Wednesday, 23 February 2011

WOYWW: Craft Hobby and Stitch International - The Reading Pile

I missed you all last week.  Wednesdays aren't quite the same without a wander around the desks of the crafty, ooohing and aaahing at tidyness, disorder, new crafty stash and other people's makes.  To see more crafty desks, you need to call in on our esteemed leader Julia, at the WOYWW button to the left.

Today's picture is really dim, because I forgot to take it while there was still plenty of light in the hall.  Doh...  It is approximately half of the catalogues, magazines, price lists and information I gathered at the Craft Hobby & Stitch Show this week.  I am looking forward to Thursday and Friday when I have quiet days available to brew up a large pot of tea, sit down at the table in the window armed with my trusty marker pen, and peruse it all.  Hope that those of you who went to CHSI enjoyed it as much as I did.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Craft Hobby & Stitch International: Part II In Which I Turn Digital

While at CHSI yesterday, I did manage to give my plastic a little bit of exercise, by investing in some software.  I had heard of digital scrapbooking, but I never thought it would fit with my crafting.  Given free rein, I do decoupage, stamping, furniture restoration and art journaling, none of which seem particularly suited to digital intervention.  However, I stopped off for a demonstration by Michelle at the Serif stand, and was immediately hooked on the possibilities of this piece of kit.

The best description I can come up with is that it's desktop publishing for crafters.  The software comes with a set of very intuitive templates for making everything from cards to cupcake wrappers to bags, scrapbook pages, menus and wedding invites, using a comprehensive assortment of backgrounds and embellishments.  Every shape, line and background can be customised, and you can scan in your own photos, art or pictures.

I have to admit to having been a bit sniffy at the thought of digital scrapbooking and digital art in general (don't worry, I'm over it).  However, I think I can see some possibilities in this that will fit fantastically well with my existing work.  Michelle showed some lovely pages during the demo that made me see beyond some of the templates.  I now have the opportunity to scan in some of my ephemera, book pages and art, and to manipulate it digitally (photo editing is included).  I understand that you can blend backgrounds and pictures together, tidy up, age or distress items (there's a gorgeous glass effect that I can imagine having great fun with).  And although I've been thinking "so where's the lovely texture going to happen", the answer, of course, is that it will happen once I've printed off my digital creations, and done my usual decoupage, art journaling or whatever with the end result.

I am so very excited at the thought of sitting down to play with my new kit; in fact, I'm almost squeaking!  But real life is intervening until at least Thursday, so expect future ramblings of delight when I finally get to play.  And this year's Elf School is going to have some very fine artwork indeed.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Craft Hobby & Stitch International: Part I

It's been a fascinating day.  I've been pounding the aisles of Hall 12 at the NEC Birmingham, examining the wares of hundreds of suppliers at the CHSI fair.  In the climate of general economic gloom, it was good to learn that visitors are up 15% over last year.  And all the exhibitors I chatted with reckoned that they had been very busy over the course of the show to date.

For those of you who went to CHSA, this is nowhere near as spectacular in terms of display.  There are no keynote pieces over which to drool, but instead a mixture of small completed works, blanks to decorate, and paints, pencils, fabrics, findings, beads and other delights.   The displays may be much more restrained, but there are still some lovely makes to catch your eye.  (Carmen, I thought you'd like to see the skull!)

Knowing my love of the Cow Parade, you won't be surprised to see that Daisy and YeeHaw (as I have named them) posed for me.  Sorry about the strange angles; although I'm tall, they were way above my head!

I was pleasantly surprised that the minimum order volumes for trade deals are such that I can actually manage to stop paying retail prices for the things I use the most.  I came home with a fabulous collection of catalogues (some of which I have already drooled over) and a desire for a business trip to Brussels to pick up an order from one of those catalogues.  (Craft, chocolate, fashion, Belgian very much worth the journey...)

During the course of the show, there was a free workshop programme, focusing on business development  issues, such as website traffic management, social networking for business, a presentation by the Federation of Small Businesses and a session to help with PR.  I've known these be chargeable at other shows, and thought that the free programme was a bonus.

For the first time this year, the show included Creativity on the Catwalk, using items from exhibitors at the show.  In addition to the items that you would expect to see featured - patterns, fabrics, yarn - there was also some creative millinery, bags and some very funky spray painted tops, as shown below.  I loved the use of quilting and batting in some really innovative designs, and the knits were gorgeous.


I'll let you know what I bought in the next post.  In the meantime, I need some lunch (albeit rather late), and to put my feet up on the sofa.  I only wish I'd worn my pedometer, as I could have felt truly virtuous tonight!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Off to Craft, Hobby & Stitch International Show - NEC

Tomorrow, I'm off to CHSI , described as "Europe's largest trade show for the creative crafts industry".  There are more than 250 exhibitors, of which I have a short (hmm) list of around 50 I really want to visit.

There are times when I have to remind myself that I am building a business, and I need to get out there as a business to buy at trade prices.  Having said that, I intend to cuddle my plastic fairly close to my chest.  Tomorrow is about finding out what I can sensibly buy on trade terms (I'm never going to survive paying retail prices for the ingredients for my makes, no matter how green and car booty I am when it comes to sourcing raw materials.  The paint, glue, paper and all the rest of the bitsas needed for making are still a tad pricey.)  Let's consider it an exercise in gathering info (and just maybe a little spending if appropriate).

So it's time to reconnoitre the hallowed halls of the NEC.  I'll report back on what's doing...