Mechanical Iris

by Melanie Schulenberg

Create a card with an interactive window.


  • Cardstock

  • Paper Trimmer

  • Punches, 1" circle punch, 1 1/4" circle punch, Scalloped Circle Punch as well as decorative punches

  • Paper Piercing tool and mat

  • Sticky Strip, or other strong adhesive

  • Stamps


  1. Step 1

    Print Mechanical Iris template onto Pool Party cardstock. Cut and score according to template directions.

    Revised Mechanical Iris Template

  2. Step 2

    Attach glue dots to the 3 crosshairs on the circular ring. Line up the shutter around the ring and attach the ‘TAIL END OF THE SHUTTER ONLY’ to the glue dot. The crosshairs on the circular ring should line up with the crosshairs on the tail in of the shutters. The inner curve of the shutters should be turned toward the center of the large circle.

  3. Step 3

    Make sure the arrow-shaped ends of the shutters are free to move (not adhered to the ring).

  4. Step 4

    Bend the arrow sides.

  5. Step 5

    Turn the ring over and place the arrows inside the base of the template with the large hole in the middle and three slots along the outer rim.

  6. Step 6

    Turn over the template and open up the arrow tabs so they are flush against the cardstock.

  7. Step 7

    Twist and turn the iris to make sure it’s turning properly. It takes a few twist to get used to the grooves.

  8. Step 8

    Place patterned paper on the front of the card with temporary adhesive. Open the lid and use a pen to trace the inner circle onto the patterned paper.

  9. Step 9

    Use a paper trimmer to cut the patterned paper in half along the center of the circle. You simply want to cut the circle in half.

    An alternative to cutting the inner circles with an exacto or on the cutting tool is to use framelits or dies that match the size of the circle.

  10. Step 10

    Use a 1 1/4" circle punch and remove the circle sections from the top and bottom of the patterned paper.

  11. Step 11

    Reattach to front of card using adhesive, making sure to center the circle back in place.

  12. Step 12

    Create a scallop circle with a hole in the middle.

    To center the hole properly, first create a hole using the 1" circle punch, then place the circle scallop over the 1" circle and then punch. Use paper piercing tool to create small holes around each scallop. Attach scallop to front of card.

  13. Step 13

    Use decorative punches to create embellishments.

  14. Step 14

    Create an arm for the iris by using the scrap left from the template. Cut a 4" x 1' strip. Score in the middle along the length. Cut about 1/4" – 1/2" from the top on the score side. This will allow you to open the arm and attach it to the wheel. Turn the iris so the shutters are closed.

  15. Step 15

    Open the two sides of the arm and attach it to the ‘WHEEL ONLY”. Make sure you don’t attach it to any of the shutters. Also make sure that the top of the arm does not extend into the inner circle.

  16. Step 16

    Attach a 4" square of neutral cardstock to the back of the card with temporary adhesive, covering the shutter tabs.

  17. Step 17

    Turn card over, close front cover and scribble/mark inside the inner scallop onto the neutral colored cardstock. Remove the cardstock from back of card.

  18. Step 18

    Punch a 1 1/4" neutral colored cardstock circle and stamp desired image onto the punched circle. Sponge the edges and attach this 1 1/4" circle to cover the scribble/mark you previously made. Reattach the neutral colored layer to the back of the card with permanent ink.

  19. Step 19

    Open the card and attach two strips of Sticky Strip along the sides of the card. Be sure to leave the base of the card open for the handle to move back and forth.

  20. Step 20

    Here is the card with the iris closed.

  21. Here is the card with the iris open.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Mechanical Iris. 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.

Wow what a fantastic idea, will definitely be trying this technique.
Vicki Lea  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 3:15 AM
Ingenious! Thanks! grin
Susi McDonald  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 3:27 AM
Wow! This is a card that should be adored by anyone with photographic tendencies - almost as good as a real camera aperture! And let's face it, if the recipient was a photographer, a photograph in the center of the aperture would be fantastic. Great idea - thank you.
Bridget Keenor  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 AM
It is a complicated pattern to follow, but well worth the time and effort for your special someone!!
Cynthia Tuttle  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 5:21 AM
Thank you for this idea. I love action cards and I diffently will do this one.
Gloria  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 6:24 AM
Amazing! Thanks for taking the time to make this tutorial. Very cool!
Kris  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 7:11 AM
WOW!!! That is great. I'll definitely try that one!
Betty  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 7:34 AM
Thanks for sharing this great card and tutorial. I will definitely be making some of these for special friends.
Marie0112  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 9:12 AM
Why I wonder did you use a glue dot and not small paper brads to hold the shutter to the circle? Will not the glue dots stiffen over time and the shutter become unusable? I'm guessing that the torque on the glue dots isn't a problem, at least for the present. Just wondering!
Lynn Wynn  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 9:59 AM
holy cow - thats neat!!
Roseanne Ricke  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Love this video. My son is a photographer and I must make him a camera card. Thanks sharing.
Irene Bottoms  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 11:39 AM
This is so adorable! I gave it a try, but the template prints out smaller than the measurements listed. I could measure on my own for most things, but I don't know where to mark the crosshair marks and the arms would be larger too. Any suggestions? I really want to make this work!
muscrat  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 2:35 PM
Another question...the pictures show a second hole, but the template is only showing one. I am wondering if there is a way to print the template to scale? Maybe I am doing something wrong??
muscrat  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 2:39 PM
what a fabulous idea! TFS!
cant wait to try it
Saba Musharrif  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM
I've REALLY been getting into Mechanical cards lately!!!!!!! LOVE THIS!!!!!!!! THANK YOU Melanie!!!!!!!:)
Becky Green  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 4:02 PM
To answer your questions:

LYNN WYNN ~ The use of glue dots were my choice. Brads will certainly work, but the fastener arms tend to get stuck randomly on the shutter when it turns.

If you are creating a closed Iris card (like the tutorial) and your brad gets stuck then there's no way to fix it except to pull the card apart.

Then again, there is no 'rule'. As with most crafting projects, experimentation is encouraged; that's what makes each project unique grin

You're free to give it a try with the brads. The only thing I recommend is to make sure the hole you're putting the brad in is large enough to allow turning. Good luck.

MUSCRAT: You don't need to worry about the dimensions or the template really. I design most of my templates so you simply need to print them directly on paper and cut them out. Not having to worry about measuring leaves time for more of the fun, creative work.

All the pieces of the template are sized appropriately to what's there. Try simply printing directly on your cardstock.

As for the crosshairs; there are 3 on the large circle and 1 each on the shutters. The shutters are placed equally around the main wheel. If your crosshairs aren't printing, simply place a shutter around the inner circle (see step 2 & 3) and attach it to wheel. Once you have the first, do the second and then the third.

Which of the crosshairs do you not see?

I hope this helps. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's take on the technique.
Melanie Schulenberg  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 4:50 PM
Melanie, I did print it out and cut it out, but the arms seemed to be off a bit and that's why I thought maybe it needed to be more scaled to the sizes written on the chart. As for the crosshairs, I see them all. I was referring to if I cut out my own circles with a circle cutter to the sizes listed. Then there wouldn't be any crosshairs and I would have to figure them out on my own. Maybe it's my Adobe Reader not printing correctly? I measure the piece printed out at 3 3/4" x 7 1/2" It's a really neat tutorial and I thank you for sharing it with us!
muscrat  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 5:39 PM
I think I know what the problem is. Check your printer settings. You want to make sure you're not scaling up to 'fit to page' or 'shrink to printable area'. You want NO adjustments, then it will print with the correct dimensions.

Print a copy using those guides and let me know if that works for you.
Melanie Schulenberg  |  Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 7:08 PM
I decided to give this a try right away as it is so cute. I had problems using the glue dots so used small brads and it works great. Thanks for such a cute idea.
Barbara  |  Thu Aug 1, 2013 at 9:37 AM
I've already checked that Melanie, but I printed out another and even though it prints out smaller than the sizes shown, it still works. I just need to go back now and figure out how to decorate it!
muscrat  |  Thu Aug 1, 2013 at 6:16 PM

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