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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tri-Shutter Research

As I mentioned last week, I LOVE making different shaped/folded cards.  This one is called a tri-shutter card (among other things) and its construction is described here. This was my first attempt at making this type of card and the experience was certainly different than I expected!  I figured the hard part would be figuring out how to cut and fold the card correctly.  I was wrong.  The tutorial made that part pretty easy.

The hard part was figuring out how to decorate all those panels and end up with something that looked decent!!!!  It's very easy to either end up with something so busy your eye doesn't know where to look first, or to have something so plain it's boring (which is what MY card is in danger of - I wish I had at least added some thin blue borders running vertically on the sides of the smaller undecorated panels).  If you count what I've done here, you will see that there are 13 panels in all.  Even assuming some of them can be left plain as I did here, there are still plenty of panels left to create a challenge!  (However, if you find yourself running out of panels, you can make a "tri-shutter album" with extra panels, or make it easier on yourself with fewer panels. For examples of these types, check out the Split-Coast Stampers Gallery.)

It's difficult to see in my picture, but the middle panel is not just decorative paper.  It is a written sentiment.  I DID like the way the scoring on the dark blue panels turned out, but would rather not have resorted to using quite so many stickers.

I decided to do a search for these cards and take a look at what others have done.  I wanted to analyze the decorating techniques that I liked the best so I could better know how to approach these in the future.  This is what I discovered:

Panel Coverings:
  • Mat your panels.  At the very least, leave a border of the base cardstock around each one to give a matted look.  (Oh good, I did that!)  Better yet, mat them AND leave a border giving a double-matted look!
  • In addition to matting, stitching (or faux stitching) around the panel edges can create a nice look.
  • Divide panels as you choose.  The front (and back) of the card can be treated as one panel, or as three like I did.  You can divided it differently by covering the top or bottom third with a different paper.  There are lots of options.
  • Easy does it! Don't get so carried away that your card turns into a hodge-podge of different papers.  You want a cohesive look.  I saw examples where most panels were covered with the same decorative paper (with a border left where the background cardstock showed through), with a few panels not covered at all, and one or two covered in a plain color that matched the base color of the patterned paper.  I also saw some striking cards that used only two decorative papers.  Here's one example.  It uses one patterned paper sort of like a frame around the other. Another used the same patterned paper for the entire front and back panels and the middle one - and then a single contrasting paper to cover all the remaining panels.  Here is a similar one made with 3 papers for the panels. In this case the front and back panels use the same paper (though the back panel is split into 2 parts), the middle panel of the top and bottom sections of the card use a 2nd paper, and the 3rd paper is used for the five remaining areas.
  • Choose your patterns carefully.  While it IS possible to create a mixture of fairly loud patterned papers that looks good, most of the best examples use more subtle patterns for the panel papers - the more decorative papers you use on a single card, the more careful you have to be about this.  Make it easy on yourself and use paper sets that were DESIGNED to go together!
  • Consider adding plain colored panels - they can be really striking when they add just the right spot of color.  They are especially striking when embossed with a special pattern or scored in a decorative way.
  • Pull it all together - matting your embellishments can help bring all the colors together or add another spot of a particular color if needed. 
  • You can't have too much dimension - don't forget to use foam tape if you want to add more dimension to your card! I really hadn't thought of doing this - probably since the card is already very 3-dimensional.  However, some of the cards I saw that did this were really nice.
  • Think outside the "panel".  It's amazing the way adding an element that goes beyond the boundaries of the panel it is attached to really helps make these cards pop.  Whether it's just that the front of the card has a matted element that goes beyond the boundaries of the front panel, or that the card has several embellishments that extend beyond the panels they are on (like the butterflies in this card) thinking outside the panel certainly adds interest!
  • Don't forget the ribbon.  Ribbon running across a panel - especially with a bow - can add a really nice touch.
  • Patterned paper CAN be all the embellishment you need for some panels.  I saw several examples of this. A large decorative sentiment on the front, another on the smaller section of the back panel (where it won't be seen until the card is opened) and perhaps space on the middle panel for a personal message can be all that's needed if you choose the right papers for the rest of the panels (perhaps adding a bit of ribbon or something simple on the panel directly below the middle one.  See this example).  Other cards used a variety of different patterns of paper in the same basic colors - matted with the same color - for the smaller panels, creating the look of framed "pictures" that were all the decoration that was needed.
  • If you don't want to leave your panel plain, you can add stripes or punched borders of a coordinating solid color.
  • Use embossing folders with solid colors.  This might be all the decoration you need, or you might choose to add some color to highlight the embossing.
  • Use a card topper!  A matted card topper can make a GREAT focal for the front of the card and usually helps you "think outside the panel" in the process.  Here's a nice one. And be sure to use your decorative dies for cutting your mat for your topper - definitely adds interest.
  • Embellishments that fit the theme help pull the card together.  For instance, I saw a card that used "icicle" borders very effectively on some of the panels to coordinate with the snowy scene used as a card topper on the front of the card. Check it out here.
Well, that's enough research for one day.  What tips do YOU have for decorating these cards nicely?


Crafty Patti said...

Wow Cheryl, this is a very nice tutorial, you have put a lot of time and thought into it. looks great i like the links of other blogs i need to learn how to do all that, Patti

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Patti. It took quite a long time to put this post together, but I was wanting the info for myself and this gives me a place to refer to for my own work, too! :D