So, do you get the feeling that Letterboxer Trading Cards, LTCs, are the poor stepchild of the letterboxing hobby? I have watched as some avid carvers and 'boxers completely shun this new-comer to the party...and why? It would seem that creating cards instead of hiding stamps in containers in the wild is just one step outside the acceptable parameters.
I agree that for 'boxing purists, anything outside of finding letterboxes hidden in some remote location after a long hike to get there simply does not qualify to bear the title of 'letterbox'. I respect their views, to be sure. But, are they missing another wonderful part of our hobby?
I have planted quite a few traditional letterboxes during my years as a letterboxer. Finding just the perfect planting spot, carving an appropriate stamp and crafting an engaging clue is a wonderful challenge that I happily took on. I have carved and 'set loose' over a hundred hitchhiker letterboxes to add to the traditional fun. After a while, though, I discovered that I enjoyed the carving part of the endeavor much more than the rest. That's when I discovered postal letterboxing.
I participated in postal letterboxing for a number of years. Yes, letterboxes sent though the mail are considered letterboxes - you just happen to have the same clue for all of them - "look inside your mailbox". As someone who loves the challenge of carving and creating logbooks, this was a perfect extension of traditional letterboxing for me. Unfortunately, the more I got involved the more expensive it became. I was beginning to really feel the financial pinch when LTCs broke onto the scene.
I was privileged to be a member of the first 'official' LTC swap, called the Maiden Voyage. At that point, no one really knew if this 'trading card thing' was going to catch on, and I remember thinking the title of the swap was a bit ambitious on the part of the swap host, Mama Cache. As I struggled through designing that first card, and then the production, I have to admit I didn't really see the draw. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was already hooked.
According to my AQ logbook, I've created 200 different LTCs - can that be true?? So, what is it that keeps me signing up for these trading card swaps?
- I think the thing I like the most about LTCs is that I get to let my imagination run wild with possibilities - sometimes with a theme, sometimes without, always brainstorming and thinking of new possibilities. Making LTCs is a creative process that I need in my life, no doubt.
- I get to carve images that I love, and I get to keep the stamps! No more hiding them out on a trail somewhere or mailing them off, not sure if I will ever see them again. I know, how selfish of me. I can lend or give them away to other boxers, or use them for other projects. I confess - I love my stamp collection.
- I love getting to shop all the cool scrapbooking stores for interesting and fun doo-dads, embellishments and paper. You just don't get to do that with traditional 'boxing.
- Like postal letterboxing, trading LTCs allows you get to know others in a way traditional 'boxing just doesn't afford. I have never met a more welcoming, compassionate, forgiving, friendly and accepting group of people in my life...hands down. Don't misunderstand; I hold dear the friendships I've made 'boxing traditionally, it just that it is such a smaller number of souls.
- I get to receive and keep artwork from all over the country. I have been awed, inspired and touched by the art and creativity I have received. And the hand-carved stamps that grace each and every LTC is lovingly hand-stamped, colored and embellished just as the artist intended, by the artist themselves...I like that.
- On a practical level, trading LTCs costs quite a bit less than postal letterboxing. I can send and receive about 5 hand-crafted artistic gems for about 44 cents. The average postal letterbox costs around $1.50 - $2 to mail...that's $15 - $20 for a postal ring of 10 participants. The cost savings has saved my crafting budget, for sure.