Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Inspires Me

Betsy Edwards asked me this question on my Facebook page. "What inspires you?" I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind was - a paycheck. Then came the self imposed guilt trip. I really, really, really love what I do and I would still do it even there wasn't a paycheck - some of it anyway. I've always been a crafter and no doubt, always will be. It's just part of who I am and I feel so blessed that I'm involved in industry where I've been able to develop a business around what I love to do. It wasn't easy, like most designers I gave away more than I was ever paid for, but I always believed that if "you cast bread your bread onto the waters, it will come back buttered" and sometimes it will even have jam on it! I never really understood the "bread on water" analogy, since bread sinks and gets soggy in water, but let's not split hairs at this point..............

I've been giving Betsy's question a lot of thought. Creating professionally (meaning getting paid for projects), does affect creativity. Now I create to sell a product. "Sell" may be a four-letter word, but let's face it, buying and selling is what makes the world go round. Nothing happens unless someone, somewhere, sells something. That's reality. Before I designed "professionally" I created things for fun, now it's for fun and profit. I don't mean to sound mercernary, but that's the fact of the matter. The fun part is still the most important however. Now I see creativity as a challenge to create a project other people will want to make, but....... it has to use product A, B & C and sometimes even D. And there are rules - well, not so much any more, so, for example, when scrapbooking first became popular I used all kinds of things on my pages, only to find out that this was even more than a "no, no". Was it acid free? No. Was it archival? No, then how could I do such a thing.......... Thanks goodness that - albeit 10 years later - new designers have changed "the rules" and we're now allowed to be creative. So I can pull out my paints and old supplies and re-discover what inspires me! Thanks Betsy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Life in the Craft Lane

If you checked my blog earlier, you'll notice I've changed the title. Not really sure why, except that I started to write a book about 15 years ago, entitled - you guessed it - "Life in the Craft Lane" by Designing Women. Designers had so many funny stories to share, I had thought it would be fun to write them all down and create a book for SCD members. For those of you, who may be new to the Arts & Crafts industry, SCD was the Society of Craft Designers. We got together once a year to learn, share, network and generally have a great time. The industry has changed a lot since then but the influence SCD members had on the industry is still apparent today. Anyway, I originally thought "The Creative Sides of Life" sounded kinda trendy especially since creativity can be so many things - gardening, cooking, decorating, etc and I love doing it all, but.......... when all said and done, I'm a crafter first and foremost and I think the new title reflects that. For a while anyway - who knows what it will be next month!!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letterpress Printing

I've been seeing quite a number of articles about Letterpress printing lately. I have to admit that when I saw the letterpress system at the Quickutz booth at CHA, my first question to self was, "why would I want a letterpress system when I can print anything on my computer?" Then I read an article by Joanne Fink in the Design Notes section of the May/June issue of Greetings etc where she defined Letterpress printing as an "affordable luxury". Joanne went on to say, "Letterpress printing, which makes a deep impression in the paper, provides a unique, almost three-dimensional appearance - adding appeal and value to numerous types of stationery-related merchandise." Joanne seems to have answered my question perfectly. Invitations, etc printed on the computer look as if they've been printed on the computer. Although we love to be creative and make things ourselves, we still strive for elegance, excellence and quality. We don't necessarily want the items we create to look as if we've made them. As the paper crafting industry continues to develop, we will continue to look for a certain amount of uniqueness in our creativity even if it means reverting to techniques developed in the 15th century.

Quickutz's Letterpress system is designed to work with the Epic 6 die cutting machine. For more information, availability, etc check it out at their website,

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Or a week, or a month, or a whole generation! It's unbelievable how much the Arts & Crafts Industry has changed over the past 15 years, or maybe not (unbelievable) since it is a creative industry after all. We've seen trends come and go, then come again - beading for example. Some trends are starting to make a comeback - wearables - and some have disappeared altogether. This was really apparent at the recent CHA show. I've been home a week now and had a little time to go thru some notes and photos again. As I said earlier, there was definitely more vintage and not a lot of digital, in fact I really don't remember seeing any digital at all.

I missed a couple of things in my initial post that are worth mentioning. Marvy Uchida has some new very, very big punches with 5 or 6 shapes on them. They are great for card making and easy to use, since it's a lever punch. Unibind has a wide variety of small albums that are just perfect for gift giving! They are sized for standard photographs, 4" x 6", so it's easy to make one in minutes. Sandy Lion has always done a tremendous job with licensed characters, but this time they really outdid themselves with 3-D papers! Just like the books and movies, when you view them thru special glasses the characters jump out at you, but the pages look fine without glasses. I'm just waiting for a company to come up with a 3-D camera, or at least software to turn digital photos into 3-D. I have an old 3-D viewer that my grandparents owned. I loved to pull it out and look through all the special photos they had every time I went to visit. My children had one too (about 25 years or so ago) and just loved it. Donna Smiley at 7 Gypsies always does such a wonderful job finding cool products for her company and, of course Ranger had new products to share. All in all though I didn't see a whole lot of innovation at this show, just new ideas that are really old, rediscovered ones in a different dress. It's all about presentation, and, of course, if you haven't been around as long as I have, some of the ideas and products really are new! I just LOVE the amazing creativity of it all!

The next CHA show will be in Anaheim towards the end of January. I'm already looking forward to it and wondering what will be new and exciting. In the meantime, give something different a whirl and ENJOY!!!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Scrapbook Memories Films Segments at CHA

We taped segments for a new series of Scrapbook Memories at the CHA trade show in Orlando last week. It was a 3 day show and we spent the last day filming. We chose the last day, since film crews inevitably draw a crowd and the last day is usually less busy, making it easier for us to get from booth to booth. Here's the sign from the crew's equipment cart and Ivy and Diane making adjustments to their camera angles, etc.

We have a new guest host for this series, Julie Fei Fan Balzer. You may remember that Julie presented projects for Sakura on the last series and you'll be seeing her again on the series which will start to air in September. Julie will be hosting "Artist to Artist" segments for us, the first of which we taped at the show. Her special guests include Claudine Hellmuth, Suze Weinberg and Mou Saha.

Julie's projects have always had a fun element, and as you get to know her, you'll understand why. Living in New York, in Times Square no less, Julie is one of those amazingly talented, artsy designers I so admire. Her own designs as well as the Artist to Artist segments will bring a new element of creativity to the show. In the meantime you can check out her blog at for an up close and personal look.

Our first stop was at Hampton Art where Melodee Langworthy showed us how to use tags to make a quick and easy mini album for everyday photos, or special occasions. It never ceases to amaze me how versatile clear stamps can be. Melodee also showed us a new product that looks like nail polish, but is used to add a little sparkle to stamped images.

For our next segment Suzie Gurzi showed us how easy it is to create 12" x 12" pages in minutes using coordinating paper pads and embellishments at Me And My Big Ideas. This is the company known originally for their stick figure kids. You'll be happy to know - they're back!!! You'll just love the papers in their themed paper pads - there are transparent overlays, flocked and foiled papers and everything coordinates. Awesome!

Next stop was the Flower Soft booth. This is such a great product. It’s totally unique - nothing else like it anywhere. Flower Soft is a British company (not that I’m biased or anything) that was founded by Susan Balfour. Noreen McKie showed us how to use Flower Soft to "sprinkle a little imagination" on our projects. Susan and Noreen are from Newcastle, which is even further North than from where I was born, so when you see the segment you’ll notice her accent is a lot thicker than mine. You'll get to see their colored sprinkles at work on the show, but they also had white sprinkles, which is new this year. It looks like snow and I can hardly wait to use it on some Christmas projects I'll be working on in a couple of months or so. Flower Soft products are readily available in the US. Their website is: One important thing to mention is that Flower Soft sprinkles only work with a quality PVC glue. Their own brand is available, or they recommend Aleene's.

What can I say about the Doodlebugs booth...... I am drawn to it each show, because it is such a fun and happy place. Their product line is always new and fresh, but they have always maintained the "Doodlebug" look by maintaining their signature colors. I talked with Cynthia Sandoval about how she was using their paper line for everyday home dec items throughout the house. I wish you all could see what she has accomplished, but here are some photos to whet your appetite starting, appropriately enough, with the kitchen............

Liz Hicks showed us how to use Glimmer Mist, Glimmer Chips and Glimmer Screens with coordinating stamps at the Tattered Angels booth. You can find lots of information about their products and how to use them at their website, and there are more photos of their booth in my previous post below.

We also taped segments at the Sizzix and Spellbinders booths; you can find photos in my previous post below.

All in all it was a great show. The filming went well and you'll be able to see the results in 2010. Filming Scrapbook Memories is always fun. We have wonderful guests with a great variety of ideas, projects, tips and techniques to share. Filming on location, however, adds an additional level of excitement and I hope you enjoy the segments as much as Julie and I did filming them.

This is Kathie, our producer in the photo above with Mou. Kathie also produces Hands On Crafts for Kids, Beads Baubles & Jewels, America Sews, Bake Decorate Celebrate and Knitting Daily.

Scrapbook Memories has been on the air now for 12 years and we have taped over 312 half hour shows. We've seen a lot of changes since 1997, but that's the nature of crafts, the Creative Side of Life................ Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

CHA - Craft & Hobby Show in Orlando

After a great deal of frustration yesterday I thought I'd give Blogspot a whirl, so here's my newest, new blog........

Let's start with news about the CHA show. Up to this year the show has always been in Chicago so it felt a little strange to be getting on a plane to Orlando. Let's face it though, the inside of one convention center is pretty much like every other. This one, however was much darker than the ones I've been to in the past. This show was also much smaller. The Winter shows are probably 5 or 6 times larger, maybe more - all I know is, that it takes me 4 days to see almost everything at a winter show - and I do mean everything. This one was only a 3 day show. We taped segments for a new series of Scrapbook Memories on Thursday, so I only had Tuesday and Wednesday to walk around, but it was plenty of time to see everything without feeling rushed.

Trade shows are fabulous. The
booth displays are just amazing and totally inspiring. The best thing about a smaller show, is that there's more time to spend at each booth, so you can really see what's new and fabulous and there was a lot. I saw more Vintage elements than in the past especially at Making Memories. Here's a photo of Graphic 45 to give you an idea.

Tattered Angels
had fabulous displays and there was always a buzz around their booth. Birds are the new butterfly when it comes to images, but anything with wings seems to be popular as well as wings on their own.
Here are some photos from the Tattered Angels booth. Wendy Sanger, in the photos below, is the owner and creative force behind this company. They first exhibited about 2 years ago in one 10' x 10' booth. Now their booth is huge. We taped a Scrapbook Memories segment there on Thursday.

Nikki Sivils was exhibiting her line of scrapbooking supplies for the first time. She had the cutest cupcake for her Make It/Take It (MITI). You can see more at her blog @ I'm sincerely hoping she'll be able to be a guest on the next series of Scrapbook Memories. She's so adorable, just like her products and I know you'll love to meet her. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. :) This is Nikki and her husband in their booth. What a great guy! He gave up his job as a lawyer to help Nikki with her business. He also tapes every Scrapbook Memories show!

There were a few new tools at the show. Sizzix debuted their new embossing tool. It's fabulous! It's only for embossing, not cutting, and it looks like a little purse. Believe me, there's money in it for those of you who sell your paper crafting projects! You should try it with color core cardstock from Core'dinations. Julianna Hudgins is the spokesperson for Sizzix and she was busy all the time showing hundreds of people how it works. We taped a segment for the show with her, so you'll be able to see it on Scrapbook Memories, but in the meantime, I'm sure there's information on the Sizzix website and probably a video on YouTube. You can see the new machine at the bottom left corner of the photo on the right below.

Quickutz featured their new letter press system! It's totally awesome. Letter Press printing is so classy looking. Sorry I don't have photos, but I didn't have my camera while I was at their booth and didn't have time to go back. Yes, I know, I could have used my phone, but that means I'd have to learn how to download photos off my phone! I'm sure it's as easy as blogging with photos, but you know the challenges I've had with that. I'm sure you can see it at their website, and probably on YouTube. At least you now know to look for it, right? We R Memory Keepers introduced Corner Chompers at the show. These are for adding decorative corners to thicker materials like chipboard. There are 6 or 8, designs. I also saw that they had a new rotary paper trimmer with a great selection of decorative edge cartridges.

Kaisercraft exhibited at the show again. It's an Australian company with great products. I love their shaped albums and they have a lot of wood surfaces for everyday creativity. Melissa is the owner of the company, but you can always find her at the MITI table. She's so passionate about what she does, people love being around her. Their catalog is about 1/2" thick, because it's also a great idea book!

The industry has changed so much over the past years and nothing has had greater impact than the internet and social networking. For example, this is the first time I've carried a camera on the show floor. I've still asked permission to take photos of booths (old habits die hard), but up until just recently, photography was strictly forbidden. Now the exhibitors love to see photos of their products and projects on blogs and websites.

For all Heidi Grace and Cloud 9 fans, Colorbok is now selling their papers and embellishments. I went by their booth and saw Heidi. She is so excited to be back!

I also saw Susan McShirley and Laura at SRM Stickers. Susan has a new calendar kit that will be available soon and other new ideas in the works. I also stopped by My Little Shoebox to see Helen and Suzy.

Core'dinations had a great booth at the show. All their papers were on display with vignettes to feature new paper packs. This is great paper to use with your new Sizzix Embossing machine, or Spellbinders embossing and cutting dies.

There was a lot of excitement at the Spellbinders booth at this summer. Spellbinders won an innovation award for their new medallion dies. Here's a photo of the award.

Stacey Caron and husband Jeff, founded this company about 8 or 9 years ago. They have worked so hard to bring the Wizard and their dies to the marketplace, I'm really thrilled for them to get the recognition they so rightly deserve. The dies are truly unique in that they both cut and emboss. Stacey fractured her arm a few weeks before the show and has been a little "out of sorts" since she wasn't able to demo, but I'm sure this award was the perfect thing to give her spirits the exact boost she needed.

Fancy Pants had a fun display of their Kraft Paper line and

I always stop at Nunn Design. Becky Nunn has a line of Patera and other jewelry items. Patera are like small, shallow dishes so photos (or anything) can be added then covered with resin. I showed a patera project on a recent series of Scrapbook Memories. Finished items can be pendants, earrings, rings, or even ornaments. Becky now has a new resin, which forms a clear dome. Everything you need for this comes in a kit. See up close at

Quick Quotes always has an impressive booth at the shows. This is another manufacturer that combines project ideas with their catalog. Here's a photo of Michelle, who was a guest on the last series of Scrapbook Memories and Andy - they guy who makes it all happen.

There was a lot of hootin and hollerin from the Provo Craft booth this time to introduce the Gypsy. I may be over simplifying what it is by saying it's a remote control for the Cricut. You definitely need to Google this one to get all the details. Purple monster not included........

Just two more photos and I'm signing off for a while. Here's Webster's Pages booth and Pink Paislee. Don't you just love, love, love those snowmen!! Webster's Pages has magnetic frames which I just love. Check out their website at for a ton of inspiration, especially for Home Dec projects and ideas.

This is only a smidgeon of what could be seen at the show. If I had taken photos of every booth and every thing in every booth, I'd still be there and it would have taken me a week to write about it all. I hope it's give you a taste of what a trade show is all about. I have been to every one for the past 20 years and wouldn't miss them for anything!

Yours truly,
Julie :)