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To Crop or Not

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on November 12, 2009 | Comments (15)

After Tuesday’s rather intense post, I thought we’d end the week on a lighter note. And what is lighter than Arts and Crafts time in tarotland?

If you are familiar with the tarot forum Aclectic Tarot, you may have heard about cropping cards. People crop cards for a few reasons. One is if the cards are over-sized, they may not feel comfortable to shuffle, particularly for people with small hands. Another is if a person finds a particular border treatment distracting. The border may seem too large or may contain the card name in several languages. I have only cropped one deck so far. My reason was because it was a non-RWS style deck and I wanted to use it without referring to my mental deck. As long as I could see the card names, I would default to my mental deck. So, I cut the names off! The deck is the Universal Fantasy Tarot and is, of course, the one I will use in the example below. I used the cards I pulled for my NaNoWriMo spreads (for ideas for the setting) and ironically enough they are cards that are among the few in this deck that do reflect a RWS influence.

Cropping a deck is a bit of a tedious work and takes time, but it is not hard. I borrowed (from a scrapbooker) a small paper cutter and a corner rounder. The paper cutter insured straight lines. The corner rounder is a little tool like a die that, well, rounds the corners. If you plan to crop many decks you will want to invest in a good quality rounder. After cropping my deck, I gathered it into a pile and used very fine sandpaper to smooth the edges. Then I applied fanning powder to each card.

I really enjoy using the cropped deck, as it really encourages me to use my intuition and imagination. Below are samples of the cards I pulled to describe the setting for my novel in both their original and cropped states. If you decide to crop a deck, you may not want a spare uncropped one, but I did.

Have you ever cropped a deck? If so, do you pictures posted (I would love to see them)? Would you ever? Why or why not?


Reader Comments

Written By Phine
on November 12th, 2009 @ 10:53 am

Hi Barbara,

I LOVE trimmed decks and I already trimmed some of mine…
As IĀ“m used to read, my eyes are always in surch for words to read – and if there are words on a card or its border, my eyes always return to them, reading them again and again. That hinders me to connect with the pictures and their details – my eyes are in a movement as if IĀ“m reading, scanning the picture in lines from left to right, starting at the top and ending at the bottom. Cards without borders are wide, they seem to zoom myself into the scene and allow my eyes to look wherever a detail is catching them.
ItĀ“s a kind of “freeing my look” at the images that makes my readings much more intuitive…

My first deck that got rid of the borders was the Roehrig-Deck – just to look how it works. It was the “dress rehearsal” before trimming my Thoth-Deck.
If you want to take a look at the Empresses (and the temperance of the Catpeople Tarot in process of compressing the cutting edges to make them feel smoother šŸ˜‰ ), please have a look here:


Curious why others crop their decks I will stop by soon,

warm wishes

Written By Leisa ReFalo
on November 12th, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

I am an avid border cutter. Here is my Universal Waite & Thoth cut down. It helps with the appearance and handle of the cards:



Written By Corrine Kenner
on November 12th, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

I love the look of cropped cards! They look so sleek and elegant without the marginal details. Even so, if I tried to do a borderectomy, and my cuts were just a fraction of an inch off in terms of size, it would drive me crazy and I could never use the deck again. I’d probably need 5 or 6 copies of the same deck to get one perfectly trimmed set of cards.

Written By Elysia
on November 12th, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

Wow, these are all really beautiful! I never even knew you could do this and make the cards look so extra gorgeous! Thanks to everyone above who posted more pictures, they all look wonderful.

I would actually try this with a deck I’m not in love with to see what would happen, but I’m with Corrine – I feel like I wouldn’t be careful/craftsy/precise enough to do a good job of it.

Written By helen
on November 12th, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

I cropped my Druid Craft deck, now it’s much easier to handle. It took a while to do by hand, butI am glad I did do it. I cropped off the white edging.

Written By Lunaea Weatherstone
on November 12th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

I have cropped one or two decks, and have thought about cropping others but haven’t gotten around to it. Your reason for cropping — to let the images speak for themselves — is a great one! My reason in the past has been because the decks I cropped didn’t just have the name, they had some sort of five-cent interpretation too (Six of Cups: Nostalgia). I’ll interpret my own cards, thankyouverymuch! And you know, I actually own a heavy-duty cornering tool, from when I made my own original deck, but I’ve never used it on any other decks. Now, where did I put that…….?

Written By Sean Salsman
on November 12th, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

Cropping a deck seems like something that a more experienced Tarot reader/enthusiast would do. I don’t even have the experience, intuition or insight enough yet to know what I’m looking for (or what I could be looking at) without the titles of the cards. Okay okay, that’s true with the titles as well. But I do like the notion of relying on intuition and imagination to do the work. Thank you!

Written By Ferol Humphrey
on November 12th, 2009 @ 8:11 pm

Hi Barbara! Wonderful post, wonderful visuals, wonderful comments by wonderful people. Kudos! I will email to see if I may link this on Living Tarot Facebook. Seeing the results increases the value of the discussion. Leisa’s visuals and observations on her page added as well. Thank you all!

Written By Barbara Moore
on November 13th, 2009 @ 6:29 am

Ferol, I would be honored if you shared this link. Leisa’s visuals are so inspiring…I want to trim my RWS and Thoth sometime soon. And maybe my Druidcraft, like Helen did.

Written By Beth Owl's Daughter
on November 13th, 2009 @ 7:03 am

Ha! As usual, Ferol and I are on the same wavelength. Hope that it’s okay for me to do the same for our Raleigh group!

Thank you for this great idea, Barbara! My Osho Zen deck has been driving me crazy for years, because I find that the keywords printed on the cards are very distracting and downright misleading for my clients.

But like Corrine, I am spooked about having my cuts be less than precise… I have lots of old decks to practice on, though.. I just might do this!
– Beth

Written By Barbara Moore
on November 13th, 2009 @ 7:34 am

Beth, of course! Share away! I’m delighted and honored.

Now, about the preciseness issue…just be careful and go slowly. Many people do this and with a good cutter, it is very doable. I only practiced on the two “extra” cards that come with many decks.

The sanding makes a huge difference. It eliminates tiny imperfections and, counter-intuitively I think, makes the cards easier to shuffle, so don’t be alarmed if they seem hard to shuffle before sanding.

Have fun!

Written By Leisa
on November 13th, 2009 @ 8:35 am

I’d really like to encourage you to try. Using a paper trimmer makes it easy to line up the edges. They don’t end up being absolutely the same size but its withing a half a millimeter.

And you can practice on the extra cards. Or if you want I can send you some cards from my vast collection of misfit decks.

Written By Theresa Reed
on November 17th, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

This looks gorgeous but I don’t trust my cutting talents – I’m more butcher than artist!

Written By Donnaleigh
on November 17th, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

This is so fantabulous. I love the cropped look. Where do you find fanning powder, Barbara?

Great blog! Love those pictures.


  1. Reader Request and Crafty Goodness  on December 17th, 2009 @ 10:07 am

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