Pocket – Artist Trading Cards (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , August 17, 2009 9:05 pm


This week’s Unplugged Project theme was pocket and we made pocket-sized art, Artist Trading Cards.

Artist Trading Cards are so much fun because:

  • There is only a small surface to work with (easy and less intimidating).
  • You can really do pretty much anything at all to your cards.
  • It’s social – you can trade the finished product with friends (or strangers), just as you might trade a baseball card.

I didn’t invent this, although I wish I had.  Artist Trading Cards have been around for a little while (since 1996) and are sort of the art version of baseball cards.  They are even the size of baseball cards and can fit in standard trading card protective sleeves.

There is only one real “rule” about Artist Trading Cards, they must be a standard size: 2.5″ x 3.5″ (64mm x 89mm).  This ensures that they fit into trading card pockets.  Also, it is best that they be made of durable card stock.

The tradition is that these cards are traded among artists, not sold, and many swaps by mail exist.

Like last year, I have been involved in a babysitting coop with some friends for the last two weeks before school starts, and have found myself with seven children at the house.  This has given me a great pool of willing “guinea-pigs” for my Unplugged Project!

Creating our cards was a fun and easy group activity which culminated in an exciting swap among friends.

♦  All you need is some card stock to cut to size.  I actually used thick, high quality watercolor paper that I cut to size with a paper cutter.

Then – cover your table, get out ALL your craft supplies, and let the kids have at it!

We used paints, markers, pencils, hole punches, magazines, tissue paper, feathers, stencils, stamps, even salt (to sprinkle on the paint or glue for texture) and googly eyes (the most popular element, as you can see from our finished cards).

♦  Finally, the swap.  We put the dried cards face down and everyone picked an equal number.  Those who ended up with one of their own, traded it with someone else. Once the kids had their final set, everyone signed the backs of the cards they had made, and even added messages.  Very fun!

♦  Some of our finished cards:

A few kids deviated a bit from the one and only “official rule” (size) by adding on to their cards or sticking them together with remarkable results! (Since this was just a project for ourselves, I was certainly not going to stifle any creative impulses):


–  Paint Modge Podge or watered down white glue over the finished cards if they have papers stuck on them.  This makes a nice clear, shiny finish and seals all the edges and corners of the collage.

–  If the cards curl when dry, leave them overnight under a very heavy book and they should be flat by morning.


Why not incorporate this idea into an art history lesson by having students create cards in the manner of a certain artist, or style of art?



If you did a pocket Unplugged Project this week, then please link to your post (not just your blog) in the Linky below.  I look forward to seeing what you did!  If you did not do a pocket project, then please do not link, but read more about how to join in here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Enjoy and be creative!


6 Responses to “Pocket – Artist Trading Cards (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. Hi… I found your blog on the BloggersChoiceAwards website and think Unplug Your Kids is great! I voted for you, I write for the Our Everyday Earth – Green Blog and wondered if you would vote for us in the best Education blog category;


    Thanks in advance :)
    .-= Everyday Earth´s last blog ..Organic Repellent Insect Spray =-.

  2. Brooke Campbell says:

    Wow, artist trading cards sounds like a great idea. I’ll share this with my cousin who owns a daycare and is always looking for fun new activities.

  3. Megan C. says:

    I am an art teacher who was looking for kids information on ATC’S. I loved checking out your site! Thanks for inspiring others to get unplugged and turn on their imaginations!!

  4. Mom Unplugged says:

    Thanks so much for your comment Megan! It really means a lot to hear from people who enjoy the blog. Blogging feels like writing in a void much of the time (a one-way street). So it is always wonderful to hear from someone when they find my posts interesting, useful, or entertaining. I am so glad you enjoyed it, and thanks again for taking the time to comment. You made my day!

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