Friday, 5 April 2013

Waves Mechanical Pop-up Card–Review and Template

On 8th May 2011 I uploaded the following post about the mechanical/pop-up card I made for my hubby. I have recently been contacted by Kent of which is a review site for all things paper-folding, pop up etc. He has done a review of this card, and has also gone to a lot of trouble to design a .pdf template that can be downloaded, printed and cut out in order to construct a simplified version of my design. It obviously has a flatter, more computer-generated look than my original hand-painted artwork, but as I said to him in a recent email, if this means that someone actually makes my design rather than passing over it as being too complex, then I am well pleased! The template could be printed out on plain white paper and inked and hand-painted as I did on my original, if anyone wanted a more hand-done effect.

I have decided to republish my original post here in its entirety, to keep things simple, and to bring things up to date. Obviously since I first posted it, I am now using Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine in preference to the Cricut, and I am now designing cut files in Inkscape rather than Serif DrawPlus.

I have not made the template up, and neither have I seen a video of Kent’s finished result to see how well the mechanism works, but thought I would post details here for your information.

Kent has a download link for the template on his review, but he has given me permission to upload the template to my Skydrive for free download, if you prefer.

Have fun with it!

Original blog post, first published 8th May 2011:

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been terribly busy with all my projects, but I can now report on a big project that’s taken all my time recently.

It’s been on my mind for some time to make a mechanical card, with a lever to make a mechanism work, which causes movement in the card. I was never very good at physics at school and used to find it hard to grasp the principle of levers and gears, but was determined to give it a try!

I am grateful to Carol of the Extreme Cards and Papercrafting blog: for all the help she gave me when I first started thinking about this card, and contacted her for advice. She is very experienced with all sorts of pop-ups, and 3-D projects etc. and her brain works a lot better than mine when it comes to working out how to actually do it!

It may be the first mechanical card I’ve done, but not the first pop-up.

Last year, much to the consternation of his whole family, my hubby was foolish enough to go out on the River Dart on his own in his little boat – this river has a reputation for being treacherous – it’s fast flowing with dangerous currents, and most years somebody comes to grief in it. While out on his own, he fell in, and he was fortunate that he was able to get out before he was swept away. I was very, very glad to get my soggy and extremely cold hubby back that day – we were off to get my new wheelchair and it took a pint of beer and a sizzling steak in a pub on our way to Exeter to put the roses back into his cheeks and warm him up! He was very fed up because he lost one of his wellies in the river and we have subsequently joked that it’s probably half way to America by now! (My mum and dad gave him a new pair for Christmas!)

I had it in mind to make a card to commemorate this momentous event, and this is the result.

The front of the card has two static waves and two moving ones. These moving waves, and the boat, are attached to a disc concealed underneath, and the disc has a tab which projects through a slit at the side of the card, which when moved up and down, rotates the disc, moving the arms attached to the waves and the boat, causing them to rise and fall.

I drew the shapes in Serif DrawPlus and converted them to svg files in order to cut them on my Cricut machine using Make The Cut software. These have now all been uploaded to my Skydrive (see details on the right-hand side of my blog) and can be freely downloaded if anyone wants to give this project a try.  Here are the images of the cut files I created:

This is the back piece of the mechanism, which incorporates the back static wave.

This is the front piece, the front static wave, and also the part where I printed the text and the fish images. Sorry it’s a bit faint, but I think you can see the shape of the waves. There’s a tab on the left hand side which folds round the back of the mechanism.

This is the upper moving wave, incorporating the arm which attaches to the disc and makes the wave move as you work the tab at the side of the card.

This is the lower moving wave, complete with its arm. You will notice that the second wave from the left is different from the rest. This is because on the mock-up, with all the waves the same, this one tended to catch on the boat when the mechanism was working.

This is the boat piece, complete with its arm for attaching to the disc.

The text, and the shapes of the fish on the front of the card, were printed on the computer, and then I did a considerable amount of inking using Tim Holtz Distress Inks, mostly in Faded Jeans, and the darker parts in Chipped Sapphire.

I recently acquired some Ink Dusters from Inkylicious – these are like old-fashioned shaving brushes on sticks, with a brush on each end. You get 3 in the set, so you end up with 6 brushes, and you can use a different one for each colour, i.e. one brush for the blues, one for yellows, etc. etc. I am very, very impressed with them. Holding the brush like a pen or paintbrush is a lot more natural than holding a foam applicator, and it’s a lot less tiring. Also, because the brushes are so gentle, you can build up the colour in a very controlled way, and you can ink the edges of quite thin paper without the danger of it snagging, as so often happens with foam applicators.


Looking on Youtube, I couldn’t find any videos about them, so as soon as I get time, I intend to do one, to show how lovely they are for masking, stencils, working with resists, colour blending etc. etc.

After inking, I accented the waves, and the ripples surrounding the pop-up, with silver stickles.

There’s also quite a bit of painting on this card, but you could cut out the shapes of the hills, sun and clouds if you wanted. The paint I used was the fluid acrylic paint I bought when I was painting Wonderwoman’s poppies mirror – they go on beautifully smoothly and are a real pleasure to use.

This detail of the waves shows the painting on the boat and its occupant, and a touch of white acrylic paint and silver Stickles highlighting the surface of each wave, and also the hills in the background. You will see the colour variation in the painting; this was done by loading either side of a flat brush with different shades, to achieve shading with a single stroke of the brush. These paints lend themselves particularly well to this technique. I used it on Wonderwoman’s poppies mirror too.

This is a detail of the sky. I painted the sun and the clouds with the same acrylic paint. I had considerable difficulty with the clouds, because the technique I usually use is a “wet on wet” technique which allows for very subtle blending, resulting in lovely fluffy clouds. In this case, I was painting onto very dry card which was also quite absorbent, and also the paint dried extremely quickly, so it was a while before I achieved results anywhere near satisfactory!

Moving on to the inside of the card: the pop-up took quite a lot of thought. Originally I thought of doing a V-shaped pop-up with the splash coming upwards, but I didn’t like the mock-up I did. I then thought of those flower pop-ups which open up as you open the card out flat, and thought I could probably adapt one of those.

I found an excellent lotus flower pop-up template online, designed by a Russian lady: – it had been written up on an English language website: and I thought it would do nicely (as well as being a good one to try out in its original form).

Here is a picture of the svgs of the two pop-up pieces:

I printed out the pdf of the lotus template, and traced around the edges, adapting them to resemble splashing water rather than flower petals. I didn’t use the stamen pieces in the end, but had the wellie instead – cut from 2 pieces of black card from the cut file I made, and glued either side of a small strip of acetate which was threaded through one of the stamen holes in the base piece and glued behind once the pop-up was complete.

Inking the splash pieces gave them a dimensional feel. I also inked the concentric rings on the back piece that I’d printed on the computer, and finally added some silver Stickles for a bit of sparkle and a more realistic watery effect.

Like the text on the front of the card, the text over the pop-up was also done on Serif DrawPlus.

Constructing the card, because I’d made a few mistakes and had to make a frame, it came out quite a bit bigger than I’d intended, and I also wasted a fair bit of card. As a result, I was nearly at the end of my supply of pale blue cardstock, so I had to fudge the middle a bit, but I don’t think it matters too much.

The front of the card was many layers thick, with all the mechanism, and the layers of waves etc., and the back of the card was a single sheet, making it a bit front-heavy, so I designed and printed a back piece with a birthday greeting for my hubby, and glued it on, which added some stability.

This has been a quite ambitious project, but well worth all the effort – I’ve learned a lot, and also had a tremendous amount of fun! Before I started it, I finally managed to get the video camera set up on my marvellous new camera rig (hoping to do a video about that soon) so I have been able to film myself making the whole project. To keep the clips down to a reasonable length, it has ended up in seven parts, which I have embedded below, or you can watch them on Youtube. I hope you enjoy them.

Part 1: Introduction and Basic Construction, showing the first mock-ups.

Part 2: Inking and painting the waves.

Part 3: Constructing the mechanism to make the waves and boat move.

Part 4: Painting the boat and assembling the mechanism.

Part 5: Painting the hills and the sky onto the background piece.

Part 6: Beginning the pop-up inside the card. In this clip, I am inking the background piece, using the mock-up piece as a mask, cutting it smaller as I go, to give a dimensional effect to the ripples surrounding the water spash.

Part 7: The final part, in which I assemble and attach the water splash pop-up into the centre of the card.

It’s my hubby’s birthday on 19th May, so I’ll let you know what he thinks of my efforts!

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