Making my First Artist Trading Block (ATB)

Making my First Artist Trading Block (ATB)
Making my First Artist Trading Block (ATB)

In the last few months I’ve been fascinated with the up and coming trend of Artist Trading Blocks (ATBs). Basically, the ATB take the Artist Trading Card (ATC) into three dimensions. While I have always loved seeing the amazing ATCs that my instafriends created, I never jumped on the bandwagon. However, something about the added dimension of the ATB. has made this trend irresistable.

One night during a typical netflix-while-crafting-binge, I watched the 1996 Jane Austen movie Emma, starring Gywneth Paltrow. A delightful quote captured my heart so much so that I was compelled to use it for my first forray into the ATB world.

Writing in her diary about her dismay over the possibility of Mr. Kinghtley loving Harriet rather than herself, Emma said:

“Dear Diary, Today I tried not to think about Mr. Knightly. I tried not to think about him when I discussed the menu with Cook… I tried not to think about him in the garden where I thrice plucked the petals off a daisy to acertain his feelings for Harriet.
I don’t think we should keep daisies in the garden, they really are a drab little flower.”


This whimsical line made me laugh out loud. To me, anything that invokes laughter and delight  is precious. As a result, my ATB,  Daisies, a Drab little Flower, playfully reflects this line from Emma. The black and white exterior, containing daisies made with pages from Austen’s Emma, represents the bleak outlook view poor Emma has when anticipating that Mr. Knightley loves Harriet. It also reflects the banality of Emma’s everyday life and the shallow black and white perspective she has in her early matchmaking, where she views matchmaking soley in terms of financial settlements and social ambition.



The inside of the box tells a different story. When one opens the box, it explodes in a riot of colors. The garden is alive with butterflies and bees. This represents both Emma’s change of perspective after learning that Mr. Kinghtley loves her and her growth into a better rounded character who can see beyond social position.

To be perfectly candid, while the daisy quotation was used in the movie, Jane Austen did not actually pen it. After some deliberation I decided if the quote is authentic sounding enough for a major motion picture, then it could certainly be good enough for me.

If you are interested in learning more about ATBs, make sure you visit and prepare to be amazed.


15 Responses »

  1. I love the Jane Austen theme Betsy so very cool and the pop up details are absolutely delightful! Looks like you put that Mod Podge to work once it FINALLY arrived 🙂


    • Thank you so much Amy, I am honored to be included with so many gifted artists. I definitely learned some things from this first one. For example, it would be worth it to buy the sizzix die block instead of making it from Balsa wood. I look forward to making more and following your blog. – Betsy P.S. You must know that like any serious crafter, I already had a impressive supply of Mod Podge. But believe me, it will be put to good use!

  2. Pingback: Featured Artist on the Block : Betsy Skagen | The Artists on the Block

  3. Your ATB is fantastic, I love your use of the book pages and the quote, whether written or not, is just perfect. The explosion inside is an absolute delight. Well done for being featured at The Artists on the Block! Anne x

    • Thank you kindly Anne. I was honored to be featured since there are so many incredibly talented artists contributing to the Artists on the Block. I hope your week is creative and sunny.-Betsy

    • Jenny, that’s a great! I would have to destroy a lot of books though. I love altering books, but it is always a little painful ripping out the pages–ha ha. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  4. WOW! This is absolutely AMAZING!!!!! How did you get the dimension on those flowers? Today is my first visit to your blog and I am SO INSPIRED by your inspiration of a movie quote!!! Absolutely GENIUS!!! Will be stopping by often!!!!

    • skrappergirl, Oh my goodness, I am blushing. And I better get to work on another project! Thank you very much. For the daisies I just picked a size I liked and then, since I stink at drawing, I found a free line drawing on the web and traced it onto the grungeboard and cardstock. I’m glad you will be stopping by again 🙂

  5. Love the story behind the ATB! Thanks for posting and sharing our vision and please feel free to let us know when you create more- we’d love to feature additional blocks! Eileen Hull- die designer 🙂

    • Eileen, Thank you so much. I’m honored you stopped by I will definitely be completing more ATBs, especially since I had a mixed media magazine contact me about writing a tutorial. I’m also going to do my best to get on your design team. Keep finding those broken Girl Scout cookies 😉 – Betsy

  6. This is the first I’ve heard of the ATB’s. Your creation is wonderful. I really like the way you have crafted this, seemingly plain, box which explodes is vibrant color when opened. Looks as though I am not the only person that has enjoyed your creation 😀


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