Monday, February 15, 2010

Artist Trading Cards -- Tip of the Week - Recycle!

Today I am introducing a new weekly column that will appear each Monday and feature helpful hints and design ideas for creating unusual and eye-stopping Artist Trading Cards. Click on the individual pictures for a much larger view.

I fell in love with these miniature works of art about a year ago and have posted about them in the past. For the basics of ATC's, you can read more in my archives here and here. For inspiration, you can also check out my ATC album in my gallery at Splitcoast Stampers.

One of the most important aspects of creating a truly fabulous art card is to start with a sturdy foundation or base. A double layer of watercolor paper or very heavy card stock makes an excellent foundation, but watercolor paper is not inexpensive and I don't always have the color I want to use in the heaviest grade of card stock. I also hate to cut a full sheet of card stock for a couple of panels for art cards, and using thinner card stock might require three or four layers to achieve a substantial, sturdy base for a card.

If you reuse, recycle, and repurpose the way we do, you have wonderful alternatives to expensive card stock or watercolor paper in your recycle bin. I use the cardboard backings from packaging materials, thin cereal boxes, jello boxes, the cardboard that lines packages of pantyhose, and even used cardboard flat rate mailing envelopes as a middle layer. With such a substantial base, you can adhere even the thinnest card stock or patterned paper to either side for a very sturdy yet economical foundation for your artwork.

At 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, Artist Trading Cards are a perfect canvas for designs utilizing your smallest scraps. I save even small pieces of card stock, patterned paper and vellum. Sometimes only a few inches are needed to add a lacy border or to paper piece a portion of a design. I store my smallest scraps in a shallow drawer sorted by size. It's my first place to rummage when I am designing a new card.

I also save pieces of punched lace that are left over from larger projects and I'll often go ahead and punch an extra strip when I'm making punched lace and set it aside to use later on a greeting card or ATC. A strip of punched lace along the side of the card or across the bottom, layered under a strip of ribbon, can set an otherwise bland piece of ribbon off or turn a plain background into an eye catcher. I also save some of the punched out shapes that remain when you punch lace.... these miniature fleur de lis, hearts, flowers, and tiny scrolls are often a perfect embellishment for these very small design canvasses.

My "regular" scrap bin - where I store larger scraps.... anything larger than 3 or 4 inches square - is my next "go to" place for paper for ATC's. My scrap bin has hanging files where I store larger scraps sorted by color. When I make greeting cards, I will often cut the extra card stock into ATC sized panels so I have a rainbow stash on hand. They fit nicely in a plastic fruit or vegetable box, the kind that strawberries are sold in.

Here are a few ATC's that I made entirely from my scraps for a recent swap using recycled cardboard panels between layers of coordinating card stock and patterned paper.

Come back next week for some helpful hints about finishing touches - techniques for giving your card a beautiful finished edge and where to find the "perfect color" for your background.