Butterfly ATCs and How I Made Them


It’s time for another ATC swap in ATC Trades and Jams on Facebook. This month I signed up for three swaps and swapping date is here while I furiously work on making the ATCs. I wasn’t ready for this one. Up first is the Butterfly swap. Let me show you.

This is where I started. A 5″ x 7″ piece of Fabriano watercolor paper that I won in a giveaway, three colors of Dylusions Ink Sprays and a mister bottle of water. I used these items to make my background that I cut down into ATCs.

I sprayed the page with water and shot a couple blasts of the fresh lime color into the water and let it start running.

Then I added the bubblegum pink and lemon zest. My lemon zest nozzle was clogged up so I just opened the bottle and tried to drop a small amount onto the paper. Yeah, that didn’t work so well. I got plenty of yellow but I liked the way it changed the green and softened the pink, so it worked out alright. I do need to order a new bottle of yellow, though.

I sprayed on a little more water and blotted to help with the blending.

And dried it with my heat tool. I love the way the colors blend and spread, making new colors. And somehow that one white spot didn’t get any water or color. And that’s ok, too. The piece is starting to grow its own personality.

Joggles has these cool little ATC sized stencils called Itty Bitty Stencils. I have a load of them because they are the perfect size for the way I work. I use them on art journal pages and tangling pages as well. And it’s simple. For this particular technique I hold the stencil in place with one hand and spritz water where the hole design is. I let it sit for about 15 seconds, then gently lift the stencil away. Trying not to disturb the water that is sitting in those little circles.

Wait another 15 seconds or so, then blot with a paper towel. As this dries the color lifts away where you had the water, leaving behind the design of the stencil. You can help the drying process along with a heat tool. It still works the same way.

Let’s look at that again. Stencil in place, hold down with one hand and spray it with some water. You don’t want the blast of water to be hard because it will push water under the stencil and mess up your design. That’s why you should use a spritzer or mister – something with soft water spray coming out.

Lift the stencil away and here you can actually see the water sitting on top of the paper in the shape of stars. Pretty cool cell phone capture 🙂 .

After about 30 seconds total, blot with a paper towel and you get the really cool stencil design. I love this technique. You could also spray color over top of the stencil if you want to add a different kind of look.

Here is what my paper looked like after trying three different stencils. The third one was a busier stencil and harder to see defined, but look at the pink up top – can you see some little flowers? That is the third stencil. Once it completely dried, I was ready to move on.

I wanted to grunge up the paper a bit, so I grabbed a couple colors of Tim’s Distress Oxide inks.

I just scrubbed them across the surface back and forth and in circular motions, putting down some contrast. One day I will do a video showing you the process.

Next I picked a couple Dyestress Blendable Ink pads to use in the same manner.

And I worked a little scruffier this time. More texture, more lines, more definition of the ink pads – I knew a lot of this would be covered up as I worked so the lines were not a problem.

The focus of this swap was butterflies. I looked through all my stamps and the one butterfly stamp I decided on was almost 12″ long and a little over 2″ wide. Way to pick ’em, Alice! ATCs are 2.5″ x 3.5″ in size. So this stamp was a little overkill. But I could still use it! Because other than size it was perfect!

I stamped the long piece on my paper twice, side by side, knowing I would be cutting this piece down into ATCs. Fun fact – a photo of this page will also be set aside to be included in the next full color book of color backgrounds I publish to be used for tangling or art journaling.

Here are the two ATCs I decided to use. The one on the right is very distinct. The one on the left – I didn’t do a good job of stamping and it is looser and fuzzier. Just something to keep in mind as I complete the design. And even though I used the same stamp – these two are different enough for this swap.

I used a darker Dyestress pad to ink around the edges of the ATC and to scruff some across the surface close to the sides Grunging up this one for sure to hide or distract from that blurriness.

And I used a green for the second ATC. Here are both of them with the edges inked and scruffed.

I already had my Copics out working on something for The 100 Day Project, so I used them to color the butterfly. Typically I would use gel pens for this because it is a pain to drag out my Copics. Hahahaha!

Tim Holtz has these really cool word booklets for sale. I really like the one called Small Sayings. That is where these words came from. All the words in the booklets come on white paper and on black paper with white lettering. I also used the Copics to color in those ferns. And I really felt like this was close to done. So I moved on to the second ATC.

Remember, I needed to cover up some of that blurriness. Hahahahahahah! I have small design elements I keep in a basket in the closet, and I was able to find some little pieces I thought would work well on this ATC. And I love this moss color ink!

This is what I did with the ink! Grunge, grunge, grunge.

And I glued the pieces in place. But that sunflower piece was still too clean. Grunge means to dirty it up and make it look lived in. That sunflower didn’t look lived in. Hahahahaha!

So out came my Cabernet color ink pad. You will also notice I added a paper butterfly that I colored with Copics and I added some white gel pen dots.

Scrubbed some cabernet across the edges of the sunflower and the butterfly catcher sign, then decided to add some to the opposite butterfly paper piece. Awesome! And though you can’t really see it here, I used a gold gel pen to add dotted highlights along the right and the top of the card and this one is done!

Then I went back to the first ATC and added white and gold gel pen accents here and there and called it done as well! So much fun and now these two ATCs are ready to ship to Italy! Cause that is where my swap partner lives! Cool!

But I do have one more thing to show you. After I stamped the butterfly images onto my watercolor paper, I needed to clean off my stamp. I used a sheet of computer paper and just stamped images until the ink ran out. And now it looks like a really cool piece of tissue paper I can use in art journaling. Or for trading. You just never know. Now I’m off to make some ATC coins for a second swap and I’m sure you will be seeing those here before long. Thanks for reading along. I’ll leave you with some links.

Fabriano Watercolor Paper
ATC Trades and Jams, Facebook
Dylusions Ink Spray
Tim’s Mister Bottle
Heat Tool
Itty Bitty Stencils
Dyestress Ink Pads

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11 thoughts on “Butterfly ATCs and How I Made Them

  1. Beautiful ATC’s and awesome walk through!
    You always make me laugh as you go through the process ?

    • hahaha! I’m glad I can put a smile on your face and a chuckle in your belly 🙂

  2. I think the first ATC just wins it for me – I tend to the neater tidier not so grungy look though I got quite good at neat distressing (even if I say so myself!!!). Anyhow – back to business: amazing how one adapts as one goes along, that’s what I love so much about tangling & what’s so brilliant about these little pieces of art called ATC. I love the way those stencilled stars worked out – stunning & so crisp.

    • I love using the stencils that way. you never know quite how it will turn out. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

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