Community Spotlight: Paper Tiger

Ted Rodney • December 18, 2019

After having received beautifully packaged cards from Cardsphere user Paper Tiger, I encouraged him to share a bit about his process and history making such wonderful envelopes. Here's what he had to say:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with paper.

Before we move on, I’d like to acknowledge the inherent Dwight Schruteishness of that statement-- but I mean it earnestly. And I can actually pinpoint the moment when it began.

It was my sixth birthday and I was sitting across from my mom at our wobbly breakfast table in the dingy, one-bedroom apartment we lived in. My dad had left a couple years earlier and my mom was doing her best to hold our fragile little world together. She had worked too late to bake me a cake and she couldn’t afford to buy one for me— so she put my birthday candles in the chicken pot pie we shared for dinner that night.

After we finished eating, my mom excused herself and returned clutching a small present wrapped in Ninja Turtles wrapping paper. She sat down and slowly slid it across the table with a big grin on her face. I remember trying to unwrap it without ripping through any of the pictures of Donatello because he was my favorite.

Inside the box were 100 business cards. The front of the card had my name and phone number on it next to a green, cartoon brontosaurus. On the back, it said “I am six years old!”

And in my six year-old mind, that was the coolest shit I’d ever seen.

What do I do with them?” I asked.

Well…” my mom said “…you give them to people that you want to be your friend. This way, they can call you on the phone.” My mom later had to refine these instructions when she caught me trying to give one of my cards to our neighbor’s cocker spaniel. I was not a tremendously clever child.

Until that point in my life, I’d never owned anything with my name on it. Those silly little business cards made me feel special because I knew they were made just for me. And in a roundabout way, that’s how I aim to make people feel when they get one of my cards in the mail.

If you’re one of the 500 or so people I’ve traded with since I joined Cardsphere, hopefully you noticed the care and attention I put into packaging your new cards. My goal is to safely and memorably deliver cards to my trade partners across the world. Here’s a bit of a peek into that process.

This is the beginning of the process. Almost everything you see here goes into the packaging I create for every trade make.

I like to use stamps on my packaging— to me, they express a sort of timelessness and add texture to the surface of paper. I also carve most of the stamps I use—the one notable exception being my bird stamp, which I purchased at flea market in Austin shortly after the birth of my daughter, Wren. I use it to seal every envelope I send.

I began carving my own stamps a couple years ago. I write a lot of cards and thank you notes and I thought it’d be really cool to have a signature stamp. I had three of them made for me by different office supply store—and none of them felt right. So I ordered a stamp-making kit off Amazon and, after a half-dozen tries, I finally made something I was happy with.

When I discovered Cardsphere, it gave me an excuse to carve a couple new Magic-related signature stamps.

Blue and black being my favorite color combination, the design I chose to stamp on the front of my jackets was a no-brainer:

I’m constantly thinking up new and interesting details. For instance, after reading a ton of trade notes which specifically request senders not to use Scotch tape, I bought a roll of masking tape. The only problem was that it just looked so drab—so I carved a quick black mana symbol stamp to add an interesting flair.

When I started working on this project—I realized that the one element that didn’t feel right was the postage stamp. So I took a trip to the USPS website to checkout their stamps. I was surprised by the size of their design selection—these specialty stamps don’t cost any more than the average forever stamp

Of course, my priority is that the card arrives safely and in the condition that was specified. That’s why everything I send is double sleeved, placed in a toploader and then I put all that inside of a team bag. I use a bit of double-sided tape to affix the card to the center of the jacket, and it’s ready to send.

Writing this, I realized that the way Magic has managed to weave its way into my life is absolutely astonishing. Through the game, I discovered a community. Through the community, I discovered Cardsphere. And through Cardsphere, I found a way to engage with an entirely different creative outlet.

It’s pretty fantastic when the things you enjoy manage to dovetail into one another.