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Another month, another 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.

For Craftster's April 2015 ATC exchange I claimed two women, "grapeicepop" from Maine and "stitch and stones" from Arizona. I picked "Artist's Choice" for both ladies, not because I disliked all of the other subjects that they had listed, I'm just terribly indecisive, so, given the option, I'll almost always opt to not make a choice at all, if you let me! That said, both cards do reflect the women's interests: stitch and stones' card is for her "mermaids" theme and the golden feline (the black areas are all cut-outs) is for grapeicepop's "cat" theme.

Part of the ATC swap's rules are that you must post photos of the cards that you receive. As such, I thought I'd also share the images that grapeicepop and stitch and stones took of my work. Interestingly, at least to me, stitch and stones perceived the mermaid to be horizontally-orientated, while I drew and saw the fishwoman as vertically-aligned (not that it really matters).

[Mermaid] White paper, white glue, brown paper from a grocery bag, colored pencil, ink, marker, and acrylic paint.
[Cat] White paper, cardboard from a cereal box, white glue, acrylic paint, and ink.

Each measures 8.9 cm (3.5") x 6.4 cm (2.5"), which is the standard ATC size.

I illustrated the mermaid card on April 11th, 2015, but didn't glue it onto its backing until the following day, while the cat card was crafted in its entirety on the 12th.

All right, so, now that you've seen what I made, you're probably wondering what I got in return, right? The organizer of the ATC swap, "kosmicgirl", picked me, and my "An animal with wings that doesn't normally have them" theme. Her letter arrived, all the way from Germany, on 4/27/15 (which just happens to be the first mail that I've ever received from that particular European country in my entire life--an exciting thing in itself).

First, packed along with the ATC was this interesting postcard. On television, I've listened to doctors and personal trainers advise that, with a little creativity and effort, individuals can use their furniture as exercise equipment in lieu of the real thing, but I've never seen that idea implemented in quite this manner! I felt like a bit of a fool, even with nobody watching, but I actually gave this routine a try, and, alas, I'm afraid that the results weren't nearly as stylish/fabulous as those achieved by the woman pictured. Done regularly, I imagine it would be a good way to burn some calories though.

Moving on to the ATC, kosmicgirl chose to bestow feathered wings upon a giraffe and titled the piece "Angel of the Savannah". That's an animal that I never would have imagined taking up flying, which certainly fits the theme's criteria. I admire the giraffe's playful, almost human-like, expression and the creature's characteristic reticulated coat pattern is nicely rendered. Lacking the hard, black outlines of the animal, the wings have an ethereal quality to them.

Serious zoologists scoff at the very idea of flying giraffes, but I have irrefutable photographic proof of their existence. However, when I presented this ground-breaking evidence to them, can you believe that those "scientists" had the audacity to inform me that a plastic LEGO Duplo figure with glued-on paper wings doesn't count as a real animal?

Thank you for the lovely card, kosmicgirl!

The following day (the 28th), I received my second April ATC in the mail, this time from Craftster member "cmarion3", who hails from Connecticut. She selected my "Your favorite childhood toy" theme.

Like many people, cmarion3's most beloved plaything from her youth was a teddy bear (even before I got the card, I had a hunch that's what it would turn out to be). While she kept him for many years, cmarion3 wrote that she eventually lost her fuzzy friend during a move when she was in her twenties. I also had a brown teddy bear as a boy that I was quite fond of, named "Stubby" (which was a reference to his ridiculously short arms), and I don't know what ever became of him either.

Cmarion3's illustration (which appears to be marker and ink) is incredibly adorable. The waving pose (goodbye to her and hello to me?) is great and the rich shading on the fur, including the neat circular highlights, gives the figure depth. I also dig the colorful wallpaper pattern (Gene Wilder wanted me to remind you all that the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!)

Something bear-y important is going down here, but are you teddy for it?

Thank you for the wonderful card, and sharing the memories of your lost plush companion, cmarion3! And check out her Blog if you'd like to see more of her work!

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