card case

Anyone who has been to our store has seen our fabulous card cases- they are one of our most popular items and certainly a “signature Common Era piece.” These card cases can be used for business cards, for credit cards, for cash, for phone numbers, gum…anything kind of thinnish.

We have DIY Open Studio at our Boulder store every Monday from 3pm – 5pm where we teach you to make all the great “CE line” stuff we make and sell. BUT, for those of you who can’t make it into the store either because you live far away or you work at that time, we’ve decided to provide you with our NEW online series of tutorials. Sharing is caring, right? So here we go:

STEP ONE: SUPPLIES

card case

  • magazines (for cutting up! Art & fashion mags work the best, but if you like horses get a horse magazine! Here’s a great tip- book stores that sell magazines often times don’t sell the whole supply before the month is up and the new issue comes out. What they do is tear off the covers and throw the magazines in the dumpster. If you’re low on cash, there is a wealth of great magazines waiting in dumpsters all across America.)
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • clear packing tape (depending on the size of the card case, you might need to buy the 3 inch wide kind, which isn’t sold everywhere. Go to an art supply store or office store.)
  • spray glue
  • a card case (purchased at Common Era)
  • a template (you will need to make this in advance by tracing the shape of the card case indent with paper and then tracing that rectangle onto cardboard and cutting out the rectangle space to leave a template.)
  • ***NOTE*** If you don’t live near Common Era and don’t have access to a blank metal card case, you can still use this technique to decorate all kinds of things. I once bought some blank magnets and spent a whole summer making custom magnets as gifts following these same steps.

    STEP TWO: SELECTING IMAGES

    card case

    This is the fun part- pick out images you’d like to use. It’s a good idea to pick out some bigger ones for the background (landscape, abstract pattern) and then some smaller ones for the foreground. These could be letters to form a word or name, animals, faces, flowers, flags or anything else that you want to include.

    STEP THREE: THE BACKGROUND

    card case

    With one of the large images, use your template to create a background by tracing the inner edge if your template. Cut it out, but leave about a half an inch border around the edge. It will help make things easier later…

    STEP FOUR: SMALLER STUFF

    card case

    Now cut out the littler images. Make sure you cut out 6 or 7 because what makes these card cases look so cool is the layering effect. If you just have one background image and one image on top, it will look sort of…sparse. It’s better to have too many images than too few, you can always toss any extras.

    STEP FIVE: LAYOUT

    card case

    Start grouping the smaller images on top of the larger background image to form the layout. You could have them be centered, or coming out of one side, or decorate the borders. This is where it’s helpful to have the extra space on the background image.

    STEP SIX: STICK ‘EM

    card case

    Use glue stick to glue the smaller pieces to the larger background.

    STEP SEVEN: PROTECT IT

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    Cut a piece of clear packing tape that is longer enough to hold with both hands and cover your artwork. Carefully press the tape to the paper and apply pressure in an outward motion to remove any bubbles.

    STEP EIGHT: TRIM

    card case

    Here is where that extra border helps out- cut your finished collage along the lines you drew with your template. *** If you did not leave a border it is OK, it will just make the tape stick to your scissors and it can get a little messy! If that happens, use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to clean the scissor blades.

    STEP NINE: SPRAY IT

    card case
    Spray glue the back of your collage. read the instructions on how far to hold the glue from the collage- if you are too close it will be too gluey and can seem through leaving “glue stains.” If you’re too far the glue will spray over everything and will be so fine it won’t stick.

    STEP TEN: FINISH

    card case

    With the back gluey, carefully lay your collage onto your card case. Press down. Now put something cool in it and look for an excuse to pull it out in front of your friends!

    SOME OF COMMON ERA’S EXAMPLES

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