Journals & Collaborative Projects

Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous collaborative projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:

Tutorials & Techniques

Below are some of our favorite tricks for adding depth and dimension to your art.  We hope you have fun giving these a try!

Current Group Swaps & Projects

Below is a list of current swaps and projects available to group members. If you are interested in joining our group and participating in these projects, please visit us at:  

For existing group members, you can sign up to participate  in these projects here: Swaps & Current Projects.  

We look forward to swapping with you.  Happy Arting!

Member Gallery for Group Swaps
Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous group swaps and projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:
Come play with us... Join today!

Paper Traders is a friendly online community of artists from around the world. We nurture and value creativity, embrace new ideas, products, and techniques yet also value tried and true methods of artistic expression. Our projects consist primarily of paper arts, mixed media collage, artist trading cards, altered art, assemblages, collaborative journals, mail art, and more.

We are interested in creative individuals of varied skill levels who wish to challenge themselves artistically and help build a supportive community. We are at our best when we can share our creative efforts as well as techniques, resources, feedback, and insights. We encourage conversation about art, the art process, and what it means to be an artist.

Paper Traders is hosted on Yahoo Groups at
We hope you will consider joining us on an artistic journey!

In order to prevent spammers and to insure that all applicants are actual persons interested in creating art, a questionnaire will be sent to all potential members. When applying, please submit digital examples of your work or direct us to a website where we can view your art. The intent of the questionnaire is not to judge the merits of your art but to safeguard the integrity of our community.

Free Images for Download

Below you will find images that are owned by our group members and offered for your personal use as well as images found in the public domain. Images may be freely used in your personal artwork but may not be used for commercial purposes of any kind without written permission of the owner. No images may be used to create collage sheets or image collections for resale.

To download, follow the link provided. In some cases, you may be able to just click on the image to enlarge it, then right-click and select "save image as". Content changes frequently and many images are available for a limited time.  Please check back often for newly posted images to use in your art journey.

Open Art Challenges !

We're changing things up here at Paper Traders. Instead of the monthly challenges of the past, we'll now be hosting special challenges that might feature a specific technique or product and will be rewarded with actual prizes sponsored by our group members.

Our new challenge for 2013 is a year long word prompt journaling project/challenge. Each specific challenge will be open for one month and all art bloggers can participate, whether you are a Paper Traders member or not. Each artist will comment with a link to their blog post that features the artwork for that particular challenge. For each challenge, a winner will be selected whose art best exemplifies the challenge. The winning artist will be featured here and get a "Trader Treasure" blog button to display on their own blog. They also will receive one chance for each entry for the end of the year prize drawing. Watch this page for more details and challenge announcements.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Comfortable with Color

By Debra Claxton
Paper Traders Moderator

Sometimes when I am happily (and mindlessly crafting) I lose awareness of color  as an element of art. I forget that there are “formal” color schemes  that can be applied to my work with awesome results. But I also know that within the “big wide world of color” there is a hitch: color schemes are the result of forced limitation. Using them requires me to eliminate some colors in favor of others. And even though I find it hard to restrict myself - I probably should embrace the color wheel and the theory behind it. Because, when formal color schemes are used effectively, I know they could make my work more exciting and interesting.

So, what are color “schemes”? Basically, they are “tried and true” combinations of colors that work together in a visually pleasing way. You might ask, “Well, isn’t that a little subjective?” The answer is Yes and No. There is a science to our perception of color and there are design courses devoted to visual color theory. But as a crafter, I need to simplify. So, here are a few formal “color schemes” to consider. They are based on the traditional color wheel and are often applied with great success! The subjective part of using color schemes emerges with your personal choice of light/dark and bright/dull; plus the addition of neutrals (gray, tan, brown, black).

Complementary Colors: To begin, look at a 12 part color wheel. Choose a color, (say blue) and travel directly across the wheel/chart (as if dividing it in half). You will see that orange is the opposite color - which is the “complementary” color. Complementary colors make each other look fabulous when they are next to each other in art (For example, if you have a purple image try placing it on a yellow-toned background.) Any two colors across from each other on the wheel are a winning combination (in various tones & shades of the two).
Van Gogh’s painting, Siesta, 1889 shows the use of color complements.

Split Complementary Colors: Choose a first color (say red-violet), and then add the two colors on either side of your first color’s complement. The complement of red-violet is yellow-green. So (along with red-violet) you would use green and yellow, because they are on either side of yellow-green.
Split complementary colors in nature.

Triad Colors: Three colors spaced an equal distance around the color wheel. So, on a wheel of 12 colors each chosen triad has three other colors in-between. Example: Blue-Violet; Yellow-Green; and Red-Orange are triads - a winning combination! All triads are visually effective. 
Basic red, yellow & blue are triads, which have been used in this ATC.

Analogous Colors: This color scheme uses three to four colors that sit next to each other around the outside of the color wheel - like friends sitting around a table. They share a visual likeness and a commonality. Many of the “Blues” cards from our recent ATC swap were analogous because the range of colors on any one card may have included blue-violet, regular blue and blue-green tones.
This postage stamp ATC uses violet, blue-violet, regular blue, and a light blue-green;
so it could be considered an analogous color scheme.

Monochromatic Color: An artwork composed of one color done in various light and dark tones.
sample of a monochromatic scale

So, does every project have to have a color scheme? Must we always think about color in this way? Well, no one can say that you must apply this information to your work, but it is good to know that most professional artists do. The use of color schemes can give your work visual harmony; which leads to visual appeal. So remind yourself as often as possible to make conscious color choices. The following acronym may be a helpful reference when you begin a new project:

C - Choose a color scheme to get started (stray later if needed)

O - Organize your color elements (collect images/papers/trims in your color scheme)

L - Let others inspire you (research images of art in your color scheme & theme)

O - Only add neutrals (gray, tan, brown, black) as extra “colors” in your project

R - Review with a critical eye (before gluing!)

There are many websites that expand on this basic information which can further enhance your experimentation with color. Just don’t forget to remember how important it is to keep COLOR in the forefront of your crafting activities. You can’t break the rules unless you know what they are! But once you do, feel free to break them with purpose and individuality.

Note: Watch for a follow-up to this article that will discuss the value and intensity of color, and how to manipulate paint colors for use in paper crafting.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hot Glue Gun Stamps Tutorial

Cathy Calamas, one of our Paper Traders Moderators,
recently posted this tutorial on her blog 
and is sharing it here today.


What do you do when you have piles
of rubber stamps but you don't 
have the one that you need?

Make one!

I needed a nest for a Paper Traders ATC swap
that I am participating in but I didn't have one.
I had plenty of birds but no nests.
I had seen this somewhere in the art blog world
but I had never done it before.

I cut out a square of thick cardboard,
heated up the glue gun and Voila
I had a nest.
(really , it is)

Here I used it on the ATC's:
I rotated the stamp and after re-inking, re-stamped it
several times to get the nest nice and thick.

Added some little cut out eggs.

I then wanted to try a bigger one here:

Tip: before the glue gets completely cool and hard,
press a plastic lid on top of it to get the surface
flat and less bumpy. 
It will take the stamp ink better.

I placed a paper circle in the center
so that I would have an empty place
to paint the eggs.

I have to work a bit on my eggs though.
Those darn things are hard to draw
without them looking pointy at both ends.
I then filled in the white areas with some
brown water color paint to flesh it out.

After posting this on my blog,
I decided to make a few more hot glue gun stamps
and this is what I came up with.

 This is the card that I created them,
embellishing it with some black ink outlines.

Leaf or feather? Could be used either way, I think.

I made an ATC background with it as a leaf.

Completed ATC.

The stamps you can make are as
endless as your imagination.
I hope you will try this out.

Leave us a link, in the comments below,
to your blog if you give this a try
as we would love to see your creative spin on this.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Swap: ATC Houses - Splatter Paint Technique

This project is for Paper Traders members only but we would love to have you join us. Please click on the purple Yahoo button in the sidebar for more information on how to join.

ATC Houses: Splatter Paint Technique
3 for 3 ATCs
Skill Level: #2 - Budding
Sign up by March 6th
Cards due IN HAND by April 10th
Hosted by Debra Claxton

These colorful little houses will be messy fun!  Please make 3 ATCs that have a house on the card, or are cut in the shape of a house (must fit in an ATC sleeve).  Your houses and backgrounds should feature splatter painting as a technique, which means at least half of your work should have that whimsical splotchy/messy look. You can splatter on any paper; colored card stock, stamped paper, patterned paper, text, etc... and you will need to protect your clothes and work surface!

Here are some samples, (not all have enough splatters, some have interesting shapes/details):

Examples of splatter techniques can be found here:

Please include an address label and $1 for return postage. International participants may send ephemera in lieu of postage, or an international stamp.

Skill Level 2 - BUDDING: Participants will be open to trying new ideas and materials, without necessarily being competent yet with their applications. Swap Hosts are encouraged to add the requirement of a technique or process such as creating texture, using crackle paint, doing photo transfers, painting with watercolor, etc.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gallery - "They Call it the Blues" ATC Swap

by Mel D.

by Nydia D.

by Nikki S.

by Debra C

by Nancy S.

by Beckie H.

by Margie D.

by Jo M.

by Linda W.

by Betsy B.

by Cathy C.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Swap: Spring Tag Books

This project is for Paper Traders members only but we would love to have you join us. Please click on the purple yahoo button in the sidebar for more information on how to join.

Spring Tag Books

We're super excited to announce this new swap, "Spring Tag Book". We will be making two Spring Tag Books to send to random partners assigned after the signup is closed.

Requirements: We will use a #8 size tag, which is 6.25 x 3.25 inches. Each book should have Spring related elements and use 4 tags. Have lots of fun using texture, color, ribbon, and other embellishments.

Here is a link to a tutorial on how to construct a tag book and some inspiration:

Helpful Hint:  You might find it easier to tape the tags down to your work surface to keep them from slipping... and be sure to leave 1/16" between the tags so they will fold up without buckling. Tissue tape works best for binding the book. The book should consist of four tags accordion folded.

Skill level 3 - Blossoming: Geared toward the artist who is comfortable with most techniques, willing to try new methods and take risks, and include a varied range of techniques and materials, as well as fielding Q&A from group members about their artistic process.

  1. Sign up by March 1st through the database on the Yahoo group.
  2. Partners announced March 2nd; mail out by March 21st.
  3. Put name/info on the back of each book.

Spring Cleaning - Crafter’s Style

I often dread spring cleaning, even though it’s a great way to clear up the clutter in my life. And I find it especially difficult to do this with my wardrobe. When growing up my mother always said, “If you haven’t worn it in 2 years you probably never will.”  Unfortunately, I struggle to be like Elsa in Frozen, who can so easily “Let it Go!”

The clothing metaphor leads me to wonder about the other areas of my life, especially my artistic realm. I know am guilty of holding on to things that I am certain I will never use; bits & pieces that have been in my stash for years. So I realize that it may be a good time to sort through my crafting supplies and re-distribute things…some to the trash, some to the recycle bin, and possibly send a few along with our current swap, “My Stuff, Your Stuff.”

This reminds me of an old saying, “Less is More” -  which might make some crafters shudder. But there is wisdom in the saying haunts me a little. I sense it when I go through my stash of paper ephemera and feel overwhelmed rather than inspired.  I am pretty sure that having an abundance of paper crafting supplies is not an insurance policy for creativity and I know this for sure when I stare at my “stuff” and draw a blank.

So maybe something as simple as spring cleaning can inspire and redirect us in our creative journey.  One online dictionary has defined inspiration as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”  I know my best work emerges when I “feel something” and I am guessing that the same might be true for many of us. In addition, I hope I feel something each time I choose an image, color, shape, bit of ephemera, trim, etc… for use in a project. And if I am not inspired by my choices, then I know a part of the work is shallow to me, and maybe to others.

Our crafting choices should excite us as artists and effect those who view and receive our work. So even if you are not participating in the “My Stuff, Your Stuff” swap, it could be inspiring for you to do your own “crafty” spring cleaning.  And instead of thinking, “Maybe I’ll use it someday”  -  it just might be time to “Let it Go!”

by Debra Claxton
     PT Mod and Member

Friday, February 13, 2015

Gallery - Our 9th Anniversary Swap

Every year in November we host a special swap
to celebrate another year of creating art together.
We always try to make it something special
and this year was no different.

We altered wooden spools.
(Those darn things are hard to find nowadays;
they are collectibles.)

by Connie H.

by Debra C.

by Eileen K.

by Nikki S.

by Cathy C.

by Beckie H.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gallery: All Dolled Up

Beckie H

Connie H

Debra C

Eileen K

Ellen L

Jo M

Linda W

Nikki S


Sunday, February 1, 2015