Not all creative classes include artist trades, so when I attended my first Art Is You retreat last year (2013) in Stamford, Connecticut I was pleasantly surprised by the treasures. I equate these trades to a sort of party favor between artists. The first night I went back to my room and quickly McGuyvered up what I could with what I had with me. I assembled packets of assorted collage papers which included a few pieces of dictionary pages, maps, paper I had painted myself and they were wrapped in a piece of deli paper (also great for collage) and sealed each packet with some washi tape and my business card. It wasn't stellar, but for a last minute idea I thought it was acceptable.
This year the idea is to exchange charms (link to the website). So I watched a video or two by Lesley Venable giving some ideas and suggestions on how to make charms. I have explored different materials and techniques. And I am really digging working with metal and a hammer. All of my practice pieces will be included in the swap, making them unique to my "final" product.
Here is the first part of the process for the design I have come up with for the swap.