Swap & Craft Term Glossary

This is a list of common craft and swap terms used by members of Swap-bot.com. They are in alphabetical order. Please add your suggestions for additional terms in the comments section. They will be added to the list promptly.
Addy – Address  
Altered Bottlecap – A new or used bottlecap (typically metal, not plastic) is altered by adding pictures, charms, a hole, seed beads, etc and the findings necessary to turn it into a magnet, necklace, earrings or any other item. The desired outcome is to alter or change the bottlecap into a miniature work of art. 
Altered Matchbox – A store-bought or handmade matchbox that is decorated by painting, stamping, adding ephemera, etc.  Most altered matchbox swaps will specify a matchbox size (32-ct or 250-ct) and a theme. (You can download Rachel’s printable matchbox template here.)
Amigurumi – Japanese art of knitting or crocheting stuffed animals, monsters, characters, etc. in the round.
Angel – Someone who volunteers to send item(s) to a person in a swap who did not receive anything from their assigned partner.
APC – Altered playing card, like an ATC except that you use a poker sized playing card(2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″), as the base. The only other rule in making APCs is that you must leave one of the corner numbers and suit visible.
ATC – Artist trading cards (ATCs) are miniature pieces of art that are traded around the world. Artists create, trade and collect art at organized “swap” events or through the mail, in person or online. The only official rule for ATCs is the size: 2.5″ x 3.5″.  As a general rule, swaps are open to any media, materials or techniques as long as the card fits into a standard trading card sleeve. ATCs are traded, not sold. You may find that individual swaps on Swap Bot have rules as to how the ATC should be created for that particular swap.  Each one is different, so make sure you read the swap description carefully before signing up. There are some artists who choose to sell cards. Cards that are sold are called Art Card Editions and Originals (ACEO) and are often found directly on the artist’s site or on EBay. (Info Link: Strathmore Artist Trading Cards.)

BCC – Within email programs, Bcc stands for “Blind Carbon Copy” and it is an option within email programs for how email can be sent. As a coordinator, when writing an email to all your swap participants using the provided list of everyone’s emails, use the Bcc option. If you put the email addresses of the recipients in the Bcc field (instead of just the To or Cc fields), none of the recipients will be able to see the other participants’ email addresses when they receive the email. It is a way to preserve the swappers’ privacy. You may have to uncover the BCC field in your email program because sometimes it is hidden in a drop down if you don’t use it very often.
Bento – Bento is basically a Japanese lunch box. They can be various sizes, color and patterns. When you see Bento swaps (or wishes), they are usually for Bento Boxes, Supplies & recipies.
Biscornu – Eight-sided pincushions. The word biscornu (sometimes written biscournu) is derived from a French adjective, meaning skewed, quirky, or irregular. (link: Biscornu Basics)\

Brads – Brads are usually small, metal embellishments with two prongs that are inserted into you paper/project. Then the prongs are folded out to keep the brad permanently in place. They were once used as fasteners, but now are used mostly as decorative elements in crafting. They come in every color imaginable, and in many shapes.
Bump – The practice of adding a post to a thread in order to “bump” it to the top of the thread list. You BUMP a thread to move it back to the top of the topic list. Swap-Bot displays only the last 4 or 5 threads that have comments in each section. If you want a topic to come back to the top of the list instead of being buried, you just write BUMP in the comments. It is fine to Bump threads every once in a while, but continuously bumping rude or hurtful forum threads is against the forum rules.

Button Fairy – A hanging ornament usually made of a paper collage “head” with a tail made of buttons on wire. See a tutorial created by redwing480 here.

Charm Square – Usually a 4-inch, 5-inch, or 6-inch square of fabric.
Chunky Book – A handmade book, usually 4-1/2″ x 4″ ( the extra 1/2″ allows for binding), in which the pages are decorated with dimensional (“chunky”) materials, such as beads, charms, buttons, tiles, etc. If your book closes flat, then it’s not a chunky book. In most chunky book swaps you will have multiple partners for which you create the same or similar pages. Here on Swap-bot, you send your pages directly to each of your partners, participants then bind their own books together once they have received all the pages. In other chunky book swaps, you will create an entire chunky book for just one partner, creating all the pages and binding.
Crams – Crams are like friendship sheets or book, but crams are small, like the size of a postcard. The idea (as the name implies) is to “cram” as many names and addresses into the provided space.
DC – Delivery Confirmation. This is a service provided by the USPS to confirm the delivery of a package. It does not require a signature. 
Decos – A deco is similar to a friendship book and there are a wide variety of types.  It is a bound book of pages which are sent around the world.  The person that the book is “for” is usually listed on the cover and when the book becomes full it is sent back to them.  Each person that receives and signs the deco will decorate one page according to the theme of the booklet (if there is one) and put their postal/email address and sign their name. Typically, each entrant in the “deco” must use one full page to express themselves. Glitter, sequins, feathers and other scrapbooking supplies are frequently used in “decos.” Despite the artistic expressions used in these types of friendship books, the basic rules of passing the friendship book to person to person is the same.
DH – Dear Husband

DIY – Do it Yourself. In swaps, these are usually small kits with the supplies needed to try a new craft. A Dotee DIY kit may have enough fabric for one or two small dolls, embellishments and/or buttons, beads, yarn and the like. A bottlecap DIY kit may have one or two bottlecaps, glitter, beads, stickers or pictures and a magnet for the back.
Dotee Dolls –  Small fabric dolls created by Dorothy Christian.
Envie – Envelope
Ephemera – is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. Examples include: bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets,postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. Some swappers are specifically looking for vintage ephemera.
Fat Eighth – Half of a fat quarter of fabric, measuring approximately 11? x 18?.

Fat Quarter -18″ x 22″ piece of fabric.   
Flaker – A swap participant who does not fulfill their end of an organized swap.
Friendship Book (FB) –  A booklet that is passed via the mail from person to person. It includes addresses of all the signers and is intended for the recipient to find new penpals and/or swap partners. It is generally made of a few pages of paper (any size, but usually made to fit in a standard size envelope) stapled together. The cover or front page includes who made the booklet (complete with name and address) and who the booklet was made for (complete with name and address). The rest of the booklet is reserved for the “signers.” The person who signs the last available space then sends the booklet back home to the person the booklet was made for.
Friendship Sheet – When a ‘friendship book’ is only one page (no staples), it’s called a ‘friendship sheet.’ 
Inchie – A work of art, similar to an ATC, that is created on a 1″ x 1″ square background. A variety of mediums may be used as a 1″ x 1″ base, e.g. cardstock, wood, glass, shrink plastic. Embellishments are made of paper, glass, wood, plastic, stickers, pictures, or any medium. 
Kawaii – Japanese for “cute.” It covers a wide variety of items including, but not limited to brands such as: Sanrio, Crux, Q-lia, Kamio, Pool Cool, Cram Cream, etc.
Markdown Syntax – Markdown is the type of code that is you can use on Swap-bot.com to format text and graphics. It is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers that allows you to format text, add links, and add images to Swap-bot. (Learn more here.)
Matchbox Shrine – A type of altered matchbox in which the matchbox is turned into a tiny diorama shrine.

Naked Postcards – A postcard which is sent directly in the mail with a stamp – NOT sent in an envelope. Handmade envelopes can also be described as being sent “naked,” which means they are NOT sent within another protective envelope.
Newbie – New swapper to swap-bot.
OOAK – One of a Kind
PIB – Pay It Back.
PM – Personal Message.
RAK – Random Act of Kindness.
Round Robin – A type of swap in which each participant works on part of an item.  For instance, in an altered book round robin, each swapper may work on one or two pages.  Each participant begins with an item (such as a blank art doll or altered book) and mails it to another swapper, who adds to that item and then mails it to another swapper.  This continues until the item has “made the rounds” (been to each participant).  A master list of names and addresses created by the host determines the order in which the items are to be mailed.  Eventually the person who owns the item will get it back with contributions from each participant.  While the format of Swap-Bot does not allow for this type of swap, round robins can be formed in groups or among members privately.
Shrine – A shrineis a holy or sacred place or item which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. On Swap-bot, users swap mini shrines created in small containers, like matchboxes.

Skinny – A skinny is like an ATC except that it’s bigger – it measures 3″ by 5″.
Slams – A slam is a booklet similar to a deco or friendship book except that each page will have a question on it, and each signer will answer the question.  A slam is made “for” somebody and their information is usually on the cover.  Once the booklet is full it will be sent back to this person. Slams can be themed or regular. Typically they are usually small like a standard friendship book. Often they have a “sign-in” page where you put your label or name, then each page will often contain a question which you answer (i.e. When was the last time you said “I love you”) and the signer would write the appropriate response. At the end there is often a sign-out page as well where it’s dated. Slams have many variations and can be “sign if” slams (you sign only if the statement or question applies to you). These are handled in a number of ways, but most of them become more clear when you have it in-hand.

Spoolies – Small dolls or figurines made out of an empty, wooden spool. Often hand-painted, with a wooden bead for a head.

Sticker Flake – A small, loose, die-cut sticker; not sold on sheets, but instead in little bags.

Sticky –  A (usually important) forum message thread that will be kept at the top of the thread list despite a lack of new replies. Swap-bot Admin are the only ones able to “sticky” public forums threads. Group founders and officers can “sticky” their group’s threads.
Stuffie – A soft toy made from fabric or yarn. These can take on any shape or size, be based on real animals or fantasy “monsters” and creatures. Fabrics often used are cotton, felt, yarn. Stuffies can be sewn, knitted or crocheted.
Tag – A tag is a forum game. One person posts a list of items they would like and a second person to post “tags” them to send one item from their list to the first person. The second person posts a list of items they want and a third person “tags” them. A tag game can go on and on. You can tag again, but usually only after you have sent your item to the person you tagged. It is your responsibility to contact the person you tagged and ask for their address. Mention the name of the tag game in your email and also somewhere on the thing you send so they will know which tag game it is for. You should try to get tags in the mail ASAP. Handmade or specialty items may take longer to create, however, you should let your partner know if it will take longer than 2 weeks or so. It is considered VERY rude to tag a small cost item and ask for items that cost a lot. Usually the OP in the tag game will give an idea of the cost. If you are playing the games, bumping more than once or twice a day is not allowed. If it takes a more than a couple of days and no one tags you, it is polite to add more items or change the ones you want, otherwise if you are holding up the game you might be skipped!
Twinchies – A work of art, similar to an ATC, that is created on a 2″ x 2″ square background. 

Types – Here are the descriptions of the three different swap types on Swap-bot:

  • Type 1 – Electronic – All electronic-only swaps fall under this type. Swaps of email letters or surveys, e-cards, blog links, Etsy favorites, Flickr favorites, digital photography, etc. Email swaps are any swaps that are done over the internet and do not require postage.
  • Type 2 – Flat Mail – Mail swaps that only require one or two postage stamps, like postcards, letters, and other postal mail swaps with little, to no, craft component.
  • Type 3 – Crafts and Packages – Any time-intensive craft swaps or swaps that must be mailed in a package. Most swaps will fall under this type. Anything sent in a box, bubble mailer, or large envelope is a Type 3.

Whimsey Jar – A small decorated jar filled with fun, random objects. Often decorated around a specific theme and filled with items that match that theme. Recycled baby food jars or other small food jars are often used to create whimsey jars. (after being cleaned!)
WTA – Winner Takes All

Zentangle – “Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing.” – from zentangle.com
Zine – A zine is most commonly a small circulation, non-commercial publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock.

101 thoughts on “Swap & Craft Term Glossary

  1. Pingback: Swap-bot Weblog
  2. zentangle is another word i would like to see added to this list. i got a comment on one of my atc ratings that she liked my zentangle! ??? cc

  3. To zentangle is to doodle. Zentangle is simply a name given as trademark/company name for a very old art form.

  4. How about flakers? I kind of know what it means but it would be nice to add to the glossary. Thanks.

  5. I’ve just learned these myself:

    Fat Eighth – Half of a fat quarter, measuring approximately 11″x18″.

    Charm Square – Usually a 4″, 5″, 6″ square of fabric.


  6. Can a slam be done in deco form? If so how would the pages and questions be arranged so that each person can create a page?

  7. i am curious about ‘crams’. i understand the concept, but how does it progress to other people to fill there info on? do you just put it in with other swaps? or are there swaps that you send already started ones?

  8. I think ‘Stationery’ should be added. I was clueless to what they were until I googled it just now. Since my native language is not english, sometimes I get confused with terms and such… 😛

  9. I had to look it up else where, but “whimsy jar” would be a great one since there are quite a few of those swaps around.

  10. Flake (not flaker) has something to do with stickers, but I sure don’t know what. Can anybody define?

  11. What is swap type? I’ve seen type 2 and type 3 – how many types are there and what are they? I can’t seem to find anything about it on the site.

  12. What is a DH? I see people use this term on their profiles and I am assuming it has to do with their husband from the context to which they use it. Anyone care to define for me????

  13. Seems like there’s a lot of questions around “naked” postcards (i.e., stamped and written on, as opposed to being sent in an envelope). Should that be added to the glossary?

  14. I have seen several swaps for #5 envie or a #2 envie, can someone please tell me what size these are? I can’t find it anywhere on here. Maybe these could be added to the list along with other sizes.

  15. nancy I know that a #10 envie is a business sized envelope. I haven’t heard of the sizes you mention.

  16. I was just wondering what an altered journal is. I art journal and I just wanted to know if it was the same kinda thing. Also for the envelope sizes and stuff, jennifer by business evelope do you mean the regular white ones that your bills come in or the brown larger ones.

  17. What about “tip-in” pages?

    The single art journal pages that we swap that can be taped into your current art journal, or binded however you wish.

  18. I noticed on a swap there was something called an x-slip. I’ve looked all over the web and can’t figure out what this is.

  19. How about types of swaps? I am so desperate to find out what they are. :(
    Like type 1 swap or type 3 swap? All of them please. :)


  20. Sariah8, brads are usually small, metal embellishments with two prongs that are inserted into you paper/project & then the prongs are folded out to keep the brad perminently in place. The come in every color imaginable & in flowers, amimals, peace signs almost anything you want.

  21. Is there a page to show what all the different projects look like for all of us “newbies” to put with the terms?
    I’m sorry, I had a CHI and I need visual cues to put with words now sometimes to understand them.

    Also how do you get your ratings?

  22. I so much agree with sunny2000usausa.
    Am a newbie and sometimes the instructions for the swaps are too hard to visualize. There are too many Dos and Dont’s and i as a newbie find it hard and then the Admins scare you with poor ratings if criteria is not met.

    It would be fun to have an example gallery…i do understand each swap would still have its own terms and themes…but at-least for a start.

    Its fun to be here anyways….just a suggestion. Cheers!

  23. I’m a newbie and would appreciate a little more detail in these definitions. For example, in what timeframe does someone become a flaker? Is it related to that email I receive two weeks after the swap’s send by date? How does one become or request an angel? Also, since the list is getting long, there are possible ways to improve its readability:
    1. Split it into two lists – swap-bot and craft terms
    2. Put an indexer widget at the top, with clickable letters going to the first term starting with that letter

  24. A reCAPTCHA is the box with either gibberish letters or two unrelated words on a weird background. It’s a security device to weed out spambots. Just type what you see in the appropriate box. Here’s more info: http://www.captcha.net/

  25. How long should you wait to see if your swap comes to you? I realize several are coming from outside the United States, as I have sent several to other countries, but I wondered if 30 days after the date they were to be mailed is appropriate or 2 weeks, ? thank you.

  26. Could we get a picture of what a dotee doll looks like? The definition is small fabric doll. help?

  27. I agree with previous posters about wanting information on “bags”. Some swaps seem to be looking for bags of things. Is there a standard size? And it looks like you’re supposed to write your name, and possibly other info on the bag and pass it on. Do you get it, take out what you want, add more stuff and send it on, or remove all contents, fill it and send it. I am very confused….

  28. Sticker bags, memo bags, goodie bags, stamp bags, etc. are basically the same thing. You take an envelope and write directions on it. Something like “Take 4 stickers out and add 8 back in. Sign, date, and pass quickly.” You put the address the last signer is to send the bag back to. It’s kinda like friendship books for STUFF. When you get one, you follow the directions on the bag, sign it, I usually date it, and pass it along to another swapper soon. The last signer, usually the 5th or so, sends it home to the owner. I have examples of sticker bags in my flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54707332@N08/sets/72157625793221483/with/5392947475/

  29. I would also like to see a photo encyclopedia of examples of these terms – the allowable swap items especially. I have never heard of many of these things, as a complete newbie to this site.

    Thanks much!

    D :)

  30. I think you need to also include LPW(Last post wins) and WTA(Winner take all) Lots of people don’t seem to understand them or know what they mean.

    I am trying to explain it to someone, i am not sure if they are understanding it or not… there are other terms i have seen frequently as well but cannot seem to figure out what they are at the moment to make a comment on them just yet…

  31. What stores can I find ‘deco tape’ at? I’ve so far been unable to find any in my area (Portland, OR- USA). Thanks! :)

  32. Won’t let me log in, Please E-mail me & let me know! Thanks! Tryed to E-mail Rachael & it wouldn’t let me do that also.

  33. When you “block” a person…what does that mean? Can you not see that person anymore…what about them? Please someone explain this. Thanks.

  34. NIP is new in package

    LB means letterbox where I come from but here it might mean label bag

  35. I think “all ATCs must include a label on the back” should be added if that is a rule because I didn’t know it was a rule until other swappers called me out on it.

  36. @lillianmarie, a “rolo” is simply a Rolodex card, usually altered in some way and may or may not be previously used – depending on the swap.

  37. This Glossary is a Godsend!! Many thanks

    Please help, what is a Pininterest? (Type 1 electronic swap) it says 25 pins (extra pins for hearts) on a board?? I’d love to join this swap because its about Zombies :)

  38. What is zazzle? New here and did not find it in the glossary yet read it often.

  39. What is the official definition of “store bought postcards”, in regards to postcards ordered from companies online……

  40. What is “sticker slapping” exactly? Is it just a sticker on a note sheet? Or a bunch of stickers put on an ATC ? I like using stickers with quotes on them instead of printing sayings because I don’t have a printer. Would it be considered “sticker slapping” if I painted an ATC then put a sticker quote in the middle then decorated the around it with other materials?

  41. Sorry, maybe it’s a stupid question, but… So ATC card means that for example I can buy a paper, cut, paint on it or whatever and it’s ok? Or it just I find picture on the internet print it and its ATC?

  42. I would have a bit more to the ATC description: thickness and back. There is also a thickness part to the ATC. If it is so thin or flimsy that when you hold it at the bottom and blow on it, it flops over, it is too thin. (It should also not be so thick and chucky that it can not fit into a sleeve (“penny sleeves” for trading cards or the 3×3 plastic sheet protectors that go in binders) unless the swap says that is OK. An ATC can be thick enough that the post office charges $0.20 extra but still fit in a sleeve. One can do digital collage work – or print our own photography for an ATC but you may not copy and print someone else’s work. The artist in ATC is you. (ignoring the theft and copyright issues of printing out someone elses’ work.) Which brings us to the back of the card – it can be partly decorated but rarely is, the back shoudl have at least a signature &/or your swap-name (or name if not swapping on a particular site). Many also have a title, date, and location (state, province o&/or country) created. Some list the title of the swap it was made for, and some the medium or techniques used.

  43. Painting an ATC then adding a sticker quote with other decorations around is not sticker slapping. Sticker slapping is just sticking a bunch of stickers on an ATC – little effort or no artistic layout. (If it looks like someone’s 3 year old niece or nephew had some fun with stickers, it’s “slapping”. If someone’s nice card uses a sticker or a few, its fine unless the swap says no stickers, or 100% hand-drawn…) Nothing wrong with quote stickers.

  44. I’m interested in joining more postcard swaps. What is an Ad Postcard? Are they something we just recycle from junk mail, and put a stamp and address label on, and send on to your partner?

  45. Hello,
    i which to make good and nice gifts swap, handmades and others with everydoby part of the world. I’m from west africa Togo if you like with full of your heart ok?
    Your friend

  46. Question from a Newbie….when you say a naked card is written and stamped does “written” mean a note or just address? should you include a note or not? Thanks.

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