Close to the close: one stage left for the Mark IV Playing cards

Lamp black mixed with glue

Lamp black mixed with flour paste – this is how the black pips are coloured

In common with many others, lockdown gave me an unlooked for opportunity to progress my projects that usually get buried, for months and even years, under everyday demands.

My next step along the road of creating my Mark IV playing cards was to order some stencil card and print the court block onto four sheets of it. Then I ordered in some good quality paper. I’d been planning to use Griffen Mill hand made paper, and had bought in some samples in 2017, but very unfortunately it seems that they closed down in 2018! A friend sent me a link to the Vintage Paper Co based in Orkney and I got hold of some Age Compatible and Pur Grey. The Age Compatible has a nice laid look, and this is what I wanted to use for the printed layer of the cards. The Pur Grey was to make the opaque inner layers, and I still had enough Griffen Mill paper to make the plain backs. Just enough  –  there was  no spare, and therefore no wiggle room for any mistakes.

It was a long job to glue the four layers of paper together to make ‘past-board’. Perhaps it was not necessary but I did it layer by layer: first the two inner layers, then the backs, finally the fronts including the printed courts. Each time, after gluing we put the sheets into a press and left them overnight. I found that the best way to avoid wrinkling as the sheets dried, was to take a tip from papermakers and layer the sheets with white woollen blankets. There was a bit of wrinkling when I layered only with paper and one of them was so bad that I had to soak it to separate and start again. That in itself took a day, so the whole process took over a week. But finally it was done.

Next the courts were coloured, followed by the pips.

Mark IV Yellow colour added

The first colour on is yellow

Mark IV red and blue colours added

Red and blue colours added and drying

Mark IV colours completed

The uncut court sheet with all colours added

Just this week I’ve cut the first pack.

Mark IV Cards 1st Pack

The completed cards

And now all that remains is to make a new wrapper. I think that many cards may have been sold in quite disposable packaging, especially in an upper class gambling scenario where the cards might well have been used just once to ensure that they could not be marked. However I’d like to make a nice box for them as well as the historic wrapper, so that they are better protected and have a longer life.

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