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Accordion cards are exactly what the name implies. Traditionally, they are cards that are created using vertical folds, and these folds look like the musical instrument, thus the name "accordion." It is possible to make a less-traditional version using horizontal folds. Accordion cards, like the instrument, can be closed so that the panels created by the folds are not totally visible, or they can be pulled open and put on display, allowing the individual panels to be seen. This feature also makes it possible for the card to be mailed easily. If it has many panels, this card can also be called an accordion book. Either way, these cards have the same basic format.
Accordion cards are not only fun to make but also have several other positive features. Due to their multiple panels, there is a larger decorating surface so one can decorate to her heart's content. Accordion cards can be made in various sizes, not just in length but also in height and width. Various materials are appropriate for creating these cards, which adds to its versatility. Text-weight paper, plain or printed cardstock, tags and even index dividers can all be used. There are even techniques for creating pockets!
At one time, making an accordion-style card was more labor intensive. However, with the scoring tools, boards and even die templates that are available today, the process is simple. There are a variety of choices when it comes to scoring tools. The list is not huge, but there are a few tools that you will want to have on hand.
The most basic method is to use a scoring tool such as a bone folder or an embossing stylus, a metal-edge ruler and grid-style cutting mat. The cutting mat not only helps with forming sharp score lines, but it also helps when it comes to getting precise measurements, which is important in making an accordion card.
Another method involves the use of a paper trimmer that has a recess where the blade slides. In this case, simply line up the paper to the desired measurement and run a bone folder or stylus along the recessed cutting area from the top to the bottom. There are also scoring blades available for this type of trimmer. It is advisable to test the pressure required for the specific paper that is being used prior to scoring to alleviate any unwanted cutting of the paper. A rotary-style paper trimmer with a scoring blade is another option that works equally as well.
Many crafters use scoring boards to score and fold cards. These are also a perfect choice for creating accordion cards. They are available at many craft stores and are produced by a variety of manufacturers such as Scor-Pal Products, Martha Stewart, Stampin' Up and Zutter.
Probably the newest tool to use in the making of accordion cards are specially designed die templates. These are used in conjunction with a die-cutting system such as the Big Shot, Cuttlebug or Grand Calibur. Again, there are a variety of styles and manufacturers. Elizabeth Craft Designs have a selection by Karen Burniston that includes an accordion oval, circle and fancy label die templates. The Sizzix Bigz die, also by Karen Burniston, and the AccuCut accordion album die templates are other great options. Always, follow the manufacturer's instructions for the type of system and die template being used.
Creating Accordion Cards
The basic form of an accordion card involves cutting a strip of cardstock or paper, and then scoring the cardstock at desired intervals in order to create the folds. A basic accordion card can easily be made with regular 8 1/2 x 11 or 12-inch cardstock. Several panels can be made without the use of a larger specialty size of cardstock simply by using a hinge system. Using a hinge system is a great technique and one that allows for many panels to be joined. This hinge is simply a strip of the same cardstock that is cut to the height of the accordion card and folded in half. Then each end is cut on an angle.
Pocket accordion cards or books are a fun alternative, allowing for little tags or inclusions to be placed inside. One of the easiest ways to complete this style is to work with a text-weight stationery, scrapbook paper or even Chiyogami paper (it folds easily and usually without any cracking of the paper). Simply score and fold the bottom edge of the paper upward to the desired depth of pocket. Then create the accordion effect by completing the vertical folds. If using text-weight paper it is a good idea to create covers cut from cardstock in order to make the card or book sturdier.
As mentioned previously, there are various materials that may be used to create accordion cards. Tags are a great choice! Individual shipping or die-cut tags or even the ones referred to as "gang" tags, which are attached in a couple of spots, all work wonderfully. An accordion effect can be achieved with individual tags by adhering them together with a small piece of tape just to hold in place. Then choose a decorative paper and adhere a cut or torn strip across the tags. Repeat on the opposite side to ensure the tags will be secure. Finish by scoring in between each tag using a scoring tool. Now the base is ready to decorate!
Keep your eyes open for interesting materials to use. Designer Lori Brofsky made use of two 8 x 5-inch manila index card dividers to create the base for this lovely accordion-card project! She simply scored and folded the dividers in half and then adhered them together by overlapping one panel. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration Lori!
My final suggestion and inspiration photo is about creating an accordion card using a die template. The template used here is from Elizabeth Craft Designs by Karen Burniston. With this template I was able to create not just an accordion card, but one with the effect of floating inner circles. The effect looks complicated, however, with the use of the die template it was definitely simple. Each panel is separate, and the beauty is that the base of each panel is made with the die. One swipe through the machine and the square frame, inner circle and the scored hinge is generated. The panels are then adhered together by applying tape to the hinge area. Voila! The accordion base is done!
The rest involves decorating the panels of which companion die-templates are also included to assist with this. Then adhere the circle portions in a couple of strategic assembly spots, and it is finished! Can you tell I had fun with this new tool? Yes, I most certainly did! I hope you, too, will have loads of fun creating accordion cards with any method that you choose.