Sunday, July 28, 2013

Interactive Woven Scrap Artist Trading Cards

I have lucked into a lovely and diverse group of eight or so Artist Trading Card (ATC) swappers. We're from completely different walks of life, ages, religions, and everything else. What we have in common is a love of art. The others are into drawing, painting and collage, and I'm the only fiber artist. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the ATC's I made for our first swap, here.

For our July swap, I got the idea in my head to turn my ATCs into looms. I think I got the idea because at a recent estate sale, I scored a cute little vintage flower loom (sort of like this.) I have several tiny looms from the 1950s-1970s - the manufacturers encouraged women to make lots and lots of little squares (or flowers) and then stitch them together into, say, a formal suit to wear during air travel (with white gloves).

So, for my ATCs, I started with sturdy cereal box cardboard. I adhered decorative paper to the plain side, or I painted the plain side. Once the glue/paint dried, I cut evenly spaced slits on the short ends, a quarter inch or so apart. Using the slits, I wrapped an interesting vintage gold yarn to serve as "warp."

Next, I wove with whatever fiber struck my fancy as the weft. For someone like myself, whose favorite childhood toy was a potholder loom, weaving is pure, unmitigated bliss. The only difference between weaving potholders in the 1960s and scraps in the 2010s is that the former were more disciplined. On my contemporary looms, I went for variety.

For example, from top down, this one includes: brussels sprout fabric scraps from a recent potholder; purple organza; three kinds of novelty yarn (eyelash, chenille, and indescribable); more organza, tiny lavender rick rack, and the same vintage gold thread.
Plus a metal button. I liked how the grid of the threads meshed with the nutritional information grid behind it. 

Similarly, this card had text visible on the front, including the words "benefits unique to each."

This one featured a vintage rayon floral, on top. I though it was quite feminine.

Some seemed more masculine. This one involved a cashmere yarn (top), a sliver of denim jeans (plus a novelty button with a grid); striped canvas ticking scrap; colorful novelty yarn; black cotton selvage topped with blue-painted rick rack; gold yarn, and blue ribbon yarn:

Here, I applied a little discipline, limiting myself to two yarns for weft (plus a little gold at the bottom). The photo doesn't convey the lovely mint color of the vintage button.

 Fuzzy cashmere and sari yarn went into this one, plus some blue tulle scraps:

I made one card with the slits cut in the other direction. It wound up looking like a landscape:
(This one looked a little plain to me, so after this photo, I later added a shiny mother of pearl button on the upper right. Big improvement.)
Now here's what I like best about these cards, aside from the fact that they use up approximately 3 ounces of my 80 gazillion ton scrap stash: They're fully interactive! On the back of the card, I invited the recipients to weave their OWN tapestries!

One of the rules of our exchange is that we put our cards in some kind of envelope before swapping, which makes the anticipation even more fun. I wrapped mine in a slice from an old calender, with the grid on the outside, and a nature scene that I felt went well with that card's fibers. 
I tied each package with a variety of interesting yarns, cords, and fabric scraps, so the recipient could use them to weave their side:  

Now here's where an in person ATC exchange is sooooooooo much better than doing it through  cyberspace and mail.  First, you get to ask other artists about their work on the spot. And second, you get useful reality-based feedback on yours!

One of the young women immediately began weaving the back of her card with the wrapping fibers! I was so incredibly proud!

And one of the fellows immediately placed his card into my envelope to create a stand.
He thought I made it that way on purpose! But I didn't! He's a total genius, and I'm reaping the benefits! 

If you're interested in joining the international Artist Trading Card movement, go to and type in "Artist Trading Cards." You'll find many groups - some trade through the mail; others arrange face-to-face meetings in specific cities. There are also lists of local exchanges at

And if you make a woven card, I'd love to see it!


  1. You are so creative! You constantly amaze and delight me! Well done!


    1. Thanks so much, Shellie, you're good for my morale!

  2. How terrific! You are so creative! You constantly amaze & delight me!


  3. I laughed out loud when I read your post on QA. This is a very FUN idea! I wish I had actual folks living nearby who might participate in something like this. Lucky you.

    1. Thanks, Ann, I'm glad you enjoyed it! You gotta find a group! In-person is the BEST!

  4. These are absolutely the coolest things I have seen in a long time. Can you post pictures of the cards you recieved?

  5. Cathy, I love your writing, I love your ATCs, and I love the energy you bring to our ATC group. It is such a blessing to know you and trade with you. Face to face trades are the best.

  6. Oh WOW! These are incredible....your idea that the recipient can do their own weaving on the reverse side is phenomenal!!!!! I am trying to imagine hese at just 2.5 x 3". WAY COOL!!!!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed them! They're way too much fun to make. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Thanks so much for leaving such a nice comment on my blog with regards to "The Nature of Memory", my new 3D Mixed Media assemblage because responding led me here to your incredible woven cards. From the recycled cardboard cereal boxes to the calendar page wrappers ... I'm amazed and inspired! Thank you!

  8. Susan, every visit to your blog inspires me! I love what you do!!!