and uses a lot of different materials, I didn’t want to make it too complicated. When you’re using upcycled paper scraps in a project, a simple design is a good foil for a potpourri of designs and motifs that might otherwise be too busy visually.
Tools and Materials
Templates: Explosion Card Page 1, Explosion Card Page 2, and if you want to make an envelope, Envelope Template Square.
Assorted decorative papers, new or upcycled, in coordinating colors and themes
Bone folder or squeegee tool
Clean scrap paper for work surface
Scrap cardstock or chipboard for making templates for tracing
Embossing fluid or metallic slow-drying pigment ink
Gold embossing powder
Optional – large opalescent glitter
Long thin plain rectangle rubber stamp or cut down piece of a white plastic eraser
Old food lid to use as a palette for ink and paint
Old greeting cards
Eraser with flat sides, dedicated for printing
Acrylic paint and acrylic medium
Permanent black or dark color rubber stamping ink
Rubber stamps with a sentiment and small words
Download and print out the templates Explosion Card Page 1 and Explosion Card Page 2. Keep Page 1 intact for reference. The diagram on Page 1 will tell you what size cardstock to cut out to make the card, and show you where to adhere items to the front of the card. Take Page 2 and cut out the three shapes. Glue them to scrap cardstock or chipboard with a glue stick and trim to make re-usable shapes for tracing.
Next choose cardstock to make the card body. Cut out an 8.5 inch by 4.25 inch piece and fold it in half.
Place the tracing template 3″ x 3″ square in the middle of the front of the card and trace around it with pencil.
Stamp on top of the pencil line with either embossing ink or metallic pigment ink that stays wet. As shown in my example I had had some leftover gold pigment rubber stamping ink so I used that instead of embossing ink. Embossing ink is made to dry slowly on purpose so that embossing powder will adhere to it until melted with a heat tool. Pigment rubber stamping ink will also stay wet for a long time so if the application is juicy enough you can use it for embossing.
I stamp long thin rectangles on a lot of my projects to make edging, frames, or lines of various widths. I keep erasers and scrap rubber strips around for this purpose to apply various inks and paints. You can also use strips cut from foam, or as shown in the photo above you can use a rubber shape stamp. The one shown is from my set Faux Postage Shapes. Some commerical stamps that are just plain shapes are sold for when you need solid colors or background colors. Sometimes they are called shadow stamps. It’s also easy to make your own shadow stamps from foam or sheets of rubber you can buy in the plumbing department at the hardware store, normally used for cutting gaskets. Here is a link to an article I wrote that involves printing with foam – a fun pursuit in itself!
Sprinkle gold embossing powder over the wet ink, shake off the excess, and melt with a heat tool. Here is a tip – if you have large-grained opalescent glitter, mix in a little bit of that into the gold embossing powder before you sprinkle it on. As long as you don’t overheat the embossing powder, the glitter won’t melt and it adds extra texture and interest to the gold area.
The first batch of these cards I made used all tints and shades of green. I decided that the green was a little flat looking and needed more interest. I looked through my rubber stamp collection to see if there was a border stamp that might make a translucent texture but none of them grabbed me at the moment so I decided to mix some matte acrylic medium with a bit of yellow acrylic paint and stamp it along the edges of the card with an eraser. The texture of the stamped paint was just what I was looking for. It made the green more interesting without giving it a flat look that was too opaque.
You can let the paint dry naturally or hurry it along with a heat tool, making sure not to re-melt the embossing powder. Now you have a subtle but interesting ground for stamping some words and phrases around the edges. I picked a Tim Holtz stamp “from the heart” for the bottom edge of my cards, and the words “hope”, “peace” and “joy” from my set Christmas Card Making Kit. You can use any stamps in your collection that fit the space and your theme. I used permanent ink so it would stamp ok on the paint, but if you skip the paint you can use any ink you have that suits your cardstock surface.
The next step is to go looking for parts of greeting cards to cut out and make into parts of new cards. To make these samples I was looking for three things – first a sentiment to cut out and glue into the inside of the card, where the sentiment usually is. Second, a piece to use as the inside front, which is a square with rounded corners. Third I looked for colorful card pieces to punch hearts from to fill the “exploding” container at the front of the card.
Every card I made didn’t need this, but there were a few pieces of cardstock I used which turned out to be too flimsy to fully support the finished card so I backed the cardstock where needed with portions of cards with nice designs on them, laminated together with a glue stick.
I used a lot of cut-out sentiments from from the insides of cards to glue in the traditional spots inside my new cards, leaving room underneath for signing the cards.
Then I selected parts of cards to put inside the front folded in assembly that you’ll see how to make soon. I traced around the “inside front” template with pencil or pen then I cut them out. I used both words and images, whatever looked right and fit the theme.
With what scraps were left over from cutting parts out of the cards, I used a heart punch by Marvy Uchida to punch hearts out. I supplemented these scraps with other found papers and cardstock to make sure I had enough hearts for all the cards I made. I put the hearts aside for later.
The next step is to make the “Assembly for front” as labeled on the template you made. Take the template and trace it in pencil on a piece of solid color card stock that fits your chosen color scheme. Cut it out and fold the semicircle tabs in. A ruler and bone folder are good aids to making nice crisp folds.
Now on the outside of each tab, the side that will show when the tabs are folded in, glue a piece of patterned or decorative paper. Gift wrap and decorative scrapbooking papers are great choices for this part. After gluing down the decorative paper, trim with a scissors.
Next use adhesive dots to fasten the folding assembly to the front middle of each card, right in the middle of the gold embossed outlined square. Adhesive dots are stronger than double sided tape and less messy than glue, though you could also try those if you don’t have adhesive dots. Burnish well with a bone folder so they really stick.
Outline your rounded rectangle pieces for the inside fronts with a coordinating paint marker. When the marker is dry, adhere to the inside front with adhesive dots.
Fill the container with as many hearts as you like and fold in the tabs in order, one by one until it’s closed. Now when the recipient opens it the hearts will fall out.
If you want to make an envelope to match, you can use the template Envelope Template Square as a guide.