How God Used ATCs and Happy Mail to Fulfill My Heart’s Desire
A few weeks ago I was talking with my daughter about “junk mail” and how I was getting so tired of walking to the mailbox only to see some “junk mail” and bills in it. I reminisced with her about the days when we used to share written letters via postal mail. We even had Pen Pals and always exchanged birthday cards, Christmas cards, and other holiday cards thru the mail. We both agreed that though we enjoyed the new technology of email and social media, we did miss getting those cheerful looking, colorful handwritten envelopes in our mailboxes.
Something about them just invoked surprise and it was exciting to open them and see what was inside!
That evening as I sat pondering over my day, I thought back to the last time I could remember receiving a card in the mail that was not an advertisement or bill.
My mind recalled a beautiful pink envelope embellished with pink flower stickers that was hand addressed to me from my Aunt. It contained a beautiful inspirational greeting card wishing me a “Happy Easter”.
I was thrilled!
It was such a bright spot in my day and I found myself wishing I could find a way to receive more mail like this again, but alas, all my family and friends only communicate through text, email or Facebook now. So I did an online search for Pen Pals to find that those are all online also. Ah, such is life I thought, things change, and accepting that fact, I forgot all about it.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Psalm 37:4, KJV).”
I believe God knew my thoughts and desires, even though I didn’t speak them nor request them, and He decided to bless me with a way to receive some “Happy Mail” in my mailbox.
How did that happen? I would now, like to share how He caused that to come about
Are you tired of only receiving bills and junk mail in your mailbox? Well, I have a creative solution for you to try that can change that daily “mailbox boredom.”
Last month, I happened to see that my local library was hosting an Artist Trading Card workshop.
Having read about Artist Trading Cards in a craft magazine lately, and watching a video on Creativebug on how to make them, I was very interested to attend this free workshop in order to learn more about trading these little cards called “ATCs” for short.
There were about ten ladies in attendance at the workshop. A few, like me, had little knowledge of these cards but were very interested in learning more. Others there had been making and trading ATCs for years and were willing to share what they had learned with us newbies.
It was a delightful time of learning something new, plus meeting other people from my local community who were all creative in many different ways.
We ended our time with the decision to form a local group which would meet once a month to trade our ATCs. We chose to name a theme for each month and were to create cards according to that particular theme.
I was very excited. I had learned a new craft and made some new friends!
But, I imagine you are wondering, what does that have to do with mailboxes and “Happy Mail”?
Well, that’s the next step in my creative adventure that I want to share with you.
It’s called “Facebook ATC Groups”
There are many ATC Groups online that meet and post via Facebook. Some are worldwide groups and some are only USA based. Each of the groups are a bit different, but basically, they are all the same.
You post pictures of the ATCs you have made and want to trade. If someone likes one or two they ask to trade. You then view their cards, and if you see something they made you like you okay a trade. All trading is done via Postal Mail! Mailing Addresses are exchanged via Private Message on Facebook Messenger and voila! In a few days you have “Happy Mail” in your mailbox!
It’s so fun!
How to trade?
If you would like to try making some ATCs to trade either in person or via mail, there is only one hard, fast rule. The ATC must always be 2.5” by 3.5” and they are only to be traded, not sold*. (There are some that sell these little pieces of art, but those are called ACEOs and I have more information on those at the end of this article if you are interested.)
How to make
But, basically, the size is the only firm rule you must follow. Otherwise, your creativity is unlimited.
The easiest way to achieve the size is to use playing cards as a base, as they are 2.5” by 3.5”. However, if you use a playing card as a base, you will need to either sandpaper it a bit to remove the gloss or give it a coat of gesso, otherwise paper, cloth, paint or whatever you are using will not adhere to it well.
If you are a recycler or one who is frugal and likes to repurpose things, like me, then you might want to cut your 2.5 x 3.5 blank cards from empty cereal boxes, facial tissue boxes, or other kinds of cardboard. If you have cardstock or poster board that would work also. Just anything that is a fairly heavy base will work.
Name and contact information
On the back of your ATC it is usually suggested that you put the title of your creation, date created, and your signature as the Artist. Some people also add if the ATC is part of a Series they created and what the number is and how many.
Also, it’s a good idea to put your contact info, such as a website or email address. You can write or print this on the back of your ATC or make your own printable labels if desired. There are many free templates online for creating ATC Backs via Word or Photoshop.
For more information, I am listing some helpful links to videos and articles on making ATCs, ATC backs, ACEOs, Facebook Groups and where you can sell your creations if you choose to do so rather than trade through the mail.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope I have inspired you in some way with this creative idea and that your mailbox is soon filled with lots of “Happy Mail” like mine has been!
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4 NIV).”
How to make Artist Trading Cards
This is a good link that gives the basics on how to make, and what to do with ATCs, if you are interested in getting involved in this creative endeavor.
How to Make Artist Trading Cards
Artist trading cards, or ATCs, began in the tradition of hockey trading cards, with a personal, artistic twist. They…
There are many Facebook Groups that trade ATCs. I joined two and have done quite a few successful trades with members via mail. I prefer to only trade in the USA to save money on postage, but others may want to trade internationally and there are opportunities for that in one of these groups or others on Facebook.
Groups to join
Here are the links to the groups I joined. They are closed groups so you will need to request permission to join them. I have had a very positive experience with both of these groups so far. ATCs Trade USA Only — — https://www.facebook.com/groups/798426020548555/
Artist Trading Card Swaps — https://www.facebook.com/groups/273627172979030/
- ACEOS — Art this size that is created and sold is called ACEO, which stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. ACEOs are just like ATCs but are specifically created to be sold, and many are for sale on eBay and Etsy.
- In fact, I do have some that I made and put up for sale in both my Etsy shop and on eBay just for the experience to see if they might sell. Visit this link for more information on ACEOs: What’s an ACEO https://www.ebay.com/gds/So-whats-an-ACEO-For-the-art-collector-in-all-of-us-/10000000002346954/g.html
Links to my ACEOs on: Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeonasDesigns Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/usr/leatki49?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
Leona J. Atkinson 2019