Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Artistry of LTCs

Tarte N Tires created Let It Snow. The stamp
is absolutely wonderful, but that top edge punched
with snowflakes is so totally awesome. *nodding*
Today, I'd like to talk a little about LTCs. I remember the first time I heard about them, and I thought, "Seriously? Just what letterboxing needs, something else to muddle the purity of letterboxing." Or something to that effect. =)

I also remember Mama Cache lobbying for me to add LTC as a distinct type of box, which I resisted. First, I didn't really know if LTCs would just be a "flavor of the day" and end up not being used very much, and second, I didn't really like the idea of adding support for another type of "letterbox."

Then Batty Girl sent me a handful of LTCs. It was completely unsolicited, but when I opened the envelope and the LTCs spilled out into my hands, in those few seconds, my doubts vanished. Those things were awesome! I finally saw the light! Reading about them, hearing about them, I didn't "get it." Being seeing them for the first time, I got it.

Not only were they really neat, but I immediately grasped that this could be a huge game-changer in another way: They could all but replace postal boxes. These were much smaller and lighter than postals, and therefore much cheaper and easier to mail. Blackholes, which were a growing problem and had people swearing off postals, would be considerably less problematic. It would, I knew, be a huge blow for postals. (And it was--take a look at the plant statistics for postals--the number of plants dropped from 5,164 in 2007 to 2081 in 2008.)

Amanda was on a trip but got home later that evening, and I showed the cards to her. "Take a look at these," I told her. "These are going to be big," I predicted.

I don't remember exactly which month I added official support for LTCs, but I did so shortly thereafter. LTCs took off and never looked back.

Newbie Says Hi is just adorable. Chedva created
these a couple of months after joining Atlas Quest.
I really like show she took the icon of the hatching
egg from AQ as inspiration, and the giant LB on the
chick's chest, puffed out like it was Superman. =)
A lot of newbies seem shy to admit that they're
newbies, so I'm always happy to see a newbie puff
out their chest and proudly admit it to the world. =)
As cool as the LTCs were, I was sometimes frustrated watching the posts on the message boards about them. Seemed like people were making swaps much more complicated than they needed to be. And eventually, Majorie's Potpourri grew out of that. Every month, people can send me 5 LTCs with a SASE and I'll mix them all up and mail 5 LTCs back. There aren't a whole lot of rules, really. Pretty much any LTCs is okay. Doesn't matter if they've been used before or not. There's no set theme. People can send all of the same card, or each card could be different. They can even send cards they didn't create--these are Letterboxer Trading Cards, after all! If someone somehow ended up with a duplicate card, send them along--I'll spread them out. =) (I do ask for people not to send adult-oriented LTCs, however, since there's no guarantee it wouldn't wind up going to a minor or someone who would find such images offensive.)

I still don't make LTCs myself--it's a lot of work, and it always seems like I'm too busy working on other things, but I rather like my job of running the Majorie Potpourri swap. =) Sometimes people even send an extra LTC for me to keep, and I've piled up quite a number over the years. But even better, I enjoy seeing all of the creations so many of you create. While I was hiking the PCT, Amanda took over this particular task, and after I returned, she didn't want to give up the job! She enjoyed seeing all of the creations as much as I did! =)

And this past month, I thought it would be nice to share some of the creations that showed up as part of Marjorie's Potpourri. =)

Mrs. Hayes, created by GypsyLadybug, is as simple as LTCs can get--a single stamp
image on a card. The back has a little history of the woman (Lucille "Lucy" Ware Webb Hayes,
wife of President Hayes, born August 28, 1831, died June 25, 1889), and the listing on AQ
has a photograph of her, which looks a lot like the stamp on the LTC.

MLB: Twins, created by Ratliff Gang, has a three-dimensional element to it.
It's not as obvious in that first photo, but the second image looks like at an angle. I rather like the ragged,
torn look of the stamped layer.

An Angry Birds Christmas by EverAfter83 is more elaborate than most LTCs, but the thing that
got my attention most was that I'd never seen a laminated LTC before! Seems like
there's always something new every month that I haven't seen done before.
Holidays of November: D.B. Cooper Day by Flutterwing2009 I wanted to highlight since it's one that opens up
to include more information inside. Sometimes, that 2.5 x 3.5 inch size just isn't enough to work with for some people! =)
On an unrelated note, I'd be a little saddened if the mystery of D.B. Cooper was ever conclusively solved.
Snow Globes: Snow Bird by twofreetimers is my favorite LTC in January's batch.
I just want to pick up this card and shake it! =)
Sea Life: Angelfish from The Boxing Bs is so simple it's elegant. And sparklies. You can't go wrong with sparklies. =)
Speaking of which, until LTCs had come along, I knew nothing about embossing powders. Cards
like this one inspired me to buy a bunch of it, but I haven't really used it for much of anything... yet. *sigh*

80's Icons: The Boom Box brought to us by jad_juniper uses multiple layers, shapes, and colors
from colored cardstock, which is an effect I like. But it seems even more perfect for anything
from the 80s!

Seeing as Valentines Day is right around the corner, I thought I'd share a couple of Valentine-themed
LTCs. What is Love? by ElectricMedic has some sort of fuzzy stuff on it that I've never seen before. It
seems like embossing powder, but hasn't been baked on. I'm not sure what it is. But anyhow....
Many LTCs are traded in plastic sleeves (which I've removed for these
photos--the glare on them was terrible!), but this one really needed the sleeve to protect the fuzz from
coming off. And the morbid side of me thinks, "Hmm.... Dexter might not agree with that quote...."

Love Monster by Flutterwing2009--I totally want a Valentine like this!
Cutest monster ever! =)

Thanks to everyone to sent in some LTCs last month, and thanks to all of you guys who gave me permission to share your creations with everyone! =)

If you'd like to learn more about LTCs and swapping them, check out the help pages for LTCs and LTC Trackers. There are also two message boards for all things LTCs: LTC: Tips, Questions, and Stuff and LTC: Trades and Trackers.


Birchmoon said...

Thanks for this post. I've just gotten into LTCs and I know some people do complex things with them but hadn't an idea what those things might be until now (especially as I'm not all that proficient with paper crafts). This should give me some great ideas.
(I think the snowglobe is my favorite.)

Vicky said...

great post showcasing LTC's ...great creations people :) I love them all , so creative.

Guzzelin' Gal said...

I've really gotten in to LTC's recently it's cool to find out how they got started on AQ. It's fun to get them in the mail especially from letterboxers who live far away and there is only a small chance I'll ever find there boxes in the wild. They can be simple or really complex, and give you new ideas what to do with yours. Thanks for showcasing them this time.

Medic said...

That fuzzy stuff is called "flocking". It gives a great effect but is very messy to work if you shaved a velure suit. Loved seeing all the other creations, thanks for the blog.....

Anonymous said...

Would be nice if in your post about LTCs you actually said what "LTC" stood for. :)

FloridaFour said...

Great article! It's nice to see a variety of cards, from simply elegant to amazingly complex. I have four of these in my collection! Anyone can try making LTCs. My kids have each participated in a swap and enjoyed it. My daughter, Puppy Boxer, is working on her third one right now, and she's 6 1/2 years old...

Brave and Stupid said...

Letterboxer Trading Cards are a great so much fun to make and even more fun to recieve! I've gotten some that were the most amazing little artworks. I have several I intend to frame. Sometimes it's all about the carve and]]]] those are amazing as well. Thanks for sharing this info and all the pics as I know there are people out there who are just waiting for the encouragement to try it.

Mama Cache said...

Enjoyed your post, Ryan. Methinks I ought to send you something, just because.

I am always grateful that you were willing to accommodate LTCs on AQ. You've given them a vehicle for trading and been more than kind to listen to requests. Thanks again -- thanks a million.

Rhea said...

Ryan, I am personally so grateful for LTC's. I only made a few, but I totally attribute them (and letterboxing in general) to my self discovery that I am indeed an artist. Thank you for creating such a wonderful community and giving me to tools such an important part of who I am!

Zoma said...

Living in Minnesota, LTC's are a great way to enjoy letterboxing during our long winter months. We carve and create LTC's during the winter and then have stamps to plant in "traditional" letterboxes in the Spring. It's a win-win for us! (SZSRocks)

Cyclonic said...

You should trust your instincts. They are pretty and all, but they are just artist trading cards, which have been around for years, and are not letterboxing.