On Sunday afternoon of Convention 2008, after the last classes were finished, an unusual group of origami enthusiasts met in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater of the Fashion Institute of Design. They were there to swap Origami Artist Trading Cards!

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are miniature works of art. The idea seems to have begun in 1997 by Zurich artist M. V˛nçi Stirnemann and is now an international phenomenon. The only "rule" for this artwork is that the size of the cards must be 2.5" x 3.5", which are the same dimensions for sport trading cards such as Baseball Cards. But, of course, we, as origami enthusiasts, have made the art form our own by using it as platform for our folded paper creations.

In 2006 a group of about 15 folders decided to get together for the first time during the OrigamiUSA Convention and swap ATCs. Our "origami rule" was only that the theme of the card would be origami. That meant that images of origami were allowed as well as actual models. In 2007 the group grew to about 50 folders and again, anything about the concept of origami was allowed. For the 2008 trade, it was decided that something on or of the card itself actually had to be folded.

There was an amazing 2,550 cards that were traded in just about an hour and a half! Of the 62 traders who participated, some did multiple sets of cards so there ended up being 89 sets containing either 25 or 50 ATCs. Some of the sets consisted of ATCs of an identical design, some of them were thematic and others had many different designs, which lead to an incredible diversity in style.

This was a truly international event. There were 13 traders from a group in Brazil and individual traders from Italy, India and Colombia. Those who were unable to attend the convention participated remotely by mailing their cards ahead of time.

The real challenge was organizing the swap so each person received one card in trade for every card they made and without duplicates. The ATCs were laid out according to numbers that had been assigned to each set of cards in advance. The traders who were present went about collecting cards for themselves and then collecting the sets for the remote traders. It was truly a group effort to get all the cards distributed and it moved along like a well-choreographed ballet. There were a few mistakes to correct but, for the most part, it worked out well.

All in all, the ATCs were absolutely fabulous and everyone seemed very pleased with the quality, variety and artistry of the cards. And, there's already talk about next year's trade! If you think you might be interested in participating in the trade in 2009, please contact MaryAnn Scheblein-Dawson (Subject: Origami ATCs 2009) for more information and details.

Photos of the 2008 ATCs may be viewed at: http://origamiatcs.shutterfly.com The password is: OrigamiUSA (The password is case sensitive.) Photos from the 2006 & 2007 trades can also be found there.