diy project: hand-painted valentines

Of all the holidays, Valentine’s Day seems to scream “handmade cards” the loudest. Glitter, doilies and lace are the usual suspects for decorating, but why turn to them when you can easily create a sophisticated ombre valentine? With this simple technique, there is no need for vats of dye, oodles of drying time, complicated instructions or any special tools. Using materials as simple as paint, water and gravity, the paint pigment naturally fades and blends as it flows down the card, resulting in a painterly ombre effect without all the fuss. The edges of each card are then gilded so your love shines through the moment the envelope is opened. Paired with a classic “roses are red, violets are blue” poem and some heart-shaped Red Hots to fill the envelope, it is the perfect combination of chic and kitsch. And it’s handmade. Happy Valentine’s Day! — Brenna

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • X-Acto knife
  • straight edge
  • white mat board
  • watercolor paper or heavy cardstock
  • watercolor paint
  • 3 paintbrushes (wide, narrow and disposable)
  • liquid gold leaf
  • paper towels
  • dish of water



1. With the X-Acto knife and straight edge, cut the mat board to fit in the envelope you are using.

2. Cover your work area with a layer of paper towels.

3. Hold the card horizontally and flood the front of the card with water.

4. Fill the narrow paintbrush with color. Run the brush along one edge, wiping a good amount of paint along the top edge of the card.

5. Tip the card vertically and let the paint flow with the water down the card. Be sure to touch the bottom edge of the card to the paper towel, as it helps to wick the color down.

6. Let dry.

7. Using the disposable brush, paint the liquid gold leaf along the edges of the mat board.

8. Send to someone you love!

  1. Cara says:

    Absolutely love this! It’s so pretty the way the paint fades down the length of the card. I can do this!!! Wow ~ the simpler the better.

  2. Emily says:

    You could also use a metallic marker along the edges. This looks wonderful! I may try a rainbow effect.

  3. Luiza says:

    Beautiful!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Stacia says:

    These are so perfect! I’m going to try these with my art students!

  5. Becca says:

    Love this! I totally agree about making your own cards. I’ll be posting DIY valentine’s next week…and have one that uses ink as well!

  6. Jaime says:

    This is so lovely!

  7. vrensen says:

    I used to be a bit sceptical about Valentine’s, but this year I’m totally in!
    Look here:

  8. Kirsten says:

    You could also run a metallic ink pad along the edges of the paper – which is what I plan on doing!

  9. Debi says:

    What is the water color paper or heavy card stock for?

  10. Beautiful!! Makes me want to run for my brushes right NOW….

  11. Cori says:

    I am so going to try this! I love the look of it.

  12. Okay, I -have- to try this! It’s gorgeous!

  13. Bonnie says:

    white mat board
    watercolor paper or heavy cardstock

    What’s the relationship between the white mat board and the watercolor paper or heavy cardstock? Is it actually three different options?

  14. Reyna says:

    I tried using the heavy card stock first and water coloring that, but the paint didn’t spread and just stayed at the top of the card, however, when I used the white mat board, it spread beautifully! I am thinking that I will attach the white card stock to the back of the mat board to make it look nicer and not waterlogged. And, I would probably add the card stock to the mat board before using the liquid gold leaf so that it is on both pieces and looks nice! I love this tutorial! Excited to see what it looks like when it is dry!

  15. Dianne says:

    Really stunning!

  16. Anna says:

    I LOVE it! Great idea!

  17. Christie says:

    My 8-yr. old daughter made these in the shape of hearts, stamped God Loves You and used them for Valentines. Very cute!

  18. Patricia says:

    I like this idea. Take the card attach this to a watercolor paper with a message. LOVE

  19. Patricia says:

    After doing the paint on the card stock cut into a heart shape with a message and then attach this to watercolor paper card stock

  20. kate says:

    can i do this without the mat board and just use paper for a card?


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