5 Ways to Upcycle Old Playing Cards

You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

You don’t have to have kids to ruin a deck of playing cards (although it sure helps!).

Playing cards like to lose themselves. Playing cards tend to get bent or creased in mysterious ways. Dogs occasionally munch on playing cards, and red wine spills on them, and, yes, if a kid gets a hold of your playing cards, you might as well kiss your full deck goodbye.

When your deck loses its spades, however, there’s no need to toss it. Instead, inspire yourself with these five craft projects that turn upcycled playing cards into fabulous new creations, and pick a starting point for your own half-used deck.

You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

1. House of Cards

You don’t need to have nerves of steel to build the best house of cards that you’ve ever seen. With a stack of beat-up playing cards and plenty of hot glue as your secret ingredient, you can try out any one of these house of cards and other 3D structures made from upcycled playing cards.
You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

2. Playing Card Notebook

This tiny upcycled playing card notebook from Elizabeth Abernathy uses just one playing card. Teeny-tiny notebooks are perfect for grocery lists, or for keeping in your jeans pocket along with a golf pencil for all those thoughts that you think while you’re out and about. Is it too early to start making stocking stuffers?

[Image by Elizabeth Abernathy, used with permission]

You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

3. Playing Card Tags

My favorite part of these upcycled playing card tags from A Sort of Fairytale is their versatility. Even though they’re larger than typical gift tags, they work as such because they’re recognizable as the playing cards that they are. The size of the card allows any label on them to be read from a distance, however, so these tags can be used as labels around the house, as well, especially with the kinds of baskets and tins and other vintage containers that don’t readily broadcast their contents.

[Image by A Sort of Fairy Tale, used with attribution]

You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

4. Playing Card Bunting

I’m pretty sure that you already know that I’m obsessed with bunting. I’ve crafted denim bunting, paper bunting, and holiday-themed bunting from nearly every material that I can think of, but never had I thought to create a playing card bunting until I saw this upcycled playing card bunting tutorial from No Time for Flash Cards.

A playing card bunting works for a variety of different party themes, or anything with a red or black color scheme. To mix it up, you can craft your bunting from those souvenir playing cards that you find in tourist traps everywhere, or from tarot cards or other trading cards.

[Image by No Time for Flashcards, used with permission]

You can make some really great things out of old playing cards.

5. Artist Trading Cards

Ready for a little more art mixed in with your craft?

Like Artist Trading Cards, altered playing cards, such as this altered playing card made (with tutorial!) by The Split Stitch, allow you to let your creative license run free with an object purely decorative, but the consistency of always using an upcycled playing card as your base allows you to skip that tedious first step of cutting your base paper down to size. The challenge of figuring out how to incorporate media like watercolors or markers without the ability to just switch papers will make your work even more creative.

[Image by The Split Stitch, used with attribution]

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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