Monday, April 24, 2023

StencilGirl® Altered Playing Cards Collaboration

Hello!  Tina Walker here today with my latest Column post for Collaborations - Altered Playing Cards!

This is a collaboration I have been wanted to do for a long time, but the task of altering FIFTY TWO CARDS was a bit daunting.  But I embraced the fear and figured it was time to JUST GO FOR IT!

So 7 other artists + myself took the challenge head on and created an amazing grouping of altered playing card projects.  I didn't really know what to expect when I said the words 'alter 52 playing cards', but I was so happy to see the breadth of creative ideas and the inspiration that came from those 4 simple words.

Let's get right to the results of the challenge.


Here's what Ann had to say about her project, she titled 'The Hands We Are Dealt'.

"I altered a deck of Bicycle "Bourbon" playing cards to create an interactive handmade book. Within the book I have included inspirational quotes based on playing cards, spinning elements and of course stenciling!"

Stencils Used:

StencilClub April 2022


Here's what Kerry had to say about her project, she titled, 'Open-Ended Prompt Journal'.

"Since I love making books, I made a book as my altered deck project.  Instead of each card being its own page, I made pages out of 9 cards.  The backs of the cards are completely decorated with many colors and stencils. On the fronts of each card is a different word--all found in various SG stencils as well. I've interspersed coordinating blank pages for journaling.  The idea is to grab a few of the words on the page and let them prompt you into writing a journal entry about a memory, a story, a poem, anything goes."  

Stencils Used:

Emotions and Feelings

Fridge Poetry

Wall of Words


Here's what Martha had to say about her project.

"This wall hanging was inspired by the theme of the four seasons. I tried to use paint colors that represented each season. I collaged and stenciled on paper that I attached to the cards. I’ve never done a project like this before. I learned some things I would do differently next time but overall I’m pleased with the way it turned out."

Stencils Used:

Windswept Tree

Collage Textures and Patterns

Organic Roots


Here's what Michele had to say about her 'Words of Affirmation' book.

"I have been thinking a bit about the life experience I want to share with my high school aged nieces, one of which will be a senior next year.  I created this book for her with words to live by.  What a perfect collaboration to make this tiny book full of such important reminders."

Stencils Used:

Vintage Typewriter

Jumbo Vintage Typewriter

Wall of Words


Here's what Shannon had to say about here project.

"Altered playing cards provide the perfect base for projects worked in parts—just what I needed while traveling and short sessions in my studio. I used my collection of Stencilgirl stencils for both inspiration and cohesiveness since this project involved altering a whole deck. I love all the botanic and organic patterns in many of my Stencilgirl stencils. So, I chose a botanic theme for my deck. With four suits of cards, I decided to use hand drawn and painted focal images appropriate for each season. Stencils and color provided cohesive background textures to pull each seasonal group together."

Stencils Used:

Twisted Forest

MB CM Patterns

Ripples Organic


Here's what Dana has to say about her project.

"I was excited to participate in this challenge because I have never altered a deck of cards. I decided to use chipboard playing cards from Creative Embellishments as the base for my artwork. I prefer the matte finish and strength of chipboard over the material of a traditional deck of cards. I chose beautiful art deco inspired stencil designs for the back of my cards and stencils with large, easily recognizable designs for the front. I decorated each suit separately for variety, and because I couldn't narrow down my stencil choice any further! I may use these cards in some way in a future project, but for now, I'm enjoying them as they are."


Stencils Used:


Art Deco Wallpaper

Art Deco Sunburst


Here's what Tracy has to say about her project.

"I was intrigued with the idea of altering an entire deck of cards. Then panic set in! I had about 4 different projects going in case they didn't work out, but finally set on doing a doll! I absolutely love how she came out, creepy face and all!"


Stencils Used:

StencilClub Feb 2018

Zen Landscape



I took the more literal route and altered a complete set of playing cards, with the intent that you could still use the cards to play with.  My own twist was that the deck was shaped as a circle.  

I started with a deck I found at a local antique store and thought a round deck would be super fun to alter.  I covered both sides of each card with a quick layer of white spray paint to cover the original details.  

I really wanted to create an abstract, stenciled look for the backsides of the cards, so I had a gelli print session, using alcohol inks and some of my favorite stencils.

Stencils Used:

Trillium Pattern

Words to live by

Web Stencil

StencilClub March 2018

 Instead of the traditional black and red color palette, I opted for blue and red.

For the front side of each card, I wanted a semi-traditional look, with the standard NUMBER and SUIT shown.  I used several sheets of the manufactured Stencil Guts, that were various types of numbers.  (Unfortunately, they are no longer available - if you want to see them back in stock, be sure to comment below ;)).

A quick spray of black spray paint made this part of the creative process super quick and easy.

(for the non-number cards, I stenciled a 'J', 'Q', and 'K' from a letter stencil set and cut them out.

To finish off the front, I first painted the open space with watercolors, then used several hand-carved stamps for the card suits (diamond, heart, spade, and club) and a circular stamp for the edge.

I am thrilled with the finished deck and I love that I can actually use them for a game of cards.

Here's a quick flip through of the entire deck!  Enjoy!

Till next time!



  1. I loved hearing about this collaborative project. The ideas were so varied & inspirational! Thanks for putting it in a story with a direct link, that was really helpful! 😘

  2. I love the round cards!! Please bring back the Stencil Guts!!!!

  3. Another fun and inspiring collaboration - thank you, Tina!!


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