On our way out of church this morning, I was asked by a young lass what I intended doing for the rest of the day.
"I think I shall get on to my sewing machine and have a play" I said. I am not sure if a 15 year old would understand that someone 4 times her age needs to play at all, let alone with a sewing machine! But that is what I did.
While I was taking part in the Fabric Book Round Robin, some of the participants sent round small gifts for the others. Mostly these were in the form of ATC's - or Artists Trading Cards.
ATC's measure 2 1/2" by 3 1/2", and showcase some expression of the maker's creativity, be it painting, mixed media, needlework, or a combination of these. They are then exchanged with fellow artists, or often given as a gift. Hundreds of thousands of them have probably been swapped all over the world, perhaps facilitated by the fact that so many artists now link up with each other via the Internet. I had one attempt at making a batch of ATC's a couple of years ago, but was not happy with the results.
Today I felt ready to try again.
I decided to make some Christmassy ATC's for my Round Robin friends.
This involved initially getting a piece of lightweight fabric and covering it with scraps of fabric, paper and ribbon. These included some Christmassy fabrics, a torn up print-out of "Silent Night"(with music), some wide Christmas ribbon, and wrapping papers. These scraps were attached with watered down PVA glue.Then gold tulle was adhered right over the top, and several random lines of straight stitching were applied with the sewing machine, using different threads.
This was then backed with a wonderful new product called "Fast2Fuse" which is an extremely stiff thick substance like very heavy vilene, which is fusible on both sides. Perfect for ATC's and Fabric Postcards (also currently popular with fabric/mixed media artists.) A fairly plain fabric was fused to the back, and the resulting layered "sandwich" was then cut into 2 1/2' by 3 1/2" sizes. Finally a close zig-zag stitch neatened the edges.
On the back of each one I stamped a pine tree, and wrote a Christmas message for the recipient. Now they are ready to post off to my Round Robin friends in New Zealand, Australia and England.
In case you think that modern needlework involves an awful lot of gluing and fusing, it is true that there are now some amazing and strangely wonderful products out there being used by craftspeople. They do not replace the traditional needle and thread, but make it possible to showcase your stitching in new and different ways. Let's face it - few people are wanting embroidered babywear, underwear, aprons and doileys nowadays. Today your needleworker and embroiderer is making wallhangings, mounted pictures, sculptures, decorated boxes, fabric books, postcards - and of course, ATC's.
Here are some of the ATC's I have been sent. They use a variety of media and techniques. That is the best part about arts and crafts nowadays - you can play to your heart's content, and forget about the rules!!