Sock Doll Swap – Jul 2010

A sock doll swap is an exchange of dolls made from socks.

In this 2010 Wild Art Dolls exchange, the dolls had to be made from socks and three of them had to fit inside a flat-rate Priority Mail envelope.

Three of us participated. Here are some of the dolls:

Sock dolls by Lisa Cottrell, OH
Sock dolls by Lisa Cottrell
Sock dolls by Sue Martino, NJ
Sock dolls by Sue Martino
Sock doll by Aisling D'Art
Sock doll by Aisling D’Art

My dolls were almost identical. (The fluffy orange bits at his right shoulder are ends of the yarn I used to give him a pom-pom tail.)

My doll design started with ideas I gleaned from the book, Stray Sock Sewing. (As I’m writing this, you can snag a good, used copy for under $3.)

I love making dolls from socks!

Historical notes

Of course, the classic sock doll is probably a sock monkey, invented around 1932. I think many people have happy memories of sock monkeys from childhood.

A quick survey of Amazon will show lots of different kinds of sock monkeys, including a Beanie Baby sock monkey, and books about making dolls (including sock monkeys) from socks.

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24-Hour Zine Thing – What I Learned

Concluding yesterday’s 24-page, 24-hour zine, I learned a lot.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to try a second one for this challenge.  Probably not.

(If I had more time, I might.  With just two non-weekend days left in the month, it’s probably not wise to leap into a second zine marathon.)

Reviewing the zine I created in the past day or so… it’s actually pretty good, for a first-time challenge.

Here’s what I learned in the process:

1. I’m at my best, creatively, in the morning.  I’m also a psycho-cranky perfectionist late in the day, or when I’m tired… which are often the same thing.

2. Our society says one thing but does something else.

For example, gov’t healthcare representatives say the same things as many leading health experts:  Eat more veggies, grains, legumes and less fatty meats and dairy.  However, the gov’t then subsidizes in a way that makes the unhealthy diet the more affordable one.

The odd thing is: As I was researching spending differences between the 1951 household budget (see the graph below) and today, people spent nearly twice as much on food (in income percentage terms) in 1951 than they do now.   I’m still wrapping my brain around that.  I mean, are we putting advertising-driven luxuries ahead of how well we eat, or what?

The zine will be available as a download (PDF), next week.

Meanwhile, here’s the text from the 25th page.  It didn’t fit into the zine.

——-

As I was pasting up this zine, I began searching for answers: Did a 1951 household budget look about the same as ours, allowing for inflation?

According to Helium, “In the 1950s, frugality and conservative spending was valued and happiness was desired more than riches. The incomes of celebrities were not often discussed in the 1950s, nor were their excessive purchases.”

Here’s what I’ve found: In the typical 1951 household budget, American families spent 22 percent of their incomes on food, or about $814.

We spend about 12% of our income on food ($6,133), and nearly half of that is spent eating outside the home.

Fast Food Nation bookAccording to Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Americans spend more on fast food than they do on higher education.  He also says, “They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined.”

(Interestingly, about 40% of every 1951 dollar spent on food went to the producers… the farmers.  Today, it’s just 20%.)

Here are other figures that I found online:

Item 2007 1950s
Food 15% 32%
Housing 43% 22%
Clothing 4% 12%
Transportation 18% 15%
Medical Care 6% 5%
Recreation 6% 2%
Education & Communication 6% n/a

Ref: http://financialedge.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1009/50-Years-Of-Consumer-Spending.aspx (As of 2017, no longer online.)

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but in the past 20 hours (or so), I’ve certainly uncovered a lot of questions.

In my spare time:  There’s something to be learned in this.  Since I have a huge stack of 1951 newspapers, I plan to analyze 1950s’ lifestyles — and the 1951 household budget — in more detail.

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Zines – The 24-Hour Zine Thing

Zine thing - 24 hours of excitement and challenges?Today, I’m starting the 24-hour zine thing.  This may be quite a challenge!

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the basic idea: Go from concept to completed/printed-and-bound 24-page zine in 24 hours.

My general plan is to start it around 1 p.m.  today.  I’m allowed to gather materials but not actually think about what’ll go in it (or prepare anything for it) until the 24 hours begin.

Last night, cutting advertisements out of some 1951 newspapers, I decided that some of them will go into this zine… I’m just not sure how, or what the theme will be, or… well, anything.

I know that it’ll be a half-page zine design.  (That is, the zine is printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, and folded in half.  Pages are 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″.)

Other than that, I have no idea what I’m doing.  Generally, I’d like my zine to relate to creativity, but how that fits with the 1951 newspaper ads (or if they’ll even end up in the finished zine), I don’t know.

I’m going to try to update my progress here, hourly.  I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not, and it may fall apart altogether after the first couple of entries.  (The hourly posting that is… not the zine, I hope.)

Either way, that’s what’s ahead for this sunny July day in NH!

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Hour-by-Hour Zine Notes

Tuesday

3 p.m. update: I’ve been working on the zine for about an hour.  It’s turning into a personal zine, filled with random thoughts.  Contrary to my general plans, it’s not an art zine.  Oh well.

I started around 2 p.m. and I’m in the middle of a mini-collage for one page.  I’ve written and printed pages 1 and 24.

The TV series, Torchwood, is on in the background, and one episode inspired the name of this zine, The Electro.  Now… back to work!

4 p.m. update: I thought I’d be back in the living room, working on collages and artwork.  Instead, I wrote three pages of text and created captions for two more pages.  So, that’s 7 pages of 24.  I’m reluctant to say, “Oh, this isn’t going to be so difficult,” because that’s the fastest route to hitting writer’s block or something…!

Now, I’m doing some pasteup before working on collages and other art for the zine.  So far, so good.

5 p.m. update: I was doing well until about 15 minutes ago, when it turned out to be the sad Torchwood episode that concludes the Grey story line.

See, there have been things this year that I haven’t had time to process or mourn… other things had to keep moving forward.   My mom (and my cat) would want it that way, and I knew that.  Last weekend, I think we concluded the major must-do projects. Whew!

I’ve known that I’d need to grieve at some point.  I’m not sure if today is that day.  If it is, this zine project goes “on hold” and I start all over again, later this week.  (Cheerful stuff, this… eh?)

6 p.m. update: Serendipity! The next show on BBC-America was the Charles Dickens episode of Dr. Who. The opening always makes me laugh, even in this context.  (Yes, I do have a weird sense of humor…) So, I lost a little time but I’m back on track with this zine.  Well, more or less.

I spent most of the last hour more thoroughly combing the 1951 newspapers for ads to include.  I found several that will work, including some that will bridge between the 1951-related content and the zine pages that are from and about 2009 and beyond.

7 p.m. update: I’ve completed text & layouts for another six pages, I think.  I’m trying not to wander into the too-easy trap of rosy nostalgia and idealizing an era that had plenty of problems.  But… where am I going with this, anyway?  I’m not sure, and that’s beginning to show.

I’m nearly ready to segue into modern collages and commentary.  However, I can also see the merit of an early bedtime, so I can be up at 4 or 5 in the morning, to get a fresh start on the remaining pages.

8 p.m. update: I’m about halfway through the zine now.  The basic layout is complete, and I’m finishing the cover right now. Well… I think I am.

Most of the remaining pages will be collages.  Due to rapidly increasing humidity (my fingers are starting to stick to the keys on my keyboard), I should probably complete as many of them as I can, tonight.  Otherwise the adhesive (gel medium) may not dry in time… the zine pages might stick to the glass on the photocopier.

The good news is, Warehouse 13 is on.  There’s something ironic about how much I’m questioning the value of TV (contrasting 2010 lifestyles with those of 1951) as I’m avidly watching favorite TV shows.

9 p.m. update: My cat wants me to go to bed. (He’s the hall monitor, in a way:  Schedules must be kept.  Order must be maintained.)  I’m seriously considering quitting for the night.  However, I have just nine pages left to complete.  That’s better than I expected, at this point in the day.  Is it quality work?  I’m not so sure.  I’m too tired to tell.

I’m going to try some collages.  If they don’t work out — and they might not, since the light is awful — I’m calling it a day.  (Note to self: Get an Ott light.)

9:30 p.m. update: One and a half collages later… I’m tired. The light is too dim.  I’m not fresh enough to create anything except minimalist, stark collages, and that’s not what I want for this zine.

So, assuming I’m asleep by 10, I can be up at 6 and working on this zine again.

————

Wednesday

6:30 a.m. update: After a semi-sleepless night, I’ve been at the keyboard for half an hour, catching up on necessary, business-related emails.  I’m hoping to ignore email for the rest of the morning, and complete this zine.

I’ve also decided to include this diary (well, most of it) in the actual zine.  For some reason, that makes sense to me.

I’m looking at the stack of 1951 ads I’d cut out before starting this zine — ads I decided not to use, in favor of others I selected after beginning it — and that seems right as well.

The air is still cool.  The light is good.  Back to work!

9:00 a.m. update: Several more collages completed, and now I’m re-checking my emails (bad habit… bad!) and pasting everything up, to see what remains empty.  I know I’ve nearly completed this.

Biggest shock while making these collages: The number of “buy this” messages throughout magazines.  Almost all the overt and covert messages — especially all the “look like a celebrity” ones — came from just one issue of one magazine.  That’s disturbing.  I mean, with that many cues and subliminal messages, most people will succumb to at least some status cravings.

10:00 a.m. update: The more I delve into this zine and lifestyle issues, the more questions I’m discovering.  They’re questions I won’t have time to research or ponder within this 24-hour timeframe.

However, the zine is nearly completed now.  I expect to be at the copy shop within an hour, so this will be my last hour-by-hour update about building this zine.

Thoughts at the conclusion

I’m thoroughly dissatisfied with this zine.  Yes, it represents a process.  Yes, it was my first time attempting this.  It still seems like a half-baked zine with no clear statement about… anything.

It also doesn’t really represent the glimmer of inspiration that occurred when I chose the zine title.  I’m not sure what to do about that.

My biggest mistake was the scheduling.  Mornings are my most productive time, but I started this on a hot summer afternoon, when I was tired.  Nothing cohesive seemed to emerge, yet the integrity of this project/challenge requires me to publish it, as-is.

That said… I feel as if I want to redeem myself by doing a second zine this week.  I’d work on it the right way, based on what I learned from this experience.  I mean, do I really want to live with this as my only 24-hour zine for the 2010 challenge?

I’ll see how I feel when I see this printed. I may look at it and decide that it’s not so bad, after all.

Post-printing thoughts

The first thing that I did was to print and bind a copy at Staples.  (It’s the nearest business supply shop with a self-service copy center.)  It’s not the best printing  or stapling job in the universe, but it met the requirements.   I completed the zine in 24 hours.  (Actually, I did it in a little under 22 hours, and had a page left over — a 25th page — when I assembled the whole thing.)

After that, I went back to the copy machine and tried some different settings.  The photocopied collages look much better at lighter settings.  When I’m creating the zine copies that will actually go in the mail, I’m using those settings.

(I don’t have to mail a copy today… just have a finished copy; those are the rules. A copy must be mailed to the 24-Hour Zine Thing organizers in the next two weeks or so.)

Then, I sat down to lunch, followed by two big bowls of ice cream, a shower, a short nap… and I looked at the zine again.  I can see some “oops” mistakes, but nothing awful.

In fact, confirming my good friend Stephen’s comments, this zine does look better after some rest.

Oh, I’m still not entirely pleased with the zine; it’s not something I’d send out to my readers, as-is, and pretend that it’s a great zine.

However, it is an authentic zine, and it’s representative of a 24-hour marathon, including my first-time mistakes.

I’m on the fence about a second 24-hour zine.  As Scarlett said, I’ll think about it tomorrow.

—————————

More info about zines, in general: Zines at Aisling.net

More info about this challenge: 24 Hour Zine Thing

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Choosing Fabric for Your Cloth Doll

Dali's house in Costa Brava
Nobody said you have to follow the “rules.”

The first rule of cloth doll making is: BREAK THE RULES!

Nobody said the skin fabric has to be pink. Or muslin. Or brown. Or whatever.

Your doll’s skin can be purple. Or green. Or paisley. Or white lace over silver lame that you’ve fused to muslin.

Nobody said that your dolls’ legs and arms and faces all have to be made with the same fabric.

If your art doll is for show more than for actually playing with, the skin can be something other than fabric. Like twisty paper. Or layers of raffia that you’ve fused to muslin so the “skin” holds together and the muslin doesn’t show. Or a paper grocery bag. Or autumn leaves. Or even dollar bills, fused to muslin to make a big enough piece of “fabric.”

Nobody said her (or his) clothing has to be tasteful, or stereotypically shocking with black lace and a boa, either.

Of course, sometimes you MUST make a good trashy doll, just for the sake of having her around. Or an Elvis impersonator doll, for the male counterpart. (Or, in my case, Voodoo doll Barbie.)

Nobody said that your doll has to wear clothing made of fabric, either. Feathers might work. Or foil. Or maybe you’ll melt some 3.5″ computer disks (ventilate very well if you heat them) and give her a high-tech breastplate.

When you’re making a cloth or mixed media doll, you have many, many options.

Don’t be limited by rules in your head. And don’t be limited by rules from famous dollmakers or even your teacher.

Cloth doll goddess Elinor Peace Bailey once made an amazingly insipid doll, just to break her own anti-rules.

The point is, when you plan your doll, think big. Think original. Break the rules. Be outrageous.

But mostly, be your most creative self.

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Cloth Dolls – How to Choose Your Doll Stuffing

Cloth doll - lambNot sure how to choose the right cloth doll stuffing?

Here’s the punch line: Buy the best doll stuffing (ex: fiberfill, polyfill, batting, cotton wool) that you can afford.

The cheap stuff may look the same in the bag. It may even feel the same if you squeeze it.

You may think, “I’ll bet this is a no-name brand made by the expensive brand, and it’s really the same stuff (so to speak), for half the price.”

You’d be wrong.

In terms of lumps in your doll (or your teddy bear), and how the batting holds up over time, there is only one way to go: Buy the best doll stuffing you can afford. You won’t regret it.

I like Fairfield and Mountain Mist stuffing and batting for my own dolls. I buy their top-of-the-line products, and I’m always pleased with the results.

batting for doll makingRight now, I lean towards Fairfield for doll stuffing, but that’s a matter of personal taste.  See what’s available in your local shops. As long as you’re buying a very good brand, and avoid their “bargain stuffing” (if they have one), try different kinds and see which suits your dollmaking style.

And…

While we’re talking about cloth doll stuffing, remember to stuff your art dolls so the filling is tightly wedged into the doll. If it’s too loose, the doll will look lumpy after she’s been picked up, hugged, and otherwise played with for a few months.

Doll stuffing tools

For the best results, collect a variety of doll stuffing tools. One great tool is called a Stuff-It. It used to be sold by Dritz, but it’s hard to find now. It can be used to stuff teensy fingers, as well as turn nice corners.

If you can’t find that — and if you’re stuffing lots of tiny corners, fingers, etc. — you’ll fall in love with the Clover Stuffing Tool.  It’s not as generally practical as the Dritz Stuff-It tool, but for detailed stuffing, you’ll want to own the Clover tool.  It’s also ideal for turning itsy-bitsy cloth fingers.

Your dollmaking kit will also include a chopstick or two. The lacquered kind with the fine point on one end and a round or square end on the other, is amazingly handy. You may want to sand the lacquer with very fine sandpaper, so the lacquer doesn’t slip through the stuffing too easily.

If you do a lot of dollmaking, go to any arts & crafts store and select a few plastic tools intended for shaping clay.  You’ll be amazed at how handy they are, for turning and stuffing dolls.  I bought this set and I’ve used them for all kinds of arts & crafts projects… none of which involved clay.

The idea is to have tools that are pointy, but not too pointy for the job. If you try to use a pencil point, it invariably slips through the stuffing, leaving a lead-black mark that shows through the fabric. Ick. Getting pencil marks off fabric… well, it’s not easy.

Likewise, trying to stuff with scissors results in unexpected holes when the scissors slip, despite your best intentions and efforts at control.  (Yes, I cried when it happened.)

How much doll stuffing to buy

Buy great doll stuffing. You’ll need at least two or three times as much as you think, looking at the bag. It will compress to about one-quarter its original size. Or more.

I usually buy a one-pound bag for a normal, happy teddy bear.  That same bag will fill at least half a dozen sock dolls, and several medium-sized dolls.

Never, never, NEVER buy cheap doll stuffing. It’s not worth it.

Even from the start, the doll just won’t look quite “right.” I don’t know why, as the stuffing’s weaknesses usually doesn’t show up right away. But I learned quickly; cloth dolls (and teddy bears, and other stuffed figures) don’t look as good if the doll stuffing isn’t top quality.

If you have to cut corners, select a budget fabric rather than purchase cheap stuffing.  (See my article about preshrinking fabric for fabric advice.)

Buy the best cloth doll stuffing, and your dolls will thank you for it.

Here’s one that I recommend:

Mountain Mist Premium Fiberloft

I’m using this in my current cloth dolls and figures.  It’s easy to handle, holds its loft well, and — with a Stuff-It tool — it wedges nicely into tiny corners.

It seems to wash well, so I also use this for a trapunto effect (stuffing details separately, through concealed openings in the fabric) in my other fabric art.

Because this stuffing holds up well and remains fluffy, it’s a good choice for large dolls and stuffed animals that a child will use as a pillow.

You can find it at most fabric stores, or order it through Amazon.com. (That link takes you to the one-pound size that I buy.)

Articles at others’ websites:

Tips and Tools for Creating Soft-Sculptured Dolls by Miriam Gourley.

Have a question or a helpful tip?  Leave your thoughts about cloth doll stuffing in a comment, below.

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Cloth Dolls – Should You Preshrink Fabrics

Should you preshrink fabrics (or prewash them) before making a cloth doll?

clothes on a clothesline
If you’re preshrinking fabric, use a dryer, not a clothesline.

Yes… and no.  It depends upon what’s important to you.

Why not to prewash or preshrink fabrics

Fabrics, especially cottons, never look quite so “fresh” after prewashing.

The sizing* and surface finish wash off, so the fabric doesn’t look as smooth. In most cases, you’ll never wash the doll in a machine anyway.  Why worry about shrinkage?

Also, not preshrinking fabric saves you considerable time since you won’t be ironing it.

You can rush home with your new fabrics, and head straight to the cutting table. That’s ideal if you have amazingly creative visions in your head, and you can’t wait to turn them into a doll or two or three!

Dolls seem to turn out best when the full energy of your brilliant concept is right there, fresh in your mind.

Pausing to do anything mundane, such as washing & drying, can be lethal to that fresh & vital energy.

In other words: You don’t have time to preshrink fabrics.  Just get to work and create that doll!

Yes, the fresh-from-the-store surface treatment may repel inks and paints when you’re adding details (such as the face).  That’s easy to fix.  Add a couple of drops of a surfactant** to your painting water, to break down the resistance. Prewashing is not necessary.

Why you should prewash or preshrink fabrics

When fabrics have been treated with sizing and a surface finish, they often won’t accept paint, pen, and/or felt marker designs as well.  If you’re adding a lot of artwork to the surface of your doll, that’s a problem solved by prewashing.

If the doll has an accident — like when something spills on her — you can wash her (carefully, of course) without worrying about the results. Prewashed fabrics have already shrunk, bled, puckered, and softened as much as they’re likely to.

If you always preshrink fabrics as soon as you bring them home, you can confidently use the same fabric in your wearable art and know that the finished garment can be tossed into the washing machine.

How I preshrink fabrics

First, I trim any loose threads off the fabric. They’re going to fray in the laundry.  Sometimes, those loose thread can wrap the fabric into a tight, wrinkled ball by the time the drying is completed.

If it’s a small and expensive piece of fabric, I may fray-check the cut edges to prevent further unravelling and fraying.

Dritz makes a product, “Fray Check,” for this, and other manufacturers have similar products. It’s a lifesaver, in my opinion.

Before prewashing, I refold the fabric so it is not folded along the same line as it was on the bolt.

If you don’t do that, the original fold line will promptly wear and fade, even in the first washing.  You’ll have to cut around that part of the fabric.

I always wash the fabric by itself, or in the laundry with dark items that will not bleed.

(“Bleeding” colors mean colors that aren’t permanently dyed.  Some of the color will wash out during the first washing, and sometimes during successive laundering. )

For example, my kitchen dishtowels don’t show stains, so they can be washed when I preshrink fabrics.  If I’m not concerned about mixing fabric weights in the laundry, I often wash older blue jeans with my new fabrics, too.

Three things can happen when you preshrink fabrics:

First, there’s the effect of water on the fabric.

Some fabrics pucker, wrinkle, and go limp in water.

The puckering and wrinkling can be steamed out when you iron. The limpness is resolved with a spray sizing or starch, usually added when you iron.

However, if you’re going to paint or draw on the fabric, it’s best to apply the sizing or starch after you paint or draw, so the pigment is well absorbed.

Next, consider the effect of soap and water on the fabric.

The colors may run as you preshrink fabrics. The texture of the fabric may change, too.

Almost anything can happen, particularly if you’ve bought a cotton by an unknown manufacturer, or a mixed-fiber fabric from the markdown bin.

I use cold water the first time I wash a fabric. Some people also add a small amount of vinegar or salt to the water, to set the colors. Or you can use one of those disposable towels that absorb excess (“bleeding”) colors in the washing machine.

Sometimes, texture changes can be remedied with plenty of steam ironing and starch or sizing.

However, some fabrics will never look the same as when they were new, which is why some dollmakers prefer not to prewash.

Finally, there’s the effect of dryer heat. I use the hottest dryer setting and dry the fabric for over an hour, usually tossing in other loads of laundry rather than wasting dryer heat on just one piece of fabric.

(Exposure to dryer heat can be the most important step when you preshrink fabrics.)

In my experience, shrinkage is not eliminated until the fabric has been through two to three hours of dryer heat.

Summary

If you love the fabric just as you bought it, and you don’t plan to wash your cloth doll, ever, there’s no reason to preshrink fabrics.

However, if your doll may be exposed to wear & tear, and stains or dirt are possible, preshrinking can reduce worries.

Fabrics can change color, size and texture in the laundry and dryer.  In some cases, you can restore the texture.  Faded colors and shrinkage usually cannot be reversed.

I preshrink almost all of my fabrics before using them in dolls, but there are exceptions when the doll will be displayed, not worn (as a pin doll) or played with.

* Sizing: Similar to starch, sizing is a fabric treatment that makes the fibers stiffer, crisper, and “fresher” looking. Sizing washes out in the laundry, but you can replace it in the rinse cycle, or with spray-on sizing when you iron.

** Surfactant: A product which breaks the surface tension of water, and helps “cut through” the protective layers sometimes applied to stain-resistant (and other) fabrics.

I use a Shaklee product called Basic H, and place two or three drops in a pint of water when I’m using watercolors on a doll, if the paint beads too much. But, you can do the same thing with a drop of dishwashing liquid. (That is, liquid soap intended for washing dishes by hand.)

Consider every reason to preshrink fabrics (or not to) before deciding.

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Swaps and Documentation

mailbox and flowersSome swaps say, “Documentation will be provided,” or something like that.

Here’s what that means:  The person organizing the swap will provide a list of everyone who participated in the swap, mailart call, or whatever.

In some cases, that list may be just people’s names.  In others, it’s each person’s name and address.  (If you don’t want your address in the documentation, tell the swap/call organizer.)

Sometimes, the list will be included in whatever you’re receiving by return mail.  More often, the list will appear online for everyone to see. (Again, if this is a privacy issue, let the host or organizer know.)

Some swaps may not include a list of participants.  (Mailart calls usually do.)

However, here’s another tip: If you’re in a swap that’s 5-for-5 or something like that, the list of participants is not a list of whose art should be in the envelope you receive.

Unless the participant list is established before the swap – and that’s rare, although some hosts (like Red Dog Scott) may do this – you will never receive one item from every swap participant.

What you’ll receive is the number of items specified when the swap was announced.

And, you may receive a list of who else participated in the swap.

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Swaps and Postage

old-fashioned postage stampWhen organizing an art swap of any kind, postage can be a Very Big Headache.  Here are some tips to keep the postage problems to a minimum.

Different people send items that are varying sizes and — more importantly — different weights.

Even in a cloth doll swap, you never know who’ll embellish their dolls with feathers, and who’ll use metal hardware, lots of beads and/or thick clay additions.  Weights can vary considerably!

Never assume that the package being sent to you will require the same amount of postage as the one you sent to the swap host.

PRIORITY MAIL SOLUTIONS

Many people — including me — insist that the swaps have to fit in a Flat Rate Priority container, either the Flat Rate envelope, or a particular Flat Rate box.  That resolves most postage issues, since all the packages will cost the same to ship.

Then, we ask for postage to cover shipping the swap to you.

mailboxes in a rowDELIVERY CONFIRMATION

IF you want Delivery Confirmation, include the postage to cover that, as well as the completed form, already addressed to you.

Remember: If you don’t ask for Delivery Confirmation and your swap is lost in the mail, you cannot accuse the swap host of failing to mail it… unless the entire group never received their swaps, either.

(Though I sometimes decide to send a swap with Delivery Confirmation to all participants, I pay for that myself unless I made it part of the swap rules.)

DO THIS

It’s important to send exactly what the swap host requests.

  • Send the right number of items.
  • Send the exact amount of postage requested.
  • Include a mailing label or an addressed return envelope/package… whichever the swap host asked for.

AVOID THIS

Do NOT…

  • Send a different amount of postage because you think the swap host made a mistake.  If you think he or she made a mistake, ask the person! (I often “round up” five or ten cents, to compensate for the people who send not quite enough postage.)
  • Put your postage on the return envelope, unless the swap host told you to.
  • Omit the return envelope, IF the swap host told you to include it.
  • Omit a mailing label that already displays your address.  Swap hosts should not have to hand-address the packages.
  • Ask the swap host to use a different form of shipping than was announced in the swap.

In other words, read the swap instructions and follow them exactly.

While you may scratch your head and wonder why I’m taking the time to spell this out, I recently hosted a swap* and 100% of the participants sent me less postage than I asked for. (It wasn’t worth the trouble to get the missing cents, so I paid out-of-pocket at the post office.)

Hosting a swap can be more work than people realize.  Make the host’s work as easy as possible.

Swaps are wonderful fun!  Encourage people to host swaps by making their work as easy as possible… follow their rules!

*Don’t ask which swap it was.  It’s over.  I’ll make the rules far clearer — and I’ll be far stricter — in future swaps with that group.

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Doll Swaps – How the Numbers Work

question markWhen you’re participating in a doll swap through an online group or community, the numbers may confuse you.  Here are some tips to help you understand how doll swaps work.

Aisling’s note: I posted this explanation at the WildArtDolls group at Yahoo Groups, where — in the past — people regularly swapped dolls. As of mid-2015, that group hasn’t been active for years, but we may re-energize it in the future.

EQUAL-FOR-EQUAL

When a swap is 3-for-3 or 10-for-10 or anything like that, it means you’ll receive the same number of dolls that you sent.  You’ll send four dolls and receive four in return, or whatever.

It does not mean that you’ll receive one doll from each player.  When hosts organize swaps, they have no idea how many people will play.  So, a 5-for-5 swap means you’ll send five dolls and receive five in return, even if 150 people are in the doll swap.

NUMBER-FOR-NUMBER-MINUS-ONE

Many swap hosts figure that organizing the swap is enough work.  They don’t necessarily want to make something for the swap, too.

The swap will be announced as 5-for-4 or 10-for-9, or something like that.  The first number is how many dolls you’re sending.  The second number is how many dolls you’ll receive in return.

You’ll send the requested number of dolls, and the swap host will keep one of them (as a thank-you gift) before sorting the dolls to send out.

At the present time, most swaps seem to be organized that way.  So, if you sent 10 dolls but received 9 in return… that’s exactly what you were supposed to receive.

NUMBER-FOR-NUMBER-MINUS-X

Some doll swaps are organized for fun, but also to benefit a specific group, usually a women’s shelter or a children’s hospital, or something like that.

The charity is always specified in the swap announcement, and a link usually helps you understand why this is an important charity or organization to help.

However, we’re generally careful not to sound like we’re trying to recruit people to join or support the charity.  It’s a fine line, but an important one when the charity is related to a particular religion or political group.

Generally, if you don’t want to contribute one swap item to that charity, you should not participate in the swap.  It’s considered rude to say, “I’d like to swap with members, but that’s all.”

Those doll swaps may be something like 5-for-4 or 10-for-9, but they may be 7-for-5 or 10-for-8, or something different.

So, you might send 6 dolls and receive 4 in return.  One of your dolls might be kept by the swap host as the usual thank-you gift, and one of your dolls will be donated to the charity.

EVERY SWAP IS DIFFERENT

Though I can post tips like this, every doll swap is different.  Always read the rules carefully, and follow them to the letter.  That will make the swap more fun for everyone, including the swap host and you.

If you have a question, comment, or a suggestion about doll swaps, post it as a comment, below.question mark

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Art Swaps – How the Numbers Work

SwapsWhen you’re participating in art or crafts swaps through an online group or community, the numbers may confuse you.  Here are some tips to help you understand how swaps work.

(These tips apply to swaps exchanged through the postal mail.  For a typical digital swap example, see my article, Artistamps – digital swaps.)

EQUAL-FOR-EQUAL

When a swap is 3-for-3 or 10-for-10 or anything like that, it means you’ll receive the same number of items that you sent.  You’ll send four items and receive four in return, or whatever.

It does not mean that you’ll receive one item from each player.  When hosts organize swaps, they have no idea how many people will play.  So, a 5-for-5 swap means you’ll send five items and receive five in return, even if 150 people are in the swap.

NUMBER-FOR-NUMBER-MINUS-ONE

Many swap hosts figure that organizing swaps is enough work.  They don’t necessarily want to make something for the swap, too.

Those kinds of swaps will be announced as 5-for-4 or 10-for-9, or something like that.  The first number is how many items you’re sending.  The second number is how many items you’ll receive in return.

You’ll send the requested number of items, and the swap host will keep one of them (as a thank-you gift) before sorting the items to send out.

At the present time, most swaps seem to be organized that way.  So, if you sent 10 items but received 9 in return… that’s exactly what you were supposed to receive.

NUMBER-FOR-NUMBER-MINUS-X

Some swaps are organized for fun, but also to benefit a specific group, usually a women’s shelter or a children’s hospital, or something like that.

The charity is always specified in the swap announcement, and a link usually helps you understand why this is an important charity or organization to help.

However, we’re generally careful not to sound like we’re trying to recruit people to join or support the charity.  It’s a fine line, but an important one when the charity is related to a particular religion or political group.

Generally, if you don’t want to contribute one swap item to that charity, you should not participate in the swap.  It’s considered rude to say, “I’d like to swap with members, but that’s all.”

Those swaps may be something like 5-for-4 or 10-for-9, but they may be 7-for-5 or 10-for-8, or something different.

So, you might send 6 items and receive 4 in return.  One of your items might be kept by the swap host as the usual thank-you gift, and one of your items will be donated to charity.

EVERY SWAP IS DIFFERENT

Though I can post tips like this, every swap is different.  Always read the rules carefully, and follow them to the letter.  That will make the swap more fun for everyone, including the swap host and you.

Swaps are great fun, and a wonderful way to meet other artists and see their art in person.  I encourage everyone to get involved in swaps… and to host swaps when you can.

Share and Enjoy !