What finish would you suggest for a watercolor deck?


Hi! I've lurked here for a while, just recently got around to posting anything. I sorta stumbled into tarot about September and got interested and started researching and ended up making my own deck. As of right now they are just little watercolor paintings, but the edges are getting a little worrysome looking. Would anyone have a suggestion about a way to finish them so they don't fray totally to shreds? The complications: the deck is already half again as thick as any I have ever seen so lamination is totally out of the question, even if I did like the way it feels. Whatever I use can't smear the paintings in aplication. And I'd rather they not end up any stiffer than they absolutly have to, but that isn't quite such a big deal.

I've thought about trying to print copies but would have to go through someone else to get it done as my little printer won't handle anything bigger than heavy typing paper. That's a lot of talking to strangers for poor shy little me - I like the feel of the originals - I am a poor broke college student and if there is some easier way to protect them that would be good.

Thank you all for any suggestions you might be able to make!
Thank you for creating this space in which I can ask my questions!



Color xerox can make copies for you, but I don't know how true the color would be (same problem with scanned art on the computer, unfortunately). My sig. other plays around with watercolor on a miniature basis, he's used a spray acrylic to help protect the surface, but I don't think it would stop the edges from fraying, the spray isn't that thick.

Have you tried asking around on an art bulletin board where people specialize in watercolor? They might have some better suggestions because they work with the medium all the time.

Do up a test painting with the watercolors you use, and try some sprays out--that way you're not ruining any good art.

I can't find the spray can he uses, but it's a spray acrylic, clear, and cost about $5. An art supply store maybe can help you out too.


Bye the way, you can probably get a new printer for less than the cost of laminating. If you don't have all the equipment to scan, goof with, and print your artwork, you should get it as soon as you can. Indispensable.


If I where you, DEFINATELY make copies.
read with the copied cards....
Use a spray suggested{for the originals}...that won't make your paint run.
now the edges....if the copies are thin, you could use wide clear tape back and front, and a thin strip of tape folded over the edges. With thicker stock you might try white glue. Thin it a little, dip just the edges, let it soak in for bit and then remove the excess. I'd do one edge, let it dry before doing another, that way you can prop the wet edge up and the card won't glue itself to the table...


I just made color copies of my watercolor for Aeclectic. My color copies look MUCH BETTER than my original, the colors shine and glow on the copy. VERY HAPPY.


Absolutely: scan, then print onto photo paper (you'll be very happy with the results, I'm sure), then laminate.

Save your original artwork, and save the scan information as well.


A little secret--if photo paper is too expensive, look for 'brochure paper' which is much less in price & has the same glossy surface. I know artists who print on that & save themselves some dollars.


A solution of sorts. A conclusion at least.

Well, the art people were not helpful at all. All the ones I talked to suggested buying plastic sleeves. As if lamination wasn't bulky enough! At least it would stick to the cards, not slide all over.

I'm still enchanted with the texture of watercolor paper. Untill I can find a paper that heavy and textured that will go through my printer, I will probably continue to use the origonals. The part of me that has actually listened through all those art classes I've taken is shouting "Frayed edges are beautiful! That's the natural decay of the paper! When one becomes unusable, you know it's time to make a new one! Think of all the MEANING in the waterspots and rips they will eventually pick up!" I am attempting to ignore that part and at least make a slight effort to be logical.

However, I will be scanning the cards and experimenting with brochure paper and a few other kinds of paper I've got laying around my room. And the white glue idea intrigues me.

Thanks all again for the ideas and encouragement!


Oh! OH! On the white glue along the edges, be careful of humid days, that glue is water soluble & will get tacky (ie: stick together) on days that have a lot of humidity to them. Maybe don't do the glue or try it out first on something else, just to be safe! Even if you're not going to take them outdoors, the last thing you want is your deck sticking together by accident because of the weather.


Hi Eissej,

Congratulations on de-lurking... that's a huge step! Glad you're with us.

You might try something I've been considering for just this sort of thing (though with printed photographic cards). I've been thinking that using an aerosol polyurethane coating. You should try it on a piece of the same paper your cards are painted on... you can just put a few smears of paint on the paper to see how the paint will react with the polyurethane. Do a light coat, allow it to dry, then do a light coat on the back and allow it to dry. Continue doing this for several coats. It should allow the cards to remain relatively flexable and protect both the paper and the paint.

Spray cans of polyurethane are available at most hardware stores which sell paint and varnish and those sorts of things. They arean't terribly expensive, $4 or $5 for a can.

Please post a report of how this works if you give it a try.