Well, more than just swaps, actually. But I've been talking about swaps lately, and thought it would help new swappers to have a little tutorial of sorts! For those who don't swap, I'll start with a few helpful hints that will make any page elements "pop".
I'm not sure how well you can see the differences in these two items in the picture, but even the one on the left is an improvement over a basic die-cut! I'm currently finishing up some items for a St. Patrick's Day swap, and one of my items is this pot of gold from the Paper Doll Dress Up Cricut cartridge. Unlike some of their cartridge images, this one cuts like a standard die-cut, all one piece with a few cut lines in it. I opted to cut the same image twice, once in black cardstock and once in gold vellum, and cut the gold one apart. Then I cut an additional image, the shamrock, from Topiary green CS.
Now, as I said, this is an improvement over a plain die-cut any day. But let's make it pop! Before adhering my layers, I gave each piece some dimension. Using sponge daubers and coordinating ink, I sponged the edges of the pot, plus the two cut lines across the pot. I did the same with a clean dauber and Topiary ink on the shamrock. (I love these little daubers, because they fit on your finger like a thimble, last a long time, and clean up in the sink!)
Next, I adhered my layers. I used my Xyron, and it works great for the vellum because of the even application. Finally, I used Lime Stickles to highlight my gold coins. I chose this color because it IS leprechaun gold, after all, plus the contrast helps it stand out more. Contrary to it's name, Lime is not all green; it's kind of green and gold mixed so it's perfect for St. Pat's!
Now here's a picture of all three items I'm submitting for my swap:
All three items were cut from the Cricut, using Paper Doll Dress Up and A Child's Year cartridges. I used the same three colors of green CS and ink (plus black) from CTMH, and Stickles on all 3 items so they coordinate. The stamped image on the top folder is a Studio G stamp I picked up at JoAnn's for $1!
Now, on to the swap tips!
As a seasoned swapper and hostess, I've seen my fair share of brilliant swap items. I've also on rare occasion received a swap and wondered if they read the same swap rules I did! You can't fault anyone for being new or for following vague swap rules. But there are a few easy ways to not become "that person" in the swap.
If you're new to swapping, or new to a certain group, make sure you get specifics from your swap hostess before you begin. Some groups have very specific rules and will give you the exact colors and brands to use. Others, like this swap, will just give you general colors. There are pros and cons to both types of swapping, so it's personal preference. If you are unsure of your abilities or just want to get a feel for things, many groups allow a couple of "store-bought" spots per swap. You could choose a spot for ribbon or buttons for your first swap or two, to get a general idea of how your new group works. Your swap hostess should specify how much of a store bought item you need for each person, like 2 yards of ribbon pp (per person).
If you choose to make your items to swap, please do your best work. Straight cuts should be straight and stamped images should not be smudged or partially stamped. A photo mat does NOT mean two layers of plain cardstock and you're done! Again, your swap hostess should give you details, but a general rule is to embellish twice. Don't go overboard though! Sometimes less is more. Not sure what counts as an embellishment? Usually, anything that isn't paper counts, but sometimes paper is (fun folded photo corners on that mat?), and sometimes stamping can be an embellishment. If in doubt, make a prototype item, take a picture, and ask your swap hostess. This is a great way to make sure you're on track with the group the first time or two!
Finally, if you commit to a swap please BE ON TIME. Many swap groups have rules about "flakers" - someone who signs up and doesn't follow through or is perpetually late. If you flake too many times, you may not be allowed to participate in that group again. Life happens, and there should definitely be exceptions for emergencies. The key is to COMMUNICATE. If something comes up and you are able, please contact your swap hostess. She may be able to find an "angel" for your spot, or everyone may be able to make one fewer item. (An angel is someone who fills in a swap spot that someone is unable to complete.) Most of us have enough drama in our lives without adding swap drama, so be understanding when others have issues. That doesn't mean that you should constantly be waiting on the same person to complete a swap, or that you have to put up with a hostess who repeatedly hasn't returned swaps, but we can be nice about it. I like to think that my online friends are friends, even if they're new friends. If someone seems to be AWOL, I should be more concerned about my friend than my swap item, at least until I find out what the deal is, lol!
Now, if you're ready to start swapping but don't know where to begin, I do know a couple of groups for you. I take no responsibility, however, for your experience with these groups! It's up to you to check out the group for yourself and decide if it's for you. One group I belong to is Down_Paper_Lane. This is a Yahoo Group, so if you already belong to Yahoo Groups you can just go search. There are tons of other groups on Yahoo that you can search; I suggest searching on the terms scrapbook and swap. You can also join the Fiskateers - there is a section for swaps there, as well as "local" sections where people post crops & other hapenings. A final option is to check the message board of your favorite magazine or manufacturer - some of them have a swap section. But realize that the MB owner does not own the swap board and will not be able to help you if you don't receive your swaps, etc. Most of these swap groups are self-policed, and any "bad" swappers or hosts will be weeded out.
Happy swapping! Any questions, let me know...