Twinkle Twinkle Variety

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As I am busy preparing for a an upcoming trip, I didn’t get my Friday recap posted. Lucky me, because I received two great ATCs on Saturday that I want to share. Both of these came from Australia and both were for a nursery rhyme swap based on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Both of the artists used paper as the primary basis of the ATC, but that is where the similarities end!

The first one came from Sharon Mackie. She used some fabulous starry paper as the background for this beautiful vintage image with the nursery rhyme. It’s embellished with dainty blue star trim around the image (where does she find this stuff?) and a large star rhinestone.

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The next ATC is from Beverly Giggins. She used a cutout to create a window on her ATC. Out the window is the night sky, filled with stars she has drawn in gold. What you can barely see is that the dark teal paper she used has a starry texture as well. They are large stars embossed in the actual paper. I took this picture at an angle to try highlighting those stars. She added a brad with a starry charm and the title of the rhyme.

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It’s always fun to see how the same people can have a completely different take on the same theme. I wish I could share with you the two ATCs I made for this swap. In my haste to mail, I failed to take pictures of them. Maybe if Sharon and Beverly send me pics, I can add them to this later. Hint, hint!

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Friday Recap: Jacket ATC

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It was a slow week in my mailbox, but there was something a little out of the ordinary I decided I should share.

I joined a group swap for a “Jacket ATC” that was hosted by Corinne in California. I had never heard of these before the swap, but she posted a link to a tutorial for creating a little cover that folds around the ATC. Corinne’s blog

I was lucky enough to have her as a swap partner and I received this pretty little package in the mail from her this week:

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After slipping off the little ribbon, I opened the jacket to find this lovely ATC inside:

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I thought you might be interested in seeing how I made my jacket ATC, as well. I decided to take the term “jacket” quite literally, so I created a tuxedo jacket to envelope my ATC.

I started with a piece of black paper that I cut into a 7.5″ x 7″ rectangle. I positioned the ATC in the center and made marks at the corners. I used a straight edge to draw lines marking off the corner squares that needed to be removed.

After cutting those, I folded the remaining four flaps. Then I used scissors to cut the two larger flaps into the size and shape of a tuxedo jacket. The top flap needed to be white for the shirt, so I attached a scrap of white photo paper (so it would be shiny!).

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I used a scrap of the black paper to cut out a bowtie and attached that. I drew buttons on the shirt and the jacket. To make the satin lapels on the jacket, I just added glossy Mod Podge I applied with a q-tip.

I added the ATC inside with removable double-sided tape. Of course, the ATC had to be a dress!

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Then I folded it and added another tiny piece of removable double-sided tape to keep the jacket closed. Voila! A Jacket ATC…literally!

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Embossing powders

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I’ve been playing more and more with embossing powders. The first I purchased was black, and it took some practice to get used to it. Then I bought some metallics, and I started picking up any jars that were on clearance…which led me to my all-time favorite: the clear chunky embossing powder. I’ll save that for the end.

So, for beginners, what am I talking about? Embossing powders are like tiny jars of fine, powdery plastic that can stick to a gluey or wet image. When heated, the powder melts unto a shiny plastic design. Most people use them on rubber stamped images, but you can cover entire cards, the edges, or images you draw. The powder will come in a small jar.

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To make a sticky surface, you can use regular a regular inkpad. I often do this if I am embossing in the same color as the ink (especially black). But if you are using a clear powder or something where you don’t want ink under it, you can buy pads that are just for glue. I learned this the hard way: there is a reason so many crafters talk about Versamark pads. It’s because they are awesome. The others just don’t stick as well.

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You can also get a Versamark pen for drawing an image to emboss. They are well worth the investment.

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On this ATC, I used the pen to draw waves, then used clear embossing. I added alcohol inks over it, but the embossed area acted as a relief by not accepting the ink:

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Another lesson I learned: don’t use dirty stamps. The ink will transfer to your pad and you will no longer be stamping clear. I keep baby wipes on hand and a tiny bottle of stamp cleaner. I try to remember to wipe a stamp with a baby wipe as soon as I’m finished, but if I forget I can squirt some cleaner on to remove dried ink.

So, stamp your image, then pour the powder over it. Don’t be stingy, dump it on. Some crafters keep their powders in large containers and spoon it over. I may end up that route for clear powder, but for my colors I just do it over a blank sheet of paper. I pick up the item, and pour the excess onto the paper. I tap the edges and give it a thump on the back to remove the loose powder. If powder is sticking somewhere I don’t want it, I keep a small dry paintbrush on hand to brush it away. I set the ATC on a heat resistant mat, bend my big sheet of paper into a funnel and carefully pour the excess powder back into the jar.

Then I grab my heat gun, warm it a bit, and start melting the powder. You can usually tell when it’s done because it gets lighter and shiny, unless it’s a puffy or matte type. Easy peasy permanent embellishment.

Now, I promised to tell you about the chunky clear embossing powder. It is great for covering an entire card if you want it to appear to have water droplets or be under water, as I have done on this ATC:

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The more powder, the thicker and more “underwater” it appears. If you only want water droplets, this is where the cheaper glue pads are helpful. I use those and smash them randomly over the ATC, then pour on the powder. Not as much sticks as it would with the Versamark, and the air from the heat gun blows some off, too. Then you end up with water droplets, as I have on this ATC:

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I hope this helps to take away some of the fear of using embossing powders, and frees you to experiment!

Friday Recap

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It’s been an active week in my family AND in my mailbox! Wednesday my daughter graduated from 8th grade, today is my hubby’s birthday, and these are some of the terrific ATCs I received in the mail. I do feel slightly guilty that I got more fun mail this week than those two did!

These first two came from my friend Janis Bowen. We did a private swap of Zetti style ATCs. Aren’t hers so cute?

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The next one was for a cartoon series. Sharon in Australia made this QuickDraw McGraw. I love how she cut the matte around it.

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This ATC I received for a series in circus performers. This theme was jugglers.

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For the Red, White & Black swap from Sharon Godley, this lovely geometrical design:

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Using Old Book Pages as Backgrounds

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I often use pieces or parts of old books as the backgrounds for my ATCs. Some people don’t like the idea of tearing up perfectly good books, but the books I use are hardly perfect! I like to go to yard sales and thrift stores and find books that are falling apart. The oldest books with pages torn are perfect for my artwork. One of my greatest finds was an old, old nursing, manual. I got it for $3 at an estate sale. The cover was falling off and the pages were so crisp they would crumble, but the content is so great and the faded color so rich that I loved it.

Sometimes I find children’s books that have been scribbled in or pages torn out. They are no longer fit for a child’s library, but I can still salvage some great illustrations from them for ATCs.
When swapping internationally, I have received some fantastic pages from books printed in a language other than English. I have no idea what they have written on them, but I love the look of it nonetheless.

I recently joined a swap in which we were asked to draw or paint a bird onto a book page. When drawing on pages, the medium you choose will determine how much text shows. In this first ATC, I drew a black stork using Copic markers. The text is not visible behind the bird.

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Since this text appears to be Arabic, I decided I wanted to paint a bird that would be present in the Middle East. That is why I chose to draw the stork. I like to let the book page dictate the art that goes on it.

In the other ATC, I used Copic multi liners to draw most of the picture, and just used some lighter Copic markers to color the birds. Most of the text is still visible on this one. Since this is obviously Asian text, I tried to create the style of traditional art of the Orient.

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On both ATCs, I used watercolor paints to just add color and highlights to the backgrounds. The watercolors allow the text of the book page to show through.

Before tossing those old books, decide if there are parts that can be reclaimed from them to use in your art. You may be surprised at the direction the book pages take you!

Using Cancelled Postage Stamps

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You may have noticed that I enjoy using cancelled postage stamps in my ATCs. One reason is because I always enjoy Upcycling and reusing old items, especially those things that most people just toss into the trash.

The second reason is because some postage stamps are tiny pieces of art themselves, and it is such a waste for them to be tossed away and forgotten. I swap with many international swappers, and the postage I receive from other countries is phenomenal! I especially love to use foreign postage in my artwork.

When using cancelled postage, it obviously calls for some type of collage technique. I often use colorful scrapbook paper as part of the background on a postage stamp ATC.

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I also like to include pages from old, beat up books I find at yard sales. Vintage medical books and dictionaries are some of my favorites…

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…As well as using foreign language text that international swappers generously share with me.

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Pieces of maps are also a favorite background, especially when they represent the same country as the stamp. In this ATC below, I titled it “Planes, Trains and Automobiles;” therefore, I used three different stamps from different places. Since the theme was transportation, I thought a map was the most fitting background.

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However, do not feel limited to just using paper. There are many other items and embellishments that can be added to the ATC for added interest.

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One of my favorite things to do is actually draw part of the ATC along with a postage stamp. Sometimes I attempt to complete the picture that the stamp is a part of, such as in the first one below. Other times, I just draw a complimentary background, such as with Dr. Seuss.

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Overall, I think that using old postage in my ATCs is a fun, environmentally friendly way to to create ATCs, and the beautiful stamps are a great inspiration to me in my artwork.

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