Fiber Artist Trading Cards Revisited

Rissa Peace Root 2006

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I wrote my first article about Fiber Artist Trading Cards for CQMagOnline two years ago.  I really like the concept of the Artist Trading Card (ATC), but I especially like it when Fiber Artists make them. Fiber ATCs are fun and challenging little projects and I have made many of them over the past few years. I belong to the CyberStitchers Chapter of the EGA, and this year Kelly issued her President's Challenge; I was thrilled that she chose Artist Trading Cards. Of course I offered to coordinate an exchange at the end of the year, but since I really wanted to do my best to encourage participation, I decided to make an ATC for each person who sends one in for the exchange.  I have dubbed this "Challenge the Vice President."  Every member who send me an ATC for the swap will get two in return, one from a member and one from me.  While that is potentially a very large commitment, I know that actual participation will be manageable. 

In preparation for my personal challenge, I have already begun to make more ATCs. I decided to make a water scene as an homage to Gracie, the first Group Correspondence Course (GCC) that I took and completed with CyberStitchers.  It was a challenge to make a Stumpwork ATC that would still fit into a trading card collectors sleeve.  The front leaf is a wired element, so I carefully tacked it to the base to keep it from being damaged by being put into and pulled out of a trading card sleeve.

Ode to Gracie , a Stumpwork ATC

The basic rules for an ATC have not changed since my first article.  They should be:

  • the size of a baseball trading card, 2.5" by 3.5" (64 x 89 mm)
  • signed and dated
  • able to fit into a collectors sleeve
  • traded or given away, but never sold

Past that, the way you make them is completely up to you.  Just remember that most people collect them as remembrances in an album. The photo above shows how I store mine. I bought the cloth binder and trading card collector pages from a chain craft store. 

If you are making a fabric ATC, it can be bound or finished in a variety of ways.  Personally, I do not like to mount my embroidery on card stock or a playing card, so I treat mine like micro miniature quilts.  I either fold over the backing fabric and stitch it down like quilt binding or I hold the pieces together and work a close blanket stitch all around the edges of the project.  I have even used some of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine to bind the edges. 

Fiber ATCs can be a means to experiment with new techniques or to challenge yourself to create an homage to a much larger and more complicated project.  The next time you need a "doodle cloth" for a project, think about making it into an ATC.  For my Casalguidi and Lavender GCC, I decided to baste and mark my linen to the 2.5" by 3.5" dimensions for an ATC, so that when I am done, I will have a completed ATC. I am a little worried that the raised elements might make it too dimensional to fit into the sleeve, so before I do the hemstitching, I will pin it and see if it works.  Part of the fun with these projects is figuring out just exactly what will work. Also, how cool is it that I can finish off my "doodle cloth" and trade it with a friend rather than toss it aside.

Casalguidi doodle cloth, an ATC in progress

Maybe you have part of a project that did not work out or an unfinished project that you never intend to complete.  Consider turning those orphaned projects into a Fiber Artist Trading Card!  You may even be able to make several from one project and nothing relieves the guilt of abandoning a project better than to find a new way to call it finished!

I'll leave you with the six big reasons I am so excited about CyberStitchers President's Artist Trading Card Challenge:

  1. ATCs acknowledge that we are artists!

  2. ATCs are a wonderful medium for honing or expanding your skills in very small bits. If you just bought the A-Z of thread painting, try one thread painted cherry on two or three cards. These are not being submitted for judging. The recipient will never see that card three was better than card one. Plus one cherry is so much easier than starting with a giant fruit bowl! We learn more in the doing than in the reading, so try some new technique on a small scale.

  3. Each card is a little piece of the person who made it, because it is an expression of someone's artistic drive, skills and creativity.

  4. The tiny canvas is an advantage, because you can reasonably expect to finish one in much less time than a traditional project. So you get a sense of completion for each one you finish; then you do the most wonderful thing of give it away. As a reward, you get one back from someone else.

  5. An ATC is a physical, tangible way of connecting with your fellow CyberStitchers chapter members, whom you might not have the opportunity to meet in person.

  6. The freedom to do anything is often the biggest challenge of all. For most of us, it is easier to be given a design, a chart and written directions. That does not mean you can't use part of a design or a chart for something else, you just have to rethink how it fits into a 2.5" x 3.5" space.

Please note, this particular exchange is open only to members of the CyberStitchers Chapter of the EGA. For more information about joining, please refer to the link below.  However, since there is a lot of interest in Fiber Artist Trading Cards, you should be able to set up personal trades on your own.

Addendum:  The Casalguidi doodle cloth was too big, so I had to roll over the edge and do another row of hemstitching to make it fit.

Finished Casalguidi ATC along with four others in an album.


CyberStitchers Chapter of the EGA, 
Pretty Impressive Stuff (my personal web page),
Rissa's Pieces (my personal blog),

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