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Friday, January 18, 2008

Letterbox Trading Cards

Letterbox Trading Cards (LTCs) are an off-shoot of Artists Trading Cards (ATCs). An ATC has the dimensions of a playing card, 2.5 X 3.5 inches. An LTC is the same thing with one exception: the LTC must have the image of a hand-carved stamp on it. That's what seems to make it a part of letterboxing. Though hardly a replacement for true, traditional "Get out there and box" letterboxes, it does pass the time on a snowy winter's day. It spurs my idea machine into thinking about what I can plant in the spring, new ways of doing up clues, and makes me carve stamps which happens to be one of the hardest parts about planting for me.

But back to LTCs. I find the hardest part about this is figuring out what will be the focal point of the card. Whether it will be the stamp image itself or something else. I can usually come up with a card "design" before I think about the stamp. The stamp almost becomes an afterthought...oh yeah, I gotta put a stamp on it somewhere...

But now that I am getting some ideas about what I might want to do, I can figure the stamp into the design better. My first LTC was with a UFO stamp that I had lying around from the Northern NY Gathering. It was small so I had to design the card with a different focal point than just the stamp. Overall, the design turned out really well. I thought they were great cards and in fact, am a bit disappointed that I didn't make more of them!

I feel that when trading for cards I want as singles, I need to send a card that makes me proud to put my sig stamp on the back. I have several cards right now that I am proud of and a couple that are "okay" in my opinion but not as great as they might have been. I am very proud of the retired "Music of the Spheres". Well, almost retired. As soon as the ring rolls around and the cards are distributed, it will be retired. I am also very proud of the "Shamrocks Everywhere" contribution I have just completed. Called "Shamrock Knot", I did make some extra to trade as singles but they are not exactly like the ones that will go into the ring. But the stamp turned out really good and I like my design concept for the card overall. I even experimented with some leftover scraps I had for another design and liked that one as well...more of a quilt block pattern. I may be using that "design" for a different card in the future.

I'm not so proud of my "Wyvern's Signature" but I wasn't out to make something really fancy. I wanted something simple, easily reproducible, and with no real fancy embellishments. Since the card is intended to be traded at gatherings or traded for other signature cards as well as being Unlimited (as in I'll always be willing to make them), I wanted something that I could make fast and in a pinch. The finished design is good and I like the look of it but I think I polished the look with the "Shamrock Knot" card I did after. See...I'm learning...

Also not so great, in my opinion, is my "Snips, Scraps and Splotch" set. But then this is more of a concept type card than something that can be replicated. The concept is for me to clean off my craft desk every so often. So I use the paper scraps and little odd ball stickers and embellishments that are cluttering up the desk to make an LTC. I figure every batch will be a new set of "Splotch" cards. I call them Splotch because that's the handmade stamp I put on it to make it an LTC. Originally called "The Protozoan" this stamp also was lying around waiting to be planted or used. It was so small, I wasn't certain what to do with it...HH, cootie, urban box...so because it's a stamp that was sitting on my cluttered desk near all my scrap paper, Splotch became the mascot of these cards. I liked some of the cards I made with my first batch but some others just seemed too plain even with Splotch stamped on there. But then, I am at the mercy of my scraps pile...I want to stick to the concept I created. I can ONLY use the papers in the scraps pile to decorate the cards.

So my LTC adventure is continuing with lots of new ideas springing up all the time. But I'll add that as another blog entry.

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