A low cost approach to making cards, and if you really get the weaving bug, you can make enough to keep several projects on the go at once! You can use plastic or cardboard, or even 1/32″ plywood. I upcycle plastic because it’s durable and free. I’m not too worried about the authenticity of the material my cards are made of, because I do most of my weaving at home.
Before getting started, lets have a look at some originals. The picture below is of weaving cards held by the Cultural History Museum in Norway. They were found in a viking age burial mound at Oseberg (if I’m understanding correctly). Even taking the perspective of the picture into account, the cards are all slightly different sizes. Looking at each card individually, it cannot be described as a perfect square, and the holes are not at exactly the same distance from each corner. Comparing different cards, the distance of holes from corners varies even more. This leads me to conclude that it is absolutely ok to be ‘good enough’ when making your own cards. As long as the cards you make are comfortable for you to use, they don’t have to be identical or perfect.
- Plastic tubs with flat lids, bases and/or sides. The tub pictured is a 2kg catering margarine tub. The plastic is about 0.7mm thick. You could also use plastic chocolate tubs found in supermarkets at Christmas. Heroes, Celebrations, Roses & Quality street all work well, and the plastic is about 1mm thick. Square ice-cream tubs are another alternative.
- Kitchen shears, or a large pair of scissors with a comfort grip handle. Actually any pair of largish scissors will do, but if you want to make a lot of cards, you’ll notice the difference!
- Corner cutters are completely optional. You can round corners using kitchen shears/scissors. I prefer the crop-a-dile heavy duty ‘corner chomper’, because it gives a good result in one go, rather than taking 3 (or more) scissor cuts to produce a similar effect. I bought this when I started making lots of cards.
- Hole punch. If you’re only making a few cards, stick with a basic hole punch from any stationers. I have a little single hole punch I used for ages before I invested in the crop-a-dile 1/8in+3/16in heavy duty punch. I bought the crop-a-dile because I prefer to use smaller holes than a standard paper punch produces, and it deals well with heavier plastics. It’s also easier on the hands when making lots of cards.
- A scoring/scribing tool or a ballpoint pen. I used the point of a compass for this set of white cards, but you can use an engineer’s or carpenter’s scriber instead. Or, use a ballpoint pen and press hard!
- A metal ruler. Any rigid ruler will do. I use metal, because it stands up to accidental scratches from the scriber.
- Wash the plastic if necessary, then using the kitchen shears, cut away all the unusable plastic from your chosen tub(s) and set it aside. You should now have a small pile of flat plastic pieces.
- Mark and cut out your card blanks.
- Using a scoring tool or a ballpoint pen, mark each plastic piece with as many squares as will fit on it. Those pictured are about 50mm (2in) square, which is my preferred tablet/card size.
- Cut away excess plastic and set aside. You may want it for practice later.
- Cut out individual squares.
- Round off the corners. Don’t leave them pointed. They could be a bit sharp and catch your threads while weaving.
- Either use scissors to trim each corner. Make 1 cut first, then 2 smaller cuts on the wider angles from the first cut.
- Or use the 1/4in side of a crop-a-dile corner chomper to round each corner off in one go.
- Add holes. I’d suggest practising on some of the spare bits of plastic you set aside earlier, before starting on your rounded card blanks. Decide on how far from the corner you want the holes to be. If you’re using a crop-a-dile hole punch, there’s a handy guide you can set to this distance, so you can get a reasonably consistent placement.
- Wash the cards to remove any lingering traces of plastic dust, ink etc.
- If the edges of your cards feel too rough, and the cards are plastic, you may want to wet sand them really gently with fine grit wet-n-dry sandpapers. (Dry sand if you used plywood.) For the holes, try wrapping a small piece of your sandpaper round a toothpick or bbq skewer. (I freely admit I usually skip sanding, because I think the cards I’ve made are ok without it.)
You now have a set of cards that’ll last through years of tablet weaving projects. Have fun!