ATCs by Christie

Australian Lace Article by Christie Wareham-Norfolk

In 1996 by a Swiss artist M Vanci Stirnemann. Stirnemann held an exhibition of thousands of business card sized artworks he had made. Visitors were invited to return to the exhibition and take one of the cards as long as they left their own piece of art in return. The concept of Artist Trading Cards or ATCs was born and has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

At LaceWest 2006 the Australian Lace Guild launched the idea of ATCs for lacemakers, our own opportunity to push our artistic boundaries and explore a new way of using lace.

Artist Trading Cards are miniature works of art which artists trade with one another. The idea is that lacemakers make small, business card size works of art that they then exchange with other lacemakers. You then build up a collection of ATCs that show a variety of types of lace and styles of design.

Artist Trading Cards can be in any medium, and apart from including lace can vary from being on plain cardstock to fanciful mixed media backgrounds. They can be unique originals, limited editions or created in a series. There are only a few golden rules that must be adhered to:

  • they must be the size of standard business cards i.e. 2.5” x 3.5’ or 64 x 89 mm;
  • they must include the makers name on the back; and
  • they must be exchanged, never bought or sold.

Optional extras on the reverse of the card are the date, whether or not the card is an original or one of a limited edition, a title if the design has a name and contact details of the maker.

A key aspect of ATCs is that they must be exchanged, preferably in person. The exchange of ATCs provides an instant talking point and a way to find out about other lacemakers, the lace they make and what inspired the design of the ATC.

What are the benefits of ATCs?

  • They are small and easily portable.
  • They provide the opportunity to experiment with different ideas/stitches/colours on a small scale.
  • They are a great way of using up all those leftover bits of thread from larger projects.
  • Many lacemakers probably already have a stock of bits of lace that can be easily turned into ATCs.
  • Display the ATCs you have collected in a picture frame, and swap them over so you have a continually changing piece of art on the wall.
  • ATCs are a way of collecting different styles of lace without having drawers full of larger pieces.
  • Trading sessions provide a way of introducing yourself to other lacemakers, discussing lace and looking at what ATCs you each have to trade.

So dig out those pieces of lace you’ve been looking for a use for, turn out your box of leftover threads, use up those bobbins and shuttles with thread still on from your last project and start creating!

Internet Links for the web savvy


Just search on Google for over 9000 sites on ATCs!
Published on Gumnut website with her permission.