Thursday, March 29, 2007

My ATCs: Various, Swapped Out Already

Here are some scans of some ATCs that I made.

This first one was made with a Bingo game sheet and tourist brochures for attractions in my area.

This pink one was made with watercolor paper and pink and white acrylic paint applied using a sample credit card from junk mail.

The rubber stamp image is from Adorned Surface. I used pigment chalk ink and set it with a heat gun. The edges are also a rubber stamp from an unknown company.

This next one is called "The Fountain". The background is from a Michelin travel guide to Paris and shows a map of this area where this fountain is.

I made a packing tape transfer of the fountain itself. In this case I tried a new roll of packing tape with no brand name which I bought at a dollar store. This roll yielded not-clear packing tape transfers so it was different to work with (I didn't like it).

This ATC was titled "The Cathedral" which is the name of this sculpture. Again the images and map are from the Michelin guide to Paris. The sculpture is by Rodin and it is another packing tape transfer that came out opaque rather than more clear and crisp.

The below ATC was made with watercolor paper and the pink and white acrylic paints applied with a sample of a credit card from junk mail. The paints were a brand that I don't usually use and I won't be using them again (more on that later).

At first I applied the rubber stamped images of the margaritas with pigment dye ink. I colored in the margaritas with Sharpie markers.

I made a mistake on this ATC and was going to trash it. However I saved it to see if I could reuse it in some way. I then learned the UTEE resist technique in the book "Artist Trading Cards Workshop" by Bernie Berlin.

I put the clear embossing ink on the ATC surface where I wanted the image and background to show through. I made sure to not put it where the mistake was. I applied the clear UTEE and melted it with the heat gun and let it cool.

The reason I don't plan to use this brand of acrylic craft paint again is that when the heat gun was applied to it, the color changed in some places. If you look carefully you can see a yellow cast to one of the pink areas. I will stick to the other brand which is also inexpensive which I like better--Folk Art brand

I then proceeded to paint over the entire surface with green acrylic paint and let it cool.

Then when I used the iron on it, the green paint lifted off the places where the clear UTEE was.

I liked how this came out!

The below ATC was made from scraps except for the used postage stamp. I made a simple collage in a spontaneous manner while looking through a little container of scraps left over from other projects. The little cartoon guy is from a book called "Havoc in Heaven" which is said to be a very popular classic children's story from China. This book had fantastic illustrations and was published in the 1970s. I found it at a thrift ship but unfortunately it smelled like mildew so it was not good for a reading copy (the story was also weird possibly due to a poor translation from Chinese to English). So I am using the pages of this book to make artwork with rather than putting the book in the trash. I get headaches when reading books that stink of mold or mildew. (I seal the collages with acrylic gel medium so any mildew or mold spores or scent are locked in.)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My ATCs: Quick Gel Medium Transfer Method

I took this color image from The Wall Street Journal. It is a charactiture of the Chair of the Federal Reserve, my husband tells me.

This first ATC was made by doing a quick acrylic gel medium transfer onto a background which I had made with acrylic paint.

When I peeled the newspaper off of the print I was left with a distressed looking piece of paper which I didn't want to go to waste.

Taking a piece from The Wall Street Journal I made a background. I then collaged the left over image of the Chair of the Fed onto the top.

I think both ATCs are cool and I especially liked that the main image was from a newspaper which was going to be recycled/thrown away and then also that once the image was used by me I used it a second time for yet another ATC.

This is the QUICK acrylic gel medium transfer method which takes less then 30 seconds to do.

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My ATCs: Mixed Media Collages

These two ATCs were originally one collage which was made and then sliced into two ATCs. This is called a diptrych.

The background was hand painted by me with acrylic paints onto watercolor paper. Actually the paints were left over from a painting my children were making and I was trying to use them up rather than wash them down the sink. I applied the paints with a junk mail credit card sample.

The figure of the boy, the die image, and the English bobby were from collage papers which were small and sold to use to make ATCs. I found this little pad at a rubber stamping store for just $3.25. The theme was men.

Also in this collage are cancelled postage stamps and snippets from junk mail trying to sell me season tickets to see the New York Yankees.

Lastly there is a fortune from a fortune cookie from Chinese take out food that we had that weekend.

Both of these were swapped out to Swap-bot members for an ATC swap with a theme of "mixed-media collage".

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Library Thing Widget Added To My Sidebar

I just added the Library Thing widget to my sidebar. Take a look.

I also resubscribed to Library Thing and today have been adding in books that I find inspiring regarding my art hobby. Due to a lack of one phrase that applies to all the books that influence me, I am using the tag "alternative art" for the books I own which I want to show up as being relevant to my art hobby. I know the phrase is not that great but whatever.

Now you will see a random selection of ten books that I own which you might find useful or interesting if you are on the same wavelength as I am.

If you click on the book's cover image you will link through to Amazon. If you end up buying that book from Amazon after linking through my blog I'll earn a small commission on the sale. Any purchase you make is confidential, meaning I'll never know who bought what item. Actually the commission applies to anything at all that you buy from Amazon once you link through my blog. The way it works is after you link through and you put items into your shopping cart right then and there then you finalize those sales within 24 hours, then I get the commission. So hey, if you are going to buy anything from books to shoes to health food to shampoo on Amazon and want to throw me the commission, I'll be happy to take it! My blog income is the only income I have at this point and that is pretty low, believe me! Thanks in advance if you do that!

So anyway each time you visit my blog the sidebar will show random books that I own, in an ever-changing display. Enjoy!

My ATCs: UTEE Resist Smiling Skull Faces

Here are two ATCs which I used the UTEE resist method on. I learned the technique from this book: Artist Trading Card Workshop by Bernie Berlin.

I basically combined two things here, the use of a handcarved art stamp and the UTEE resist method. You can use the UTEE resist method with any kind of art stamp.

The stamp was hand carved by me in the summer of 2006.

The colors here are from acrylic paint (not ink). The UTEE color is clear and that is how you can see the color that was behind the UTEE.

Although I didn't plan on explaining the whole technique I guess I'd better do it or else this post may be very confusing.

The background was acrylic paint. I then used the clear embossing ink to put the image from my rubber stamp onto the background. I then applied the clear UTEE and heated that with the heat gun. Then when cool, a layer of different color acrylic paint was put on top of the whole card and it cooled. Then scrap paper was put on top of it and a hot iron was put on it and it made the UTEE melt and whatever paint was on top of the UTEE came off onto the scrap paper. So basically the rubber stamped image shows the underneath color while the rest of the card shows the top coat of the acrylic paint. Phew. I hope that made sense!

The design of the stamp was chosen by my six year old son. It was based on the logo for Pirates of the Carribbean although it is not an exact replica and since it is hand made it is not exact, either.

I made these ATCs in January 2007. They have been swapped out already.

By the way I have learned a bunch of new techniques from this book and am having a blast trying out the different techniques. I highly recommend this book!

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Made 27 ATCs Last Night

Last night I had some hours without my husband or children in the house. I decided to make art rather than to do various things at the computer or to talk on the phone, watch TV or to read a book. I also stayed up later than normal.

It was great to know I could fill up the kitchen table and just create without worrying about having to clear it off for meal or something. It was fantastic to just be able to work without interruption from anyone.

I had some partially made ATCs which I was stuck on that I finally had an idea about and finished those.

I had creative block previously for ATCs for a certain swap and I got an idea for what to do. I was at my library yesterday and saw a new thing, large stacks of magazines being offered for free (previously they were selling for 25 cents each). In that stack were some magazines on theme of the swap I was stuck on. I took a few of the many magazines on that subject and decided to use that as source material.

I chose a cereal box to recycle into a big collage. I used ads from the magazine as my base collage. The original collage size is 7.5 inches wide by 10.5 inches high. This will be cut into nine ATCs in the end. I used other papers and used postage stamps to further embellish the collage. I also custom tinted some gesso to paint over the background as it looked too bright and new. That was too dense so I ended up rubbing off most of it with a paper towel. In the end it has a distressed look with an ivory color as the color. Today now that it is dry I will finish it off by adding rubber stamped images.

I then went through some scraps of paper that I received in Swap-bot scrap paper/ephemera swaps and used some of that to make ATCs with. I also went those some small containers with tiny scraps from past projects and made a bunch of ATCs.

I also finally used some altered photographs--altered with a bleach and water solution--that I did last year---to make ATCs with. They look very cool. Now I am itching to alter even more photographs with bleach so I'll have a stash ready to use in the future.

Lastly I used the leftover tinted gesso to color some pages of an old, falling apart insect field guide. Those will be used in other projects in the future.

Today is going to be a day of relaxing now that church is over with. I am looking forward to spending time today making even more art. Oh, and also today I picked up 70 old road maps from a Freecycler! So the new to me maps may provide more inspiration and materials for even more art projects.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My ATCs: Newspaper Images

I recently hosted a Swap-bot ATC swap in which the images and/or text had to come from newspapers. The background color or embellishments could be from other sources.

Here are some the ATCs that I made and swapped out on Swap-bot.

I can't find the other scan of the other ones I swapped out so that will have to wait for later. But anyway here are three of them.

All three began with hand painted backgrounds, acrylic paint on recycled cardboard (product containers like pasta boxes).

I found the transfers don't work well when adhering to watercolor paper.

Skiiing in Utah, from an advertisement for a swanky ski resort in Utah.

Manhattan skyline from a newspaper ad.

Another part of the same ad showing the Manhattan skyline.

All three of these were made using the "quick acrylic gel medium" transfer method using Golden acrylic gel medium in soft gloss.

Note that the paint swipes on the background card lent a textured effect especially on the second card. The texture was not from the gel medium, it was from the raised paint parts being what the gel medium stuck to.

This technique takes only seconds to do. I swipe the image's paper with a thin layer, then adhere it to the background. I rub and let it dry for about 10-15 seconds then I removed the paper gently.

There is an art to learning how much gel medium to put on and how long to let it dry or to rub it. It can't be told to you. You have to experiment with it and find what works for you. Also the type of paper you are using matters. For example it is faster and easier to do a transfer from newsprint type paper than from a thicker paper source.

If you pull it off too quickly the whole thing can be ruined.

If you pull it off too late, it leaves paper residue on the background and you can gently rub it off with a dampened finger. This does not always work well, though, as too much rubbing can ruin the image.

I had many errors and mistakes that resulted in about a 50% rate of success. So in that way a project can take longer to finish or sometimes I have many ideas to try, some of which don't come to fruition due to the fact that I'm using original source images not photocopies.

It is fun to play with transfers but it is not always foolproof and mistakes are probably inevitable.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

My ATCs: Jesters

Here are some ATCs that I made. I can't remember if I made these in January of February 2007.

The rubber stamp image is from Adorned Surface (stamp company).

The purple, teal and yellow papers are handmade in India and are from the craft store.
This background (above) was hand painted by me.

The one below buckled in the drying process so I didn't send it to anyone in a swap. I think that I must not have smoothed the paper out well enough. The rest of the ATCs have all been swapped out.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My ATCs: More "Proud of Where I Live"

Here are more of my ATCs which I made for an ATC swap where we had to depict that we were proud of where we live.

These two were made from junk mail. It was an invitation for a fundraiser for the historical society.

I loved the images. I added two layers of clear UTEE. When cool I crinkled them to crack them. I then added black ink and rubbed it into the cracks.

This is a simple collage. I selected the image from junk mail that I received asking for a donation for an organization which maintains open space. To make the ATC more interesting I added layers of clear UTEE which gave the card a thick, plastic coating which is glassy. It feels wonderful to the touch.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Discovered Creative Mom Podcast Blog Today



I found a new-to-me great site, blog and podcast: Creative Mom Podcast.

Jessica, who knows me through Swap-bot connected to my blog and then thought I should know about the Creative Mom Podcast as she thought that the two of us had a lot in common. You can read Jessica's blog "Ocean of Creativity" here.

I am thrilled to have found out about this creative mom who podcasts and blogs. Today I listened to Podcast #40. I am psyched that there are 39 podcasts in the archives just waiting to be listened to!

I have added a link to Creative Mom Podcast's blog in my sidebar. Check it out!

I see that Creative Mom is also hosting ATC swaps as well as turning her art into products sold through Cafe Press. Hmmm. Now there is an idea.

I still want to know more about podcasting and how one does it!
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A New Book Published About Art Journaling "1000 Journals Project"

Since I am a member and contributor to the website, I received an email announcing a new book they have published.

1001 Journals is a collaborative effort in which regular people like you and me make an art journal and send it around to complete strangers to add journal entries to, before passing it back around.

What they have done is taken scans of SOME pages of these journals and published them into a book!

The title of the new book is 1000 Journals Project and it was based on submissions from the 1000 Journals Project.

You can read more about these projects as well as see scans of the artwork on the two sister sites.

The first website was 1000 Journals.

The second website is 1001 Journals.

Here is the official announcement that I received:
The 1000 Journals Project Book is out!

Over two hundred pages of the best journal entries from around the world, all packed into a hard-bound book that strangely resembles... a journal. There are also some fun stories, and two absolutely crazy stitching pages that you'll just have to see to believe.


Here is the link to my prior blog entry showing scans of some of the pages of the traveling art journal that I contributed to as part of the 1001 Journals project. Note: I don't think that my own pages have appeared in the current book "1000 Journals".

The way the site works is anyone can sign up for a free membership and access to the site. You can then be the owner of a journal and do the work to set up making it an official journal of the site and either having it be open to the public to contribute or to keep it private. Anyway if you participate in a journal they encourage you to upload scans of your own pages to the site.

Update: Using my Amazon Associates commission that I just received I bought this book and can't wait for it to arrive.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

My ATCs: Proud of Where I Live (Some of Them)

I made these ATCs while making ATCs for a swap with a theme of “Proud of Where I Live”. I got on a roll (as usual) and made more than I needed for the swap. Here are SOME of the ATCs that I made with that theme. I don't have time to finish uploading scans so I'll just share these for now.

1. These two were originally one piece cardboard, 5 inches across and 3.5 inches high. I made this collage of scenes from Connecticut USA which I found in an old tourist book for the state of Connecticut.

After the collage was done I sliced it into two ATCs.

It looked kind of boring so I applied a top coat of clear UTEE to give it a raised, smooth pebbly texture. That does not show much on the scan.

(Sadly, the person on Swap-bot to whom I sent the ATC on the left to reports that the envelope never arrived. Groan!)

2. The next ATCs were made trying a 'new to me' method which I learned from the book "Artist Trading Card Workshop".

However the stamp that I used on this is a design that I designed myself. I also hand carved the stamp out of rubber. This was the first hand carved rubber stamp I've ever carved from rubber, I made it last summer.

These all started with hand painted backgrounds of acrylic paint on watercolor paper.

Next I did two things with UTEE. First I rubber stamped the image onto the card with the clear embossing ink.

Secondly I applied random swatches of the clear embossing ink onto the card.

Next I applied the UTEE and melted it with the heat gun and let it cool.

Then I applied a layer of acrylic paint on top of the entire card and let it dry completely.

Next using a hot iron with scrap paper on top, I ironed it to melt the UTEE. The paint that was on top of the UTEE areas was moved off onto the scrap paper.

This is how they ended up.

In the below ATCs the heart image inside of the state of Connecticut is visible.

For these two I used some Anita's brand acrylic paint which is not what I usually used. I found that when I applied the heat gun to the UTEE it changed the color of the yellows and greens to something I didn't like. I don't plan to buy any more Anita's brand paint in the future, if it is not stable under heat then I'd prefer my usual brand of inexpensive acrylic paint (Folk Art).

Can you see how the bright pastel yellow turned orange-ish? That is what I mean.

Some people are asking me what UTEE is. It is an abbreviation for "ultra thick embossing enamel". It is made by Ranger, in the Suze Weinberg line. This is the Ranger website with a description and a photo of the UTEE product.

Here is one website with information.

Here is more information with photos showing how to use it.

I made some others but don't have time to upload those scans.

The extra ATCs have been swapped away in other non-Swap-bot trades. So I don't have any of these left. That is why I need to make new/different ATCs to send to the one person who says that my envelope never arrived.

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Making More ATCs

I have been squeezing in time to make ATCs here and there in between other real life stuff.

I wish I could have a solid block of time to just do art for 3, 4, or 5 hours but it is not happening lately.

Even on the recent "snow days" I did other things and had other fun with my kids.

But anyway, I have been making ATCs like crazy lately.

I got creative block on some ATCs that had to have a packing tape transfer on them. I finally broke through that on Saturday and put the finishing touches on yesterday and then they went out in today's mail. I also got on a roll but then had one mistake after another and had to throw a bunch of the transfers away thereby losing the entire concept for that ATC. Since I was using original source materials that means I didn't have another image of the same thing to make a new transfer out of and do the original idea.

I also signed up at the last moment for a swap with ATCs that has a theme of the sea, anything about the sea, the ocean, etc. I started making some of those the other day.

I also got creative block on some ATCs that had to have a used postage stamp on them. I have a bunch half-made that I am stuck on. I was unable to finish those and just had to have new ideas to start new ones from scratch.

I have been too busy to reconfigure the computer files of the scanned ATCs so that is why I have not uploaded my scans lately, sorry!

Although it is not perfect I am enjoying Swap-bot. The latest thing is I have a few people who were members and signed up for swaps then deleted off their profile and don't follow-through with the swaps, which stinks. Nothing is perfect, we are all human, but it is frustrating to make something to give away and to get stiffed by another person. Oh well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Free Digital Sample of ATC Quarterly Available Online, Free

Have you heard of ATC Quarterly magazine? It is published four times a year out of Canada.

I have resisted subscribing due to tight finances. If I had the money I’d subscribe sight unseen.

I was thrilled today when I looked at their website and saw they offer a free digital sample of one issue of their publication.

If you would like to view it, go to this page of the ATC Quarterly site, look in the left sidebar. Scroll down until you see the link to access it.

You must have the free Adobe software to view it.

I have not read the articles yet but I did scan the lovely ATCs. This is a full color publication.

Check it out!

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ATC Swaps, Lost In Mail, Damaged In Mail, Not Received, Etc.

I am annoyed and disappointed. I found out that one of my ATC swaps that I did through Swap-bot was lost in the mail. I finished and sent out a bunch of envelopes on one day about five weeks ago.

I keep records of what I send out and when. If I didn’t do this I’d never remember everything!

First I got a message from one person saying that my envelope was received all shredded up with the ATCs of mine in a plastic bag. The USPS had a note saying that it was accidentally damaged. That swapper was relieved that miraculously the ATCs were all there and in fine condition. She said it didn’t appear to be anything wrong with my envelope. The envelope had just two ATCs in it, which were inside of a greeting card in normal greeting card envelope. The ATCs were flat and the whole envelope was thin.

I was happy to hear that envelope did make it.

Then last week I found out that a swapper on Swap-bot rated me a “1--nothing received”. That was a surprise as I had sent it out over four weeks prior. I double checked my records and I did send it out. Other people in that swap received my ATCs in fine condition and way back when I sent them out. I also had sent those out ten days before the due date.

I corresponded with the person and explained that I really did send them. I also offered to make new ones. I had made original collages with source materials. After a couple of day she wrote to me to apologize and removed the rating. Although she says I don’t have to make new ATCs, I definitely will. Since they were original concepts and not “assembly line” ones it is not so easy to just bang them out in a few minutes. When I am done meeting deadlines I have right now I will make those for her.

Meanwhile I have been stiffed by two different Swap-bot members.

It seems that one person is ticking off a lot of people. She signed up for numerous swaps. She then did not send them out. She then deleted her profile, so no one can send her a message through the Swap-bot system. We can see her rating is down to a 3.0 but we cannot view the actual ratings that the members gave her, which annoys me. Also I worry that she is still able to sign up for new swaps. This person also stiffed the person who did not receive MY swap. So that person is mad that she got nothing from two people for the same swap—I can understand her frustration.

There is another person who is not being a good swap partner to me. I have been on the receiving end of her four times. The first time the swap was very late but she sent a note that she was sick. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and rated her a 5, even though technically she did not follow the swap rules.

The next two times I got her swaps postmarked ten days after the swap deadline, with no excuses. At that point I suspected perhaps she is one to sign up for more swaps than she can handle or else perhaps a person who is in the camp of feeling that deadlines don’t apply to them. I encountered that problem on an ATC Yahoo Group, with some saying ATC swapping is a fun hobby and that they intentionally don’t adhere to rules and deadlines as those are for jobs not for hobbies. For those two swaps I rated this person a 3 for not following the rules, which I feel is an accurate rating.

The fourth time is still going on now. I have received nothing from her, the deadline is past due. There has been no communication from her. I rated that swap a “1—nothing received”. That is accurate if you ask me.

So anyway there is some not fun stuff about ATC swapping via the mail but connected through the Internet.

When swapping mail art becomes stressful or annoying I usually back off for a while or look for different types of opportunities to swap mail art. At this point I am still doing Swap-bot swaps, trying to be picky about signing up for swaps that require high rating histories of members and also hosting my own swaps with minimum rating requirements.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Painted 95 ATC Backgrounds

One night last week, after dinner, I decided to paint some backgrounds for ATCs.

This was prompted by a very cold day, with temperatures in the single digits. Our furnace is going full blast and the air in the house is so dry that things are drying in a flash. I figured it was a perfect time to paint some backgrounds. (They ended up drying in less than 15 minutes!)

I finished cutting up some food and product boxes that I’ve saved for making ATCs. Most of them were already pre-cut. I like to quickly cut them up as I get an empty box and then I put the cardboard blanks away for later use.

I put some music on the CD player and went to town painting backgrounds. I used foam brushes, stipple brush, an old shaving brush and also used credit cards to apply the paint.

For the first time I used a crackle medium which I purchased a couple of years ago and never used. It worked great but it really warped the cardboard. I am flattening the finished products under heavy books as I speak.

I took a photo of the 95 backgrounds. As you can see some are in larger sizes. After I snapped the photo I finished cutting them into ATC sizes. It is nice to have a large selection to choose from when I need them.

Actually the ones with the X's and O's started as backgrounds but then I did some stamping onto them with children's toy wooden blocks, so those are finished ATCs.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Some Thougts About Art Composition: Using Words on Collages and ATCs

I have a pet peeve about some art that I see on artist trading cards and the use of words.

Don't state the obvious. That is the issue at the heart of the matter.

Stating the obvious can distract us or take something away from us by patronizing us. Or poor writing style can also be distracting or ruin your otherwise nice composition.

In the art and craft of writing we are advised to say it clearly and don't repeat. Don't use a ton of adjectives and adverbs if they are not necessary. Say what has to be said to convey the meaning. Just use words that convey the message and leave it at that. Don't "over-write".

In a similar vein, it bugs me when I see very nice looking artwork ruined (in my opinion) by extraneous words also appearing on the ATC.

Hey, this is my opinion. I am sorry if this hurts anyone’s feelings. That is not my intention. However I ask that you think about what you are doing and the art that you are making and perhaps question the addition of words.

Here are some examples:

A Paris themed ATC with lots of visual images that clearly convey Paris is the place pictured (i.e. Eiffel Tower) yet the word "Paris" is on it. It is one thing if this is very artsy and adds something visually to the composition (sometimes) but sometimes it is sloppily hand written and other times the writing is some how taking away from the same composition if the word were just absent.

A strong clear image of a dog with the word DOG on it. Or a cup of coffee that says COFFEE. Ditto for any other object or animal. If we can identify the image we don't need to see the word. We are not dummies.

Also if the ATC swap is a themed swap and the ATC is great but then the name of the swap is there, as if we could not figure it out on our own. For example is a St. Patrick's Day ATC not clear enough that a person adds the words "St. Patrick's Day"? If the image is of a Christmas tree do we need to be told it is a "Christmas" themed ATC? Or if the visual is about a movie you don't have to then write "My Favorite Movie Swap" on the front, or even the words "My Favorite Movie". Just keep the ATC the images and other words about that movie. Period. You can write the swap name on the back if you want. It is possible to enjoy the visual image about that movie and we don't need to know on the front that it happens to be YOUR favorite.

What I don't mean to include in this is alphabet cards, A is for Apple etc. where there is an image for the letter Aa and then they choose to write the word apple, that is different, and it is your choice and not bothersome to me if that kind of card says Aa Apple then has an image of an apple. While we don't NEED the word apple on there, if it appears there and it looks good (the writing is nice or even beautiful) then it is fine and adds something positive to the piece of artwork.

Consider letting your images do the talking. Only spell out for us what we are not able to understand from seeing the image.

Another exception to what I am talking about is if you are an excellent calligraphist and use artistic lettering to add a special component to the artwork. Calligraphy artists usually understand and know that their lettering is actually an art form in and of itself and usually the piece is composed in a way to maximize the use of the words and the visual beauty of those actual letters.

Conversely, poor handwriting can detract from the beauty of an otherwise great looking ATC. If you must write words on an ATC, consider using your computer's word processor and consider using the font size and the font style functions to change the text size and style so that it looks nice with the style of art that you are making.

If you use words on the ATC use them for when visuals don't tell the whole story, or when the words are part of the major part of telling what you are trying to represent.

For me composition is a thing I am trying to teach myself and I have a feeling it is difficult for some other people as well. Also for those of us who primarily use words to communicate we struggle to just let visual images do the talking. Consider letting go of the words, it sometimes improves your artwork.

Here is a good website with information and tips on the issue of composition in making art.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Polymer Clay ATCs

I am not a big polymer clay person (so far!). I have played around with polymer clay exactly three time in my life, the first being about seven years ago. The last time was last month and I made some ATCs out of polymer clay that day.

Some of them broke in the process of making them or gluing them or were dropped on the floor. So in the end I have two finished products to share with you.

The snowflake ATC was made by rolling polymer clay through a clay machine (pasta machine).

I then used a rubber stamp to make the impression. I then used a template on top (lightly) while I cut off the edges. So while still unbaked I had trimmed this to 2.5 to 3.5 inches in size. I then baked it. That is it!

The second one was a small scrap of polymer clay rolled through the clay machine.

I then used an angel image rubber stamp to make the impression.

After it was baked I could not see the image very much. I used India Ink to smear into the crevices.

I rubbed the top with a paper towel so the ink was not covering everything, it just sayed in the crevices.

I then adhered the clay to a prepared background of a wallpaper sample on top of recycled cardboard using Golden Acrylic Gel Medium Regular Matte.

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What I Do When Making ATCs

Last year, one of my chat lists has a thread asking what we do while making ATCs. I drafted a blog entry on the topic but realized I had never published it. So here it is.

If no one else is playing something like a TV or music I will put on an audiobook. I have been listening to some classics that I had never read before. I also listen to some juvenile fiction that is okay for my kids to hear which is good literature. For example, The Chronicles of Narnia and unabridged classics like Heidi. I borrow these from the library.

I also tried out some 'old time radio shows'. I borrow these from a nearby library with a huge amount of audio books. I just listened to the unabridged Heidi, Spider Sparrow, 10 CDs of old time radio shows.

I also listen to those while doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I found that having the TV on while I make ATCs such as when my husband is in the room and is listening to Fox News Channel squashes my creativity. Hearing bad news and complaining is not good for the creative process.

Sometimes I'll try to listen to a TV show, such as old reruns of shows I watched when I was a child (Andy Griffith, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, etc.), or current reality shows that happen to be on at the moment, but I also find the mind-deadening shows on TV to squash the creativity. More importantly the commercials bother me.

I also listen to music sometimes. I listen to old 80s music that I've owned for years since that music was current. Some of the music is depressing and uninspiring, though. I also listen to some Contemporary Christian music which is uplifting. Right now I am listening to "Beetoven's Wig" which started with my children wanting to listen to it inside the house and now the songs are in my head and I keep listening to it since it is so upbeat, funny, and lighthearted (good for making art to).

Stained Glass Technique Tip for Art or ATCs

I found this old unpublished entry which I originally wrote in April 2006.

Last night I worked more on stained glass (paint) technique ATCs.

Weeks ago I made the outline part. Last week I painted the insides, then cut them into ATCs. (I did big paper of the design then did random cuttings.)

However, during the drying process, the lines flattened out significantly. When I painted inside the lines it was hard to not get the black part wet with the watercolor paint and when it dried I could see the paint on top of the black (looked terrible).

Last night I sat down with damp Q-tips and cleaned up the black lines. I had to be very careful and make sure the Q-tip was damp, not wet. It worked.

I just wanted to share this in case anyone else had this problem.