Beginners Deck Creation - Finish Suggestion?



I am new to learning Tarot. In process I have decided to make my first deck to my preference. Also to learn about the cards as I labor through the 78 cards creation.

I am making a poker sized black and white 1893 Vacchetta deck. Very basic print attached to a adhesive card stock. What is a good finish to protect the ink and make the cards easy to shuffle?

I was thinking of simply using transparent contact paper to protect the ink. Although that would seem tacky and hard to shuffle. I am not sure.

Thank You


Don't use contact paper on one side and not the other or it will curl.

Personally I use a hot laminator.


Clear contact paper will make the deck too thick to shuffle, you're doing 78 or 156 layers added to the card stock thickness.

And yes, it'll make them curl. Try a practice series of 10 blank cards, the 2" wide clear packing tape laid over each side MAY be thinner, but even that's not going to be ideal.


Just a thought, how about a clear spray on varnish on both sides?


I would scan it when completed and print with gamecrafter?:))
(they have best price and quality/ linen finish+UV coating!^^
and you are in US so their shipping is good!^^:)))
feel free to ask if you need any help!^^


Acrylic Lacquer Spray, Automotive, Clear Gloss. (With usual precautions, well-ventilated area, use a face mask etc.)


ps: colour laser print on the textured side of linen cover stock produces a real nice coat that might* be sufficient as is (inkjet though definitely needs further treatment, e.g., a clear gloss acrylic lacquer spray).

However, at 65lb it produces too thick a card using the above method, a 24lb linen paper backing gives a decent thickness, register by eye using a light box.

(For a major arcana 65lb linen cover stock for both back and front is OK, but far too thick for a full deck.)

For this method you just use the two sheets, one with the printed fronts and one for the backs (i.e., no black card middle).


* Toner can flake over time, especially black, so for extra durability & protection a spray of clear coat is probably still advisable.


However, at 65lb it produces too thick a card using the above method, a 24lb linen paper backing gives a decent thickness, register by eye using a light box.

Though a certain thickness might be OK if reproducing a historical deck, in which case the soap and stone polishing might be an appropriate method of finishing?

The old fashioned way of manufacturing cards was to paste (a basic flour water paste, I think) one or two thin brown papers between two sheets of playing card paper (of two different types, not sure what the differences were. The brown paper in the middle is to make the final card opaque).

I am not too sure about the exact procedure for the soap finish, but from what I can make out from an 18th century french description of playing card making, the uncut sheet is heated up on a flat plate over a stove, first one side then the other (the bottom should be hotter than the top?), then a thickish felt rubber. the width of the sheet, is passed over a slab of dry soap then over the sheet, first the top side and then the bottom. Then, while it is still hot, it is polished with a smooth concave stone, somewhat more vigorously on the back side than the front. The sheets are then pressed for a while to make them flat before cutting.

Sounds a bit risky to me, but perhaps one could soap a couple of cloths, place the sheet between them and iron them on each side to heat up the cards and permeate the soap (similar to how one would waterproof cardboard with paraffin wax)? Or alternatively, heat up the sheet with an iron (with a cloth to protect it), then apply the soap with felt cloth?

Not too sure of the process or how pleasing (or not) the results. I believe Bertrand Saint-Guillain used a soap and polishing stone process to finish his cards -- perhaps he can explain the process and materials more fully?

(I know this technique is probably too laborious for your needs, still, it would be interesting to know more about the technique and resulting qualities of the finish.)


the soap finish has to be light, the soap was more acting as a lubricant between the polishing stone and the paper than as a varnish, although part of it indeed adhered to the card to give a slightly glossy faded finish on new cards, but early magic tricks book described how a card could be modified by passing a saliva wet finger on a three of heart to erase a heart make an ambiguous card (for instance a three/ace card depending which part of the card is shown as in this example) - that's how light the print and finish were.