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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Interview with LaWendula of Woven Letters

Swapping is an International affair and today we meet one of our international hostesses! You can visit her blog and the Paper Swappers flickr group to find out more about the swaps she hosts.

SwapDex: Tell us a bit about you.

LaWendula: I'm 43 years old and live in Northern Germany in a little house on land. I've got a daughter, 8. I am an artist for wool and felt, but I also make journals, collages (digital also), write poetry and I'm trying all kinds of new things.

SD: How long have you been swapping? How did you first learn about swapping, and what made you decide to start? Do you remember your first one?

LW: I am really a newbie to swaps! I have never made a swap before I started my own project. It was born just out of the simple thought, that so many artists (esp. those that make collages, altered books, journals and mixed media art) have all kinds of papers and that it would be nice to trade, to share and exchange. And I thought: this is easy: a paper swap, even non-artists can join us, everyone can. It’s not so expensive (except for shipping costs), it’s fun and it does not take much time. And people love it! It also brings them together, it’s also about making new friends, linking blogs, inspire each other, share other things too, like ATCs etc..
The first paper swap was on October, 15, 2009. We were 47 people from 12 different countries.

SD: What is your range of swapping? Do you stick to swaps hosted by people you know or are you likely to swap with anyone, anytime?

LW: I'm just sticking to my project in the moment. It takes more time than I thought it would and it's also much more fun than I thought it will be.
And I want to make more projects with the same kind of background, papers and connecting people.

SD: Do you swap with any organized groups like yahoo groups, flickr, groups on swap-bot, other message boards, etc? Why or why not?

LW: I've just started, let's see, what the future brings.

SD: What's your favorite swap you've ever been in or hosted?

LW: I am really excited about the actual one, the crazy swap, where everyone should gather all kinds of papers very quickly and with a new „artful“ look on things. There are so many wonderful papers all around us, think of the bags from the green groceries or a paper napkin or the paper for wrapping flowers etc.. I think this was so much fun for the people. And they were very brave, because they had to sign in, not knowing what it will be!

SD: What do you do to make your packages special?

LW: You mean, when I send something out? Nothing, I just let it flow. Oh, one thing, as a wool artist, I always add some homespun yarn!

SD: Do you have a good story about hosting or participating in a swap?

LW: It really drives me to tears when I see how generous people are! Each and everyone. There are some difficulties some times, some people do not show up and because everyone is needed, it's a bit tricky then, but I worked it out every time (if one has no partner in the end, I will cover up for it and send out things to 2 people).
Two stories were lovely: My first swap partner was Jacky from Australia and she send me also a little handmade owl as a gift, which both my daughter and I love very much. On my daughter's 8th birthday, Jacky surprised her with a little owl of her own. And we both have now a lovely friend in downunder!
Another story I love to tell is about Seth, my swap partner on the swap #3, the card swap. I once had special astrology oracle cards, that was about 15 years ago, I lost them somewhere and never thought of them again. Recently I saw them somewhere in the www and thought: Oh yes, you must buy these beautiful cards again some day. But as it is, it went out of my mind again. And I told nobody about it! And when Seth's package arrived, I was very very happy to find just THESE cards inside it (besides so many other treasures). A wonderful coincidence!

SD: What do you think is the most challenging part of hosting a swap? Any advice for someone who is thinking about hosting a swap?

LW: The challenge is, that you must have so many things in mind. In a kind of swap like mine, where everyone is paired with a certain someone, you must have people you can rely on, otherwise it's disappointing. In my case I also have many countries and I just try to pair everybody in that way, that he/she gets someone from another country, because this will be more exciting. But naturally there are always too many people from the states! :)
And I am also looking on: who might like the other's style. I don’t want to connect always the same groups of artists, but look out, that everyone can also make new contacts.
Difficulties are also: people signing up twice under two different names or the e-mails went into the spam folder, because they wrote "swap partner"; as a title ;) Or they don't leave an e-mail address.
But it's all working out and getting better all the time.

My advice: don't make it too expensive, please think about the shipping costs in other countries. We in Germany have very high shipping costs. So sending an ATC or tag to 10 different adresses would cost me $22! As we artists are no millionairs in most cases, I found it better to cut this down to 3 or 5 adresses.
Another advice: don't make too many rules, people will forget them and then there will be chaos. And rules are against a free creative flow.
Therefor my swaps have just a topic like "cards", "tags&", "the alphabet"; etc., but you are totally free to do whatever you want with that theme and also add other papers. You can also add fabric, buttons, beads, strings, stickers, labels etc.. No rights or wrongs, just fun.

SD: Any exciting plans for the near future? Swaps, projects, new products?

Yes, yes, yes. The in-progress swap is "The Collage Box". People signed in and I sent out a box with 144 (12x12) snippets and cut offs for making collages. Every participant will take out 12 pieces and add 12 from his own papers/snippets and send it on to the next one on the list. At last the box will return to me. Everyone will make a collage then, using the 12 pieces and post about it.

I'm also planning other internet art projects, my main topic is "connection". My first project was "One tribe-one heart", 12 bags from 8 countries filled with things and symbols from 12 people from Iceland to Australia are hanging in my tree as a steady prayer for world peace and deeper understanding.
I think www is all about connecting people and I wish that this is expressed in my swaps and art projects.

SD: You've got the right idea there, LaWendula! The Internet, very much just like swapping, is all about connections between people and building those connections. And that's what I love too! Thanks for chatting with us!

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