Over the past few months I've become involved in the world of card-swapping. It began modestly enough, when I joined a group swapping masculine cards. It's not always easy to come up with new ideas for masculine cards, especially when so many of the stamp sets are aimed at female customers and recipients. I thought to myself "this is great! I make 9 identical cards and get 8 back, made by various other demonstrators." And so it began...that insidious slide into Swap Addiction. Most people don't talk about it but I am going to give you an unvarnished look at the condition first hand.
After that first Swap it was easy to get involved in another one. Some of the swapped cards were great and gave me wonderful ideas. Of course I had to join another swap to get more cards. And then came the Big One: the 2012 Canadian All Catalogue Swap. The stamp sets are divided into groups and only one person can sign up for each stamp set. Just imagine joining a swap where, if you wish, you can join enough groups to get sample cards using every stamp set in the entire catalogue! Of course if you get really carried away and also join the 2012 Holiday Catalogue, you can sit down one day and begin adding up the numbers of cards that you have to make and almost have a coronary. I, for example, wound up having committed to make 268 cards.
When the numbers began to stop spinning around in my head and I could feel my legs becoming steady under me, I began to put the whole commitment into perspective. I didn't have enough cardstock, for one thing. Each card takes a number of layers. I probably didn't have enough adhesive, or embellishments. The time required for the whole project was daunting but nothing could be done without supplies. So I began designing all the cards. I made sure that I used different colours for each stamp set but even then it was clear that I would have to make a large order as soon as possible.
While I was signing up for the swaps, I had been blithely going along without thinking about product use at all. This was a real awakening.
After completing all the cards for which I had signed up I swore that I would think twice or even three times before ever again committing to such an enormous undertaking. And then I looked at the list of Swaps again and a few looked really interesting, especially the ones for Technique Swapping. Learning new techniques and getting samples of those techniques...well, how could I ignore such a wonderful opportunity? There was a Canadian swap for techniques and a US swap as well. Would you be surprised to learn that I signed up for both?
By the end of September I will have to have 89 technique cards completed and in the mail. That's a far cry from 268 but I can see the future looming ahead: more swaps, at least one each month, endless swaps. Where will I put the cards? Will I have time for classes, workshops, stamp-a-stacks? Is it time for an intervention? Do they have Swappers Anonymous groups?
One benefit to the swaps that I've done over the past couple of months is that I've used stamp sets which I have bought but haven't used. In other words, I've been forced to stop simply using what was familiar and comfortable. Amazingly enough, I really like some of the cards that I have made using stamp sets that I kept ignoring.