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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Burned and Layered Holes Tutorial

Water colored

In this tutorial I will share with you a method for burned and layered holes.  Since the actual technique is pretty straight forward, I’m going to put my slant on what my experiments taught me, and ideas for how to make your creations more dynamic.

First things first – safety!!!  It is obvious but – this involves a soldering iron and it is HOT!  Please don’t leave it unattended while it’s turned on.  Also don’t let children or pets anywhere near it! I don’t want to be the cause of any disaster (as much as I can help it).
                                                                                    Thanks, the management

So to begin, lay out your work space.  I always do this on a heat proof mat, with some kind of metal tray to hold the iron. Don’t skip the tray.  You have tedious work ahead and you’ll need to put the thing down occasionally.  Optionally, I have a TV or computer screen in viewing distance.  As I mentioned, this is kind of tedious work and besides, it’s a good excuse to catch up on all those old Veronica Mars episodes. J The soldering iron I have is one I got at Michael’s with a coupon making it slightly more than $10.  It was meant for crafters and came with multiple screw on heads.  Two of these could work for our purposes (see fig B).  The pointier one is best since it gives you an advantage for size of hole – we want variety in the hole department.  If you are using a different kind of iron you may only have the standard tip which will also work.

Heat-proof mat, tray, soldering iron

Fig B
Size Variety
So now you have your table laid out and safety on your mind, time to pick the paper.  For this demo I’ve used cut up maps.  They don’t need to be anything special.  I just used an old RoadMaster standard road atlas that was riding around in my car for years (even after it became obsolete due to smart phones).  This is a good weight paper for hole burning (light weight, not shiny) and if you goof, which is pretty hard to do, you can toss it and start over without worrying about the expense ($0).  I also experimented with craft weight paper which I’ll talk about later.  I cut my sheets to the size of my project first because, as mentioned, it’s boring to burn holes and I don’t want to do any more than I have to.  This is also where you need to think about how many layers.  Two or three with holes and one base layer without holes is a minimum, I’d say.  If you are a maniac (or fire bug) and love burning holes, knock yourself out!  More layers will look way more cool.

Hold Paper Upright
I tried two basic methods for making holes.  The first was laying the paper on the heat-proof mat and “drawing” the holes with the tip.  This didn’t work so well for me.  The second way was better.  Holding the paper up off the mat and poking it with the iron was pretty successful for multiple sized small holes. Holding it up and “drawing” with just the pointy tip worked great for larger holes.  As I mentioned before, a good variety of sizes makes a more interesting piece overall.  I did most of the big holes first and then peppered in the smaller ones between for a good effect.  The composition of where the holes are and how you can see through them to other layers is what will make your art unique.  I personally think lots of holes on all layers makes for the most interesting completed project but it is all up to you.  Also, I found that some of my holes didn’t burn cleanly through and left some paper ‘sludge’ around the edges on the back of the sheet.  A couple of light swipes with a sanding block gets rid of those.

A word about the artistic aspect of the project – CONTRAST.  It is the contrast of your layers that will make it interesting (isn’t that true of anything in life?).  I like to go from lighter at the base layer then darker as you go up.  Again though, depends on your personal aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to stack and re-stack the layers before you glue.  For this demo I just used Distress ink to add a bit of color to the layers.  I have also used watercolors (see photo collage at top) which works well too but then you have to let it dry and it can wrinkle and warp the paper.
As for glue, I like to use Sookwang double sided tape because it stays stuck and won’t wear out over time.  Also, no drying time and won’t wrinkle the paper.  I’ve also used Diamond glue, though mostly for touch-ups.  Also, for this I don’t want every bit of paper glued down.  I want to leave the layers free to create shadow and give more of a sense of depth.
Tape Loosely 
So I mentioned that I tried craft weight paper.  It is thicker (this was double sided) and not as easy to burn the holes through.  It did look kind of cool though.  Also, since it was thicker, I could burn shapes other than rounded holes (sort of).

Shapes of Holes with Heavy Paper

So that’s it!  Easy and sort of relaxing in a pyromaniac sort of way (especially with Veronica solving crimes while you work).  One last word on the topic – FINISHING.  By that I mean clean up the edges, clip corners and ink around the edges.  Those are good ways to complete any project and I always do.  Not required but I think you’ll find it will lift your work to a new level with those easy additions. I also usually spray the finished piece with clear acrylic sealer to keep the colors crisp.
Finished Edges

Thanks for sticking with me all the way through!  I hope this is the first step toward some cool new projects in your craft room!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Halloween MOO Cards

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.

An 8 for 8 swap of Moo Cards
Skill level: Budding
Due in hand by October 6th
Hostess: Karla Jackson

PLEASE include an address label and $2 postage.
I will cover postage for those who gift me an extra card.

This swap is for those paper lovers who like tiny bits of art.  A Moo card is 1 X 3 inches.
Although these cards are small...they can be a challenge
You will make 8 cards and must decorate BOTH sides.  There is not much room, but please sign your art!
Use your very best tiny bits of treasure that you have been saving, lace, ribbon, fiber and make an
enchanting bit of Halloween magic in vintage or retro style...nothing cutesy please.
Please make sure that your computer generated images are not distorted or pixilated.
There are lots of domino sized sheets on my Halloween Pinterestboard that you can add lace to make them the correct size.

Sign up in the database
Post pictures of your work in the album.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Swap - Halloween Haunted House

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.

Hostess: Heather Maxwell
4 for 3 (see definition)
Sign up by: August 25th
Due in hand by: September 25th
Skill level: budding
For this swap you will be making three sections of a haunted house by following the template provided.  Please use a medium weight chip board, covered on both sides with Halloween paper.  Each section will have an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’.  I will add the fourth section for everyone, that being the graveyard (can’t have a haunted house without that!).  When all the sections reach me I will take three sections from separate artists, add the fourth, and bind them into a stand up house you can use for Halloween decorating.  You will receive a house made up of sections created by other swap artists. On August 26th I’ll do a random drawing of all signed up swappers.  The winner will get a prize package of Halloween themed craft goodies!
A few guidelines:
·         Please use the template so that everyone’s pieces will fit together
·         Print out on 8.5x11 sheet of paper and transfer to medium weight chip board (like heavy cereal box), decorate with colorful Halloween papers (orange, black, purple, green…)
·         Leave about ¼” on each side clear of any important design elements, to allow for binding
·         These will fold flat for shipping and storage so try to have dimensional items no taller than 1/8”
·         Sign each of your three sections
·         For each section, have one side represent the outside portion of the house while the other side is the interior
·         Please sign up by Aug 25th to be entered in the prize drawing
·         Please have your finished work to me by September 25th to allow time to bind and ship everything so it gets to you in time for holiday decorating
·         Include a decent sized return address label and $4 postage (US) $6 (international)
I hope everyone will join in for some Halloween fun.  I know it may seem a bit early but I wanted to leave plenty of time for everyone to do their best work and to be able to get it turned around to you before you start to decorate for the holiday.
Sign up in the database.
Add your photos to the album.
Get inspired HERE.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Freebie - July 2016

It's time for another freebie courtesy of your Paper Traders Moderators. A great big THANK YOU to Connie Holso for preparing this terrific offering for your personal use. Please use the link BELOW the photo to download the high resolution file. Enjoy!

Download Hi-Res version HERE:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Swap: My Stuff/ Your Stuff

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.

The 5th (annual-ish) My Stuff/Your Stuff Swap 2016

2-for-2 ATC swap
Any theme
Skill Level: 2 - Budding

Sign-up deadline is July 22nd
Partners announced July 24th
Supply mail out deadline: August 1st
ATC mail back deadline: August 22nd

It’s time for our 5th (annual-ish) My Stuff/Your Stuff Swap!!

How this swap started - an excerpt from our first one:
"One of the benefits of hosting swaps is all the wonderful ephemera that the participants send along with their art. I always get inspired because it makes me think outside of my supply world and the things I usually am drawn to. Some of my favorite pieces have been made almost entirely from someone else's supplies."

I think most of us feel the same way and since this has always been a favorite within Paper Traders, let’s do it again.

1. Sign up by July 22nd in the Database.

2. I will randomly assign everyone a partner and post it here on July 24th.

3. By August 1st, mail your partner a #9 or #10 (standard letter) envelope of supplies and ephemera. Don't buy anything special; just raid your stash of nice quality ephemera (nothing too bulky, to keep postage costs low).

4.  Make two ATCs using the supplies you receive from your partner. Yes, you can incorporate a LITTLE of your own supplies, but really try to use your partners supplies as much as possible to keep the spirit of the swap.

5. Mail back your two ATCs to your partner by August 22nd. You get to keep whatever supplies are still left over.

6. Don't forget to post photos of your ATCs in the project album here.
And please leave a comment on your photo mentioning whose supplies you used.

Hope you will all join us in this fun Paper Traders tradition!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Gluebook Swap: Autumn

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.

Autumn Gluebook Swap

Hostess: Karla Jackson

Lets do something fun and easy!
Glue books may appear simple at first glance - no ink, no stamps, no embellishments, nothing but paper - but a good glue book page has balanced composition, a cohesive color scheme, and a story to tell.  (While this defines a proper Glue book page...’personally’ I do not mind using some extras like ink and stamps or flat embellishments.) Use your best vintage papers - old ledger sheets, book pages, vintage dictionary pages, sheet music, labels from old crochet threads, postage stamps to create the backgrounds first. A torn strip of text, a torn strip of map or floral wall paper, maybe some torn sheet music. Once those are dry and flat, start going through old images to select your main statements.  I try to keep my main elements to three maybe four.  You do not want the page to be so busy that your eye does not know where to come to rest.  Everything is offset slightly to the right because holes will be punched along the left margins so that they can be bound into a binder or a book.

DETAILS: A 3 for 3 swap.  Decorate THREE 4X6 Vintage Glue Book pages in each season as they arrive, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.  The backs need to be signed and also decorated somewhat nicely.  At the end of the year you will have 12 beautiful pages to bind into a keepsake book.
The swap will be announced in each season so you can sign up.

Mail your pages to me along with $2 and an address label, please do not forget the label as it makes swap out day so much quicker.  International swappers can include an extra page for me and I will cover return postage.

Sign up in the database.
Post your photos in the Album.

Information and lots of eye candy at these links:

New Swap: Bathing Beauties

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.

Vintage Bathing Beauties Tissue Tube Swap

4-for-4 Pages (Tags with Sleeves) 
Hostess:  Connie Holso 
Sign Up by:  July 15, 2016
Due In Hand by:  August 15, 2016
Skill level:  2 - Budding**

For this swap you will make 4 similar tags with sleeves. Make your tags and sleeves in a vintage beach theme with vintage bathing beauties. No restrictions on color other than to make them have a soft sepia or hand-colored look. Feel free to add soft color to old photos or use them in sepia tone.

The sleeves will be made from empty bathroom tissue tubes. Do NOT punch or bind your tags or sleeves; I will swap them, add covers, and bind them into little books for you. If you participated in one of my previous Tube Book Swaps this will be similar with just a few variations. 


SLEEVES: Flatten the tissue tubes and crease edges. Measure the end of the flattened tube and double it. Cut a piece of cardstock about 1-1/2 inches by that doubled measurement. Fold in half so it is 1-1/2 by the width of the flattened tube. Make one of these the end cap hinges for each sleeve. Adhere to tube overlapping about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of one open end of tube. Glue the end cap together so tag will not go beyond end of tube when inserted into /sleeve. Please do not embellish end caps with any bulky items as I will need to be able to insert them into my binder for punching and binding. Do NOT punch them; I will do that when I bind them so that the holes all line up. Using a vintage beach theme, decorate the sleeves by covering with decorative paper, paint, inks, etc.

TAGS: Your tags should be a bit longer than the sleeves but with not more than about an inch beyond the sleeve. They will need to be a bit narrower than the tubes so they easily slide in and out. (You will want to check this before decorating.) Using a vintage beach theme, decorate the tags. Add a tab or ribbons to pull them out of the sleeves. Be sure to sign your work so others know who made them. 

Mail your creations along with $6.00 for return shipping to reach me by August 15, 2016.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Speed Swap #25 - Art With Maps

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.

Art with Maps

Speed Swap #25
2-for-2 ATC swap
Skill: 2 - Budding
Sign up by: Jul 15th
Partners announced: Jul 16th
Mail out by: Jul 31st

Since it is summer time for lots of our members and traveling is in our plans (hope all of our Southern Hemisphere members will forgive us), our speed swap this month will be creating art with maps.  Use a map creatively for your background or challenge yourself and create something out of your map paper that can be used in your art.

Each month, on the 1st, we will announce a theme or technique for your art.  Anyone interested will have until the 15th to sign up. The list will be randomized, announced on the 16th, and you will mail one 3.5'x5” piece of art directly to each of the next two people on the list. A total of two pieces of art each month for the speed swaps.  You don't have to sign up every month, just when you feel like it or like the theme or have the time.

We don't anticipate this costing more to mail as a 3.5”x5” will still fit in a standard note card.  It's approximately $1.20 to mail internationally for one ATC in a note card envelope. You must be able to mail internationally to participate in this swap.

New themes will be announced on the 1st of each month.