Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wacky Wednesday: Overcoming ATC Angst

Occuring on the first Wednesday of the month, the Wacky Wednesday feature allows us to tackle larger projects or things with which we have been having trouble. I chose the latter. Anyone who knows me understands that ATCs are an art form that mostly defeats me. I really love these miniature works of art but when I sit down to make one I stare at my supplies hoping some magical muse will come and wave a her magic wand over the mess.

How to get over the phobia? That was the problem. I wanted a formula or a process to follow. After studying a few books and websites devoted to ATCs, I picked out some aspects that I was drawn to repeatedly. From there I created a simple work checklist for myself. To really challenge my brain cells to get out of fear mode, I decided to let the idea of theme build as I built the ATC. Start with what you know, right? Those supplies are all just sitting waiting for me.

My Approach to Building an ATC

1. Select a background. This step is fairly easy for me as I love making backgrounds. I belong to Technique Junkies which is a continual inspiration to me in this area. For today’s example, I found a few backgrounds I hadn’t got around to using yet. Two were using a TJ technique called Waxy Cuttlebug and a third was using another TJ technique called Reinker Splash. To start, I trimmed the backgrounds down to the standard ATC size of 2.5" x 3.5".

2. Select a Focal Image. Here’s the fun part. Focal images can be collage images, stamped images, die cuts, ephemera...pretty much anything that would work to draw the eye. For the first example, I chose a collage image to make it extra simple. Of course, when I choose an image, ideas about theme started to bubble up in my mind.

3. Create some texture. With this first ATC, the background had some good texture to it already but I wanted to give a bit of weight. I used a background stamp from Firecracker Designs by Pamela and overstamped in the same base color as the background, Apricot Appeal. If the image I selected had been a little smaller, I might have added more texture with additional paper or fiber.

4. Add Verbiage....or Not. While you don’t need an inspiring or evocative word or phrase on an ATC, I rather like the ones that do include one. I have a ton of stickers and embellishments left over from when I first started scrapbooking so I dove into those to pick out some typewriter key stickers (Nostalgiques by Rebecca Sower). Looking at this particular image, I chose to spell out the word "Grace" which also happens to be part of the collage sheet’s name, Full of Grace (Enchanted Mercantile).

5. Location, Location, Location. Once, I had all the pieces together, I had to decide on positioning. Some things I took into account were how much background I wanted to expose, were there key pieces of the image I did not want to lose, and whether I left enough room for my word. I also looked at how the image was cropped and if that presented any limitations on placement. This particular image was cropped with a strong vertical line on the left side, so I moved that line off the edge so that the image had a softer look.

6. Jazz it Up! This is the finishing touch stage. Sometimes, the ATC is finished at this point. Sometimes, I just need to add a little bit more. I added a bit of bling in the form of some gold ribbon. I tried out adding beads but it was a little too much. When in doubt, keep it out!

And, for the first time, I did not spend the whole day doing one ATC.

Grace ATC
Stamps: ATC Art Backgrounds (Firecracker Designs by Pamela)
Collage Image: from Full of Grace sheet (Enchanted Mercantile)
Cardstock: glossy white
Ink: Apricot Appeal (Stampin Up)
Embellishments: typewriter key stickers (Nostalgiques by Rebecca Sower); gold ribbon (Michael's)
Tools and other: cuttlebug machine, cuttlebug folder, wax paper, craft iron

Here's a close up:
Once I had the process down, I was able to create two more ATCs that I rather liked in a short amount of time.

Here's the second one:

I chose a background, decided on a focal image (the fortune teller's ball from Artistic Outpost's Fortune Teller plate), and then I masked the image so I could add some texture using a background stamp and the sentiment, Illusion, from the same plate.

After adding the texture, I chose a collage image (Enchanted Mercantile) and used my mask as a cutting guide to help cut the lower portion of the image correctly. I then close cut around the rest of the image. Then, I added another sentiment from the same stamp plate for my verbiage. To round it out, I added some sparkle with two rhinestones which I thought tied in nicely with the fortune teller's ball.

Bright Future ATC
illusion, Your future is bright, fortune teller's ball, and background from Fortune Teller plate (Artistic Outpost)
Collage image: woman from Star Struck sheet (Enchanted Mercantile)
Cardstock: glossy white; Bravo Burgundy and Mellow Moss (Stampin Up)
Ink: River Rock, Groovy Guava, Mellow Moss, and Bravo Burgundy (Stampin Up)
Embellishments: 2 self-stick rhinestones (unknown)

And another close-up:

Come by tomorrow to check out my final ATC of the day! I think you will like it!


  1. Wow - these ATCs turned out fabulously! I can't wait to try this formula.

  2. I really love all the ATCs. I love how you peiced them togther!


Thanks for your wonderful words!

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