Artist Trading Coins Techniques and Tips

Today’s Tuesday Technique is all about Artists Trading Coins with nifty little sponging tip thrown in. If you struggle with getting smooth blending when you sponge this tip will help you.

What are Artist Trading Coins?

At first glance an Artist Trading Coins looks to be 2½”  circles that has been stamped or decorated.  The reality is these circles are little works of art.

Let’s start with a bit of history

Trading Cards

As a kid, you may remember the collectable trading cards that you found in the Kellogs cerals boxes and perhaps you swapped (traded) duplicate cards for cards you didn’t have.  This trading card idea originated as a promotional campaign for cigarettes and chewing gum in the 1800s.    It was quickly adopted by the Baseball League (baseball cards) and the movie, comic book and car industries.  Ebay is awash with trading cards with the rare ones being sold for millions of euros.  Fancy being paid €3.8million for a 2½ x 3½” card.  (True story) A pretty good return on investment for something that was free with the purchase with a pack of cigarettes, gum or cereal.

Artists’ Trading Cards (ATCs)

In 1997, Swiss artist M. Vänçi Stirnemann utilised the trading card idea for a collaborate art project that featured 1200 mini artworks. This project was intended to allow people from different backgrounds to participate in an ongoing art project, which was not part of the art market. At the end of the exhibition Artists met at a trading sessions to exchange their art work.  It was open for anybody to participate and all techniques were allowed.  The concept was adopted by artists around the world as a way to showcase and exhibit their work. Selling or buying ATCs contradicts the swap/trading idea.

Artists Trading Coins

Artists Trading Coins are the brain child of Joanne from Crafty Hodges.  Joanne was inspired by the Bitcoin (cryptocurrency)  in 2018 when she was trying to come up with something that was different and fun to make. She melded together the Bitcoin and Artist Trading Card idea.The coins are 2.5” to be consistent with ATCs.  I was really hoping she was inspired by the Tazos that were in the Smith’s Crisps packets in the mid-1990s.  That would have been a cool story.  The Bitcoin inspiration is pretty cool too.

Okay, that’s your history lesson done!

Let’s get on to the fun stuff…

The “how to” video!

So what did you think?

It’s definately something a little different to my usual cards and scrapbook pages.

Who knows Artists Trading Coins could be the next BIG thing?

If you make these at Artists Trading Coins home, of course, you can cut indvidual circles before you decorate them.  I found it easier to cut my A4 Thick White Cardstock in 3″ strips and decorate the whole strip.   There are companies that sell pre-cut artists trading coins made from MDF, chipboard and thick cardboard – these are a more expensive option than cutting the circles from thick cardstock and I’m unceratin if they are acid / lignin free.

If you don’t have thick cardstock on hand and are impatient to create some coins, cut several circles and layer them together with multipurpose liquid glue to create a thick base. (Hint: decorate the top layer before you stick them together.)

I’ve included links to all the products used in the video down below.

Sponging with Glycerine

Many of us struggle with splotchy sponging, unwanted lines or have difficulty blending sponges areas.   Just pop some ink on your clear block, add few drops of glycerine (available from the supermarket and pharmacy) and use your stampin’ sponge or sponge dauber to mix it and apply it to your project in a circular motion. Glycerine acts as a blending solution helping the ink glide together. It is similar to the solution Stampin’ Up! uses in the blender pens.

After filming this video, I discovered the larger surface area of the Stampin’ sponge is much better for this technique.   I did mention in the video it was an experiment!

Important Notes
  • Using glycerine to assist with smooth sponging MAY impact on your creation’s archival quality and MAY NOT be scrapbook safe as glycerine is a a weak acid.
  • Always wash your sponges or daubers after using glycerine so that you don’t accidently contaminate your ink pads. To wash my my sponges and daubers, I spray them with pre-wash spray then place them in a lingerie wash bag then pop that wash bag in the washing machine with my towels (which I always wash with wool wash). Once the wash cycle is done, I just hang the wash bag on the line with the sponges still in it and let it dry.

A big shout out

As I mentioned in this video, I learned about Artists Trading Coins from UK Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Jane Allmark on the Joy of Sets Facebook Group.  Unfortunatey my coins are heading to her way later than I planned but they will get there soon.

A big thank you too to my sister, Deb Mclean for sharing the glycerine technique.

Hope you enjoyed this Artists Trading Coins and sponging video – I can’t wait to see what you create.

Until Next time… Happy creating!


P.S.  If you get addicted to making these, join my new Facebook group Artists Trading Coins share your creations and swap with others.

Products Used in this video

2-1/2" Circle Punch

2-1/2″ Circle Punch (RETIRED)


Get Your FREE Step It Up Guide!


Take your paper crafting to the next level with these 10 simple ideas that make your creations sensational!

You have Successfully Subscribed!