Tag Archives | Artist Trading Cards

Cuttlebugs and Creativity

Well Summer is in full swing here in Oz. And I’ll be honest with you; I haven’t done much in the scrapbooking line for a few months.

Soar1But I haven’t shut up shop entirely. My Tuesday night craft group ensures that I still keep projects on the go.

Last year I introduced Marla to the concept of  Artist Trading Cards and I’ve never seen someone embrace anything with as much enthusiasm as she has with ATCs. She’s joined several swap groups and in a few short months she’s built up a huge collection, filling two binders already. She makes beautiful ATCs as you can see here.

At the moment she’s got a couple of swaps which she’s organising herself, so in a fit of buddy support I’ve volunteered to contribute to them. Here’s one of my efforts on the theme of ‘birds and feathers’. It’s called Soar.

Like many of my ATCs it’s a hybrid of digital and paper/scissors techniques. I find this approach especially useful when I have to make 7 cards all the same. I can design the backgound, duplicate it and print out 7 identical versions. Then add the cut outs and three dimensional stuff. In many cases I’ll print out digital elements, cut them out and mount them with foam tape, mixed in with ‘real life’ embellishments, as I’ve done here.

Cuttlebug Crafting

The group has recently clubbed together and purchased a communal Cuttlebug. I wasn’t that excited until I gave it a try myself.

What a bunch of fun it was! Quite ordinary looking card or paper embossed a gorgeous patterned texture which looks fabulous in card or scrapbooking projects. Or you can create embossed embellishments using card or papers that coordinate with your scrapbook layouts. Here are a couple of cards I made for my niece’s  birthdays and one for another niece’s engagement. I just love the effect.



If you are a user of one of these babies and have some cool ideas for ways to use it, I’d love it if you could share them in the comments below. Often something that seems quite straightforward to one person can sound like a revelation to another. We’re all still pretty new to the world of Cuttlebugs so we’d welcome any suggestions that help to get the most value from it.

What is your favourite scrapbooking tool?

And whilst on the subject of scrapbooking equipment…do you have a favourite piece of equipment that you just love?

Even though I’m in love with the Cuttlebug at the moment, I think I would have to say that my fine cutting scissors are really my favourite piece of scrapbooking equipment.

I love my little embroidery scissors but I recently bought a funny looking pair that have now taken first place on my scrapbooking ‘must have’ tools list. They have no normal handles and you work them by squeezing the single handle which works a spring which works the blades. They really take the effort out of cutting and there’s no more red indentations on my thumb and fingers when I have to do a lot of cutting. And best of all, they make doing really fine and detailed cutting so easy.


Well as you can see, I seem to be drifting back to the more tactile side of papercrafting, after spending the last 18 months immersed in the world of digital scrapbooking. I still like to combine the two wherever possible. Most of my cards and ATCs are hybrid creations. And I think that I’ll always prefer the freedom that digital gives me when creating scrapbook layouts. But I’m really enjoying getting back into the ‘glue and paper’ stuff again.

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Artist Trading Card Swaps

Christmas Card Making in July

Artist Trading Card (ATC) Swaps

You might remember me writing about a Christmas Card Making in July event I went to that was a whole bucket load of fun. Well following on from that, Marla invited me over to a regular Tuesday night craft session that she and a few friends hold each week.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I tend to be a solitary scrapper as I don’t have any like minded friends nearby. My sister does card making but she doesn’t live so handily as to catch up for regular card making sessions. So you can imagine how pleased I was to be included in this group.

So now Tuesday night is a craft catch up night and I really look forward to it. There’s usually yummy treats and lots of chat.

I’ve just bought myself a little mini notebook computer so I can also do some digital stuff whilst I’m there.

So as the Newbie to the group, I brought along some of the stuff I had done. The others are stamping card makers and fabric crafters but not scrapbookers. Anyway one of the things I brought along was my ATC (Artist Trading Card) album. Marla was intrigued. And in next to no time she became a total addict and had joined several on line ATC Swapping Groups.

She’s pulled me along in her wake and I’ve started making ATCs for some of the swaps myself. Mind you, Marla has gone from 0-60 in an instant. She’s completely by-passed the learning stage and jumped straight to advanced. Her ATCs are absolutely gorgeous (check some of them out here). So the pressure is on!

One of the swaps I joined was for the theme of Orange and the second was a Mystery Image swap where the image was mailed out by the coordinator and you had to design your ATCs using it.



Because you need to make a run of the same ATC for each swap (a limited edition run) I like to use digital techniques as the basis for my design. That way it’s easy to repeat the design. I like to print out some of the design elements separately and cut them out, mounting them on the card using foam tape to add some extra dimension.

And of course there’s usually a brad or two somewhere in there.

I enjoyed making the cards for the ATC swaps but I can’t see myself becoming as involved as Marla. One of the attractions of ATCs for me is that I can make individual projects on a whim when the fancy takes me. And I don’t need to make several of the same thing. I don’t mind doing the occasional limited edition but I don’t want it to become the norm.

But it’s definitely a fun thing to do whilst in the company of like minded friends.

PS. Only two more sleeps before Purple and I are on the  big silver bird to Budapest. Oohh I’m starting to get excited.

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Me Time with ATCs

Artist Trading Cards

Me Time with ATCs

Just lately life seems to be just work, work and still more work. I’m sure you know the feeling.

I really felt I was getting stale so I decided to block out an afternoon of  ‘me’ time and get reconnected with my ‘touchy feely’ self.

I decided to make some Artist Trading Cards, which I haven’t done for a very long time.

I love ATCs because they’re a like miniature scrapbook layouts but with their own unique challenges. For example, the tiny canvas size you have to work with means that you need to be very careful in how you design your card to maintain a balance of color and element ‘weight’.

But having said that, ATCs don’t usually take very long to make so it’s a sort of instant gratification thing. Perfect to lift those jaded spirits.

I make both paper based ATCs as well as digital ones. Although my preference is for paper based ones because each one is totally unique.

One of the cool things with ATCs is that you can make a series of them; each different but with a common thread or theme. I had a fit of the patriotics so I made this Australia Series.

Click on the thumbnails to see the full size ATC.


These were made using Hybrid Scrapbooking techniques. I scanned Scrabble tiles to make the title and used a photo I have taken of Sydney Harbour bridge and a Map of Australia downloaded from the Internet. Then I just assembled each card together with some ‘real world’ embellishments from Hot off the Press.

I love making hybrid ATCs because you’re never lost for the right embellishment. That’s one of the beauties of the digital world.


But I wanted to do a paper scrapped ATC as well. I find ATCs are a fantastic way of using up tiny scraps of scrapbooking leftovers. I know that the theory is that you can use them up by making greeting cards. But somehow my cards never seem to include much in the way of leftovers.

Anyway with this Lilac Heart ATC I used some gorgeous Japanese paper borders that I had. And I cut out the background from some of the silver trellis so that it could extend across the background card. I really liked how that turned out.

Then in a fit of scissor inspiration I cut out some of the tiny flowers from the paper to use as stand alone embellishments with my scrapbook flowers, added the lilac heart to be a visual title and voila.

I usually make my ‘real world’ ATCs using the paint chip swatches you get from paint shops. That way I get a range of colors and they’re easy to trim to size. I generally stick two back to back for added weight.

Remember if you’re going to have a go at this, the accepted size for an ATC is 2.5 in x 3.5 in or the size of a normal playing card. You can design it in landscape or portrait mode.

glowWell naturally after making some paper based and some hybrid based ATCs I had to do at least one in digital format.

I find digital ATCs are a great format to experiment with different techniques. That’s what makes them so much fun for me.

I had a great time playing around with different filters and styles for this Glow ATC.

And don’t forget of course the other really cool thing about ATCs is that you can swap them with other ATCs around the world; building up a great collection of different styles from different people. As well as having some super mementos from fellow traders.

If you’re going to give this a try yourself, don’t forget to stick a sheet on the back (or write directly onto the back of the ATC) with all the details of the card. Generally this includes:

  • Name of the ATC
  • Name of the Series if it is part of a series and which number in the series it is.
  • Date it was created
  • Your name
  • And it’s also a nice touch if you sign the back as well. After all it’s your piece of art, so you should sign it.

And then you can start swapping and trading around the world. I keep my ATCs in a Flickr Gallery and use that as my base to trade from. But you can also join a number of trading groups on various sites and also at Flickr.

Let me know if you decide to give this a go. I’d love to see your ATCs. And maybe we can do a trade.

Remember ATCs can be created in any medium. It’s the size that’s imporant (hmmm…where have I heard that before?) So you don’t have to be a scrapbooker to join in. And given the number of different crafts that Scraps of Mind readers play with, that should produce some fantastic ATCs.

And if you already make ATCs feel free to leave a link to your gallery in the comments section below.

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Artist Trading Cards

Trading ATCs

3 Different Techniques for making Artist Trading Cards

3 Different Techniques for making Artist Trading Cards

Corina from Patchscrap sent me a lovely gift of some gorgeous pieces of brocade lace for Christmas. And since she and I have been playing with ATCs in recent times (see my article on Artist Trading Cards here to get the lowdown on what they are), I thought I might use some of it for a little project I had in my mind about ATCs.

From a scrapbooking point of view, an ATC can be created as:

  • Traditional, with real life elements and embellishments;
  • Digital, created as a digital file using all digital elements;
  • and Hybrid, creating a major element(s) digitally and incorporating it into a design with real life embellishments.

So I thought it might be fun to make three different ATCs, one in each genre, using some of the brocade lace on each of them to link the three together. And you can see each of the different styles and tell me which you prefer.

Traditional Scrapbooking ATC

My Brocade Dream ATC is made with no use of the computer whatsoever. I’ve used the brocade lace as a backdrop for the focal element (the Edwardian lady) and added snippets of the gold brocade to the edges of the flower petals.

The title is partially hand written (I don’t think that it’s come out particularly well, especially after scanning) and partially from a fabric sticker I had. And some bling accents to add some sparkle.

I do enjoy this romantic style. I rarely use it on my Scrapbook layouts but I’m very fond of it for my ATCs.

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Artist Trading Cards

In recent weeks I have started to become interested in ATCs (Artist Trading Cards).

These are miniature artworks created on 2 ½ X 3 ½ inch card or playing cards. They are not supposed to be sold but are traded with other artists for works of their own. The original concept began in Zurich, Switzerland by a performing artist named M.Vanci Stirenmann in 1997. He created a collection of ATCs for display in his bookstore. On the last day of the display he gave one of his cards away to each person who could offer him one of their own in return. Since then thousands of people have started creating these miniature originals and trading them at trading sessions, through the mail or via Internet ATC swap groups.

I find the concept of swapping my work with other people a fun and exciting thing and because the only constraint on ATCs is the size, they are created in a multitude of different media so your collection doesn’t need to just contain pieces similar to those you make yourself. You may have spotted the word ‘collection’ in that last sentence. Those that have been reading this blog for a while will know what a sucker for collecting stuff I am. And this is too good an opportunity not to combine my love for collecting with my love for scrapbooking.

Who is Sylvia - ATC by KaroochAnother motivation for me is to try some experimenting with paints and stamps etc. which I never do on my layouts. To help me get out of my comfort zone a bit. Having said that, the very first ATC I created was one which was a hybrid of digi and paper scrapping (see right). Firmly and squarely in the middle of my comfort zone. I’m actually happy with how it turned out but I felt that for me it was a bit ‘safe’ as digi and hybrid are what I mostly do. Whereas pulling together random non-digital elements into a cohesive layout I find far more challenging.

So I’ve begun pushing myself to do this and I find I’m really enjoying it. And I’m pleased with the results too. If you’re interested in seeing some of my creations check out my ATC Gallery on Flickr.

I’d be very interested to know if any of you already make your own ATCs. Particularly if you like mine and would like to trade. And for those who haven’t tried it have a look and see if it presses your buttons. What do you think? Are you interested?

Other related posts:

Confessions of a Collectoholic

Trading ATCs