Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Making Shaker Cards with the Silhouette - Part One - The Basics

Hello, Janet here again with a post on making shaker cards.

I love shaker cards and I've made many, both with and without my trusty Silhouette. What I love about making shaker cards with the Silhouette is the variety of shapes, sizes and designs that you can make without having to buy any expensive dies.

This is one of two posts on shaker cards. In this post I'm going to discuss the basics of making shaker cards on the Silhouette.  In the next post I'll feature step-by-step tutorials on how to put some cards together (link will be live on 10th November 2016).

Now, if you need a quick shaker card, you'll find that there are a number already in the Store (around 50 or so are included if you search for 'shaker'), but imagine the variety you can make if you use one of the thousands of regular cut designs and design the construction pieces yourself!

I have decided that there are basically two ways of constructing shaker cards. Now, I don't know if they have official names, but I call them Built Out and Hidden Behind shaker cards. Do tell me if you know the 'proper' terminology!

Built Out Shaker Cards

Built Out shaker cards are where you stack layers of card shapes, with an aperture, on to the front of your card base. This makes the depth required for your shaker elements, finishing with an identical shape in a clear material (without an aperture) and topped with a final decorative shape in card.

Here's an example of a Built Out shaker card made with one of the new Baby Postage Stamps in the Silhouette Design Store by Tanya Batrak. You can see the stack of card layers extending out from the card background, creating the space for the shaker materials, the acetate layer trapping the shaker bits and then the decorative top to finish. I'll show you how to construct this card in my next post.

This type of construction suits decorative fronts and also stamped or print & cut shaker backs.

Hidden Behind Shaker Cards

These have a similar stack of shapes with apertures, topped with an clear layer but with the stack hidden behind a card front (with a matching aperture) hiding the stack. The hidden stack can be made from card or foam layers that can be wider and consequently easier to work with and the clear layer need not be cut into a fancy shape, just a piece smaller than the card top and larger than the aperture. The finishing decorative front is often similar in size to the card base and can also be decorated using the Silhouette's print features.


The basic parts of a shaker card are:

  • Card/Decorative Base
  • Card Stack or foam (spacers)
  • Transparent layer
  • Decorative layer
  • Shaker Pieces

I'll suggest materials and supplies for each one in turn.

Card/Decorative Base

The card base needs to be strong so that it doesn't distort. I recommend cardstock or a card blank of at least 300 to 315gsm.

Card Stack

The Silhouette is brilliant at cutting any number of identical pieces for the card stack. The height of the stack and therefore the number of layers depends on the thickness of the card and the size of the shaker pieces (the thicker the card, and fewer the stacking layers are needed). It is advisable to use the minimum of pieces to allow the shaker pieces to move, but only just. I recommend a strong liquid papercrafting glue to adhere the card stack pieces together as the glue spreads to cover most of the sticking surface and ensures a complete adhesion. When dry it also gives the stack a little rigidity which gives the shaker more stability.

Transparent Layer

The transparent layer can be rigid acetate, or a softer plastic if you have a sealing tool. Quite intricate shapes can be cut on the Silhouette when cut with care. I often recycle clear rigid packaging but recommend following the instructions in Nadine's post on Cutting Dense Media to avoid damaging your blade, especially if you've not cut the exact media before.  The picture shows pre-packaged acetate with tissue paper to protect it, but I actually used the clear part of a pizza package for one of my demonstration cards (see if you can guess which one)!

I prefer to adhere the transparent layer to both the stack and the decorative layer with extra-strength double sided tape. Liquid glue can ooze onto the transparent layer and is difficult to remove, not all glues stick acetate successfully and some strong adhesives can distort the card layers. Excess glue can also cause shaker pieces to stick where they shouldn't.

Shaker Pieces

I love the variety of things that can be used as shaker materials; sequins, metallic confetti, glitter, feathers, seed and bugle beads to name but a few. Here is a peek into my treasure chest of precious shaker ingredients!

With a Silhouette you can even cut your own shaker pieces from card if you want a special shape or colour.  Oh, one last tip - in order to prevent the pieces sticking to the edges of the stack or the acrylic face, the aperture can be treated with an anti-static bag or tool.

Now you have all the gen on the techniques and materials, do look out for my step-by-step construction tutorial. It will be posted later this month. If you have any tips and tricks of your own for shaker cards, please add them - comments always welcome!

Bye for now,

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  1. These are really beautiful Janet. I love shaker cards but usually use foam tape to build my layers - am going to try card now.

    1. Thanks Karen. Yes, I use foam too when I'm in a hurry.It works fine for the Hidden Behind type, but the Built Up ones look better in card. Using card has the advantage of making the finished card firmer for either type.

  2. I knew you would do this brilliantly. That's a good point about using card on the front.

    1. Thank you Hilary, I'm just a teeny bit obsessed over shaker cards!