Cosy Winter Comforts – An ATC swap guest post

I’m delighted to introduce Larisa who is this week’s guest blogger for our Artist Trading Card swap. Larisa has been part of our little swapping community for a long time, and her work is always marvellous, so it’s great to have an insight into her creative method. I think I would like to own her little book of drawings, let alone one of her lovely ATCs!

This is my 6th ATC swap at Very Berry Handmade and I am very excited, as always, I should say. I still remember my first swap, when I was not even sure if there would be a place for me in it, but once I got an email from Ali confirming that I was in, I panicked. I had no idea how to create an ATC or what it was exactly for that matter. All I knew that I really wanted to be a part of this wonderful experience and create a tiny pretty card. I am so glad I joined in because there have been so many things I enjoyed, people I met and new things I learnt throughout the swaps. This time around I am even more excited because I got a chance being a guest at Ali’s blog. Thank you, Ali!

Since it’s my sixth swap, it seems like I have developed some kind of a little routine to help me work on my cards. Here is a sneak peek at how my creative process usually goes and what is “cooking” at the moment.

The theme for this swap is “Winter comforts”. What are you thinking about when you hear that? Hmm… I am not sure about you, but the first thing that pops in to my mind is a cup of freshly brewed tea or a bowl of steaming hot soup or a casserole or freshly baked sugar buns. Yep! Comfort foods. Then come some other things like: cherry pie (more comfort food), mittens, hot chocolate, fire place, candle light, knitted socks or leg warmers, hot water bottle, lavender, homemade jam, freshly baked bread, quilt, hot babble bath, snugly bed, warm kitchen, wooly shawl, comfy chair… The list can go on and on, but I do not write too many ideas, otherwise I would struggle with choosing the one. I make a few tiny sketches, if I can call them that, while writing the list. Sketching really helps me see if I can represent my idea on fabric.

Once I have my list, I draw a few rectangles exactly the same size as an ATC and sketch my ideas inside them. I have a cut out rectangle of the required size (2.5″ by 3.5″) ready to make this process easier. I used an old post card for that. Sketching in these tiny spaces helps me see if I can fit my design in the required space. I try and think of fabrics or any other materials or technics that I might use for a particular element, scribble some notes along the way.

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I like using some new elements or techniques for each of the swaps. Sometimes I feel like I need a quick test run to see if I would be able to create what I imagined in my head. Just like this time around. Since I decided to go with free motion quilting for this card, I need to make sure that it can be done the way I would like it to be. So here is my test run, but not the final design.

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Usually I finish off the front of the card first, I am sure most of us do because it’s the most important part. But nevertheless, some of the cards also have equally pretty and creative backs. This time around, instead of writing with a pen, I am writing with my sewing machine. It looks like a messy handwriting, but it took me so long to finish this tiny piece because you have to move the fabric instead of a pen needle while you are writing and it can be quite tricky. First I applied a piece of light weight interfacing on the back side of the calico piece to make it easier to move around. Then I traced the cardboard ATC template on to the fabric and using a water erasable fabric pen, I wrote the text, making sure that it fits nicely inside the rectangle. Again, I had a few test runs first and then I had about three ruined attempts before I got this. Phew!

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I thought I would give you a tiny sneak peek at how I am creating the front of the card as well. It’s quite a fun and interesting, and fiddly way too. Why fiddly? Because the pieces are quite small and if a mistake is made, it’s a bit tricky to fix it, so most likely I would have to start all over again. But I don’t mind really as long as I have enough time to complete the card. So here we go. First I applied light weight interfacing on the back side of the background fabric. Then I traced the ATC template on it and made my sketch that I can’t show you just yet.

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I have a small box full of tiny pieces of pretty fabrics with fusible web already applied to them. I choose the prints that I like to use for all the parts of the design, draw the shapes that I need on the back (paper) side and cut them out. I arrange them on the front of the card and fuse them with a hot iron. Then, using dark brown embroidery thread, I trace around the tiny piece with my sewing machine. It’s not neat, it’s not precise but it does look like a tea pot now.

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I was going to use plain calico as a background fabric but I changed my mind the last minute and chose this printed linen instead. Even though I like to plan my card well before I begin any work, I tend to change things as I go and it’s all a part of my creative process, a part of my little routine that I enjoy. Hope you are having fun working on your little pieces of art.

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Thanks so much Larisa – I am really looking forward to seeing your finished ATC.

5 thoughts on “Cosy Winter Comforts – An ATC swap guest post

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading this post, Larisa. I have actually been picturing you working on the ATC as I read your words.

  2. How lovely (and how organised). I’m sure your finished cards are treasured by their recipients. Free motion machine embroidery is a technique I have never mastered. This makes me want to try again.

  3. So lovely to hear from you Larissa. Your work is stunning and I am in fact the proud owner of one of your wonderful AT C’s, your creative process is great to hear and I know how hard you work at everything. Thanks so much for sharing.xxx

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