Decoder Card

by Shirley Durell

Hide a secret message with this decoder card.


  • White Cardstock

  • Red Cellophane

  • Canvas Background Stamp, or other mesh looking background stamp

  • Ink in Red and Light Blue (Real Red and Bashful Blue used here; Certainly Celery works well, too)

  • 1 1/4" Circle Punch

  • Scallop Circle Punch

  • 1/8" Circle Punch

  • Circle Cutting Tool (to cut cellophane to 1 3/8")

  • Two-Way Glue

  • Ribbon


  1. Step 1

    To create a decoder piece, cut two identical-sized pieces of white cardstock.

    Punch a 1 1/4" circle from one, then match corners with the second sheet and punch again so the circle is in the same position on both pieces of cardstock.

  2. Step 2

    Center the scalloped circle punch over the cut out circle and punch.

  3. Match up the corners of both papers and use this as a guide to punch the second scalloped circle to ensure that the two finished pieces are a match even if they are a little off-center.

  4. Step 3

    Line the two scalloped circle pieces up and punch a 1/8" hole for your ribbon.

  5. Step 4

    Cut a 1 3/8" circle from cellophane with a Coluzzle™ circle template.

  6. Step 5

    Use Two-Way glue to adhere the cellophane circle to one of the scalloped circles.

  7. Glue the second scalloped circle over top, carefully aligning the ribbon hole as well as the scallops.

  8. Step 6

    Add ribbon to the decoder piece, leaving enough ribbon to reach the secret message on your card.

  9. Step 7

    For the secret message, stamp words or an outline image on white cardstock using light blue ink.

    Ink the canvas background with red ink and stamp over the top of the image or message stamped in blue.

  10. Hints:
    Fine lined images will show through the background less, making it harder to read without the decoder piece.

    Hand write a message using a light blue marker for a more personal touch.

  11. Step 8

    Finish your card.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Decoder Card. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Oh, this is AWESOME!! How very clever you are!! I was wondering ~ where can you find red cellophane? Thanks for the inspiration!! I cannot wait to make this for my grandaughter!! Judy
Judy  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 3:15 AM
This would be perfect for SU kids months starting August 1st. This would be a good project for kids or parents to make for the kids.
Linda Henry  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:11 AM
That is neat! And I also was wondering where you get red cellophane?
Cyndee  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM
I have tried this using red cellophane and had zero luck. I have not however tried the canvas background...which I do not have. I copied the technique from the Stampin Success and brayered over my image in blue ink, I think. Do you have any other ideas of what you can cover it with besides the canvas background? The cellophane I used was in a roll like wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby, pretty inexpensive too.
I love, love the idea of the flower as the decoder...great job on the card!! smile
Kimberly  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:24 AM
How is the scallop part adhered to the secret message circle?
Neat card
cheerios  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:27 AM
This is so so awesome! Great tutorial and this is a must try card. Thanks so much for sharing. Your card is just amazing and inspiring.
Stampin Fanatic  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:35 AM
Great tutorial and ingenious project! Thank you! For those looking for red cellophane, colored cellophane can often be found on rolls at gift wrap or party supply places.
JulieHRR  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 10:33 AM
Great card. I saw this technique in the Stampin Success magazine. Nice Job.
Cindy  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 10:37 AM
You should try brayering in Red not blue.
Rita  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 2:18 PM
Hi! Thank-you for your comments!

I had read this technique in my Stampin' Success but was frustrated with the words showing through with the solid red being brayered on top. I think having both the white and the red make it harder for the eyes to see the blue. (That's when I grabbed my Canvas BG.)

At this time, I don't know of another stamp that would cover evenly enough to produce the same results. I had tried a few things but have not come up with anything that works as well. If you find something that works, please share! : )
Shirley  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 2:54 PM
When I was teaching Kindergarten, the students had this type of hidden letter activities in their workbooks. We used red acetate instead of red cellophane to read the letters. It has more body and worked great.
K. Calkins  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 4:38 PM
Shirley, this card is adorable! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I am wondering where to purchase the scalloped circle punch. I am brand new to this site, and hope this kind of question is appropriate. Thanks for any help you can provide. Chris
Chris  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 8:12 PM
Hi Chris! One of the reasons I enjoy this site is because we can as questions! Stampin' Up! sells the Scalloped Circle punch, but to be honest, you could use any shape you want ~ with or without scallops. The sky is the limit!
Shirley  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 9:05 PM
oh my this is ingenius! How cute is this?
Erica aka msdaiquiri  |  Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 6:53 AM
I LOVE this idea! This is the first fresh idea I have seen in awhile here-great job!
Tanya aka tanya27  |  Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 12:40 PM
If you don't have a canvas stamp, try a stamp that is just little dots repeated over and over. I did the same card and used the Polka Dot stamp set from SU Sale-A-Bration catalog. Worked great. I tried the brayer technique as well but struggled to find the right balance between too much and too little. I also think this is a great project for the upcoming kids promotion.
Charity Lawson  |  Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 3:03 PM
This is so cute and creative!! Thanks for your awesome tutorial, Shirley!!
Rose Ann  |  Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:40 AM
Hi! I was just talking to a friend who works at Michaels and she said they carry red cellophane in their basket/giftwrap area.
Shirley  |  Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 1:20 PM
I didn't have red acetate so I took clear acetate and colored it with a red permanent marker and it worked!
bensarmom  |  Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 5:20 PM
You can use a small background stamp such as Stampin' Up's "Itty Bitty Backgrounds" Just stamp it over several times in red till the message is suitably obscured.
Vee  |  Wed Jul 1, 2009 at 7:22 AM

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