In yesterday's mail I got a surprise. I received two 'art boxes' in the mail which are part of a ‘thing’ we do on a certain ATC chat list. The primary purpose of that chat list is to exchange ATCs that we received from other people (mostly in blind swaps) that we don’t care to keep. However we also end up exchanging many of our own cards with each other.
One thing that the group does is something the creator calls an ‘art box’. We sign up on a list. One generous person puts up 90 ATCs and packages them into 5 of those plastic sleeves that hold 9 trading cards (two per slot so that each side has the front of an ATC on it). The ‘art box’ is sent to the next person on the list.
We are allowed to swap out as many second generation ATCs as we want. We can swap in up to 18 of our own ATCs (they have to look different from each other, though). It is very simple, there are 90 ATCs when it arrives to us, and there has to be 90 ATCs when it leaves us. Then we mail it off to the next person on the list.
So it happened by some odd coincidence that I received two on the same day. So last night I had the pleasure of looking through 180 different ATCs made by people from all over the world. What joy!
What I did was first go over it quickly when the mail arrived, and I took out the ATCs that I thought I wanted. Later, right before going to sleep, I took the contents of one box out of the sleeves and I gently dumped them onto my bed. I looked at all the backs to see where people were from and to see if I recognized any of the artists (I did see some familiar names). I also found one of my own ATCs in each box (more on that topic later).
As I did with the other boxes that came in, I had fun rearranging the ATCs to be color coordinated. A page of red, a page of orange, a page of pastels, a page of tan/sepia, a page of black, etc. It is odd that usually they come out to the perfect number, or nearly so. I am such a visual person that it is soothing for me to look at these in a more coordinated way. It is okay if you think I am crazy for doing it. It is fun for me to do. While looking through these I took out a few more that I wanted to keep. Sometimes I keep some just because they are from far away places, like Japan or Romania. I kept one as there was a little story on the back about a teacher and her students and the story touched me more so than what was on the face of the ATC.
Now I will look through all of my ATCs that I own that other people made and see if I am ready to let some go. Sometimes I have enjoyed an ATC for months but don’t feel the need to keep it forever. I let go of the older one to make room for the newer one.
Lastly I will take the surplus of my own ATCs and add them in to the box to take the place of what I took out. If I have to, I will make up new ATCs to make up the difference. I try to make ATCs ahead of time so that I have some on hand for when these come in.
The Debate about Second Generation Trading
There is a big debate over trading these and I just don’t get it. These are TRADING CARDS. No one ever said that once a person gets on they must keep it FOREVER. It is to TRADE. I once said on a chat list, that just like baseball cards that are meant to trade, these are meant to trade. One person retorted that factory produced baseball cards cannot be compared to original works of art, and the fact that a person took the time to create this piece of art is justification enough that we should keep every single one that we are given or swap for.
When participating in a swap we have no clue what we will get and the reality is that some day we will come across one or more that we just don’t like for one reason or another. I refuse to believe anyone who has a large number of ATCs who says they love every single one of them. Sorry. I don’t feel that we all should keep things that we don’t enjoy. I am trying to wean myself off of being a packrat and trying to lead a decluttered life. It is a constant challenge for me. I don’t see the need to hoard ATCs that I don’t even love. I just don’t get it.
Seeing One’s Own Card in a Second Generation Trade Offer
Sometimes a person will say that they would never join a second generation list because they fear ever seeing one of their ATCs as unwanted by someone. If that is your feeling, then you have a right to it, fine. I have a different view and that is that after all my hard work on an ATC I would like a person to enjoy it rather than seeing it in their collection and thinking “well that is poor quality” or “I don’t get why she did that” or “that is ugly”. I would rather have the person trade out my ATC so that someone who actually likes it will own it. So far when I come across one of my own ATCs in these boxes I take it out as I sometimes hate to part with my ATCs after working hard on them. In this way I get to keep my own ATC that I liked. I may also choose to keep it for a while and later I may release it back out in a trade.
Last night since the children were not at home I sat down and worked on ATCs for about 90 minutes. Frankly, it was nice to have peace and to be left alone. I put on a lecture tape from a homeschooling conference and really enjoyed listening to what the speaker had to say. What I chose to do last night was two things:
1. I decided to try out water soluble oil pastel crayons (Portfolio brand 24 crayons for $9.65 at Staples). I went to my box of used old books and found a play written in French from the 1950s which I bought at a used book shop for 25 cents (and which is falling apart and on cheap paper which is foxing) and I ripped a page out. Using the cover as a guide, I imitated the way that artist drew French ladies wearing fancy ballroom gowns. I sketched the images out with pencil then I drew over the lines with the pastel crayon. I then used a tiny bit of water on a paintbrush to blend the colors. I made three ATCs, each had a lady on it with a different type of ball gown. After those dried I adhered the old, fragile paper to a piece of thin cardboard with Golden Soft Gel Medium, matte and I let them dry overnight. Note that I am not good at drawing. I was simply using observation and copying or imitating very closely what the artist had done. I think these came out pretty darn nice. I think that when I have time I will make a bunch of these using the three different styles of gowns. I hope someone likes them. When these are finished I will scan them and share them with you.
2. I opened my little recipe card box that holds my partially completed ATCs which I had creative block on and worked on some of those some more using the oil pastels.
I didn’t have time to work on ATCs today due to running around and being busy. I also am pretty sick with either some kind of head cold or sinus infection or else have a brand new seasonal allergy (my husband’s suspicion which I refuse to believe). So I feel foggy headed and that is not the time to make ATCs.
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