Category Archives: Artist Trading Cards

Displaying Your ATCs and ICADS- They’ve Been Framed

I love creating ATCs ( Artist Trading Cards) and ICADs ( Index Card a Day) and over the period of 2 years that I have been doing mixed media I have quite the collection.  I admit it I have a hard time giving away or even trading my little pieces of art. I imagine many of you are just like me , with a growing pile of ATCs , ICADs etc. So what do you do with them?

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Initially I bought baseball card plastic sheets and stored my ATCs in them in a binder. This works well but I found that I didn’t look through it often. And I wanted to see my art,and be inspired by it. My ICADS I hole punched and put on a ring.  This kept them together, but was hard to display and I feel like I damaged my art by punching a hole in it.


One day shortly after we had moved my husband and I got onto the task of hanging pictures. Some of the things we had previously hung no longer appealed or ” fit” our new home. By the end of it, we had a stack of unused frames of various sizes and shapes. This is when I got my idea. Now that I had an actual art studio dedicated to my creativity I wanted to hang some of my creations. I gathered up all the unused frames onto the dining room table and took out all my creations that were not in a journal. Here’s what I came up with.

Now I didn’t do anything fancy, such as get custom matting for them- but you definitely could do this.  Part of my plan was to use what I had without buying anything new. This also meant that I could just get this done and hang the frames without delay or procrastination.

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These two frames that are basically two panes of glass surrounded by wood . I believe they are called “float” picture frames.  These work particularily well since they will fit a variety of sizes of my art.  If I wanted I could paint a background that would go with the selected ICADS/ATCs  and mount the ATCs/ICADs on it. For now I like the look of the wall showing through. Gives it a sort of 3 D effect.

Here are a couple links to similar frames

Wood Float Frame 10X20 –

Wood Float Frame 51/2 X 13 –


This frame had a pre cut mat that was intended to use with 3 5 by 7 photos.  The size of the opening was too big for just one ATC so I paired them up and mounted them on the backing. The matting really makes these ATCs pop. Afterwards, I realized that I could have used foam tape or dots to adhere the ATCs. This little change would set them off even more.


These multi-picture frames come in a variety of orientations, but are the perfect size for either ATCs or ICADs.  I loved that I could use my ICADs that went horizontally as well as vertically in this frame. I simply mounted them on the black background without adding any backing paper. At a later time I could mount them on matt board or get a matt cut. ( My husband purchased a matt cutter when I first got into art. I may have to nudge him to get it out and start using it).

Here are some links to similar frames if interested

Puzzle Collage Picture Frame –

10 Opening Collage –

The best part of having my art in frames is I get to enjoy them in a way I couldn’t before. It inspires me to have my art hanging in my work space. Plus, whenever it strikes my fancy I can change the arrangements putting in other favorites or newer creations.

Have fun “framing” your art.





Technique With Stencils and Modeling Paste : Another Brick in the Wall


Flaunt What You’ve Got is made on a playing card. I obviously didn’t apply a coat of gesso or paint prior to applying the bricks, as you can tell. The red of the diamonds can be seen in the gaps. It doesn’t take away from the finished product , but you could paint the card black or white prior to the brick.

I used Flexible Modeling Paste from Liquitex through a homemade brick stencil. You can buy a brick stencil from many of the brand name stencil makers. Be sure to wash the stencil after using it with modeling paste as it will dry hard and could ruin your stencil.

I clean up the edges with a palatte knife and then use my heat tool to dry the modeling paste. If you put the heat tool too close or hold it in one place too long the modeling paste will bubble up. To get the look I achieved I did just that. I wanted it to bubble , and crack to make the brick looked weathered.You will notice that some of the bricks puff up. I press down some of them with my finger after it has cooled a bit.

I then sprayed the card with Lindy’s Starbursts sprays called ” Steampunk Sepia” and a very little bit of Shabby Turbine Teal. I applied the sepia spray twice, drying between layers of spray. Yes, the paste will still bubble and puff up. The two toned sprays with their gorgeous shimmer get into all the nooks and crannies.

I stamped my peacock feather stamp and sentiment on deli paper and sprayed it with my homemade metallic acrylic sprays and adhered it to the card.


This ATC was done in a very similar way as I described above. The difference is that I mod podged a colored paper towel onto the card prior to applying the modeling paste through the brick stencil. You can see the wonderful texture that adds to the card . On this ATC I used a couple of my homemade metallic sprays in blue and teal. I stamped the hummingbird, flower and sentiment on deli paper that had been sprayed with the same metallic sprays.

Make It Your Own

While my examples in this post are all done on Artist Trading Cards, you can use the same technique on a journal page or on a canvas.

I used a brick stencil for these cards, but putting modeling paste through stencils to add texture and pattern is one of my most favorite techniques. I have done it with most of my stencils. Just be sure to clean them right away.

I used Flexible Modeling Paste. I love the effects I’ve gotten , but it was just what I got my hands on.  You could use any modeling paste, light, heavy and any brand.  Play with them and see what they do. You could even use wall compound that is used to fill cracks in walls. This is much cheaper, which I love and can be found in many hardware or big box stores.

I used Lindy’s Starbursts sprays and my homemade metallic sprays. You can use whatever sprays you have. They do not have to be metallic or have shimmer. If you don’t have sprays you can thin out any acrylic paint  ( Liquitex or craft paint) with water and paint the brick. If you want shimmer you can add dollar store silver paint or iridescent medium ( I bought Artist Loft brand) rather than the more expensive Liquitex or Golden.

Flaunt What You’ve Got and make it your own.

Karen/Creative Kady



How to Effectively Use Black in Art Journaling: Techniques

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This technique is a very simple, yet very effective and striking. Above you see the backs of the start of a pocket letter.

It started out as a piece of 11X14  piece of mixed media paper from Canson. I applied a layer of gesso to it. After drying I got out my Inktense Blocks and colored randomly with a multitude of colors. I sprayed with water and activated the ink from the Inktense Blocks with my fingers. I blended colors , adding more color until I got a background I liked.  I dipped a paper towel in any areas that got too wet or where water was pooling.


When dry I used the stencil Flower Medley  and taped it down in the corners so it wouldn’t move. I  applied black craft paint with a make up sponge. I start at  the top and work my way down, being careful not to have too much paint on the sponge so it wouldn’t leak under the stencil. I find applying two lighter layers of paint allows for more control. Lift off the stencil and dry. I have a tub of water and dishsoap handy to put stencils in so clean up is easier.  I cut the piece into 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches -the size of an ATC. I added designs and quotes to the other side specific to the person who received the pocket letter.

Here is the same technique used on an art journal page.


This art journal page was made using the same stencil technique. The only difference here is I spread acrylic paint in fall leaf colors onto the gessoed surface before I applied black paint through a leaf stencil from Plaid. After applying the black paint through the stencil I splattered gold acrylic paint and adhered a quote with gel medium.

I printed off the quote on paper that is thicker than regular copy paper, but copy paper will work. I colored the paper with Distress Ink Walnut Stain. I used liner brush to make the letters blacker and outlined the letters with my cheap dollar store gold gel pen.

Here is an ATC made using the same technique. I used Inktense Blocks here and Crafter’s Workshop Stencil ” Flower Frenzy”  and stamped it with a wooden script stamp. I outlined the flowers using Uniball Signo white gel pen.

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As you can see the variations are endless. Give it a try. Use black through a stencil or mask. Be sure to come back and post the results.


Salt Technique: It’s Not Just for Watercolor : ATC ” Joy”

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If you watched some of my videos you know that I love using the salt technique frequently on my journal pages. I use it with my homemade Wilton sprays, Inktense Blocks and Lindy’s Starburst Sprays. But did you know you could use this technique with acrylic paint?

I didn’t either . At least not until I did a YouTube video seeing which color mediums the salt technique works with. You can find that video by clicking on this link.

The background created for this ATC was made during the video. On this background I used the following Liquitex Basic Acrylic Paints. Ultramarine Blue, Hookers Green, Bright Aqua Green, Light Blue Permanent and Old Gold.

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Onto a gessoed card I applied a generous amount of aquamarine blue with about half as much of each of bright acqua green and light blue permanent. I sprayed each with water and mixed loosely with my finger. I added a touch of hookers green afterward with a bit of water. When using the salt technique you want to have a bit of liquid for the salt to soak up. I applied sea salt to the card taking care not to sprinkle it on most parts.

If I was doing this again I would mix each paint color with water prior to putting it on  the card. I believe this will amplify the effect of the salt technique.

After it was dry I gently brushed off the salt with my fingers. You can feel the texture the salt created. I then put some of the Old Gold Liquitex Basic on my craft mat. I dipped a makeup sponge into it and applied it to my Hero Arts “Old Letter Writing” wooden stamp. I stamped the card so the script was vertical.

Now, it was August when I did this, but for some reason when I looked at the background I saw a Christmas tree. So I happily dug out my  new Penny Black Christmas clear stamps and using Versamark stamp pad stamped the dangling ornaments across the top of the card. I poured white embossing powder on it and activated it with my heat tool.


When that cooled, I got my small letter stamps and stamped the word JOY onto the card using Versamark Inkpad. I used white embossing powder again. To finish the card I edged the card with the makeup sponge and gold paint.

Instead of Christmas Cards I may just send out Christmas ATCs.  No two would ever look the same even if you use the same paints each time. I love that.

 Would you mind getting an ATC like this instead of a card?                Creative Kady

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As I said in a previous blog post the small size of the ATCs make them perfect to free yourself and try new techniques without worry of cost , amount of time. In this ATC I throw caution to the wind and try out 3 different techniques:

  1. Lifting color through a stencil
  2. Using gel medium through a stencil
  3. Using Pouring Medium

First I appied a layer of white gesso to the ATC card. This card I cut out of the thin cardboard (about the thickness of a manilla tag folder) that came in the packaging of a stencil I had purchased. ATCs measure 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.


I then take 3 colors of Derwent’s Inktense Blocks : 740 Mauve,1300 Teal Green, and 850 Deep Blue and applied them to the gessoed surface. I sprayed water on the color and activated the colors with my fingers. I took care to NOT blend the colors as I wanted the three colors to remain. I used the heat tool to dry.

I then put a stencil ( don’t remember which one) over the card and using a baby wipe remove some of the color from the Inktense Blocks. This adds a bit of texture and another dimension to the card. After this dried I used my black StazOn inkpad and stamped the card with the Hero Arts “Old Letter Writing” wooden stamp.  This gives more interest to the card.


Now using the Joggles Amoeba stencil and my Golden Gel Medium I apply the gel medium through the stencil using a palette  knife trying to keep the application smooth. I let this dry naturally as I didn’t want any bubbling to occur. The gel medium dries clear.


Once dry I paint the raised surface black using black craft paint. Once completely dry I take the Liquitex Pouring Medium and, you guessed it poured it onto the surface of the card. This Pouring Medium is  not self leveling so I push it around and make sure it covers the entire card including on top of the raised gel medium stenciled part.


After letting this dry overnight I adhered the quote and attached the flower with gel medium.I bought the flower from Your Dollar Store With More. It is the Forever In Time brand. I’ve seen this brand at several other dollar stores including Dollarama.  I outlined the quote with my Stabilo All Pencil. Used black StazOn to edge the card.

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This whole card shines beautifully. The pouring medium really makes the colors pop. I can’t wait to try using Pouring Medium on a canvas.

If you have worked with pouring medium, please share your projects. Would love to use this more.

Keep Creating


ATC: LOVE- Plastic Wrap Technique

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Learn how to create an ATC or art journal page using the techniques used on this card.

As always I started by applying a coat of white gesso. I use Liquitex Professional on this one. Once dry I get out four colors of Inktense Blocks : 850 Deep Blue, 1200 Sea Blue, 1220 Green Aquamarine, 1230 Mallard Green. I apply onto gesso, spray with water and mix with my fingertips. I add colors and blend until I achieve a pleasing background. I then applied plastic wrap on top and crinkle it. I set this aside to dry on its own. Drying time will vary with how wet you’ve made it.

When dry I pull off the plastic wrap and adhere the deli paper which I had stamped with the dangling hearts. I don’t know the name of this stamp, but I have seen it at Michaels.

I colored the hearts with the # 850 Deep Blue Inktense Block. Then I outlined the stamped image with my black Pitt pen. This was necessary as I wanted the stamp to stand out more.

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I used black StazOn inkpad to darken the edges of the card and to stamp the word Love. The font stamp set I bought at Michaels . It’s the Recollections brand. I used my white Unibal Signo to dot the letters of the word Love and to outline the hearts.

If you don’t have Inktense Blocks to color the card/page don’t worry. You can use many different mediums with the plastic wrap technique. I proved that in my  YouTube video . I’ve put the link below so please go check it out. While there please subscribe to my channel. That way you will be notified of all new videos. And while there may be the occassional overlap of material on these two forums, I am taking care to put different things on each to make it worth your while.

Have fun using this technique. Please post your cards/pages here.

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You Are My Missing Piece-An ATC Tutorial

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Throughout my entire life I  always did something creative: cross stitching, paper tole, folk art, landscaping.  Then I didn’t. I don’t know when or why exactly it changed, but it did.

Then about three or four years ago I ended up off work for 6 months with my fibromylgia, migraines and a multiple chemical sensitivity. While recouperating I discovered Pinterest. All the posts of water colors called to me. My husband picked up on this and bought me a one huge one box fits all art set. I started to dabble in watercolor. I discovered YouTube videos. I was hooked. I loved getting creative.  Something in me perked up. Then last February I discovered mixed media and art journaling. It’s not an exageration to say that art now fills my mind and is part of every day in some way. It balances me. In fact you can say  creating or art was my “missing piece.”

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I started by gessoing the Artist Trading Card ATC. I used Liquitex Professional Gesso. Why? It was on sale and when I started I didn’t know any difference.

I took my Inktense Blocks and colored on the gesso using violet, pink and teal colors. I blended them with my fingers  and water and dried it with my heat tool. While I used Inktense Blocks you could do the same with Neo-Color IIs, pastels, watercolor crayons.

I then sprayed the card with Lindy’s Stampgang Starburst Sprays in the colors, Violet Purple Teal and Afternoon Delight Denim. If you haven’t used these let me tell you they are AMAZING. The Starburst line has two toned shimmer. An effect you can’t duplicate and well worth the price ( in my mind). Again, don’t have Lindy’s use whatever kind of spray you have, if it has shimmer all the better.

I stamped the card with Dylusions stamp heart dangles from the set entitled ” Inbetweenies”. I used black StazOn ink. Substitute with any pattern stamp.

Then I gessoed the puzzle pieces. I bought the puzzle at the second hand store. A great place to find some well priced art materials by the way. I sprayed the puzzle pieces with the same two Starburst sprays I mentioned above. I repeated the spray , drying the pieces until I got an effect I liked. I then outlines the pieces with a Pitt fine liner pen.

I printed off the quote and sprayed the words with another Starburst spray called Tibetan Poppy Teal. I glued the words onto the puzzle pieces and the puzzle pieces onto the card using Golden Gel Medium. I then tool my white Uniball Signo pen and went over the letters and added dash marks around the card. The color of the sprays does bleed through the white somewhat- but I like the effect.

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Please take time to share your story of how you came to your “art”. I’d love to hear about it.