Welcome to the Stamping University: Card Inspiration series. Every day we are bombarded with ideas that inspire us to create. How do I focus to get the ideas to make a card/project when I have a mental block?  In an attempt to demystify the Inspiration Process I have created a  3-Part STAMPING UNIVERSITY: Card Inspiration Process series. You are now in Part 3. Here I will share some advanced inspiration sources like hosted Challenges, Blog Hops and Swaps. 

Part 1: Non-Internet Inspiration Sources (Click here to read Stamping University: Card Inspiration Part 1)

In Inspiration Part 1, we started your creative inspiration with some easy sources that you have on-hand. If you would like a current Stampin’ Up! catalog, please contact me.

Part 2: Internet Inspiration Sources (Click here to read Stamping University: Card Inspiration Part 2)

In Inspiration Part 2, we explored how I use Google (Search Engine), Facebook and Pinterest. And a bonus path to finding awesome ideas on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter from Stampin’ Up!

Part 3: Targeted Inspiration (Stamping University: Card Inspiration Part 3)

  1. Challenges
  2. Blog Hops
  3. Swaps

In Inspiration Part 3 I will help you find inspiration from hosted Challenges, Blog Hops and swapping with fellow enthusiasts.

Focusing your inspiration with hosted Challenges, Blog Hops and Swaps.


  • Global Design Project: The wonderful designers on this team are active Stampin’ Up! Demonstrators from all around the globe. They host weekly Challenges. Each week there is a new challenge based on either a color combination, a sketch, theme or CASEing the Designer. This is a sample of a sketch that starts off the Global Design Challenge. 

  • Freshly Made Sketches: This is a challenge for clean-lined creations but unlike Clean and Simple challenges, they encourage lots of detail and embellishments as long as your card maintains a “clean” look. That means no distressing or torn edges but rather try to create with lots of “white space” and clean edges. They maintain a large library of past sketches that you can use anytime to spark your creativity and inspire your awesomeness to surface. Here is a sample of the challenge sketch from Freshly Made Sketches.

There are so many more Challenges. Some are weekly challenges like those listed above or onetime challenges. There are color challenges, sketch challenges, theme challenges and media challenges. You can find more by using a search engine or sending out a query on the many Stampin’ Up! dedicated Facebook pages.


What is a Blog Hop? Blog hops are online networking events hosted by a variety of blogging communities. Their main goal is to connect bloggers in a specific niche, with a secondary goal of sharing readerships with those other bloggers. How do you find a Blog Hop? How do I find a Blog Hop? Here is where Google Search comes in to help us. Search for ‘Blog Hop + Stampin’ Up!’. Some of my favorite Blog Hops are 


This is where you get to share your talent. We had SWAPs in Girl Scouts where we traded our little creative objects and I LOVED it. So much imagination is sparked by seeing and touching a card sample. It’s like there is creative energy flowing and I can harness it as inspiration.

  • What is a Stampin’ Up! Card Swap?

A card swap is where a group of stampers come together to trade cards with each other. Each stamper makes a set number of cards of one design then trades their cards with other stampers to receive a wide variety of cards in return.

  • Benefits of Participating in a Card Swap

There are quite a few benefits of joining an ongoing card swap or just doing them occasionally. The biggest benefit is being able to make one card design and getting several new designs in return. Many stampers use these swap cards for inspiration for upcoming classes or ideas for personal projects. Receiving a variety of cards may also give a stamper ideas of new techniques they may not be familiar with, and is a great way to make new stamping friends by finding others with similar skills and interests.

  • Organized vs. Unorganized Cards Swaps

Card swaps can be organized or unorganized. In an organized or formal card swap you most likely need to sign up in advance and follow certain rules. Unorganized swaps, sometimes referred to informal or general swaps, also sometimes follow certain rules but are most often found at large conferences. For a general swap you may create a bunch of one design or a few designs and hold your cards up as you walk the halls between sessions. Someone may stop you and ask to swap or you may stop someone at lunch or at random to swap. General swaps can be more challenging for introverts as it can force them out of their comfort zones, but can also be very rewarding. Some general swaps suggest only trading card fronts so be sure you understand what is expected if you plan on participating.

  • In Person vs. Online Card Swaps

You will find card swaps both in-person and online. In-person card swaps are most commonly found at classes, team meetings and larger conferences or events. These swaps are obviously personal in nature and you can better meet and talk with stampers about their designs. Some stampers enjoy the personal interaction of trading in person. Many Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and other crafters have started online card swaps in recent years where swaps are organized online. Cards are usually mailed to the organizer by a certain date where they are sorted and distributed to the other participants. Many online swaps charge a small fee to cover shipping expenses. Online swaps can be a good way to get a variety of designs from people who you don’t normally interact with in person.

  • Card Swaps Usually Have Certain Rules

Each card swap is organized differently and they all have certain rules that need to be followed. There may be specific design rules such as all cards that can only feature current Stampin’ Up! products or you need to use a certain number of layers or embellishments. Other swaps may have a theme that dictates what you should create, such as all the cards should be made using products from a certain catalog or they need to be all “Thank You” or “Christmas” themed. Most swaps don’t require you to include envelopes, but many put their cards in clear envelopes for added protection. It isn’t fun to receive or pass out a torn up or tattered card.

  • Tips for Effective Card Swapping

Here are a few tips to make your swapping successful without unnecessary stress.

  1. Make it simple and easy to duplicate. Some stampers will show all their skills by creating incredible cards but it is not efficient to spend 30 minutes making each card unless you are participating in a “fancy” swap. Recipients of your ‘over the top’ many-layered cards may be impressed but will be less likely to recreate your design if it is too complex and time-consuming. Since many stampers do card swaps tp garner ideas for future classes, making simple and cute cards that can be easily recreated is usually the best way to go.
  2. Trade with everyone. Someone will eventually want to trade cards with you that you don’t like their card. Remember to be polite and trade with them anyway. You should be happy that someone wants to trade with you, and you never know how you may end up using their card in the future. Everyone has to start somewhere. I look back at my first cards and chuckle. 15 years ago, these cards were works of art worthy of a frame. I still like them but they may not have been SWAP worthy to some.
  3. While the swap is still fresh in your head, set aside the cards that you really like and determine how you can use that design or a modified version for your upcoming card class or personal project. For the rest of the cards decide how you can put them to good use. The last thing you want to do is have an overflowing box of old swap cards collecting dust. I donate cards that I can’t use to nursing homes on a regular basis.
  4. Compliment the original creator if you really like a card you received. There is nothing better than receiving a nice email or social media message from someone saying they received your swap card and love it! Make sure you put your business card or your contact details on a sticky note in your swap card so others will be able to contact you too. Go ahead and tell them if you are going to CASE their card for a class (or blog). I get a little tingly when someone tells me that they are going to CASE my card. It’s a ‘WOW someone likes it as much as me’ moment.
  5. Take pride in your cards. Don’t wait until the last minute to slap your swap cards together. Your cards don’t have to take 30 minutes each to make but they should be high quality and be a good representation of you as a stamper. Would you be happy receiving your own cards at a swap?


This is only the tip of the creative iceberg. Don’t be afraid to get inspired and then share your inspiration.


During the month of October 2019, I am hosting an Artist Trading Card (ATC) Swap (Click here to learn more about ATCs).

Check back on October 1 for the ATC SWAP Guidelines!

Placing an order today?   If you are placing an order for $150 or more, I want you to enjoy all of the Host Rewards you have earned.  If your order is less than $150, Please add the Host Code for the month when prompted. I use the accumulated Stampin’ Rewards to purchase gifts for my customers and team.


Thank you! If you do not currently have a Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator, I would love to work with you. Contact me.

Do Something Creative Every Day,