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ArtTRADER m a g a z i n e

PUTTING THE ART IN TRADE Issue 6 - Spring 2009

Drawing Animals

Interviews with
Karen Cattoire
Shelli Heinemann

C o r n e r

Mixed Media
& Collage


The 101!

Cover background by Karen Cattoire

All About Trading

ATCs, Altered Art, Art Journals, Chunky Books & Creative Inspiration
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Table of Contents Spring 2009

3 Art Trader Contributors

4 Editor’s Note & Letters

Page 13
5 A Trade Story

7 Design 911: Composition

10 Presenting Your Artwork on the Web: Scanning

13 Gallery of Warm Colors: Red, Yellow, Orange & Black

15 Fabric Arts 101

Page 23
18 Artistic Journeys: Watercolor Pencils

23 Feature Interview: Karen Cattoire

28 Gallery: Altered CDs

31 In the Artist’s Studio with Amy Sargent

Page 57
36 Feature Interview: Shelli Heinemann

42 Gallery: Fabric Cards

44 Beginner’s Mixed Media & Collage: Backgrounds

CHIEF EDITOR Dana Driscoll
47 Critique Corner with Andrea Melione COPY EDITOR Meran ni Cuill
49 Preparing and Shipping of Mail Art Andrea Melione
Sal Scheibe
56 Vintage Collage Contest Winner Dana Driscoll
Amy Sargent
57 Gallery: Nature Kings Brittany Noethen
Shelli Heinemann
59 Illustration: Drawing (Cute) Animals Sharon Safranyos


64 Petite Artiste: Vivian S.K. ASSOCIATE DESIGNERS Brittany Noethen
Andrea Melione
65 Swap Hosting 101 PUBLISHED BY

69 What is Whimsy Art?

ArtTRADER Magazine
71 Advertisements
73 How to Contribute to ArtTrader Mag Advertising:
Call for Entries:

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Contributors •

Brittany Noethen is an artist living in a tech manager’s body. She would rather be

decapitated than give up making art, trading ATCs, or stop thinking that the phrase “Muffins

or Bust” is hilarious. She currently lives in Iowa with her partner Cat, her 12 year old pit bull,
Maggie, and shelves full of art supplies.
• •


Andrea Melione (AKA EraserQueen) has a B.S. in Arts Management and is doggedly

pursuing a Master’s in Library Science. She has been involved in Mail Art for five years

and is the co-founder of She is a contributor to ArtTrader Magazine

where she is a graphic designer and author. She mainly works in watercolor, colored
pencil, acrylics, markers and gel pens. Her work has been in four exhibits, though two were
academic and she isn’t sure if that counts enough to sound cool. •


Meran niCuill Fascinated by nature and science, Meran ni Cuill attempts daily to translate

her passions into art. Sometimes she feels she even succeeds! And then something else
will catch her attention and off she’ll go! Chasing another ideal. Meran enjoys gardening,
sunsets, dogs, birds, and just about anything as long as it’s not endless crowds of people. •
When those present, she’ll retreat to a quiet place and read a book, or cut some glass, both

of which she finds therapeutic.



Dana Driscoll is an experimental artist working in a variety of media including watercolors,

mixed media, oils, clay, book arts, hand papermaking, and altered art. She is currently

working on several artistic projects, including painting her way through a 78-card tree tarot

deck and combining her love of pottery and bookmaking. When not avoiding the perils of
pursuing her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, she can be found frolicking in nearby
forests or hanging out with her nerdy gamer friends. Dana’s work can be found at her blog: • and she can be reached at


Abi Aldrich is a K-6 Art teacher in Wyoming. She sells oil paintings professionally, makes •
pottery because she likes to play in the mud, and generally makes text -based sculptures

and installations because that is her true love. Beyond that she loves printmaking, drawing,

and graphic design. In all her massive amounts of free time, Abi hangs out with her

menagarie, including several rabbits, a chinchilla, a hampster, a cockatiel and a large
bearded dragon. She also calls West Africa every night to talk to the love of her life, Gee.
So in a nutshell, she is a nut who likes to make a mess in art! •

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Contributors •

Sal Scheibe works as a creative designer for print and web and also as a freelance •
illustrator. Her designs and artwork have appeared in books, CDs and DVDs and posters.

Sal is currently working on a number of large canvas paintings for art shows. She also

enjoys trading ATCs and is an administrator at Sal’s favorite artists

and illustrators include Joe Sorren, J.C. Leyendecker, William Bougereau and John Singer
Sargent. Her favored mediums are acrylic paint, colored pencils and markers.
• •

Amy L. Sargent is a poet, mixed-media artist, and writing professor living in Roseburg,

Oregon. She trades mail art under the artist ID “amyfaerie” at She
lives with her husband, their three cats, and an old, hand-me-down dog. When not writing,
making art, or teaching, she is most certainly at the post office or at a thrift store. •

Angela Kingston-Smith (aka LemurKat) is an illustrator, not an artist. With her quirky,

whimsical style she can turn anything cute and her art now graces the walls of fellow artists

all over the world, from Guatemala to Madagascar. She hails from the lovely south island of

New Zealand, and loves to add a “kiwi flavour” to her art. Kat is also a dedicated bibliophile.
Her motto is “always bring a book”. When she is not drawing, reading, sleeping or working,
Kat is usually writing (or editing). For more information on LemurKat or to see more of her •
art, pay a visit to her online gallery at deviantart.


Tracie Rozario Residing on the Sunny West Coast of Australia, Tracie is a self taught •
artist and lives with her husband, 3 children, 2 cats and 2 dogs. Her preferred medium is •
anything she can paint or draw with. Her passion lies in fantasy and portraits and much of

her work revolves around that theme: fantasy and whimsical style. She believes that her

biggest artistic influence is the Impressionist movement. The use of vibrant ‘true’ colors,
visible brush strokes and freedom that the movement represents has always inspired •
her. From taking the step of trading ATCs, Tracie has found herself also creating altered •
Dominos, art dolls, 4”x4” chunky book pages, 8”x8” journal pages, altered Rolodex address •
cards and even creating her own line of polymer stamps; things that she would never have

known about or even thought about doing. Tracie is a self-taught artist and is a qualified

Parchment Craft Australia Teacher and Duncan Ceramics Teacher. She also paints larger
works on commission. •
• •

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Editor’s Letter by Dana Driscoll

Here at ArtTrader Magazine we have been very excited to announce our new site, shop, and workshop
series! The new site is full of new features that will inspire you as an artist.
First, we have opened up an ArtTrader Store! Our store currently features a variety of fantastic collage
sheets and books produced by artists in our community. The current books featured there include
Color: A Collaborative Perspective and The Best of 2007, both created by artists at We look forward to bringing you even more great books, including the ATCsforALL
2008 and the ArtTrader Year 1 Compilation book!

We are also very pleased to announce the first two workshops in our new online series—Whimsy Art
Part I and Part II. We hope that you’ll be able to join us for these interactive online workshops and
that they bring you inspiration. Because not everyone knows what “Whimsy Art” exactly is, we have
included an article introducing Whimsy Art in this issue.

And, as usual, we have a jam-packed issue full of eye candy, techniques, and so much more! This month
we feature technique articles on scanning in your art to display online, an article on Packaging your
ATCs for swaps and mailing, and an introduction to collage backgrounds. And if that isn’t enough, we
also have a look at the studio of Amy Sargent, and interviews with Karen Cattoire and Shelli Heinemann.
We also have our regular columns, including Artistic Journeys, Design 911, Petite Artiste, and more. So
read, be inspired, and go create some art!

Everyone is here on
earth as an artist;
to tell his particular
story or sing her
irreplaceable song; to
leave a unique creative

Leonard Wolf

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A Trade
The cards and poem
displayed here were
created by David Diamond
(Morning Walk) and
Pamela Vosseller (The
Rose), artists who trade at

In November, David
saw a beautiful flower
card displayed in the gallery
titled “The Rose” by Pamela
Vosseller. He asked for the
card in trade, and promised
a custom card in return.
Pam happily sent off “The
Rose” to David just as David’s wife, Irene, became seriously ill due to cancer complications.

David’s wife passed away in late January, and David asked Pam
for permission to incorporate “The Rose” into a memory tribute
card to give to people attending Irene’s memorial service. “The
Rose” was printed on watercolor paper and included a poem to
Irene on the back. David keeps the card now on an altar in his
bedroom dedicated to Irene.

Just recently David was able to begin working on his art once
again. His first project was to finish the ATC for Pam. He knew
he wanted to create something extremely special, and “A
Morning Walk” was the card he created.

“A Morning Walk” was chosen as Card of

the Month for February 2009.

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Design 911h
by Andrea Melione
The impact of color is tremendous: Not only does color have an emotional impact, it also has an impact
on your design and the composition of your artwork, be it an ATC or a large mural! Color has the
power to attract the eye, take attention away from an element in your work, move the eye around the
composition, and make the artwork more exciting to look at. In this issue, we’re going to look at how to
use this power to enhance the design of our personal artwork.

To Draw Attention Around an Image

Color is a powerful tool to move the viewer’s
eye through a piece of artwork. You can easily
guide the viewer though your composition,
using color.

This postcard has a lot going on. Though

there appears to be an explosion of color, the
color is in fact carefully controlled. The text
“Peace for All’ is a very light green, and green,
of course, contains yellow. None of the other
areas of color within the image contain yellow;
they are either purple (red and blue) or blue.
In addition, the light green is also the lightest
color in the composition, adding the very
important element of contrast. The light green
word “Peace” seems to drip down through the
rest of the lettering, and on down around the
left hand, leading the viewer’s eye completely
through the image.

Color Composition Tip:

Before adding color to your artwork, take
a sheet of scratch paper and test the color
you want to use first. Some shades of color
work better together than others. If you do
not have experience in color theory, it is a
good idea to plan color first. As you gain
experience, you will gradually learn to use
color intuitively; but in the beginning it is best
Postcard by Andrea Melione to make decisions based on experimentation,
rather than random choices!

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To Draw Attention Away

You can actually use color to draw attention away from something in your art (such as a mistake!) Use a
neutral color for the area you wish to draw attention from, and use brighter, more intense color (this is called
saturation) in an area away from the neutral colors. Let’s look at the Peace postcard once more: You will
see that the hands are a neutral color. Skin color can be any color; red, yellow, black, brown etc. But the
hands for this image were specifically colored a neutral tan/gray so as not to compete with the round Earth!
Because a neutral color can so easily fade into the background, the hands are outlined in fuchsia, so as to
remain visible to the eye. Fuchsia was carefully chosen, though, so it would remain cohesive with the rest
of the purple/blue elements in the design.

To Draw Attention To
The same principle applies here. If you wish to draw attention to a face, or to text, use color to draw the

This postcard has a really difficult composition: The text and collaged hand are almost competing with the
cupcake because they take up about the same amount of space in the postcard. However, you can use
color to save an iffy composition such as this. Notice that that hand/text area and the background all are
fuchsias, blues and purples. All of these colors have some amount of blue in them, and are considered
‘cool’ in temperature. In order to draw the eye toward the cupcake, I used warm colors, colors that would
contain some amount of yellow. The green surrounding the cupcake contain yellow (yellow + blue = green),
and I shaded the pink frosting with orange (yellow + red = orange) to warm it up! The cherry girl’s skirt is
green and yellow, and the cake portion of the cupcake is a warm brown (which also contains yellow.) I left
the collaged ‘pointing hand’ a neutral gray so as not to stand out more than it already does; the gray is tied
into the color composition by the silver I used around the border of the card.

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Contrast with Color

Contrast is simply a way to enhance the visual quality of an artwork and make it look more interesting.
Think of cartoons in your newspaper: The ones that grab your attention the quickest are not the ones
that feature simple line drawings, but the ones that feature a use of strong areas of black, or ones that
use ‘half tones’ which are grays for shading. Color can be used for the same eye-catching effect.

Thus, tonal value (the scale from light to dark) is very important, even with color, which also has a value
of light to dark. Instead of creating a collage or painting with medium blues and medium purples, shake
it up a bit by varying the light or darkness of the blues or purples. For example, if you are creating a
color wash over your collage, vary how much paint you mix with the water: A lot of water will give a light
colored wash, and less water and more paint will give a more intense colored wash.

One thing that can be good to avoid is muddy color and color of all the same value, or color that does
not match the mood you are trying to convey. Is your work cheerful? Avoid muddy colors! Muddy
color is created when you mix too many colors together, such as mixing purple and yellow, or red, blue
and yellow together.

Muddy colors, or neutrals can actually convey a mood very well (such as contemplation, or fear) if you
know how to use them, but contrast is still important! This card here has a distinct brown/red/neutral
scheme but contrast is created with the use of white.

Collage or other media is no different; make sure

your work has contrast, with lights and darks.
And be careful where you place them: The whitest
whites and the blackest blacks should not be
added randomly (such in a collage or abstract)
but placed with a composition in mind! For more
ideas about composition of elements (rather than
color), read the Design 911 column in issue four
of ArtTrader Mag.

Color is a crucial component of your design; try to

make intentional decisions on how you use color,
keeping some of the above tips in mind. In the next
issue, I’ll be discussing how to create a cohesive
composition through Gestalt Theory! (Trust me,
it’s much less complicated than it sounds!)

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Presenting Your Artwork on the Web: Scanning

By Tracie Rozario
Today’s technology has allowed us to reach millions of people with
our art, to showcase our talents to places around the world that only
15 years ago was a privilege of a select few. The tools we use to First impressions
replicate our art for the Web are getting more and more advanced count.
and yet accessible each day. Scanners, digital cameras and editing
software are more affordable than ever and make the job of showing
our art easier. The way art is
The way art is presented on the web can help an artist get sales or presented on the
trades initiated. What potential purchasers or traders see first is the web can help
image on the Web and may never have a chance to see the art in
person until after the trade or sale is complete. As the old saying an artist get
goes, first impressions count, and that couldn’t be truer for an artist sales or trades
on the web. There is nothing appealing about a badly scanned or
photographed image no matter how creative and stunning the piece initiated.

There are a few things an

artist can do to help improve
the quality of their art’s
presentation on the Web.

When scanning or
photographing your artwork,
it is important to do it in the
highest resolution possible.
This may take your scanner a
little longer to create the scan,
but the benefits far outweigh
the additional time it takes.
You should always think 'just
in case I get published'—
which means keeping a high-
resolution image of your art on


As publishers require high-resolution images, why risk being rejected due to not being able to provide
a good quality image? These high-resolution scans then become your basis for creating your image for
the web.

Above are two examples of a low-resolution scan that has been badly cropped and a high resolution
scan, neatly cropped, of the same image.

2D art is best scanned and allows for the best possible recreation of your image. So we will look at 'how'
to do this in more detail.

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All scanners come with software to use; this is always the best way to scan your work unless you are
familiar with scanning through editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop.

Ensure that your scanning bed is clean. It is amazing how many little pieces of fluff, dust, glue, paint,
etc., can adhere to the scanning bed. A good way to clean it is by using a microfiber cloth and a cleaner
for eyeglasses. Don’t spray the cleaner directly on the bed, but onto the microfiber cloth.

Next look at your scanner’s settings. A good standard resolution is around 300-400dpi. Make sure
that you have set it to this higher resolution in the settings. Secondly, ensure that your scanner is set
for the correct document type. Some of the newer scanners have an 'auto detect' function which pre-
scans your work and sets the scanner to the corresponding document type. Common document types
include black and white, newspaper, text, photo, and so forth. If your scanner requires you to manually
set the type, make sure you scan all your colored work with a color photo setting, for colored and black
and white photo for black and white images only. Shaded black and white images scan better on a
colored photo setting.

Scan your artwork and save it 'as is' to a file on your computer. This will become your 'record' of your
art, a raw un-cropped high-resolution copy.

The next steps occur in your photo editing software. Editing your image this way gives you the best
control of how your image appears on the web. Following certain steps each time will ensure that
nothing gets missed.

1. Open your image in your editing software. And use the software to rotate the image into a straight

2. Once the image is straight, crop the image to as close to the edge of the art as possible. Even going
slightly inside your design is ok.

3. Once it is cropped, zoom into the image and look to see if the scanner has picked up any bits of stuff
from the scanner bed. If it has, use the 'spot healing brush' to remove those marks.

4. At this point, I recommend saving it as another high-resolution copy of your work. Rename the file
when you do this.

5. Finally most of the editing software has a 'save for web' option. When you use this reducing your
work to around 40% is a good idea and saving it as 'high' or 'medium' resolution. This final save of
your work is the image you use on the web.

Scanning, cropping and editing

your image ensures that you are shown
to the world at your best

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Pencil/graphite drawings often loose a lot of detail in a scan, no matter what setting you use.

Couchart at has a simple solution to retain a precise scan of pencil drawings.
She suggests laying a standard clear transparency between your scanner and your artwork before
scanning. Adding the transparency diffuses the scanner’s light so it doesn’t reflect directly on the

These images were created and scanned by Couchart (Cynthia Couch). The image on the left is without
the transparency and the image on the right is with the transparency. The difference is amazing.

Scanning, cropping and editing your image ensures that you are shown to the world at your best. It may
require a little bit of extra work, which over time becomes second nature, but it’s a small price to pay to
always put your best foot forward.

Artwork by Tracie Rozario

& Cynthia Crouch

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Gallery of Warm Colors

Red, Yellow, Orange and Black
From the ar t ists of

Marlene Koons
Grace Wolf Margaux Lashbrook Betty Yeo

Elena Garcia Joni Owens Gail Flanders

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Sue Spencer Charlie Dale Kati Barrett

z Martine Schutt
Color is the language of
the poets. It is astonishingly
lovely. To speak it is a privilege.

Paula Perrin
Keith Crown

Shirley Wolfe

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Fabric ATCs 101

Or the Demystification of Fabric!
by Sharon Safranyos

What makes a fabric ATC different from any other ATC? Nothing
except that the medium is fabric rather than paper, pencil, or
paint. So why is fabric art so scary? I guess for the same reason
watercolor painting is so scary to me! Fabric art is different , and
you have not used it before. The terminology and sheer volume
of terms can also be intimidating: Cottons and man made fibres,
wool and other fibres to wet felt, needle felt, painting on silk, dying
silk, heat distressing, and more. If you are not familiar with fabric
and how it behaves it, it can be very scary. Fear not! Read on
and see the possibilities fabric has to offer the ATC artist.

How do I make an ATC base?

There are many choices for creating the base of a fabric ATC.
Most fabric needs a stabilizer of some sort if you are going
to be doing any stitching on the card. Stabilizers can be as
simple as freezer paper ironed onto the back of the fabric, or
the specialized stabilizers used in machine embroidery. One of
the stiffest products you can use is the stiffener used in curtain
making; it can be purchased from fabric stores and is usually
called buckram. Fabric stores also sell a most useful product
known as iron-on adhesive, there are many brands and many
can be used in ATCs. Misty-Fuse is another iron-on adhesive
produced more for quilters, it is great to use on silk as it doesn’t
leave any adhesive marks.

What do I use to make the card?

I can hear you say, “But I don’t have a stash of fabric!” I admit it, I do
have a fabric stash. I have fabric in bins and boxes and drawers,
but I have been addicted to fabric for many many years! You
don’t need a huge stash, and you don’t need to spend a fortune
in a fancy fabric store to make fabric ATCs. You can use clothes
the kids have grown out off, cut off legs from jeans, or finds from
a thrift store. Even the Dollar Store may have goodies you had
never though of: lace placemats, bandanas and tea-towels. Any
fabric can be used with a little imagination: plain cotton, printed
cotton, wool, lace denim, silk, ultrasuede, and velvet. You can
stamp on it, paint on it as well as stitch it!

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But what do I do with it?

Although a sewing machine is extremely useful (so useful that

I have seven, all the way from my Gran’s treadle machine to a
computerized all singing, all dancing, treasure!), having a sewing
machine is not essential. You can create a fabric collage card
using gel medium on a card base (see Collage Tangled at bottom)
and add in other media such as paper and paint or stamps. To
try this, just think of fabric in the same way you would if you
were going to collage with paper. Many printed fabrics can make
interesting collages by virtue of the prints themselves, such as
the landscape card shown here at right.

If you have access to a sewing machine, then the possibilities are

endless! You can embellish the existing fabric with stitching, either
straight stitching or pre-programmed stitches if your machine has
them. You can stitch around the existing image on the fabric.
This can be especially effective if quilting batting is used under
the fabric; it almost makes a sculpted card.

Fabric collage can also be done using stitching to anchor the

fabric as in this card where the poppies are held down with zig
zag stitches. The Poppies card shown here (at right) was done
using free motion stitching where the feed dogs have been
lowered and the fabric is moved by your hands rather than the
machine pulling the fabric through using the feed dogs. For more
information on free motion stitching or thread-painting see the
excellent article by Cathy Greene in ArtTrader Mag, issue four.

Even if you only feel confident enough to stitch in a straight line

you can create a lovely ATC using straight stitches, and built-in
stitches if your machine has them.

Ribbons can be added as well as fancy yarn and other threads.

You can, of course, hand stitch on fabric! Beads and sequins can
be added, as well as other embellishments such as rhinestones,
fancy threads, and charms. Your inspiration can come from the
same place as when you create other cards or it can come from
the fabric itself.

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How to I finish my card?

Fabric can fray over time and even if your card was glued to
the base, threads can work their way free and you end up with
a ratty looking card after a while. My favorite way to finish fabric
cards is to use zig-zag stitch around the edges. You will have to
practice this to find the best settings for your machine, but as a
starting point I usually set the stitch width between 3.5 and 4mm
depending upon the card, and the stitch length between 0.5 and
0.2 mm. When the needle is to the right, it should be just off the
edge of the fabric. Another way to finish the edges if you don’t
want to stitch them is to brush the edges with an acrylic paint
such as Jacquard Lumiere. This can give the edges a metallic
look too which can be very effective.


To summarize, to create fabric ATCs:

• Think of fabric as just another art media.
• If you are going to stitch on the card then a stabilizer is
essential; this will stop the fabric puckering as you stitch.
• Gel medium works well on fabric.
• Practice, practice, practice!

So what are you waiting for? What, you really don’t have any
fabric at all? No excuse! To get the novices going, I will send
the first 6 people who PM me with a 4x6 inch envelope with
fabric, stiffener for base, iron-on adhesive, ribbon and yarn to
inspire you. Just send a PM to Pippin at Happy

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Artistic Journeys:
Introduction to Watercolor Pencils
by: Dana Driscoll
Watercolor pencils are a hybrid between drawing and painting
that are highly transportable and flexible. Watercolor pencils
differ from normal colored pencils in the sense that they are
water soluble (I think of it similar to dried paint in pencil form).
You can draw with them as normal pencils, create watercolor
washes, or even create whole paintings! They are also rather
economical and easy to clean up, making them the perfect
addition to your artistic repertoire. Finally, watercolor pencils
are perfect for vacations or outdoor drawing!

What materials do I need to start

Pencils As a final note, you should keep Solvent, Sponges, and
If you want good quality pencils, your watercolor pencils stored
Other Blenders
you will have to be willing to pay separately from your regular
You can also have handy solvent
a bit more. When I was quite colored pencils. Otherwise, you
(optional for techniques), Q-tips,
young, my parents bought me a can end up with working on a piece
paper towels, sponges (optional
set of Crayola watercolor pencils. you thought was all watercolor
for techniques), and a colorless
I had them for a long time, and pencils, but is really only partially
blender (paper or marker, usually
later purchased a set of Kimberly watercolor pencil (and ruin
found in drawing aisle (optional for
watercolor pencils. I was amazed whatever design you were hoping
techniques). I’ll cover using these
at the difference in quality between to achieve).
in more detail below.
the two brands! Then of course,
I bought some Faber Castell Brushes
watercolor pencils and Derwent For watercolor pencils, you’ll
Inktense pencils—both fantastic want to use watercolor brushes Watercolor
brands. I was recently given a set (these are brushes with longer,
of Prismacolor watercolor pencils softer bristles). For ATC sized Pencils
by a friend, and these are also cards, smaller sizes of brushes
quite nice. work best. If you are doing larger
work, however, definitely switch
and ATCs
One of the things you’ll find is to a larger brush so that you can I’ve used watercolor pencils
that different pencil brands have avoid inconsistencies in your water
different softness, which affects the
for many of my ATCs,
application. I prefer using the
application of color on the page. If round brushes for watercolor pencil
especially the ones I have
you are serious about working with work as the water flows smoothly done for swaps. I find
watercolor pencils, it might benefit into the pigment on the page and that since the pencils lend
you to purchase several types of you can work in softer edges than themselves so well to fine
brands to see which ones you like. with the square brushes. detail, I can work in the
Unfortunately, watercolor pencils smaller format with ease with
are not graded like normal pencils the watercolor pencils. They
(graded for hardness, such as 9H) really are a fantastic resource
so you just have to experiment. for ATC creators!

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Using the Pencil in Other

Many of the techniques I talk about next are not mutually Ways
exclusive—you don’t need to stick to only one technique, but You can use the watercolor
rather can do several overlapping techniques. The overlapping of pencil to achieve many effects.
techniques can produce some of the best work! One technique is to take a small
blade and scrape pieces of the
paint off of it in small chunks.
Sprinkle these chunks into wet
Colored Pencil Technique paper (I sometimes sprinkle
them into a freshly made piece of
wet handmade paper) and they
An easy way to use watercolor pencils is to simply use them will bleed and create interesting
like regular pencils. They give you a very rich color and have patterns. This quickly uses
a different texture than regular colored pencils, allowing you to up your pencils, however! If
create different effects. you want to conserve, you can
take the pieces from the pencil
If you are going to use them as normal pencils, I suggest you seal shavings.
them with a spray workable fixative or laminate so that they don’t
come in contact with water and ruin your design. DO NOT seal A second way you can use the
pencil is by grabbing the paint
them with a wet/brush-on varnish! The colors will mix together and
from it directly with a wet brush.
your image won’t be the way you want it.
So in this case, your pencil
becomes nothing but a mini well
Honestly though, if you are only going to use them as colored of paint for you to use. This
pencils, you should really just be using colored pencils (oil-based is good to use for touching up
colored pencils give a similar look and feel). This allows you to pieces, but not for large-scale
avoid “accidents” such as water drips or using the wrong sealer. applications!

Painting Technique (i.e. Wet Brush) Not just a Wet Brush!

You can also use other brush-
My favorite way to use watercolor pencils is to first draw in a
like materials to create effects.
design as if I’m using colored pencils, then use a wet brush and
A wet or semi-wet sponge on a
water to “paint” that design into the paper. I find that I can get colored surface will produce a
more precise designs this way than having to use watercolors or neat design! You can also use a
pencils alone. I can also work on my designs in places that normal sponge or Q-tip to remove some
watercolors would have difficulty going (like the bus station!) of the color when the paint is still
wet on the page.
There is a ratio between the amount of color you add to your page
and how brilliant the effect becomes. I recommend adding your You can use solvent instead of
color in layers instead of all at once, as you’ll get more subtle water to create a very different
undertones and an overall more consistent color. You can also type of effect—solvent makes
your watercolor pencils very
mix the colors you use for even more complex color combinations.
transparent when compared
I almost always use at least two or three colors for each color area
with water. I’ve managed to get
I am working on. almost alcohol-ink like effects
with them!
As soon as you apply the water to the pencilling, you’ll find that the
drawing explodes in brilliant color! This is great if color is what you For those of you who like rubber
want—but be careful! If you are going for a muted tone, you’ll want stamping—watercolor pencils are
to be cautious of how much pencil you apply; the colors could a fantastic way to add color to
your designs. Because of the

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fine control you can get with end up much brighter or deeper than you intended. If you want
them, your designs can become
muted tones, only use the smallest amount of pencil—what it
very, very intricate!
looks like before and after you have added the water can be
strikingly different indeed!
Layering of Paint and Other
One of the neatest things One of the techniques I like to use is to make your edges darker
about watercolor pencils is that and your interior lighter. This is something that is more difficult
since you can use so many to achieve with regular watercolors, but is relatively easy with
techniques with them, they watercolor pencils. You’ll see it on my finished piece on page
take well to layering of those 21 — simply add double the pigment around the edges and be
techniques. So start with a mindful when you are applying your water to the page.
wash, for example, and then
use a wet pencil for bold lines! You should pay attention to your brush strokes when applying
The techniques will complement the color—different patterns can end in different designs. I apply
each other.
color to one section of color at a time, always rinsing my brush
with water before moving to a new colored section.
I also encourage you to use
these pencils with other media.
I’m very fond of using watercolor You have to work very quickly—if you let the paper dry on one
pencils with ink to create more section, you will get a cloudy line or splotch where the wet and
contrast. You can also use both dry sections meet. Its better to keep a section slightly wet as
regular pencil and watercolor you go along, or to work your way along a complete section.
pencil in a design—the This is more of a problem with larger sections of color than with
watercolor pencil will turn into smaller sections of color.
paint but the regular pencils will
stay put! Crayons or wax resist When you are filling in your color with your brush, you may
also produce very interesting
also find that the brush has too much paint and the colors are
combinations. Experiment and
getting too saturated. Simply dunk your paint brush back into
have fun!
your water and swish it around and then you will have a clean
brush to work with. If you want consistent color in places, this is
a very important technique. I often dip my brush back into my
paint after every two or three strokes or so to maintain my color

Wet Paper Technique

Another technique you can use is the wet paper technique. With
this technique, you begin by wetting a blank piece of watercolor
paper. After wetting the paper, begin drawing with your pencils.
How much water you use will impact how far the watercolor
pencils will spread. This will give you soft lines but still fairly
bright colors.

This technique can be used with the wet brush technique,

but only very carefully and AFTER you have done your wet
brush work. Once you do the “painting” part of the wet brush
technique, your paint is adhered to the paper quite well and
could take on a bit more water. You might get some muddy
results depending on how much pencil you used, however.

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Wet Pencil Technique

You can also choose to
wet your pencil and apply
it to dry paper. You can
wet your pencil with water
or with solvent for different
types of effects. The wet
pencil technique produces
very brilliant lines of solid

This technique works very

well in conjunction with
the wet brush technique.
Let your paper dry out
completely after painting
the color in with the wet
brush and then draw with
the wet pencil to add
deeper, more brilliant hues.

Watercolor Pencil Painting Walkthrough

The following is a walkthrough using some of the techniques I described above. The image was
a fantasy piece I created for my significant other for a Christmas gift—two fairies, myself and him,
playing our musical instruments!

1. Pencil Drawing: First, I started with a pencil 2. Watercolor Pencil Application: I have
drawing of the final image I wanted to produce. started to apply the watercolor pencil to the
The drawing was done on watercolor paper with figures in the center. You can already see how
a little bit of roughness, but not too much. I’ve added more pigment to the outside areas to
get shaded edges.

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3. More Pigment: I applied water to the two 4. And Yet More Pigment: I’ve filled in the
figures in the center and have now begun to add details on the flowers and added the paint. Now
in the colors for the flowers. With watercolor I’ve begun to fill out the trees, grass and tree
pencils, it really doesn’t matter if you do your trunk.
background or foreground first.

5. Water applied! The rest of the pigment has 6. Adding Finishing Details: Watercolor pencils
been filled in and the watercolor pencil has been are wonderful on their own, but I decided to go
applied. Notice the difference in color from the back in and add some white acrylic for highlights
earlier images to this one. and also some ink on the edges to make them
more defined. The final result is on page 21.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue’s Artistic Journeys column. Watercolor pencils have much to offer
the mail artist, so have fun and experiment!

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Karen Cattoire
Interviewed by Andrea Melione

Karen Cattoire, a fiber artist, paints with her thread, adds sparkle with beads and uses mirrors to create her
magic. So much emotion can be expressed through pure color. Her art can evoke the joy of sunshine on the
skin, the mystery of the ocean depths and the exotic scent of spices at a Middle Eastern marketplace. In this
issue, Karen shares with us her experiences and inspirations.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Karen: Well... I am French, 40, and I live on a wonderful, peaceful, paradise-like island in the South Pacific
Ocean, in the archipelago of Vanuatu. I settled there last year in November, and before that, for 15 years or
so, I was a kind of globetrotter! I have been living in Sri Lanka for 3 years; before that, I was in Malaysia for 7
years, and before that again, I was in Taiwan for 3 Years. I am married to the most adorable husband I could
ever dream of, with no children, and happiness all around me! Two years ago, I created a company dedicated
to gift wrapping made of fabric (mostly raw silk and organdy), but the political disastrous condition of Sri Lanka
led us to leave the country before the company really took off! So, here I am, dedicating all my time to my new
passion, creative contemporary fiber art, and I just love it!

Have you had any formal training in art?

Karen: Not at all! Would you believe me if I told you that I was “stapling” my trousers’ hem 4 years ago? Never
touched a needle in my life before creating my company. And I was an absolute beginner in the beading field
when I started the challenge called Beading Journal Project inspired by Robin Atkins in June 2007! Everything
I learned was from the Internet, even my very first chain stitch! I got it from the “In a Minute Ago” of Sharon B.!
Then, after getting into this field of bead and fabric, I attended training in France for one week, and that was
that! Surfing on the Web is just a marvelous trip where you find all the answers to your questions. It is just
limitless! I am seeking new techniques on the web every day, and I really enjoy experimenting all these new
techniques and materials on my own. I think it is the best method for me to learn by myself in a remote place
where only coconuts and seashells are available for creating! Anyway, I think I would be a very bad pupil, as I
am reluctant to any reproduction of a model, or copying an existing design! It would work for 3 minutes... and
then, I slip away and do it my way! Of course, to learn on my own is time consuming, but I guess this way I
got less influenced by “the way it should be.” I am not too fond of the standards and traditional ways of doing
things, and this is why I feel so at ease with art and mixed media; I can get all the freedom I want!

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You have traveled a great deal. Where have you been and how have these places inspired you and
your work?

Karen: Traveling has been my first passion for more than 25 years! I just love discovering new cultures, new
faces, new landscapes, new colors and smells, new habits, new sounds from the languages and dialects.
Every single trip gives me a lesson of humility, and enlarges the spirit. I have been traveling in every single
country of Asia, from Japan to the Philippines, China to Indonesia, Nepal to Australia and New Zealand,
South Korea to Thailand, and I kept from these wonderful trips some feelings, some images that, for sure,
inspires my work today! I guess the most obvious influence I got from my traveling around Asia was India.
I felt in love with this country, so rich in colors, fragrances, ancestral culture; such a rich heritage! When
you see all the colors, the embellishments and embroidery of the saris of the women, the traditional outfit, it
brings you into another world of wonders. The 1001 Nights, Ali Baba and the Magic Lamp, the grandeur of
the Marahajahs, and the Taj Mahal. All my series of Shisha embroideries have a direct link with my last trip to
Rajasthan; it is obvious! This is the most specific influence I got from my intense traveling. Other than that,
I keep in mind a much more blurred, diffuse feeling from my trips that also influences my art. I am thinking
about the colors in general, the brightness of the landscapes and flowers, the traditional Dances from Bali or
Thailand, the terrific sky’s density after a tropical rain. All these visual elements make me want my pieces to
appear bright and alive! This is why I make a lot of use of glass beads and sequins that reflect light. As soon
as you make a move in front of my work, it changes because the reflection of the light gives a movement
to the whole piece. We cannot see it in pictures because they are static, but my fiber art is very much alive
when you can approach it. I like this idea of the observer having an interaction with my work, playing with
the light together!

Color and composition play a really important role in your art. Do you plan these carefully, or do you
work with them more intuitively?

Karen: As I just said, I like the idea of interaction between the observer and my work. In the same way,
I like my work to stimulate the imagination of the watcher. How? I only do abstract art, where, off course,
composition andcolors are everything! I like to think that when looking at my work, people will be lead to
imagine their own little story, they might slide into sweet memories and dream to something that makes them
happy. I am myself very much sensitive to colors, especially warm tones. They make me feel good, they
move me or hypnotize me depending of my mood! I am very intuitive in my work, to answer your question!
I never know what it will look like at the end. So, let me tell you how I proceed exactly when I start a new

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First I choose a color, or a two-color

combination; very seldom do I start
with a theme, an image or an idea.
I put on my table everything related
with this color, beads, threads, fabric,
paper, paint, appliques, and I start
playing with it. After a while, I leave
the room, do something else, then
come back, have a look to my work,
arrange the elements differently, add
new ones, remove some others, get
out of the room, and this process can
last for half a day, or more! Then, when
I have an idea of the background and
the emotion that comes out of it, I start
to think about what kind of sense,
significance, feeling or direction I
want to give to this piece. This time
of thinking (giving a significance to
thepiece and also finding the title) is
stretchable from one piece to another.
Sometimes, the elements “talk” to me
very clearly, they just lead me and
show me the way; sometimes, they
just keep quiet! And that can take
a very long time to make them talk,
sometimes, weeks! I look at them, try
to see through the lines, just like when
you try to guess somebody’s secret
thoughts, I get patient, then lose
patience, then get angry sometimes,
then start another piece! And come
back once in a while to see if the
reluctant piece has finally something
to say. It happened once that the
piece never talked to me! Then guess
what! I chopped it into ATCs pieces,
embellished them and traded them all!

Tell us a little about how you create your work: How many methods of embroidery do you
incorporated into one piece? And can you explain what “Shisha” is?

Karen: My first pieces of work were the first pages of the Beading Journal Project. I was a real beginner
and had not much knowledge on my side to create. So, I was stitching newly learned stitches in front
of my computer, pulling my tongue out of my mouth! I made a lot of use of laces at the beginning, which
brought me a very nice design that I could embellish quite easily. Then, with the time and my many
search results on the web, I got many different techniques I could use to achieve my work. I started to
incorporate paper, silk fibers, paint, glitter, seeds and everything that could fit on the piece. I started
gluing the beads on the round metallic plates that I use for creating my Bubbles series. That was last
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week! Who know what I will be experimenting with tomorrow? One

thing is for sure in my method to create, is that time is not ever taken
into consideration to achieve a piece. I take time to make things nice
and detailed. No matter how many days it takes. I like the watcher
to come very very close to my work to discover how many details he
can find, and stay a long, long time to enjoy all the tangled elements.
I make it impossible to see everything in one glance!

As for the Shisha, this is an Indian traditional embroidery. A little bit of

history first: Most of the Banjaras tribes living in Gujarat, Rajasthan and
Andhra Pardesh provinces (North of India) were using mica or glass cut
into different shapes in their embroideries. The slightly convex silver
glass used in the past for this process was thought to frighten away
evil spirits who were terrified by the sight of their own image! Today
again, the Shisha embroidery with small mirrors is very popular, and it
is still in use to embellish the garments of the Indian ladies. However,
in the more commercial items such as cushion covers, wall hangings
or purses, the ladies now use a big silver plastic sequin instead of
the mirror, and the effect is quite amazing too! I give a contemporary
interpretation of the Shisha embroidery in my Shisha pieces. I mix silk
fibers, which I spread on a raw silk background, free machine stitch
over it, and then embellish with lots of beads, Shisha mirror embroidery
and traditional stitches.

Please tell us a little about your materials: What is your favorite

thing to work with? What types of fabrics, beads and threads do
you use?

Karen: Natural Fibers! No synthetics! My favorite fabric is raw silk. I

have tons of it! I especially like its fantastic sheen, and double color
thread is the best of all, because as you pass by in front of it, it changes
of color! Once again, it adds some alive feeling to the material and
interaction with the viewer! I have one stunning pieceof raw silk, that
shifts from violet to orange, and another exquisite one that changes
from sunflower yellow to shocking pink! Really amazing material. And I
also like the unevenness of the fabric, with sometimes big extras from
the cocoon that makes you remember it comes from a worm! I also like
t batiks, and I try to avoid any synthetic fibers as much as I can. Same
thought process for the beads: I prefer glass beads, clay beads or
terracotta beads instead of plastic beads. I guess this is a side effect
of the deep respect I pay to our planet, and it can show in my choice
of material, preferring natural non-pollutant materials instead of an “all
plastic way of life!”

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Do you find the work of any other artists


Karen: I see thousands of creations from Flickr’s

artist galleries and there are a lot of very skilled,
impassioned, impressive, creative artists, but
if you want one name, I guess it will be Arlee
Barr! She fascinates me! I don’t think her art
influences me, but I really admire her creativity,
the significance she gives to her art, her sense
of humor, and most of all, I am really amazed
by the amount of work she has sustained for
so long! Never a lack of inspiration, and very
skillful! Absolutely original! As for creation, I draw
inspiration from every single thing I see in my
daily life! It could be a fallen leaf, a bizarre tree,
the association of colors on somebody’s clothes,
a printed fabric, a left-over on a plate after dinner,
but most of the time, it comes from colors.

How did you learn about ATCs?

Karen: Surfing on the web! I saw these cards were

traded from one artist to another, and I found it
funny! It is a good way to get a nice artwork from
someone who has mastered a technique that you
ignore, and the idea of exchanging suits me very
well! I wanted to try this tiny format, to see how
it feels, and I must admit that I had fun at the
beginning, but I felt very quickly short in space
on a 2.5 x 3.5 inch surface! So, I sometimes do
some 4x4 art squares or postcards, and it is only
for trading. I prefer a bigger space to express

Karen Cattoire on the Web!

Flickr online galery:

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Altered CDs
Collage is the twentieth
century’s greatest
- Robert Motherwell -
Darlene Mariano

Eileen Grobeck Linda Ann Brunton

Tina Jones-Patrides Lynne Turnbull

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Geraldine Gezza Rona Kelly

p Helen Campbell

Martha Cohen Joni Owens

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Marilyn Tuley Shirley Bell

Patricia Walsh Victoria Holdwick

Shirley Bell Rona Kelly

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A Look at the
Layered Art of
Amy L. Sargent
and the Studio
Space Behind Her

By Amy L. Sargent

Part I: Developing a Studio Space

When my husband and I decided to pack up our household
and move to Oregon in the summer of 2008, I had one wish
for our new home; I didn’t want my art space to be in the
basement any longer. In Pennsylvania, my art was created
on a cramped workbench in a corner of a damp, century-
old stone cellar. In the winter, it was so cold in my little art
dungeon that I constantly dragged projects up into all other
rooms of our little house, just to stay warm.

My husband had his own wish for our new home—that he

could have a spare bedroom as his own space, for workout
equipment, video games and our second television.

So, when we landed in Roseburg, Oregon, in what seemed to

be an otherwise perfect house, we realized we were stuck—
there was only one spare bedroom, and the house had no
basement. My husband didn’t care where my art supplies
went, as long as he was able to claim that little extra bedroom
as his own. So, it didn’t take much discussion—in lieu of
adding a table and chairs to our dining room, it became my
art studio.

The windows along one wall let in ample natural light, and I
was able to furnish the space from scratch. My largest piece
of studio furniture is the white wooden countertop that fills one
wall—it was found in an architectural salvage yard, already
painted. I added the trim, made of a salvaged board, and the
calico skirts to give myself a little hidden storage. Underneath
the skirts, I store scrapbook papers, ephemera and vintage
book text.

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An architectural salvage yard is an absolute treasure to any

community that has one—I frequented one when I lived in
Pittsburgh, and there are two near my new home. With an open
mind and a few dollars, I can leave with a box of rusted switch
plates, hinges and knobs, assorted gauges and electrical boxes
perfect for use in larger altered art projects. The “Create” sign
that hangs on my studio wall is mounted on a piece of board that
was bought for fifty cents at the Roseburg salvage store. It also
incorporates several old fuses that I bought in the same place.

One of the best features of my salvaged countertop is that I

have the space to do “prep work” for my collages. I like using
transparencies that have been colored with alcohol inks to add
a final overlay to my work, and I’ve recently been incorporating
paper towels into my art after I’ve painted them with Lumieres
and watercolors. I also like altering vintage book pages with
an acrylic-paint laden brayer and using the resulting pages
in backgrounds. Often, I’ll spend an afternoon just creating a
stockpile of one or more of these components, so that they’re
ready to use at a later date. So, this countertop is rarely as neat
and clean as it is in these photos.

My tall green cupboard traveled with me from Pennsylvania—I

found it in a shop that sold primitive antiques and knocked out
the door’s existing screens to add the fabric panel, which doubles
as a makeshift note board on the inside. Inside this cupboard, I
store my markers, pens, chunky book & altered art components,
and my jewelry supplies. I use the bottom shelf to organize mail
art swaps I’m hosting.

On my work table, I have a small book shelf that I use to

organize tools I use often—regular writing pens, sketching
pencils, my stapler and Xyron machine. Also, a set of vintage
metal paper trays (found in a thrift store) is kept here to sort
certain ephemera that I use most often—one tray holds painted
papers & transparencies, one holds odd scraps of vintage book
text, and one holds the blank leaves of paper that one finds at
the beginning and end of vintage hardback books. This paper is
always yellowed and brittle and usually has a great tooth to it, so
I like to rubber stamp on it.

Whenever a person sends me a bit of vintage book text, either

along with a trade or as a RAK, it gets added to these trays.
So, gifted text usually gets incorporated into my artwork faster
than any pages from the 100+ “tear-up” books I have stashed
around the house. Most of my salvage books come from thrift
stores—but I keep an eye out for foreign language books in the
dollar bins at used bookstores, too.

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My rubber stamps take up much less room in my new studio than

before—I removed all mounted stamps from their wood blocks,
and all of them are organized and stored in empty CD cases in a
single drawer now. They’re easier to find, and I find I use them a
lot more often now that I don’t have to dig through several storage
bins to find the image I want.

In addition to what hides away in drawers and the cupboard, a

lot of my art supplies are on display in the main living area of our
home. I’ve worked slowly since the move to replace many of my
plastic storage bins with vintage jars and tins that have more visual
appeal. Many of these pieces seem to have their own stories, which
I cherish. My favorite piece is a painted lard bucket that holds my
alcohol inks. I also collect old coffee and tea tins—these have been
collected from thrift shops and charity shops, mostly, but I have
found inexpensive containers at antique malls, too.
I regularly make the rounds at local thrift shops, usually browsing
the aisles at my favorite stores once a week. I have found everything
from an unused packet of transparencies to old Scrabble games
to antique cabinet cards and vintage German glass beads. I am
always looking to add to my art supplies and components of future
mixed-media works, and I am paranoid that the week I don’t go to
the Salvation Army shop will be the week that they have something
amazing that I cannot live without owning. It takes a little time, but
I am rewarded over and over again.

Part Two: Creating a Card in My Workspace

To walk through making an ATC in this space, I thought I’d make a

set of cards.

I begin all my cards the same way; I cut recycled chipboard to size,
then cover it with a random layer of scrapbook paper. This is just
a base paper—and sometimes very little of it shows through in the
finished card. I use a Darice glue runner to adhere the paper in
almost all my projects, because the refills are inexpensive, and I
can buy them easily at any craft store.

On top of the first full layer of scrapbook paper, I add one or two
torn strips of a different printed paper, again with the glue runner.
I don’t really worry about matching the papers—everything always
works out, and it’s usually the mismatched papers that make my
best cards. These torn layers add some visual interest and texture
to the card; I like to have something going on behind the card’s
focal image—torn papers are an easy way to achieve that.

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Before moving on, I use a permanent paint marker in black to edge

my cards, and I draw a crude border on the card with a Caran d’Ache
watercolor crayon. Again, I don’t worry about matching the colors.
I have been on a kick of using pink or lavender crayon lately, but it
rarely matches the paper I use. I smudge the crayon with a dampened
paintbrush and let it dry. Edging a card, especially a collage, with marker
and crayon adds a finished, framed look to it that I really like.

While cards dry, I select a few pieces of painted paper towel or vintage
book text to add to the cards. I paint paper towels ahead of time, in
batches of 6 or so at a time, to that I have them handy when I want to
use them in ATCs or chunky book pages.

I also cut out a few images and run them through my Xyron. For these
cards, I am using anatomical hearts I printed from an anatomy book
I own. I center each heart on a small torn square of painted paper
towel, then use a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to edge the heart.
Again, this is just to add some textural interest.

A note on the images I use—I own a large number of antique and vintage
photos, which I try to purchase as inexpensively as possible. Occasionally,
I’ll find a handful of photos at a thrift shop, but I’ve bought shoeboxes
of photos at flea markets, too. I’m always compiling and making my
own collage sheets from these snapshots as well as from copyright-free
online images. While Google Image Search is often valuable when I
need to find a particular type of image, I try to avoid using photography
from the Internet, so that I’m not violating any copyrights.

I try to avoid using a lot of purchased images or collage sheets/CDs, just

because I feel that I can find weirder or more unique photos and images
on my own. Like with my painted and altered papers, when I’m not in
the mood to actually make art, I’ll often watch television or a DVD while
cutting out a small pile of images from magazines, scans or rubber-
stamping sessions.

At this point in making my cards, I adhere the paper towel square to the
card that has been drying. To this, I add a few scraps of vintage text—
for these cards, the text bits are taken from a French/English medical
dictionary—I’m always pleased when I can use seemingly random text
to make a statement, or add an additional meaning, to a card—and it’s
a bonus when I get a laugh out of it!

I then often add stamped images to my cards—in this case, I added a

set of wings to the heart and some typewriter keys around the edges.
I often lightly color the images with Prismacolor pencils and gel pens. I
love to add brightly-colored stars with gel pens and spiraling swirls with
metallic marker in random places on the surface of the card, too.

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The card is basically done, but I’ll sometimes add a

transparency layer. I cut a piece to size, and I staple it
to the face of the ATC with colored staples.

I like this technique, because while the ATC stays

relatively flat, the transparency on top of the paper
towel adds a weird “shadowbox” effect to the card—
and with 4 or more layers of paper and images
underneath, the transparency layer gives the work a
little depth as well as an antiqued finish.

Occasionally, I’ll use copper foil tape to hold down the

transparency instead of staples, but I try to mix it up. In
this set of cards, I’ll use machine sewing on two, and
copper tape on the other two so that the cards have
one technique that’s a little more time-consuming, not

Despite all of these steps in my card making, I really

do love other artists’ distinctive style. Sometimes, the
simplest of collage cards appeal to me, and sometimes
a watercolor really knocks my socks off! I trade for all
sorts of ATCs, but when making my own cards, I like
the satisfaction I get from making such a tiny piece of
art as layered and detailed as possible.

Every once in a while I’ll have a fellow artist tell me

that she can recognize my style without turning a
card over to find my name—and this is the greatest
compliment I could ever receive. I like to think I have
my own distinctive style, and that is also what I find
most appealing in the cards I collect from other artists.

Art is a vital, empowering part of my life. What I love most about mail art is that anyone can find the
confidence to embrace their own talents and create their own style, and I enjoy the inclusive nature of
online mail art trading communities and art blogs.

Now that my studio space affords me the room and natural light I need, I spend more time creating—which
relaxes me, challenges me, and entertains me. I host more mail art swaps, I make more ATCs, and I am
starting to branch out into creating larger works of altered art. It’s wonderful to have no more spiders in my
art supplies or paint flaking off cellar walls onto my projects. Regardless of where my little family ends up
in the future, I don’t think I’ll be willing to relegate my art to the cellar ever again.

The artist, Miss (on, is hosting the aforementioned medically/anatomically-themed ATC
swap at

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Interview by Andrea Melione

Shelli Heinemann, an award winning soft sculpture Teddy Bear

artist, has taken on the Mail Art world and blessed it with her
luscious French patisserie aesthetic. Her work reflects longings
for the past combined with the excitement of modern tastes, and
her art is sure to thrill a diverse and discerning audience. In this
interview she discusses her inspiration, her materials, and how
Mail Art has had an impact on her life.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a mom and a wife first. My sons, my family, are the center of my world and my priority. Art comes second.
I couldn’t live happily without either.

I’m also California born, schooled, and raised, and very proud of that; it’s a great state, very progressive and
open minded — like me, I think. In the late 80’s and then again in the early 90’s, I attended UCLA, and earned
a BA (Psych) and an M.Ed and credential, so I could teach elementary school if I chose. But in 2004, after
many wonderful years as an at-home mom, I stumbled inadvertently into a surprisingly rewarding, creative
niche making high-end, original teddy bears for adult collectors. Selling from my website and occasionally
through eBay is where I earn my wage — for now, anyway. We’ll see how our faltering economy supports
that niche going forward! I found Mail Art and ATCs a few years ago now, and I’ve been hooked — and wildly
distracted by them, and loving the incredibly cool, interesting “art people” I’ve met online in this hobby — ever

I think of myself as an optimist and a seeker, and I love to learn. I hope I’m still learning, still growing, when
I’m 98 and drooling and bedridden and maybe smelling kinda poopy. No matter how dire things can get
sometimes — and things do get dire, at times — I see beauty all around me, and find magic in surprising
places, every single day of my life. This makes me one of the luckiest people on earth, I think. So life is

Have you had any formal art training?

No, none at all. Not a single class; not in elementary, junior, or high school. No one-day workshops. And
no college courses surveying art history, although I admit to one highly specialized class in “Greco-Roman
Art and Architecture,” which involved a lot of sepia-toned slides. Can you say AMPHORA?!? But I never
learned or studied technique. In short, I am art-ignorant, I admit. But I make up for that with intense curiosity
and wide-eyed enthusiasm, and a willingness to try just about anything!

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What themes, artists (visual, performing, etc.) or outside influences inspire you?

I’m drawn to oddness: to textures, layers and ephemera; to antiques; to romance and flowers; to erotica;
and to moody, soulful, mystical, or dark objects. I get excited about rich fabrics like mohair, brocade,
velvet and silk, and always find inspiration in the sweetness of a child’s face. Venetian masks inspire
me, as does a beautiful piece of vintage satin lingerie or ornate, antique costuming. I am enamored of
all things European, particularly France. Japanese themes — pop culture, cherry blossoms, beautiful
geisha — are a recent inspiration. And I own that, like so many others, I’m not yet over my drooling
infatuation with Sofia Coppola’s bon-bon-and-gilt vision of Marie Antoinette and her 18th century life of

Lately, I’m absolutely vibrating with excitement about Santos, especially antiques. They have a wonderful
patina of age; a spiritual glow that really captures me. And I love that they’re mixed media, with glass
eyes and plaster heads and metal halos and wooden bodies, their legs replaced by a skirt-shaped cage.
I’m sure their influence will show up somewhere in my art, very soon. Maybe I’ll make a doll.

Your bears are exquisite, what materials do you use to make them?

First of all, thank you for the very kind compliment! It never gets old to hear that my bears appeal.
Seriously. Tell me again. *smile*

Regarding materials: I’ve dabbled in synthetics and (vintage, repurposed) mink, but most of my
bears—99.9% of my bears — are made of mohair, which comes from the angora goat, just like cashmere.
But while cashmere is basically animal hair — goat wool that’s been gathered, then spun into yarn—
mohair is created when a woven fabric backing (usually cotton or linen) is dotted with tufts of hooked-in
wool to create a hairy pile.

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It’s a pricey fabric, to be sure; I spend anywhere from

$50 to over $200 per yard on material, which is partly the
reason artist bears are so pricey. But mohair makes the
most beautiful bears in my opinion, and it’s relatively easy
to work with, and it’s traditional, so it’s my fabric of choice.

My bears also feature leather, suede, or wool felt pads and

premium glass eyes, which I custom color and lid to suit
each bear, plus embroidered noses and shaded features.
They’re pretty time-intensive to make, truth be told. Making
one leaves my hands hurting, for days.

How has being a soft-sculpture artist affected your 2D


My bears have a winsomeness to them; I’ve been told repeatedly that they have “heartbreakingly
soulful” faces and that people feel compelled to just hug them, and make them feel better. I consider
that high praise, because it means my work is evocative. That soulfulness is what my hands and head
and heart want to create when they get busy working; it’s not really the outcome of intent, I’m afraid. In
a weird way, my bears make themselves.

Most of my original 2D art has those same qualities; a certain sweetness, alongside a kind of “lostness.”
I’m jonesing to create more somber ,provocative and edgy flat art, though — something more depthful
and adult and alive — in a voice that feels authentic. But I’m frustrated to find I don’t really have anything
serious or provocative or edgy to say! I keep circling around themes of love and innocence and clarity
and optimism, all things bright and beautiful, but there’s a part of me that really wants to let loose in a
different direction with something grungy and damaged
and blackened and profane; because those things are in
me, too. I don’t feel I’m repressed or anything; hell, I even
have a tattoo. I just can’t make ART of my darker aspects,
accessing those shadowy places. Yet, anyway. Maybe
I need to join a biker gang or something; to roughen up
around the edges a bit. I’m laughing here...

What is your process for creative brainstorming?

Sometimes, when I’m watching a movie or reading a

magazine or viewing someone else’s art, something about
it — some quality, some color, some subject — will just
sorta fall out of the sky and hit me on the head like a ton of
bricks, absolutely out of the blue. And when that happens,
this fever will grow inside me, almost instantaneously, to
do something with that new inspiration — and I mean
RIGHT NOW! I sometimes get to where I can’t stop, can’t sleep, until I’ve started (and often finished)
some new art, in those moments.

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What is your preferred media for your 2D work?

Hmmm. That’s actually a tricky question. I’ve focused

on ATCs and small mail art in my 2D work, and haven’t
done anything over 8” x 10” in terms of large pieces,
so I’m still finding my “preferred media.” I think I’m an
oil painter at heart, though; I love the softness of oils,
and their romance, blendability, and history. There’s
a sensuality to them, a smeary-ness, I relate to and
admire. And every time I play with oils, I surprise myself
with — can I say this without sounding obnoxious? —
how good my results are. I “think” in oils, perhaps.
I can wrap my head around them much more easily
than I can watercolors, or markers, or ink.

But oils aren’t practical for ATCs in most cases — they

take forever to fully dry and require an undercoat. Oil paints eat time. So I’m still playing around with mail
art media, to find the best fit. I recently received a huge Prisma marker set as a gift, so that’s my current
area of experimentation.

Any tips or tricks you like to use or a favorite supply?

I can’t live without a white gel pen and/or gesso, and I find myself using really skinny black fineline markers
to outline a lot. My paper cutter is a must-have. If I use colored pencils, I must have thinner or spirits to
blend them.
You’ve also branched into digital work, and have created some really
lovely pieces. Can you discuss your digital art a little? What draws you
to creating work digitally?

I’m such a hack with my digital stuff! It’s actually embarrassing. I have no
idea what I’m doing. But I can move past that self-consciousness, because
it’s so darn fun to draw with a magic, electric pen! And it’s fairly easy to
create the kinds of soft effects I like so much with a pen and tablet, and to
incorporate photo collage bits into art pieces, and to do and re-do and re-
do again, because the technology allows those things so readily. For a new
2D artist like me who hasn’t yet learned how NOT to rip holes in watercolor
paper when erasing, a digital canvas which can be repaired to perfection is a
Godsend. So, you know—I’m hooked. I think, too, that I have an untrained,
undeveloped, underlying talent for graphic design, which nowadays is a nearly
entirely digital industry, and I’ve done some paid design work with reasonable
success in the past, so all that connects the idea of “computer” to “art” for me,

I guess if I’m intellectualizing things, I can acknowledge that I know more about
digital drawing and Photoshop than most laypeople, for sure. But it’s such a
complex program, and I have so little experience with it, and no training, and I
just play around like a giddy dork and hope for a good outcome.

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Which of your art pieces is your favorite? And how would

you describe your personal style and aesthetic?

Like many creative people, I’m self-conscious and critical when

it comes to my work, and tend to believe my “favorite” piece will
probably be my NEXT piece. Because, you know, that’s usually
the case! So it’s hard to pin down a “favorite” whether we’re
talking about my bears or my 2D work.

I guess in terms of original 2D art, my favorite piece is my Gothic

Alice Triptych. It’s kinda weird and scary and totally not what
you’d expect the characters from Alice in Wonderland to look
like. I was proud of my imaginativeness here! And while there’s
a fang-y aggressiveness to the imagery, it somehow retains a
certain softness, too. I like that.

A close second place finisher is a reproduction I did in oils; part of a Yevgenia Nayberg poster. The
beautiful corset and white shoulders of the model are so feminine, and I think I did pretty darn okay with
the palette, and with blending, too.

In terms of personal style and aesthetics, I tend to create art that’s soft and gentle and feminine, and I
know I admire art created by others in that same style — although I also admire work that’s darker and
stranger and more intense than my own.

How did you learn about ATCs?

You know, oddly enough, I don’t recall. Isn’t that terrible? Probably
while browsing the art/craft/hobby section of some bookstore; I
spend a lot of time with my husband drinking soy mochas at Barnes
& Noble, while reading cool books. I remember buying a paperback
on how to create ATCs early on, then afterward, finding a trading site
online. I think the book chicken came before the trading egg.

“I tend to create art that’s soft and gentle and

feminine, and I know I admire art created by
others in that same style...”
-Shelli Heinemann

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Has Mail Art had an impact on you as an artist?

What a question. It’s more like: How has Mail Art NOT impacted
me as an artist—and a person?

I never considered myself an artist at all until I found success

and acclaim with my bears, after which I slowly let in that I might,
possibly, be good at soft sculpture. It took me a while to really
embrace the idea that I might be an actual “artist” in that realm.

The idea that I might someday be an artist in another realm, in a

more traditional sense, never even occurred to me until I found
mail art. I recognize that I’m still finding my legs, my voice, in flat
art; I don’t think I’m as far along the 2D artist path as I am with my
bears, even after several years of trading and practicing. But even
taking baby steps, I’m progressing, and I can feel it unfolding in
front of me. I can see the growth potential. I can look at my flickr
and see how far I’ve already come, even though I think I have so
far left to go. Here’s a telling admission: I used to do pencil sketch
portraits of my friends back in college. But I literally never put color to my drawings, ever, in my life, until
I made my first ATC. I kid you not.

I love the people I’ve met, trading art. I love their varied visions: their unique voices, their divergent
histories. I love learning new things, and stretching myself. It’s amazing, but truly, I see things with
new eyes! I’ve discovered so many things I never knew I could do, talents I never knew I had, which
is so affirming. I’ve had opportunities to write and publish articles and participate on jury panels since
becoming a part of the mail art community. And I’ve made real friends who send me real artworks
which make my world more beautiful, and more broad. I even wrote a book, COLOR: A Collaborative
Perspective, which I self-published on Lulu. All these things are direct outgrowths of my involvement
with the Mail Art community. It’s been absolutely life-expanding.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to credit Mail Art with making my world measurably happier, bigger,
and better.

Long live the ATC!

Find Shelli on the web at:




FabricAT Cs
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jackie russell

cathy green

judy hutson
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FabricAT Cs

kate mortimer

cindy vasquez

tonya whitley
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Making Mixed Media

Backgrounds: A Materials
Beginner’s Approach •

Colored pencils
• Watercolor or acrylic paint
By Sal Scheibe • Colorful scrapbooking papers
• Textured paper
• Tissue paper
I’m a fairly new artist to the world of vintage images; pointy • Newspaper or old book pages
hats and collage and much of what I’ve learned is the result • Tea bags and ground coffee
of trial and error. I’ll admit that my first efforts were really
poor, embarrassingly so! But through some research,
lots of inspiration and a handful or two of practice, I’ve
come up with some simple background techniques that
serve me well when making a collage/mixed media piece.
Now, I’m not Jane Professional Collage Artist here — I’m
warning you in advance. I’m basically a simple artist who
enjoys mixed media art so this article is geared toward my
fellow newbs [*waves hello*], so this is not for you super
pro collagers… though I hope you enjoy my beginner’s
article too.

I like my collage backgrounds to be flat for a couple of

reasons. The first one being that it’s really hard to glue
elements to a bumpy surface! And the second being that
it costs money to mail out mail art so the bulkier my art,
the more I pay in postage. I also want to consider our dear
swap hosts in this semi-flat decision too. Sending bulky art
to multiple participants can add extra costs to their hosting
duties. Plus flat art fits nicely into penny sleeves and 9
pager sleeves for my ATC binders.

Starting Paper

My background paper is usually a somewhat sturdy

cardstock — about 40 - 80 lbs. I find that by the time I glue
on my paper backgrounds and all of the design elements,
plus a cardstock and label for the backing, my ATC is fairly
thick and quite sturdy.

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Technique 1: Tea and Coffee


• cardstock
• tea bag
• coffee grounds
• colored pencil

I rubbed the wet tea bag on the cardstock and tried to rub the grounds into the paper. That doesn’t work
so well but it does tear up the paper surface a bit which looks cool. Use very warm water to get the
coffee loose and the tea dripping! Once the paper was completely dried, I added a dark brown colored
pencil shade around the border for extra definition.

Technique 2: Shredded Papers


• cardstock
• a bunch of torn scrapbooking

I glued the paper pieces to the cardstock (and each other). I didn’t use any real pattern—anywhere they
fit looks good. I added a very simple bright pink marker to the edge to define the card.

Technique 3: Textured Paper

• cardstock
• oil pastels
• deeply textured paper

I glued the textured paper to the cardstock and then lightly ran some oil pastels over the top of the
paper. I say lightly because you don’t want to cover everything. Use your fingers to smudge it all around
and get into the grooves while leaving the raised parts of the paper free of pastel colors. I used a lightly
shaded black colored pencil on the edges for definition.

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Technique 4: Tissue Paper

• cardstock
• bright scrapbooking paper
• tissue paper

I glued the scrapbooking paper to the cardstock. While that was drying, I crumpled up my tissue paper
and ripped it into pieces. I glued the tissue pieces, overlapping, on the cardstock but not so much that
the paper pattern didn’t show through. On this card, I added a dark red border with marker and then
used a black Sharpie to draw whimsy circles around the edge.

Technique 5: Book Pages

• cardstock
• old book page or newspaper
• acrylic or watercolor paints

I glued the book page to my cardstock and then quickly brushed over everything with my red and white
acrylic paints. Nothing too fancy— just a quick wash so the text shows nicely underneath. I added rubber
stamping to my edges. I used a star and a swirly. You could use anything, really, since I overlapped and
wasn’t worried about the actual stamp showing. I just wanted a design-y edge.

And there you have it—5 very simple and quick techniques for making mixed media backgrounds. The
longest part of these backgrounds was waiting for the glue to dry!

Finishing your cards

Since I’ve just used the plain white cardstock as a base, I normally like to add a matching color cardstock
to the back. This adds an extra layer of sturdiness, plus it looks good too. Once I’ve glued it all together
along with my ATC label, I let air dry until there is no surface stickiness and then I leave my card
between heavy books for at least 24 hours.

In the next issue, we’ll find even more ways to make inexpensive and easy mixed media

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Critique Corner!

With Andrea Melione

Welcome back to Critique Corner, where readers can submit their artwork for a friendly and helpful
evaluation. Email us at ArtTrader Mag ( if you’d like your work to be

First is a card by Nora Lundquist. She writes, “I know it’s not working, I just can’t figure out why.” This
is a common problem: The artist likes what they have done for the most part, but can’t determine why
the whole piece isn’t coming together. It is obvious from looking at the card that effort was taken in
the various techniques: the embossing; the selection of the image stamp image, and metal charm,: the
beadwork: and the painted details of the border. All of which obviously took some time, as the colors
coordinate very well!

However, this is a good example of the artist focusing a lot on the selection of materials used, and
applying the materials, but less attention to how those materials will work together. Nora has made a
good first step thinking about how it all can work together in terms of color, but you should also think
about how they will work together in terms of texture, placement, and how they will work with the
background; meaning the card/canvas/fabric used as the surface to which everything is applied.

The first thing that strikes me about this card

is the background: It appears to be either
a white or cream cardstock. There is little
tonal (dark/light) or color variation going on.
When creating a mixed media card, it’s a
great idea to create a background first. Use
paints, scrapbook paper, tissue paper, melted
crayon etc. to create a background to place
your visual elements on. This will help your
elements and images to look grounded, part
of the background, rather than just lying on
top of it. Nora’s images have no connection
to their background.

In a card that is completed like this, however,

one could take watercolors and color the
embossed stamp and surrounding areas.

This card is also a good example of tangents. The fairy image is right next to the embossed moon and
the wing is touching it. To achieve a sense of depth, the fairy wing could overlap the moon, to indicate
that the fairy is closer.

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also help bring the text forward.

The next card (above) is by Catherine Drazkowski. In this vintage mixed media work, Catherine has a
great color scheme and her composition is good. Pumping up the contrast a little could enhance this
card; she has excellent lights, but the card needs some more darks and/or shadows. We all know how
scanners and the computer can wash out a card, but using all the values in a value scale, from light
to dark in your work can help a scanner read more value and scan a greater contrast! In this case,
Catherine could add some shadows around the girl, the chair, and under the table (in a warm burnt
orange, blue or purple color.) Outlining the “Tea Time” text with either purple or blue watercolor would

In closing, both artists have demonstrated talent by creating appealing cards. You can take your work
to a further level if you like by keeping the three principles of composition in mind: color, placement and
value. Color choices are crucial, and both artists used color well. Placement of elements in your work
is very important, especially when creating a sense of depth and space. Value creates greater visual
interest in your art work: Try creating a value scale on your own to keep with you while you work. Image
Google “value scale” for more information.

Thanks for submitting your work for critique; keep it coming! If you have any specific questions on how
to create more visually dynamic work, feel free to ask us about them as well!

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Preparing and Shipping Mail Art

By Shelli Heinemann
With thanks to Sarah Zamora and the artists of IllustratedATCs, for their contributions

You’re excited about Mail Art. You’ve become educated about all things ATC. You’ve even made a few cards, and
you’re eager to send them out into the wide, waiting world. Amidst the bustle of excitement and anticipation, though
comes a hiccup. Cards in hand, eagerness on full throttle, you find yourself stalled, wondering, “Now what? You’re
asking yourself:

• What can I do to adequately “finish” my ATCs?

• How do I protect my cards during shipment?
• What do I need to know about shipping costs and timeframes?
• How should I address and fill my envelope?

Below are some tried and tested answers to your questions (plus a whole lot more) offered by seasoned Mail Art
traders. Their suggestions, borne of experience, will rescue you from your uncertainty and guide you toward efficient,
polished card preparation and shipment—and ultimately, toward a satisfying, successful Mail Art exchange.


Mail Art may pass through many hands during its lifetime. In fact, that’s the very essence of ATCs—they’re meant
to be traded and shared. So be sure to add a unique and informative backside to your art cards; one that identifies
you, the artist; provides information about your card; and creates a finished, professional look. Your trading partners
will appreciate the extra effort and enhanced aesthetic. And as a bonus, you’ll stay “top of mind” as a potential swap
partner with those who hold your work.

The Five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why

At a minimum, ALWAYS include:

• Your username (I’m “potbellyarts” on every mail art forum I visit)
• Your real name (preferably first and last)

Other artist info you might include:

• email
• City/State/Country
• Website
• Blog
• Trading sites (e.g.
• Gallery sites (e.g. flickr, Deviant Art)
• Signature

Information about your art:

• Date
• Edition/Series/Number
• “For:” / dedication
• Swap Title (if applicable)
• Card Title
• Media used
• Copyright notice
• “Not for sale | For trade only” reminder

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Stickers, Stamps and Ink

There are infinite paths to an attractive,

informative ATC backside. I dabble in Photoshop
and graphic design, so I like to create custom
backsides and print them at home, either on name
badge stickers (perfectly sized!) or on cardstock
trimmed to ATC dimensions and run through my
Xyron, to add adhesive, then attached.

Several more great ideas for creating ATC backsides:

• Hand write info on each card back individually

• Create a custom rubber stamp containing general info,
and hand-write specifics
• Design a graphic, and print or copy onto ready-made
• Design a graphic, print or copy onto paper or cardstock,
hand-trim to ATC size, and attach with adhesive

A custom backside, attached to your ATCs, also allows cross-

promotion of your other sites, talents and interests, if you
reference them in your design. For example: In addition to
being an ATC trader, I also create high-end teddy bears, so I
feature my bears in some of my backside designs. This brings
the full scope of my art offerings to the attention of the ATC
community, and hopefully, helps spread the arty goodness


You worked hard on your art, right? To guarantee safe arrival, protect it during transit.


Start with a clear plastic sleeve. Sleeves aren’t mandatory, but they ARE appreciated and usually, expected.
Certainly, their use is currently the norm. You can buy protective plastic sleeves on eBay, through online retailers,
at WalMart, or just about anywhere trading cards (like baseball or Pokemon cards) are sold. Costing roughly a
penny each, sleeves protect cards from scratches, unintentional color transfers, smudges, and sticking.

For a stiffer, more protective option, use a rigid toploader. Available in a variety of weights, toploaders can be
especially useful for fabric ATCs and cards created on thick paper or canvas. They’re pricier than clear sleeves
and add weight (and cost) to your envelope, so they’re not for every card and every trade. I use toploaders for
ACEOs (art cards that are sold vs. traded,) and for the rare “masterpiece” ATC; for cards I worked especially
hard on, am especially proud of, or that were purchased by my wonderful customers and need guaranteed
safekeeping during transit.

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Traders sometimes use plastic nine-pocket pages, trimmed to match swap parameters, to store and protect
ATCs during mailing. Although perfectly acceptable, this practice is relatively rare, probably because sleeves are
so accessible, cheap, easy, and affordable.

Special Handling

Bulky or fragile art (such as glass or scratchboard ATCs) requires special handling and extra protection. These
materials are likely to fracture if they process via automated machine, so encase such art first in plastic sleeves,
then in bubble wrap, then in thick, rigid cardboard—or maybe even box it!—so that machine processing becomes
an impossibility. Write “DO NOT BEND” and “HAND CANCEL” on the packaging, too.

Extra bulk/thickness, hand canceling, and weighty protective materials will add to your shipping costs, so be sure
to verify postage before sending, to avoid delivery delays.

Paper and Envelopes

A thick piece of letter-sized paper, folded into

thirds, makes a nice wrap for your art. Junk mail,
scratch paper, and scrap cardstock work too, and
are environmentally-friendly ways to use handy
recyclables to protect ATCs for mailing. If you
include stiffer materials, like postcards, in your
packaging, you provide even more protection.

ATCs are frequently mailed inside #10, “Legal,”

or “Business” envelopes. This type of envelope
measures 4-1/8” x 9-1/2” and is the most common
business envelope size, designed to hold standard
8-1/2” x 11” sheets of paper. Other envelope
sizes can work just as well. However, you might
pay extra postage when using envelopes that
deviate significantly from #10 dimensions (see
“Cost” section, below, to learn why.) Regardless
of size, thicker, “premium” envelopes provide more
protective cushioning than flimsy envelopes will.

hgd -51-
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Greeting Cards

Consider mailing your sleeved ATCs inside greeting cards. An

easy and attractive alternative to plain paper and business
envelopes, greeting cards are available at dollar and discount
stores in bulk; they’re cheap; and they make an especially pretty
—and functional—folio for presenting your work. You might even
purchase greeting cards from a favorite charity organization,
such as Unicef. You’ll spend a bit more per card, but your buying
dollars will land somewhere meaningful.

Add a quick note of thanks for your swap host inside, and voila!
—a near-perfect shipping solution.


It’s so easy to secure your ATCs to one another—or to a greeting

card or sheet of paper—with tape. Doing so prevents your
cards from slipping and bunching up, both of which increase the
likelihood they’ll be damaged in transit.
If you’re sending just one card, a piece of scotch tape rolled back on itself and stuck to the backside of a sleeve
works the same as double-sided tape, but is much easier to remove.

If you’re sending multiple cards, first stagger them, then tape across the seams in spots, on the front side only.

There IS such a thing as too much tape, by the way. ATCs can bend or scratch if they’re taped over zealously, and
extricating them from their tape-mummy bondage can be difficult, not to mention frustrating and time-consuming.
When it comes to tape, experienced traders agree: Less is definitely more!


Con te partiro, art cards; it’s time to say goodbye. A little foresight on your part will get your art to its destination,
perfectly addressed and right on time.


Seasoned traders take due dates very seriously, and don’t like to wait for swap returns when they’ve fulfilled
their end of a trade agreement and submitted work timely. You risk negative feedback, a blemished reputation,
probation, or even banning if your art is tardy.

Carefully note the “due by” date for all your swaps. Finish and mail your art accordingly. Allow plenty of travel time.
If need be, choose an expedited shipping option. In the US, that might be Priority Mail (2-3 days domestically)
or even FedEx (overnight) if you’re really close to a deadline.

Every country processes “regular” mail on a unique timetable, so please consult the appropriate postal service
online or by phone, for specifics. On average, however, three weeks should be enough time to ship First Class
letter mail between most countries.

Domestically, most countries average letter mail delivery within five business days.

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Addressing “Address”-ing

Every country has specific rules regarding how mail is to be addressed, but those rules don’t always make sense
and they aren’t always obvious, so do your homework. Even though my own handwriting is particularly legible,
for example, I’ve had my envelopes “returned to sender” when I didn’t scribe the recipient’s address using ALL
CAPS. Hmph! Another time, just one wrong zip code digit was all it took to turn my mail around and land it back
on my doorstep, instead of my swap host’s.

A comprehensive listing of domestic and international mail regulations and address formats is beyond the scope
of this article, so let me instead suggest that you simply ask your swap host or trade partner all address formatting
questions before shipping. Foresight will prevent your envelopes from U-turning en route; a circumstance that
might render you ineligible to complete your swap. And that’s an outcome nobody wants.


Postage is generally determined by a rate-per-weight formula. At the time of this writing, for example, US Postal
Service pricing for First Class letter mail is 42 cents (rate) per ounce (weight).

Be aware, however, that packaging dimensions add a layer of confusing complexity to pricing formulas and MAY
increase postage costs. For instance, in the US, First Class letter mail is defined as:

• Rectangular
• At least 3.5 inches high x 5 inches long x .007 inches thick
• No more than 6 1/8 inches high x 11.5 inches long x 1/4 inch thick
• Maximum weight is 3.5 ounces
• Letters considered non-machinable are subject to surcharge
• Length is the dimension parallel to the address

Meaning that, in the US:

• If your envelope is less than 5 inches long, even though that’s smaller than a standard size envelope, it will
cost more to send than a standard size envelope
• Hand-cancelled mail can cost more to send than machine processed mail
• No matter what the perimeter dimensions, envelopes thicker than 1/4 inch are considered “packages” and not
“letters,” and will require extra postage

And so on.

As you can see, determining correct postage can be tricky. So consult your local postal service, or go online,
for specifics. Or even better, hand-deliver your envelopes to a post office near you, where a knowledgeable
employee can determine the correct postage for you, without any possibility of error.

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Yes, there’s an etiquette unique to ATC trading. When you respect that etiquette, you enjoy seamlessly smooth
swaps while earning a glowing reputation and positive feedback within the Mail Art community—and you form
lasting friendships with incredibly cool art people in the process. Any way you slice it, it’s win/win!


Almost without exception, every swap host will require that, in addition to your art, you send:

(1) Sufficient postage to cover mailing your returns

(2) Your address

Most often, you’ll be asked to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or “SASE” along with your art. But
sometimes, depending on host preferences, swap needs, and mailing considerations, you might instead be
asked for variations on this theme, such as:

• A sticker with your address (your host will provide the envelope)
• Cash or stamps sufficient to cover postage on your returns
• Postage payment via PayPal
• An email communicating your street address

Ensure your package meets swap requirements before sealing your envelope and shipping your art. Although
most hosts understand the occasional “oops,” it’s still a nuisance and a chore for them to chase down missing or
forgotten items (postage, addresses) after the due date. Worse, the entire swap is held up as a result.

“Extra” Credit

In addition to the necessary “must-sends,” swap

hosts appreciate a short note of thanks. It’s a huge
responsibility to host a swap, requiring constant
communication and monitoring, and flawless

While the rare host occasionally requests “No extras

in your envie, please;” more commonly, it’s sincerely
appreciated when you make a special gesture of a
gift in the form of host extras, which might include:

• A swap-themed ATC (make one extra, for your

• ATCs, bookmarks, or journal pages in a theme the
host collects (check the host profile)
• Pre-cut ATC blanks or art-ready paper
• Patterned paper bits, fibers, and ephemera (for
mixed-media-friendly hosts only)
• Loose stamps (or their cash equivalent) to
cover postage shortages and the added cost of
international returns.

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It’s so easy to play nice in the Mail Art sandbox. By heeding just a few suggestions that
encourage successful trading practices, you, too, can discover a world of Mail Art joy!

I’ve spent the last several years actively and

enthusiastically participating in a handful of
Mail Art communities, and honestly, it’s been
one of the most soul-feeding, enjoyable,
creativity-expanding experiences of my life.
I’ve mailed hundreds of ATCs and journal
pages, and in return, have received a huge
number of amazing works by other artists, to
create a glorious collection of original art. I
admit, I can’t see myself ever being “done”
with ATCs and Mail Art. It’s just too darn fun.

Best of all, it’s so easy to play nice in the Mail Art

sandbox. By heeding just a few suggestions
that encourage successful trading practices,
you, too, can discover a world of Mail Art joy!

• Swap only your best, most finished work

• Respect due dates
• Protect art from harm en route
• Carefully address envelopes
• Attach adequate postage
• Allow ample time for mailing
• Follow swap guidelines and send a
complete envelope
• Include thanks and, if possible, some
“extras” for your host

Easy peasy… and so much arty, good fun.

Thanks for your audience, and happy

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Winter Contest: Vintage Collage

Last issue, we promoted a vintage collage contest and we received many
fantastic entries. Among our favorites were Marsha Jorgensen’s “Zetti Style
Sisters.” Her entries were all so nicely done with big, bold colors and quirky
designs. Marsha’s “Zetti String-Bean Sisters“ was our winning entry.

Marsha Jorgensen
“Zetti String-Bean Sisters”

Contest Info
Marsha Jorgensen will be receiving a stuffed
bubble envelope of collage ephemera.

Thanks to all who entered. There were

many great entries and it was a difficult
choice for the editorial team.

Watch for our next contest coming in the

Summer 2009 issue.

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The mountains, the
forest, and the sea,
render men savage;
they develop the
fierce, but yet do not
destroy the human.

Gwen Kitching
-Victor Hugo

Sal Scheibe Amber Marie Oxford Heather Thompson

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Andrea Melione

Randi Marx

Audrey Boudreault Robyn Hollister Joy Saethre

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How to Draw (cute) Animals

By Angela Kingston-Smith

Greetings and welcome to my new tutorial. As many of you know, I am somewhat fond of the critters
and love to draw wildlife. There are such a wide range of animals out there! Now, I am no expert at
animal portraits and cannot do realism to save my life, but here is my step-by-step guide to drawing
animals. Cute fashion! My style tends me to over-exaggerate certain features like eyes and ears and
aim for quirky expressions.

Step 1. What to draw?

First decide on a species. For the purposes of this tutorial I am concentrating
on mammals. Do you have a favorite species? Maybe you could draw one
of your pets?

Step 2. What does it look like?

Now you need some references. Always use a photographic reference.
Never, ever copy off a handdrawn piece unless it is the only resource available.
And don’t rely on your memory either. It is surprising how many stereotypic
features lodge in your brain, and make you forget other important factors. If
you don’t believe me, try drawing a rabbit. Unless you’ve drawn a great deal
of bunnies, or see the real thing on a regular basis, chances are it will end up
looking rather like the rabbit at right. Now, compare it with the rabbit below.

Recommended resources are photographic books (the library is a good place

to visit, if you don’t own a small bookstore of your own). Or you can ramble
along into and search for whatever you like. Try to find more than one reference
from different perspectives. It is best not to copy directly.

Or, if you prefer, you can draw from life. After all, cats do sleep 20 hours a day. I have selected these

Even when closely related animals are involved the details are quite different. Now comes the first of
the tricky states.

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Step 3. Laying down the linework and primary features

Think of this as laying the foundations. You must look at your references and divide them up into parts.
The easiest way to do this is to train yourself to see them not as features, but as shapes.

Start with the general head shape: felines and canines have a roundish, slightly squared facial shape.
This is because, being predators, they need to have good spatial vision and be able to focus both eyes
on their potential dinner, whereas ungulates and rodents/lagomorphs have a more rectangular one. As
“prey species” they benefit more from having good peripheral vision and can see the afore-mentioned
predators sneaking up from all angles (except right behind them...)

Sketch out the placement of the main facial features:

• Eyes
• Ears
• Nose or muzzle

Step 4: Secondary features

Here’s where things get particularly fun.
You have to look at your animal and think
“what is it that makes this animal what it
is?” Look for distinguishing markings -
stripes on a tiger, the shaggy mane of fur
on a wolf’s throat, the rabbit’s long ears.
Now add in the secondary facial features -
mouth, cheeks, eyebrows.


Felines tend to have short, rounded muzzles. Their ears are set at the
edge of their head and usually point outwards.

• Muzzle shape - square or round? Tigers have a squarer, more

powerful muzzle
• Fur type - sleek or shaggy? Tigers and long-haired housecats have a
distinctive ruff of fur
• Ear shape - rounded or pointed? Tigers ears are quite small and
rounded, whereas most domestic breeds are more triangular
• Eye size - big or small? If the feline is predominently nocturnal - as
the smaller species are, the eyes will be larger in proportion with their
bodies. These can be exaggerated in the name of cuteness, but
when applied to tigers or lions may confuse the viewer as to what
they are actually viewing
• Eye shape - almond or round? Although my two subjects here are
similar, a persian’s bug eyes are quite different from the narrow glare
of a burmese

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Canines have a longer, more rectangular shape to their muzzles. Of course, some
of the more mutated breeds of dogs - chihuahua and boxers for example, have far
shorter and rounder muzzles. Their ears either are erect pointing directly upwards, or
flop comically beside their face. Their eyes are smaller in proportion to their body size,
although it should be noted that some canine species are nocturnal (fox and coyote for
example). Some species of wild dog and domesticated breeds sport a ruff of fur about
their face and neck. These are not quite as defined as their feline cousins, but should
not be overlooked.


Rodents and Lagomorphs are about as closely related as cats and dogs. They have
large, round, dark eyes identifying their largely nocturnal lifestyle and more pronounced
eye sockets. Their ears are quite large in proportion, giving them good hearing - all
the better to hear those predators! Their snouts are quite long and pronouced but their
mouths are quite small. Eyes are set back closer to the ears, giving them “all-round’
vision. Note the difference in noses from the carnivores above - these prey species
have a “V” shaped nose, the nostrils rimmed with pink. Features to look for when
drawing rodents and lagomorphs:
• Eye size - big or small? Most rodents have quite large eyes.
• Cheeks - ruffs/pouches? Rodents store their food in cheek pouches, which can be
characterized by tufts of fur.

Hoofed animals are prey species of the larger carnivores and as such need good
peripheral vision. Their eyes are set back in the sides of their head, near the base of the ear and at a
distinctly different angle to that of a carnivores. Their snouts are quite long, their mouths small. They also
have fleshy lips, used to pull leaves from trees or grass. Their ears are set high on their head. Features
to look for when drawing rodents and lagomorphs:

• Nostrils or Dy Noses? Many ungulates have two separate nostrils, set to either side of their snout and
rimmed with pink. Some, however, like deer and antelopes, have actual “dry noses” not unlike those
of the carnivores.
• Head adornments? To protect themselves and help defend mates, many ungulates
sport defensive measures in the form of horns or tusks. Look for where these
attach to the body and the form they take. They should be sketched in now if
they’re not already.
• Ear shape? Ungulates have longer, pointed ears. Some, like horses, point directly
upwards, whereas goats and deer may rest at right angles to the cheeks or droop
• Lips - narrow or wide? Ungulates have fleshy lips - browsers (tree eaters) have
narrower lips often with prehensile properties, ideal for plucking. Others, like the
white rhino which is a grazer, are much wider and act more-or-less like a
lawnmower. Study your reference and imagine how it likes to dine. Also, look for
tongues. Giraffes, for example, have very long tongues which they use to denude
• Pupil shape and size? Are the eyes large and dark and limpid like a deer’s or are
the pupils narrow, evil, horizontal slits like a goats?

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Step 5: The fine details

Now add in fur - density and markings. Look for the direction in which it runs and distinctive patterning.
Don’t forget the hair in the ears! Hair can be depicted in a series of strokes - long extended “V”s for long
furred creatures and neck ruffs/manes, short “l”s for short furred creatures or just a flat coour for the
very short furred animals, like horses. Also note that most mammals have whiskers. These are more
pronounced in the smaller prey animals, but even large ones like horses have bristles about their lips
and nostrils. DO NOT feel you have to draw EVERY single whisker. About 3-5 on each side should be
sufficient. Gel pens work well for whiskers - try silver or white (on dark-furred animals).

If using coloring pencils, choose a range of colours. Most animals have a range of shading in their
fur - especially brown or grey ones. Note: these colors pertain to the Faber-Castell Polychromos, my
preferred pencils. You can find the chart of colors here: (under “color

Black Grey White

Black, purple or indigo, Light grey, medium grey, dark grey, White, ivory, cream or pale
dark (paynes) grey, medium black. Use indigo for added emphasis blue, light grey. Be careful
grey, light purple or blue for of shadows. A light blue-grey can be about overdoing the blues.
highlights. useful but use it carefully and don’t
get into the bright blues.

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Orange Reddish-Brown Golden-Brown

Dark chrome yellow, Sanguine, pompeian red, Light yellow ochre, burnt
orange glaze, dark naples venetian red, indian Red, ochre, brown ochre, bistre,
orange, terracotta. For walnut brown, caput mortuum. nougat.
dynamic shading use
indigo or a greenish-blue.
Try to avoid using red or
extremely bright orange
as this looks unnatural.

Now it’s your turn! Here are some photographic references taken by Yours Truly. See what you can
make of them. Try and work out what lifestyle the animal leads! Good luck and happy drawing!

Thank you to Desiree Dee Dziewa, Lisa Bufton,

Sharon Safranyos and Laura Hartshorn for
allowing the use of their pet photos.

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Petite Artiste
Vivian S.K.
Vivian S.K. is an engaging 8-year old who draws every day in
her more than 25 sketchbooks. “It’s just kinda fun,” she says,
“I like it a lot. I think it’s part of my nature. It’s a connection
from my brain to my hand.” She likes drawing girls and food,
and prefers to work in pencil and crayon. She says, “Pencil
is easy to erase if you make a mistake and crayons come in a
wide variety of colors.”

When asked about her artistic influences, she states, “When

I was a baby, my mom encouraged me to draw, so I love it.
I also do collaborative art projects with my Papa.” Vivian
has traveled across the U.S. with her family, visiting many
museums, including the MOCA in San Diego and the MOMA in
New York City. She says that, “I like Modern Art best because
it seems different from all the other art.”

In the future, Vivian would like to “make a giant tapestry with

a city on it. I’ve already made a town of weird buildings with
cars on it out of paper, so a city is next.”

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Swap Hosting 101: Part 1

By Dana Driscoll

Hosting swaps can be a fun and exciting step for any Mail Artist to take, although the logistics of hosting
a swap can be challenging! As someone who has hosted over forty swaps, I’ve provided examples,
instructions, and suggestions for how to make your first hosting experience a success. This article
walks you through hosting a Mail Art swap with suggestions and tips to keep you organized. In this
two-part article series, I’ll cover how to choose a swap theme, write clear swap guidelines, storing
and organizing cards. In the second part, I’ll cover swapping cards out, mailing cards, and possible
problems that can arise in swaps.

Why Host a Swap?

A number of reasons exist for why people host swaps, including the “fun-factor,” the ability to build a
collection of cards, and the community connection.

First of all, hosting swaps are a lot of fun. I love coming up with new themes, and then getting to see all
of the cards that people create! To me, seeing the new cards alone is worth the commitment of swap
hosting. It’s fun to see how different artists interpret a theme or how swap participants can use the
same medium so differently. I also really enjoy posting challenging and fun swaps!

The second reason to host is that you are able to build a collection of themed cards. I often host swaps
for themes that I am interested in collecting—like trees, a favorite theme of mine. When the cards
arrive, I will get to see all of the wonderful inspirational trees and also pick out some of my favorites.

A third reason to host the swap is that it contributes to the mail art community and helps you build
relationships with other traders. I have many participants who have joined swap after swap that I run,
and through this I have gotten to know them and their art quite well. I enjoy building friendships through
swap hosting.

Choosing a Swap Theme

Mail Art swaps come in all shapes, sizes, and themes! You can run a few different kinds of swaps, but
the two most frequent types are media-specific, theme-specific, and technique-specific swaps.

Media specific swaps can include pen and ink, mixed media, collage, watercolor, encaustic, acrylics,
fabric, and so much more! Theme-specific swaps can include whimsy, colors, animals, nature, cityscapes,
landscapes, houses, birds, and many more! Technique-specific swaps might include Impressionism or
working in the style of a specific artist. Other types of swaps exist, often with a sense of play or fun to
them. For example, you might choose to explore a specific word, like “love” or you might ask players to
dig through their purses and pull out the junk and make mail art! Anything and everything is possible.

m a g a z i n e

For your first few swaps, try to keep the swap The CAT and the PAT
theme simple and make it something you are
comfortable with. For example, if you really love If you’ve spent any time at a mail art site, you may
the color red, run a Red Swap! As you grow have seen “PAT” or “CAT” style swaps. PAT stands
more experienced as a swap host, you might for Pick-A-Theme and is a swap where participants
combine themes and ask for birds in blue, or are put into groups of 4-6 people. Each person in
painted landscapes, or handmade paper quilts the group chooses a theme, “Trees” for example,
(three swaps that I have run in the past). and then the other participants in the group each
make a tree card. Each person in the group ends
Of course, you also think about the type of up getting a set of cards made by the other group
swap you want to run. Do you want to start with members on their chosen theme. In a CAT, or
ATCs? Inchies? Chunky books? I recommend Choose-A-Theme swap, participants are again put
starting with an ATC swap because they are into groups but this time, they choose the theme
easy to mail and easy to store (more on this of the cards they will make.
later). Chunky books, charms, skinny books,
and other such artwork often requires more We recommend that you spend some time hosting
postage and are hence, harder to swap and “regular” swaps before committing to a PAT or CAT
package to send out. swap. These swaps represent unique challenges
for new swap hosts.

Committing to Swap Hosting

When you host a swap, you are making a commitment of time, energy, and money. It is important that
you understand the commitment you are making up front to ensure that a swap is successful for both
you and your participants.

Time & Energy: Swaps require time and energy. At,,
and, you are required to update your swap at least once a week. This
includes letting your participants know whose cards have arrived and giving them updates
on deadlines and other information. I suggest, however, that you aim to update your swap
every 2-3 days at the least. Once you are ready to swap your cards, expect to take 2-5
hours for swapping, packaging, leaving iTrader for participants, and mailing.

Money: Swaps also take money. If you live in the US, give participants good directions on
including an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope), and limit the number of international
participants, often you may only spend less than $10 to mail out a swap. However, if you are
overseas, the costs can be much higher.

Organizational Skill: Finally, swaps take some organizational skills. You need to find a
safe place to store the swap cards while you are waiting for the swap to end.

This includes keeping the cards out of the way of pets or small children. You need to keep track of who
sent cards, who signed up, and when the swap is due. Once the swap is complete, you need to be
prepared to swap the cards in an efficient manner (there will be more on how to do this in the second
part of this article in the next issue).

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Writing Clear Swap Guidelines

Once you have a theme picked out for your swap, you should spend some time writing a clear set
of guidelines for participants. First, go take a look at other swap guidelines that are posted. Look at
several, noting which ones seem more effective. Use those swap guidelines as a template for your

Here are questions you should answer in your swap guidelines:

What is the swap theme and swap type? Be clear on what the theme is; provide definitions
if necessary. Tell your players if they are swapping ATCs, Inchies, or other types of mail

Do you have any restrictions or stipulations on the swap? If you are going to limit the
number of players who can sign up out of the country, list this so. If you want only one
type of media, list this as well. Are you going to ask players not to send in bulky cards?

Can you provide examples of what you were looking for? Give some scans of artwork
that fits the kind of cards you are looking to be created in the swap.

What are the due dates for the swap? Give participants a reasonable amount of time to
sign up and turn in cards—8 weeks from start to finish is a good ballpark figure. Look
at your own calendar and make sure you aren’t having the swap due when you are on
vacation or are otherwise too busy to commit to swapping the cards.

Are participants required to pay for postage? If so, how? You can ask participants to
send in loose stamps, pay via paypal (for larger items, like chunky books), or send well-
concealed cash. For ATC swaps, ask participants to send a SASE (Self Addressed
Stamped Envelope) for their returns.

Do you have any special mailing instructions? I often ask my players to put their contact
information on the back of their cards and also write their User ID on the back of their
envelopes. I ask that if participants are sending bulky cards, they send additional stamps
to cover the returns.

Number of Players in a Swap

There is a direct relationship between the number of players in a swap and the time, energy, and money
it requires to complete a swap. A swap with 10 players is much easier and less time-intensive to swap
out and mail than one with 60 players! I suggest keeping your swaps small and gradually increasing
the number of players over time.

Posting Your Swap

Once you post your swap, you can begin to seek out participants. Usually, participants will see your
thread and be interested. Sometimes, however, hosts have trouble filling all of the spots in your swap.
Contact your friends, trading partners, or those you know would be interested in your swap to recruit
more members if necessary.

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Receiving Cards in the Mail and Storing Cards

Within two weeks of sign ups for your swap, you can expect to start receiving cards in the mail. Here
are the steps I follow to keep organized and make my life as a host easier when receiving and storing
ATCs for an ATC swap. Some of these steps are modified for mail art swaps, especially those with
bulky bubble envelopes.

Once I get the mail for the day, I’ll open up all of the mail and set the swap cards aside. I will go to the
thread where the swap is posted, and update the swap, letting participants know that their cards have
arrived. Some swap hosts also elect to leave participants iTrader feedback at this point (although I
usually wait to leave it all at once at the end of the swap). Because all participants are sending a SASE,
I will remove the swap cards and SASE from the original envelope. I check the address, then put the
swap cards in the SASE. On the back of the envelope, I write the participant’s User ID and number of
cards they sent (minus any hostess gifts they may send). I have a plastic bin where I keep all of the
swap cards; I simply place the cards in the bin and keep adding new cards to the bin as they arrive.
If the participant did not send a SASE, I will write their address (or use an address label) on a new
envelope and put it in the bin.

Writing the participant’s name and number of cards they are to get in return helps you during the swapping
process and also will help you identify which cards belong to which envelope if they accidentally fall out
when you are moving or storing them.

If You Get Behind

If you find yourself overwhelmed or have family emergencies that keep you from fulfilling your hosting
commitments, seek out help! Experienced hosts are always willing to take over a swap that you are
unable to complete. Participants are usually very understanding if you need an additional few weeks to
get your swap out of the door. The most important thing to remember is to keep communicating about
the swap and to not think that you are alone in your situation.


This article has presented a first look at

hosting mail art swaps. I encourage you to
start thinking about and planning to host
your first swap. Join us next time when we’ll
cover the logistics of swapping and mailing
cards in the second part of this article.

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Introduction to Whimsy Art

By Dana Driscoll

What does it mean to be a whimsical artist? What is all this talk of whimsical art? This article will
present an introduction to whimsical art, including defining what it is (and isn’t) and providing a list of
common features.

In defining what whimsical art is, we can start with some definitions of whimsy and whimsical. Whimsical
and whimsy actually come from the root word whim. According to Merriam-Webster, a whim is, “a:
resulting from or characterized by whim or caprice ; especially : lightly fanciful <whimsical decorations>
b: subject to erratic behavior or unpredictable change.” Believe it or not, whim comes from whim-wham,
a term that first appeared in print in the year 1500 that referred to a lighthearted object or ornament,
usually for clothing. Not bad for a start!

Merriam-Webster defines whimsical as “full of, actuated by, or exhibiting whims” or “resulting from or
characterized by whim or caprice ; especially : lightly fanciful <whimsical decorations>” and “subject to
erratic behavior or unpredictable change.” Yes! Now this sounds like art worth creating!

Let’s take a look at some art that could be defined as whimsical. The three images presented here,
by Sal Scheibe, Andrea Melione, and myself, are all very different, and yet all possess whimsical

Sal Scheibe Andrea Melione Dana Driscoll

First, none of the three pieces of art are entirely realistic. In Andrea’s piece, the fairy has exaggerated
and disproportionate features including the neck, the eyes, even the hair and body. The fairy’s features
are all stylized in a way that is playful, fun, and unique. Sal’s house looks like none in the real world,
and rather reminds one of a gingerbread house, complete with the trees that have dots quite similar
to gumdrops! In my piece, we have the two insects embracing on top of a flower and modified to look
more human-like. Very whimsical indeed! In these three pieces, we see that the subject matter and
stylization could fit the definition of “whimsical.”

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But there’s more. Do you notice the use of bold color? In

all three pieces, color is used very effectively. Sal’s piece in
Want more Whimsy?
particular is bright and playful! Andrea’s piece is a bit more Join a Swap!
subdued, but still uses color very effectively (and when is the
last time you saw someone with purple hair?) In my piece, has a few swaps
the yellows and reds are particularly bright. going on right now that fit the whimsy
category. Check them out!
A third thing you’ll notice about all three pieces is that they
use pattern in an effective way. In Andrea’s fairy piece, Harajuku Girls Swap
she uses dots throughout the background, and also uses a Due April 15, 2009:
repetition of flowers and butterflies. Sal’s gingerbread house

uses polka dots throughout. Think about how different the

piece would be without those brightly colored polka dots on Whimsical Summer Girls Swap
the trees or striped trunks! Finally, my piece uses swirls on Due April 23, 2009:
the wings and in the sky to add a playful touch.
Whimsical Goth Girls
So there you have it! Whimsical art can include: Due May 1st, 2009:
• whimsical themes or subject matter: often those that are
fanciful, fun, happy, or fantastical Super Kawaii Mixed Media Swap
• strong colors and very conscious choices on the part of Due May 1st, 2009:
the artist as to using color
• stylization that takes the piece of art beyond the ordinary.
This can include exaggerations, emphasis of certain
features, distorting, simplifying or adding unrealistic Take an Online
• patterns: such as dots, swirls, lines, and so forth for Whimsy Workshop!
increased effect
The Whimsy Art Workshop
As someone who considers herself a whimsical artist, I find
that whimsical art is empowering and uplifting. I use art as The Whimsy Art Workshop is a two-
a way to relax, to express myself, and really to enjoy and part workshop designed for the artist
experience life. It also allows me to “re-see” the world in or hobbyist who loves the whimsical,
a way that is happier, friendlier, and much less serious. To light, free style of art. The workshop
me, my art needs to reflect my inner spirit and inner joy. And is designed to help artists who are
what better way to do that than to reach into my imagination seeking to improve their artistic skills
and develop fantastical worlds full of swirled trees and bold- or working to develop a unique style.
colored mountains?
Level I Start Dates:
April 1, 2009
September 16

Level II Start Dates:

May 6, 2009
October 21, 2009

Register online at:

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Advertise in the
next issue of
ArtTrader Mag!

Please visit our

website for details.

m a g a z i n e

Call for Articles and Artwork Art TRADER
Thank you for your interest in contributing to ArtTrader Magazine.
ArtTrader Magazine is a web-based publication (in PDF format) focused
on Mail Art for trade such as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), ACEOs, art Article Submissions
journals, chunky books, altered art and altered books. Dana Driscoll, Editor
We are always accepting the following types of materials:
Artwork Submissions
• “How to” or Step-by-step articles on artistic techniques. We are Sal Scheibe, Art Director
interested in techniques that can be applied to any mail art. These include
illustrative techniques, and also works in fabric, digital, collage, mixed
media, and more.
Advertising Inquiries
• Articles on artistic journeys or experiences. Do you have an interesting
story that you would like to share? We would like to hear it.

• Artist Spotlight/Profile. Do you have a body of work you would like Critique Corner
share? We would love to feature you in our artist spotlight. Andrea Melione
• Showcasing Art. We are interested in showcasing assemblages,
mixed media work, creative journaling, chunky books, fat books, inchies,
ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), post cards and more. These types of articles For additional details on our
usually have a small bit of background accompanying them but primarily submission and artwork guidelines,
are visual in nature. please visit our website:
• Product and Book Reviews. If you are interested in writing a review of
a new product or book that is connected to the Mail Art world, we would
enjoy hearing about it.

Submissions of Artwork

Almost all of our articles require artwork submissions. You might also want
to submit artwork to appear in our webzine galleries. Our call for artwork
is always open and we welcome your submissions of ATCs, ACEOs, art
journals, chunky pages or altered books. Everyone is welcome to submit
their art. You do not need to be a member of to submit

You must submit your work to us in digital format.

• 300-400 DPI is sufficient. Do not submit artwork lower than 300 DPI.
• Acceptable formats include: JPG, BMP, TIF. Do not submit GIF files.
• Any submitted artwork should be at least 500 pixels wide and high
(they can be much larger than this, of course!)

“Frank, Peace Warrior”

ATC by Sal Scheibe