ATC paper crafting

Authoring an Aries Paper-Crafty Protagonist

March is Women’s History Month, which I celebrate by writing a novel series with a fierce feminist protagonist over fifty, Rowan Layne, who fashions herself as superheroine Luna Moth Woman. Plus, March marks the two-year anniversary of this Luna Moth Woman blog. So, yay for Luna Moth Woman! May she continue to shine brightly and kick ignorant, anti-alien butt with her mighty pen.

But…March is also National Craft Month. While crafting can take many forms, Rowan Layne and I are both paper crafters, primarily making greeting cards. And while National Scrapbooking Month isn’t until May, I’ve used scrapbooking paper to create various types of cards.

Rowan once made a sparkly greeting card for a particularly tall imposing alien with hilarious results in Feeling Alienated, and in the most recently released novel, Altogether Alien, she finds herself the charmed recipient of birthday cards crafted by extraterrestrial and other beings.

But there was a time, back in 2015-2018, when I was in a club in Carson City with a group of crafty women making what’s known as Artist Trading Cards, or ATC, based upon a pre-chosen theme each month.

ATC are basically miniature works of paper-based art about the same size as baseball cards (baseball itself somewhat features in my novels). Supposedly the ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement with origins in Switzerland. They are called ATC, as in the trading part of the name, because they’re usually exchanged rather than sold.

Artist Trading Card and Air Traffic Control share an acronym, and that subject does arise in the Other Worldly novels, because aliens flying crafts that humans deem UFOs must be concerned about wigging out the folks who engage in ATC—not the crafting kind.

Paper crafty ATC have one technical specification regarding size, measuring a mere 2.5’’ x by 3.5’’. Hence, a 12’’ x 12’’ piece of scrapbooking paper can be cut into the initial background for multiple ATCs, oriented as either horizontal landscape or vertical portrait.

Once you have the properly sized paper, embellishment of your ATC begins, limited only by imagination and what you can rubber stamp or otherwise fit onto and attach to that tiny paper backdrop.

For National Craft Month, I’m sharing some of my ATC from back in the day, given that in 2017 and 2018 it became clear by my chosen designs that I was also busy drafting Alienable Rights. The first novel of my Other Worldly series about Rowan interacting with aliens among us and becoming Luna Moth Woman in her mind’s eye.

The four ATC depicted in the photo accompanying this blog post are all oriented as portraits, though in 2016 I did do a baseball-themed landscape ATC complete with a stadium rubber-stamped image and a metal baseball charm. That was for the theme of “sports.”

The ATC shown in the upper left quadrant was the first one I ever crafted, in April 2015. The theme was “hand-drawn art.” Given I have no talent for drawing, I decided to depict how writing books is my art, using a rubber stamp of a woman writing…many pages. I embellished it with blingy flowers, I actually hand-drew a feather pen inkwell, and I handwrote “Express Yourself.”

A precipitous beginning to this ATC journey of expressing myself on paper, albeit the crafty, not novel writing, kind.

The second ATC seen on the upper right had the theme of “zodiac” in August 2017. I was months from drafting the first few chapters of Alienable Rights, but I am an Aries and Rowan Layne would be one too, once I got cracking. Zodiac signs, along with horoscopes and constellations, are a recurring subject in my alien-based books. We’ve also just entered the season of Aries this week, kicking off the astrological new year. Power to the ram!

The remaining two ATCs probably need no explanation, but their timing is key. The theme for March 2018 was “insects,” and of course I picked the Luna moth, with a previously unused rubber stamp I’d purchased years before. The background is scrapbooking paper that has Luna moths on it, though I didn’t realize it when I bought the paper from a sale bin around 2008. Imagine my surprise at discovering it among my crafting supplies a decade later.

In March 2018, I (and Rowan Layne) had already conjured the fictional Luna Moth Woman superheroine, though we had no idea where she would lead us.

Finally, the October 2018 ATC about “aliens.” Yes, I was responsible for suggesting that theme at the end of 2017 when our club selected monthly ATC subjects for the coming year.

In this ATC, I used three alien-themed rubber stamps, plus one on the back that said, “The truth is out there.” All were purchased from Viva Las Vegastamps in Las Vegas before I moved here, and long before I began drafting the Other Worldly series. But Rowan Layne’s rubber stamp collection, including many alien-related subjects, is mentioned in various novels. Her favorite is the one about the Air Force on this ATC. There’s a reason for that…

That 2018 alien ATC was one of the last two made while participating in the Carson City ATC club. Maybe I should try to find kindred crafting spirits to start another group here in the Vegas valley. But I’ll keep on writing my “hand-drawn art” of novels along with this blog, and Rowan and I will continue paper crafting greeting cards for friends and family.

Happy Women’s History Month, National Craft Month, and long live Luna Moth Woman!


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