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.

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.

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 1, 2015

By The Numbers Art Journaling Challenge: "ONE"

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.

And we're off!  The first challenge for our monthly art journaling project is to use Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's "Two Drips Meet" technique for your first page.  You can find instructions for this technique on her blog here (scroll down to Method Two):
Also, Cathy did her own trial run and shared her experience on our Paper Traders blog here:

After you've created your drip lines, you will use them as journaling space to write down your thoughts using an idiom for the number "one".  You can find a list of idioms here:
Just pick one that inspires your thought process and journal about it.  I think the number theme of this project can add a fun element to your pages... you might want to use the respective number prominently in decorating your pages.  Don't stop with the drip lines - that's just a prompt to get you started.  Let the creativity continue to flow as you journal and decorate your pages.

You have the entire month to complete your pages for this challenge.  We won’t be swapping or mailing pages – you will keep the journal you create for your own.

Here are some idioms for "ONE" to get you going...
once again
once and for all
once in a blue moon
once in a lifetime
once in a while
once more
once over lightly
once upon a time
once-in-a-lifetime chance
one after the other
one and all
one and one
one and only
one and the same
one brick shy of a load
one by one
One cannot love and be wise
one day
one eye on
one fell swoop
one final word
one foot in the grave
one for the books
one for the road
One good turn deserves another
One has to draw the line somewhere
one in a million
one in a thousand
one jump ahead

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tutorial: Two Drips Meet

Do you hate staring at that blank white page in
your art journal but don't know where to start?

Here is a fun, quick and easy technique that we
first saw over at Balzer Designs blog: Two Drips Meet.

I started with a sheet of 120 lbs card stock and
picked 3 colors of spray ink to use. A thicker
cardstock or watercolor paper is recommended but
this was what I had on hand so I glued two sheets together.

I make my own acrylic spray inks with FW Artists
Acrylic Ink and the Ranger Mini-Misters. A bottle
of acrylic ink is about $6 and lasts forever.
Much cheaper than buying the ready made spray inks.

I put about a 1 to 3 ration of ink to
water in my misters and then shake well.

I quickly sprayed each color across the top of the cardstock
pretty heavily, followed by a good drenching of  water sprayed on top.

Lift the paper up and let the ink drip down.

Do the same thing to the other side and let it
run down the page onto the other side.

Turned out fine but the colors were
a little muted. Also, you can see where my blue
mister was clogged and didn't spray well.
Remember to check your mister before spraying
and clean out the spray hole.

I then decided I would try again but this time
I would coat my page with gesso first. Repeated
the spray ink, spray water and drip technique again.

Much better this time. The colors were so vibrant,
the drips were much more distinct and
the 3 colors blended beautifully at each end.

Wouldn't it look great to add your
journaling text to the white spaces?

Then I tried the technique on a piece of  designer
scrapbook paper. Not bad. Probably an easy way
to customize a piece of scrapbook paper to make it unique.

If you are participating in our 2015 Art Journal Number Challenge,
we will be using this technique for the first month's
page/spread, a number One idiom being the prompt.

If you would like to join us, click on the
purple Yahoo button in the right side bar for more information.

Can't wait to see your drips.