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After getting my feet wet with ATCs last month, I elected to give it another go in Craftster's February ATC swap. Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are small crafts that are freely exchanged between individuals, around the world, usually via snail mail, as an exercise to interact with other artists and experience/collect samples of their work. Basically, you "claim" the most recent participant before you, select one of their listed themes as the subject matter for the card that you'll subsequently make for them, and then post your own preferences for an ATC so that the next person who comes along can do the same for you. I chose "blupaisan", a woman from Vermont, and, as I also love kitties, I picked her wild cats (lynx, bobcat, catamount, etc.) theme.

Here's what I came up with. I decided to make it a two-sided card--while I don't consider either image to be the "front" or "back", if it makes a difference to you, I made the feline in the snowstorm first. I used several photographs of real lynxes/bobcats and domestic kitties as reference models, but I drew/painted everything freehand.

White paper, white glue, cardboard from a potato chip box, graphite pencil, colored pencil, marker, watercolor paint, acrylic paint, and ink.

8.9 cm (3.5") wide x 6.4 cm (2.5") tall (which is the standard ATC size).

Several hours on February 5th, 2015.

Okay, so, now that you've seen what I made, you're probably wondering what I got in return, right? Craftster member "sheepBlue", a fellow Michigander, picked me, and my "doll house interior" theme. Her package arrived in the mail on 2/12/15, and, as all of my little plastic ladies were well aware of what kind of item was inside, they couldn't wait to help me get it open.

Magnificent, right? So much detail! This is obviously a mixed media piece. We've got wood, metal, clay, paper, plastic, thread, etc. here--the whole nine yards! SheepBlue indicated to me, in her accompanying letter, that she wanted to focus on the essential room of any house that most people would rather not discuss, the bathroom, hence her work's title: "The Room That Shall Not Be Named".

Offhand, it doesn't seem like any of my dollies are quite the right size (although I've got so many, it's hard to say for sure without doing a complete inventory), but this WWE Rey Mysterio Jr. action figure looked about right, so, I let him try out the facilities. He appreciates being able to get all of that stinky sweat off after a long night of wrestling Smurfs!

This bathroom diorama is seriously the nicest thing anyone has ever made for me. SheepBlue went waaaaaaaaay above and beyond the call of duty when she crafted this 3D ATC, and I absolutely love it! The room and its furnishings look fabulous and there are so many fun details--it seems like I discover something new, that I hadn't noticed before, every time that I look at it. I'll be showing my new bathroom off to all of my family and friends for weeks/months to come and will treasure it always!

Please check out sheepBlue's Etsy shop or blog if you're interested in seeing, or purchasing, more of her work!

Finally, as a brief aside, Wednesday evening, as I knew, from the tracking number on the package, that the ATC would be arriving in the mail the following day, I decided to make a tiny occupant for it. Of course, that turned out to be rather unwise, as I had absolutely no idea what scale (beyond an ATC's normal height & width) sheepBlue was using, so I was pretty much flying blind. Sure, I could have asked her, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise when I opened the package by knowing anything about what she made beyond the theme itself.

Anyway, in my usual rash manner, I reasoned that, if I were to partition a 2.5" x 3.5" card into the rooms/floors of a typical house, it'd make sense to do two floors on a horizontally-orientated card, and two-three on a vertically-aligned one, so, by my calculations, a floor would be around 1.3" inches high, and a correspondingly-scaled 6' human adult should be roughly 1" or 2.4 cm in height, which is pretty tiny, but do-able.

I made the doll by first constructing a wire armature (from a twist tie), so that the finished figure would be poseable (I wanted her to be able to sit on furniture if necessary), and then covered that in papier mache (newsprint & white glue) and built up the human form. Her orange hair is embroidery thread and the patterned dress is a photo of a rug I cut out of a Home Decorators Collection catalog and glued onto her body. The other details are acrylic paint, ink, and marker. I don't think she turned out all that great, and she's horribly out-of-scale with sheepBlue's bathroom, but, that's what I get for putting the cart before the horse.

And, because once I thought of it, I had to do it, I also modeled a teensy blue sheep (sheepBlue's avatar on the Craftster forums we both belong to) friend for the doll. It will be good to have the architect on site if the plumbing in the bathroom backs up, lol!

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