Small talk sucks! The unCURATED card game conquers chitchat once and for all!
unCURATED is a memento to late nights on the porch, where an exchange of meaningful stories forged better conversations, deep-rooted relationships, and stronger connections.
Its founder and creator, Dr. Cherini Ghobrial, hopes that each card pulled moves you closer to a solidified emotional foundation and further away from surface-level interactions.
About Dr. Cherini Ghobrial, Creator & Founder of unCURATED
After graduating from pharmacy school, where she earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Dr. Ghobrial wanted to pursue health beyond physical wellness. Her current journey tackles the small-talk crisis.
The unCURATED card game is three rounds of creative questions designed to spark meaningful conversations, cultivate connection, and tend to all things essential to our emotional wellness.
At the beginning of the creative process, Dr. Ghobrial was unsure how impactful or far-reaching unCURATED would be. But her vision became crystal clear once she realized how much humans resent small talk. Conquering unpleasant pleasantries with more thought-provoking questions, unCURATED allows a genuine interconnection to enter the chat.
Our Small World Moment
By chance, hundreds of miles away from Shuffled Ink‘s Orlando manufacturing facility, one of our employees spotted Dr. Ghobrial’s unCURATED decks at Valor Coffee in Downtown Alpharetta, Georgia.
The wonderful humans at this brick-and-mortar shop think the world of unCURATED’s mission and have happily offered the game for several years now.
“I remember packing and shipping those cards,” our team member said. “So, it was really cool to see her game out in the real world.”
Say Hello! Find unCURATED At These Locations
Since launching in 2019 and winning the Plywood Presents: Idea Competition in Atlanta, the unCURATED card game has shipped across the globe to countless individuals and businesses.
So, whether you spot the deck by coincidence or pop into one of its East Coast vendors, be sure to grab a deck, join a group, and start connecting!
If we manufactured your card project and you would like us to share your Card Story on our blog, feel free to connect with our Marketing Team here.
In December 1999, Charles Levin, Founder & President of Shuffled Ink (formerly known as QPC Games), was raising three girls and two boys, ranging in age from one to 12. As a marketer living in the top U.S. travel destination (Orlando, Florida), he wanted to create an alternative to brochures and discount books.
He believed that custom-printed playing cards could deliver impactful marketing and branding applications, educational usefulness, and of course, fun-filled family game nights.
This thought, matched with an eager, entrepreneurial mindset, kickstarted Charles’ very first custom card project: advertisement playing cards, or Super Deck.
Charles’ Card Story: From Concept to Reality
The purpose of Super Deck was to promote and elevate tourist hotspots and establishments in the Orlando area. The original pack consisted of a map and cards with discounts and coupons for local attractions, dinner shows, restaurants, shopping, golf, and recreation. Soon after pitching the concept to prospective vendors, Charles had secured the marketing deck in 90 percent of Orlando hotel rooms.
Throughout the early 2000s, Shuffled Ink’s first employees were his 5 children: Melissa, Lori, Matthew, Lisa and Jonathan. The Levin family would regularly clear off the dining room table and use the space to create playing card prototypes and other related personalized products.
As sales blossomed and new opportunities arose, Charles moved the business into his three-car garage. For several years, this is where all marketing, sales, administration, and shipping took place.
For the past 9 years, Charles and his team of production facilitators, project managers and graphic designers have operated in an 8,000 square-foot office and production facility in Orlando, Florida. By Summer 2022, we are expanding into a 35,800 square-foot manufacturing and office space in Winter Garden, Florida.
Charles’ business model has changed quite a bit since Super Deck. Today, Shuffled Ink specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot and flash cards, packaging, and more for businesses and individuals worldwide.
Family Entrepreneurship: The Shuffled Ink Team
Three of Charles’ kids are still involved at Shuffled Ink today.
Matthew, his oldest son, moved back to Orlando from New York City in 2016 to help him run the business as Chief Executive Officer. His daughter Lisa worked at the company part-time for many years but now oversees all customer services as Vice President of Sales. And youngest son, Jonathan, assists behind-the-scenes in the manufacturing facility.
“Throughout the past 22+ years, my kids’ incredible contributions and influence have added to the existence, growth, and success of Shuffled Ink.” –Charles Levin, Shuffled Ink Founder & President
Get To Know Us Better!
Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business with an unwavering, decades-old mission: to provide an unparalleled experience in customer service and product quality to ensure that all clients’ card visions meet reality.
Most people know what is meant by the phrase “stacking the deck”. It refers to a technique where you cheat in a card game, by arranging the cards in a particular order. The expression has even entered the English language, and can be used figuratively. Misleading your hearers by cherry-picking evidence and arguments to present only one side of a story is also known as “card stacking”, and is frequently used in advertising and politics.
But today we’re concerned with stacking cards in a more literal sense. Because card stacking can also refer to the literal stacking of cards into a building-like structure. In other words, it’s when you place cards on top of each other to build what is commonly called a house of cards.
The phrase “house of cards” has also migrated into the English language, and is used metaphorically to refer to a situation that is highly unstable or volatile, or to anything likely to fail or collapse. It’s not hard to see why it has this meaning. As you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to build one, a house of cards is a very precarious structure that requires a delicate touch and much care. You only have to bump it slightly, or place one card wrong, and the whole structure collapses in an instant.
The appropriateness of the image and its wide use in the English language proves that building an actual house of cards with real playing cards is incredibly difficult to do. But there are people who can pull this off successfully, and build card houses of incredible size. In this elite group, one man stands tall – though dwarfed by his card houses. That man is world record holder Bryan Berg.
Bryan Berg describes himself as a “cardstacker”, hence his official website cardstacker.com. His remarkable credentials are confirmed by the four separate World Records related to cardstacking that he currently holds.
● Tallest House of Freestanding Playing Cards (set in 1992)
● Largest House of Freestanding Playing Cards (set in 2004)
● Tallest House of Freestanding Playing Cards Built in 12 Hours (set in 2016)
● Tallest House of Freestanding Playing Cards Built in One Hour (set in 2018)
If those categories don’t sound challenging enough, consider the fact that the third of these (tallest house built in 12 hours) was constructed on a running, fully loaded washing machine! He set the first of these records at the age of 17, with a 4.4 meter tower. He’s bettered several of these records more than once since setting them, and has broken his record for the tallest house around ten times. In numerous instances his record-breaking attempts have been commissioned by sponsors. His 2004 record for largest structure was a new category that Guinness created especially for him, and was a replica of Cinderella’s Castle for Walt Disney World, which took 24 days to build.
It’s worth mentioning here that the world record for the tallest house of cards has increased significantly since the early 1900s. That’s when record-breaking card towers began receiving attention in the media, and reports indicated that the best structures from that time ranged in size from 15 stories or layers high to as many as 25 stories. In 1972 Guinness listed the highest authenticated claim as being 27 stories high.
The 1972 record was absolutely decimated by James Warnock in 1978 with a creation that consisted of an incredible 61 stories, which John Slain managed to increase to 68 stories in 1983. This lasted until Bryan’s record breaking attempt in 1992, which increased the bar to 75 stories. At the State Fair of Texas in 2007 he built a tower that was almost 8 meters high for the current world record. The size was limited only by the ceiling of the room in which it was built, and even then some ceiling tiles were removed to give extra building room into the attic!
To give an idea of the amount of cards required, here are some figures for a 7.6m high card tower that Bryan built in 1998. It used over 1500 decks, weighed more than 110 kg, and took more than two weeks to build. Or consider the replica of the Venetian Macao resort hotel which he spent 44 days building in 2010. It was 3 metres tall and 10.5 metres long, used over 4,000 decks (representing over 218,000 cards), and weighed more than 272 kg.
Bryan’s academic background is in architecture, but he insists that it was his love for cardstacking that led him in that direction, not the other way around. He credits his grandfather for introducing him to cardstacking at the age of 8, as an amusing activity between the many card games that his family played. But what his grandfather sparked was a love for building, rather than a specific method. Bryan continued experimenting with different methods, teaching himself different card stacking techniques, and perfecting the art. What he knows about building card houses is simply the result of continued experimentation – although he’s learned a lot about the structural behaviour of real buildings as a result of his expertise with playing cards. Remarkably, his incredible structures are all freestanding, and he uses no tape, glue, or tricks like bending or manipulating the cards in any way.
He turned professional in 1994, which gives him the unique position of being the only person in the world that actually earns a full-time living by stacking playing cards. So where does he make his money? He travels around the US and even the world, putting his card stacking skills on show. The instant appeal and visual impact of his remarkable card houses makes Bryan’s creations a real attraction, and this makes his work ideal to feature at the center of a special event, advertising campaign, or museum. For example, in 2005 he built a replica of the New York skyline using 178,000 cards, to represent those whose lives were lost in the 2014 Boxing Day tsunami, a project that gave supporters the opportunity to donate to survivors through several charities. He’s had clients around the world who have sought him out for his work. What he does is arguably a performance art.
When most people try building a house of cards, they use the pyramid or triangle shape as the main building block, with the aim of building another layer on top of this. A structure of this sort is notoriously difficult to build, and if you manage to get anything beyond three levels high, you can quite rightly be quite proud of your achievement.
Bryan has developed an entirely different technique, however. And given his success, it’s hard to argue with him. Instead of using the classic triangular shape as his base building block, he builds towers using square shapes. It’s a self-taught method, but it’s incredibly effective, and can support an incredible amount of weight. According to Berg, the higher the tower goes, the more solid the lower layers become, due to the physics behind this design. The combined weight of the cards actually makes the structure more stable. Moreover, because he arranges the cards in a grid-like structure, they prevent each other from falling over or bending, further increasing their strength and stability. Here’s a video clip from WIRED that features Bryan explaining his card stacking technique:
This repeated geometric pattern is surprisingly simple to learn, and is also the secret behind the large structures Bryan builds. You then cover the basic honeycomb shapes with cards, and go on to build the next layer on top. Once you master this basic concept, you can apply the same pattern for building walls, columns, and beams, which enables you to create variety in shapes. The result is surprisingly strong. In fact, to destroy his creations, Bryan typically uses a leaf-blower. Yes, really – you can even see him do this on video!
Give it a try!
Now it’s your turn. Would you like to try your hand at cardstacking using Bryan’s method? It’s not something he’s kept secret, and he’s published a book entitled Stacking the Deck: Secrets of the World’s Master Card Architect which reveals all. But he’s also explained the basics of his method on videos readily available online. In addition to the video clip above from WIRED, you can see another helpful explanation from Bryan about his method in the following video:
Key to his success is a simple four card cell structure, which is repeated over and over, in a manner that can best be compared to a beehive or honeycomb shape, or even a waffle. Armed with his basic approach, will quickly be able to take your card stacking skills to the next level. Perhaps you won’t quite be building as elaborate structures as Bryan, who has created a wide range of architectural styles that range from stadiums and churches to pyramids and temples, and even replicas of specific structures like the Empire State Building. But when you try Bryan’s method it is remarkable how much you can achieve. You may be surprised to learn that Bryan even considers himself to be rather clumsy – but his solid design structure and his methodical approach have rescued him more than once.
Here are some helpful tips you should keep in mind, when trying to beat your “personal best”:
● Use new cards. Old cards tend to have bends in them, so it is recommended that you use new or near-new playing cards for the best results.
● Use embossed cards. Most playing cards have an embossed or “air cushion” finish. That is preferable to using cards with a high gloss and smooth finish, because they typically will prove too slippery.
● Build on the floor. It’s tempting to build your structure on a table, but tables invariably wobble. You only need to give your table an accidental bump and your house of cards will come crashing down.
● Avoid slippery surfaces. Don’t build on something slippery, like shiny wood. Particle board can work, or else a non-plush carpet that is tightly woven together.
● Use Bryan’s method. Instead of building with triangles, place the cards on their sides at right angles to each other, forming squares in a repeated pattern. To make the structure self-supporting, lean the cards against each other using the T shapes that this involves.
● Stay relaxed. Tension is your enemy, because your hands will shake if you are tense, increasing the risk of accidentally destroying your own building efforts. That makes it all the more important to stay relaxed.
● Watch your grip. Especially when you’re building on upper layers, Bryan recommends letting the card rest between your fingers rather than holding the card, due to the increased risk of transferring your “shakes” to the structure.
● Don’t give up too easily. Patience is a virtue, and you’ll need lots of it to be successful in building a house of cards. This is a skill you can learn, but don’t expect to become an expert right away.
Bryan’s method will help you improve almost instantly, but don’t be surprised to have your structure fall down. Persist, and keep on trying, because like any skill in life, it’s by persevering and by learning from your mistakes that you’ll improve.
If you think that you go through a lot of decks a year, spare a thought for Bryan, who estimates that he goes through well over 5,000 decks a year.
But Bryan’s achievements also teach us something truly important. While most people are wary of anything that is considered to be “a house of cards” due to its potential to collapse, Bryan shows that it’s possible to make a living from building a house of cards. He’s found a way to turn to the kind of structure that most of us consider a disaster into his bread and butter.
So perhaps the lesson in this is that there are times where we shouldn’t shy away from what seems initially difficult, and by persevering, we may sometimes even accomplish something very important. Spending time building a house of cards may even have rewards you never expected. So what are you waiting for – get out those playing cards, and give it a try for yourself!
Want to learn more about Bryan Berg?
● Official site
● Guinness World Records – Largest Playing Card StructureWant to see videos with Bryan and learn his techniques?
● How this guy stacks playing cards impossibly high (WIRED)
● How to stack playing cards (WIRED)
● Record holder profile (Part 1) (Guinness World Records)
● Record holder profile (Part 2) (Guinness World Records)
● World’s best card stacker builds insane outdoor card tower (Coolest Thing)
Images courtesy of Bryan Berg, and used with permission.
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.
● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk
● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk
After the sudden loss of her grandmother, grief fueled 37-year-old Latoya Marquez’s tarot passion project.
In this exclusive Shuffled Ink Card Story, Latoya Marquez, Government Mortgage Specialist by day and tarot designer by night, shares how writing self-affirmations to cope with grief sparked a fresh approach to tarot design and healing.
Complete with a blend of modern-day imagery and traditional Rider-Waite tarot elements, this personalized deck belongs to the beholder.
During the first week of August 2021, Latoya launched her brand Shuffled World Tarot and first tarot deck, Shuffle Up!. The idea for this project stemmed from the passing of her grandmother, Petra Torres Marquez in November 2020.
This traumatic and unexpected experience filled the artist with grief and heartache, which eventually led to sleepless nights. As a Communications Graduate from the University of South Florida, Latoya has always loved to write and often used it as a therapeutic release. But what was originally a curative method, soon resulted in an incredible and inspiring year-long passion project.
Latoya Marquez, Shuffle Up! creator, posing at a studio shoot.
Creativity is the Wanderlust of Satisfaction
Latoya’s design journey began when she requested a complimentary sample pack in order to see and feel the quality of our cards, various card stocks and size options.
“(Shuffled Ink is) all of what I wanted to experience in dealing with a local USA company,” she said. “I’ve already recommended Shuffled Ink to other creators wanting to do the same type of project.”
The Design Process:
Latoya spent several weeks writing down ideas to illustrate on each card.
It took a total of 60 days to sketch more than 80 cards by hand. In the early stages of the drawing process, she saw her Taurean grandmother alive and vibrant in the Hierophant card.
“She loved the color purple, lit candles, blessing her altars. A very spiritual Widow,” Latoya said.
Thirty days to color in each sketch with a thick watercolor sketch pad, drawing utensils and quality markers.
Shuffle Up! holds 78 hand-drawn, unlabeled cards as well as one dedication, which reads:
For every day we blink and breathe, the sun will always set. And when the sun rises, we have a new day to reset and be better than we were yesterday.
“One of the biggest obstacles in choosing a tarot deck is finding a great set of cards to identify with,” she said. “My format for the reader of any skill level is to identify the image and develop their own perceptions. This way, each Intuitive Reader can bond with my deck card after card.”
A Glimpse into Latoya’s 3 Favorite Cards in the Deck
She waits for the next contract to arrive. In the background, a shadowed arm lingers, eager to let new souls inside.
Exhaustion from a hard day’s work is symbolized by the removed horns which now rest on the bar beside the Devil. But the day is not over; there is still ink left in her pen.
Queen of Swords
Also known as the Hardcore Nun, she takes down names for the next man to behead as blood drips from her sword.
Drawn to the card’s beauty, particularly the 7-day color candle in the right-hand corner and the blended scroll of parchment at the foreground.
Connect with Latoya Marquez
The first 30 decks sold on Etsy come with a soft release bridge-sized 2″ x 2″ deck called, Shadow Affirmations. This Mini Deck is an all-in-one combined oracle, affirmation & angel number divination in a 30 count card set.
In this day and age, tarot cards are used for two types of readings: question readings and open readings. Variations of tarot cards have been used for centuries for everything from entertainment to knowledge of the paranormal and divination to many, many other things.
There is absolutely no reason to restrict yourself to any one way to use tarot cards! In fact, you can use them for everything from playing games to attempting to see into the murky waters of the future. There are an unlimited number of inventive ways to use tarot cards.
Below are a few ways tarot cards can be used for personal and communal entertainment, showmanship, and to promote creativity.
The intricate artwork found on these cards often goes unmentioned. The design of the cards is meant to represent aspects of the real and spiritual world. In this way, the cards tell a story with each and every spread.
The user shuffles the cards and picks one at random to tell a story about their life. Who knows, you might even be able to see an important event in your future!
Users can come up with various gambling games to play with tarot cards. Now this doesn’t mean you should use the cards to take your friends money, but rather it’s just one more unique and inventive way to use tarot cards.
After shuffling the deck, players can guess what card will be pulled. Other players can bet against certain cards being pulled from the deck. Still other players can bet on a set of cards being pulled from the deck at lower odds but with a higher gain.
However you use tarot cards for gambling, it’s sure to be a fun time. Remember, though, it’s better to bet pennies than dollars!
Magicians have long used tarot deck in their acts. In fact, many magic tricks rely on the use of these cards. Plain playing cards can get the job done, but a tarot deck adds a touch of elegance and mysticism all magicians, and their spectators, will notice.
Another inventive way to use tarot cards is as an aid against writer’s block. This might sound silly, but don’t knock it until you try! A writer can shuffle the deck, pick several cards at random, and use the spread of the cards to write a story. This is a great way to build new narrative elements into an otherwise stale story.
Artists, such as painters and sculptors, can look to the artwork on tarot cards for inspiration. The colorful mystical quality of the card design can get the artist’s mind to start turning in new, imaginative ways. The result? Unique works of art.
Now that you know the almost unlimited number of inventive ways to use tarot cards, it’s time to get your custom set! Choose your own images, designs, card size, number of cards, instructions, booklets, and even include custom accessories and packaging! Click below to get started today.