Archive | July, 2005

The Inside Guide to Surviving and Thriving at CKU

So, you’ve decided to go to a CKU! Here’s what you need to know to help you best prepare and get the most out of the experience!


  • CKU website: Use the official CKU website to learn about the event schedule, and plan your classes and other activities.
  • Hotel Reservations: Make hotel reservations for the convention hotel as soon as the dates and location are announced for a CKU you want to attend. You can usually cancel up until a few days before with no penalty and the CKU hotels always sell out quickly. I highly recommend staying in the actual convention hotel if at all possible. The convenience of being able to run to your room on meal breaks to get things or drop them off – or simply to put your feet up – is simply unmatched, and at an event that is already tiring the simple effort of traveling back and forth to an offsite hotel can be draining.  I recommend arriving the evening before registration to allow you to settle in, get familiar with the resort’s layout and so you can arrive rested and early for registration the next morning. I also advise staying over on the Saturday night after Commencement as well. Most CKU attendees are exhausted by Saturday, and staying over will allow you to have time to figure out how to pack up all your new goodies and check out in a much more leisurely manner on Sunday morning, rather than frantically trying to get out of your hotel room on Saturday morning while the event is still in progress. Arriving Wednesday and leaving Sunday gives you the use of your hotel room for the entire days that the CKU is in session, rather than trying to hassle with check in and check out on those days.
  • Hotel Websites: Most convention hotels have their own website. Locate the one for your hotel and use it to gather information on useful room amenities (fridges, internet access, hairdryers and irons, etc), peruse the menus of the hotel’s restaurants and room service, learn about parking options, and learn other helpful information.
  • CKU Yahoo Groups: There is usually a Yahoo group started by attendees of each CKU. There you can find information on swaps, locate roommates, and meet online other scrappers who will be attending the same CKU.


  • First: Begin to register IMMEDIATELY, within seconds, of online registration opening, if you want to guarantee getting in and getting the classes you want. CKU’s are usually sold out within minutes.
  • Second: If you don’t get your first choice of classes in the initial registration, check back frequently on the registration site as people change their schedules and things may become available, especially on the last day of online changes being allowed. Entire classes may even be added to the schedule, so don’t give up!


  • Empty Luggage: Even if you don’t do any shopping or win anything, class packets and crop goodie bags alone will leave you with an awful lot of new scrapbook things to take home with you, so make sure you have some way to take it home!
  • Comfy Shoes: You will be busy and tired by the end of the three days. Comfort in your footgear is the name of the game!
  • Warm Clothes: Convention centers are notoriously cold places because they usually have high ceilings and cranked-up air conditioning. Even in Florida in July, many people were walking around in long sleeves inside the building. Long-sleeved CK shirts were selling like hotcakes from the CKU booth and getting WORN. Layers are a good option for adjusting to the temperature – a long sleeve button-down shirt to be worn as a blazer over a t-shirt, for instance.
  • Red & Black Clothes: Friday at CKU is the day to wear your school colors (red & black), so make sure you have something packed to fit the theme!
  • Totes: Make sure that whatever you plan on carrying to your classes and other events is small, lightweight and comfortable to carry. There will likely be very little room for your tote in classrooms (rolling totes are not allowed in classrooms) and you will be getting a workout lugging around even the smallest bag for three whole days. Minimize what you think you need to carry to cut down on the weight.
  • Lanyard: Since you will be wearing your credentials for three full days as well, make sure you have a comfortable lanyard (instead of the string they come with) to carry them in, either by bringing one along or by buying one right away for $6 in the CKU store.
  • Cameras: Convention centers have in my experience horrendous lighting. Either bring a high-quality digital camera that can handle dark lighting conditions, or bring a film camera with at least 400 speed film and lots of batteries for your flash. That’s what I shot at CKU-Orlando and it worked very well for me in conditions that my digital was so dark you could barely make out the subject of the photo. And make sure you understand well enough how to use your camera to be able to quickly pass it off to other people and explain how to use it to snap pictures of you in the middle of chaos with CKU celebrities, etc. And if you are shooting film, bring lots of it (I went through more than four rolls, plus about another roll of digital shots), or have plenty of memory card space if you are digital.
  • Snacks/Drinks/Food: Especially if you are driving and can do so easily, bring drinks and other foods like snacks, cereals and sandwich makings with you (check if you have a fridge in your room) to make it more convenient and less expensive to grab a quick snack or light meal in your room during the busy days of the event.
  • Permanent Markers: Bring a permanent marker or two to write your name on the tote and other items that you are given at CKU that all look alike. Also, they are good for getting autographs.
  • Books: If you have books by celebrities that are going to be appearing at CKU and want them autographed, don’t forget to take them with you!
  • Baby Wipes: Yes, I know many CKU attendees are moms on vacation, but bring the baby wipes with you even if you are leaving the baby at home! Inking is very popular in classes. We did it in about half my classes at CKU-Orlando, and yet in only one of those classes were we given wipes to clean up with. Bring your own travel pack so you don’t have to walk around quite so covered in ink!
  • Sponsor Supplies: If you plan on entering the Sponsor Appreciation Contest, bring with you some supplies by some of the CKU sponsors so you will have lots to work with creating a contest entry!


  • Floss Rings: Use small baggies on a floss ring to contain small swap items like fiber and ribbon. Then just pull the bag right off the ring to swap it.
  • Name Labels: Make sure you label the backs of swap tags with your name, city and state, and the CKU you are attending. This can also be done with other swap items if you wish.


  • Sponsor Appreciation Contest: If you plan on entering, sign up as soon as the information booth opens the first day for your first pick of sponsor to create your entry for.
  • CKU Store: Buy anything you see at the sales booth that you KNOW you want immediately because they will sell out of a lot of things, some in the first few hours.
  • Make-N-Takes: Get to the registration line early to be among the first in the door for the make-n-takes. Once in, prioritize which ones you would most like to do since it’s not possible to do them all in the time allotted.
  • Autographed Class Tickets: If you plan on scrapping them, get your class tickets autographed by the instructors. They make a great souvenir!
  • Lighten the Load: Carry as light a tote as possible, even if it means extra trips to the hotel room at lunch and dinner to drop things off and pick up what you need for the next round of classes. It will really help your energy level and make it easier in crowded classrooms. Just throw your basic necessities in your tote and go!
  • Stay Rested: Make sure that you are getting enough rest and pacing yourself or by your final class on Saturday you won’t be able to cut a straight line even with a trimmer!

I hope the above tips help those of you who haven’t been yet to get more out of your first CKU experience when it happens…I learned a lot from my trip and can’t wait to go again! It is an amazing experience that I wish every scrapper could have.


CKU-Orlando 2005 Class Review, continued: 60 minute classes

Here are the reviews of the six 60 minute classes that were on my schedule:

ABC’s of Color
Professor: Ali Edwards
Sponsor: Creating Keepsakes
Project Sponsors: American Crafts, Autumn Leaves, Bazzill Basics, Creative Imaginations, Cropper Hopper, Karen Foster, Making Memories, May Arts, Mrs. Grossman’s, Scenic Route, SEI
Project: Single Page Layout (take-home)

This lecture-only class was anything but boring! Ali uses her graphic design skills to create a very visually interesting presentation and can really reach the audience with her explanation of the topic. For instance, I had heard many times about the concept of creating a color idea binder or journal but wasn’t interested in using one myself. After seeing Ali’s presentation of the concept, however, I have already started snapping pictures of inspiring color schemes to use in the binder I am starting! She explained not only how to do it but was also persuasive about why to do it. She sent class attendees home with excellent tools to use: a detailed handout and a ring of ABC cards describing good places to get color inspiration.

Simple Style
Professor: Donna Downey
Sponsor: Simple Scrapbooks
Project Sponsors: Bazzill Basics Paper, Boxer Scrapbooks, Cloud 9 Design, Creative Imaginations, Cropper Hopper, Making Memories, May Arts, Simple Scrapbooks, Therm O Web.
Project: Mini Flipover Album

Sit on it and watch out for flying chocolate! That about sums up the fun of this class as we learned great tips for creating easy but durable flipover albums from the energetic Donna. Despite all the mini-albums I made at CKU, I still probably learned more basics from this class about their construction that is transferable to other projects than in any other class I took.

Yes, That’s A Scrapbook
Professor: Donna Downey
Sponsor: Simple Scrapbooks
Project Sponsors: Basic Grey, Bazzill Basics, Cropper Hopper, Delta Crafts, Fiskars, K & Co, Plaid Enterprises, PM Designs, Provo Craft, Simple Scrapbooks.
Project: ProvoCraft Wood Tabletop Box Album

This was by far the most unique project I did at CKU! The album was a brand-new product from ProvoCraft. We covered it in Basic Grey and the results were gorgeous! The class pace was pretty frantic but you have all the information in the handout that you need to complete the project at home, which I am very much looking forward to doing.

Photography for Scrapbookers
Professor: Tracy White
Sponsor: Creating Keepsakes

This class was a very good synthesis of photography basics for exposure and composition and how to make the most of them with your camera, especially in tricky situations. It applied to both digital and film photographers and attendees were treated to excellent visual aids and sent home with a slide holder illustrating the rule of thirds and a handout.

Clearly Unconventional
Professor: Julie Scattaregia
Sponsor: Creative Imaginations
Project: Mini Album

This class demonstrated many different ways of adhering transparency when it is used on a project. The handout listed many more methods than could actually be used in a single project.  Then the lovely  mini-album project actually used some of the more unusual techniques. The ambitiously paced class was manageable for most students due to Julie’s clear instructions. I left with only a few things still left to do on my album, and having learned to think “outside the box” on how to adhere transparencies to my next project!

Mouse Memories
Professor: Trudy Sigurdson
Sponsor: Sandylion
Project: 2 – 12×12 Single Page Layouts

Sandylion has recently revamped and greatly expanded their line of Disney licensed products with, in my opinion, very nice results. And since I have three boxes of unscrapped Disney pictures (yes, you read that right – three boxes) I just had to take this class. The two layouts let participants try both the new vintage Mickey look and the new bright Mickey look and are well-designed. I did not finish either layout in class (which would be impossible to do in 60 minutes since they both include hand-cut titles) but will be able to do so at home with the instructional handouts that were provided.

Stay tuned for an entry with tips for making the most of your CKU!


CKU-Orlando 2005 Class Review: 90 minute classes

Below are the information and reviews of the four 90 minute classes I took at CKU-Orlando:

Just the Two of Us
Professor: Becky Higgins
Sponsor: Creating Keepsakes
Project Sponsors: American Tag Co., Bazzill Basics, Chatterbox, Cropper Hopper, Fiskars, McGill, Making Memories, Rusty Pickle.
Project: 2 page 12×12 layout “It’s About Us,” with black & white pictures and his & hers questionaires for you and your significant other.

This class project was actually designed by Lisa Bearnson but was being taught by Becky Higgins at CKU-O due to a schedule swap of CKU-O and CKU-A between Becky and Lisa (presumably due to the upcoming birth of Becky’s second child). The layout is lovely and well-designed. For this event it was delivered partially assembled with a fold-out flap attached and some letters already stamped, although it appears from the instructional hand-out that may not be the case at every event. This lead to a slower paced class, a welcome break from the frenetic pace of most of the other CKU classes. While students worked, Becky toured the double-sized classroom to mingle, sign autographs and pose for photos. This arrangement was made since her family’s presence and her pregnancy had limited her ability to do meet-n-greets at other times during the weekend, and no one I spoke to seemed unhappy with the class. Although I did not entirely complete my layout in the class, I am looking forward to finishing it now that I am at home and it will definately have a home in my personal albums.

In The Mood
Professor: Julie Scattaregia
Sponsor: Creative Imaginations
Project: Mini Tag Album “You are…”

This was a gorgeous mini-album created in an extremely fast-paced class with a variety of Creative Imaginations products. Julie Scattaregia is a fantastic instructor and with her clear guidance much of the class was able to maintain the rapid pace even while trying new materials and design elements. While most of us did not complete the project in class, our class packet included a four page full-color handout detailing each page of the album so we could finish anything we needed to later on our own.

1-2-3 Ink’s That Easy!!!
Professor: Robin Beam & Tim Holtz
Sponsor: Ranger
Project Sponsors: Junkitz
Project: 1 page 12×12 layout “Moments”

In this 90 minute class we made a single 12×12 layout that contained essentially two stamping techniques: resist ink and a faux layering technique. I really feel that this would be better off as a 60 minute class based on the content. And I also was extremely disappointed, since the class was listed as being taught by “Tim Holtz and Robin Beam” and I took it based on Tim’s instructional reputation,  that the only part of the class that Tim Holtz actually conducted was the drawings for product giveaways.

Clean and Simple…Chatterbox Style
Professor: Christy Tomlinson
Sponsor: Chatterbox
Project: The Perfect Pocket Book

A last-minute instructor and project substitution meant this class wasn’t quite as clean and simple as originally planned, but it was still a very interesting and cute project that was quite different from the typical mini-book. Christy is an excellent instructor and explained a fairly complicated project assembly very clearly. And as a recent Chatterbox convert myself (as a clean and simple scrapper I didn’t quite know what to do with those those lovely shabby products), I enjoyed very much just getting to play with the product and see how it all worked together. Another project that I didn’t quite finish in class that I am looking forward to finishing at home.

Stay tuned here in the next few days for reviews of the 60 minute classes and also a list of general tips for surviving at CKU!


CKU-Orlando 2005: The Big Dorm Reveal….

Well, it’s been a big secret for weeks, but we can finally let it out: The dorm that Lisa, Linda, Tammy, Martina, Shannon and her mom, Jocelyn and I formed in the pub for CKU-O was called Fred’s Angels! We put on our performance for the judges tonight and now we wait until tomorrow to see if it won us any prizes.

Here are a few of the pictures from the evening. The top one is of our centerpiece: the “do not disturb – awaiting Fred’s call”  sign, the phone & speaker, the calendar of upcoming made-up calls, and our scrap stuff to work with while we wait. The center photo is me, Lisa and Tammy in our “Fred’s Angels” t-shirts. The third shows the back of my t-shirt. (We all had our own different back.)



We had a wonderful time and hope the judges liked it too!

And Fred, please remember we are just kidding!


Live from CKU-Orlando 2005!

CKU has finally arrived in Orlando! I am all settled in the hotel and have just finished with the early bird crop and am calling it an early (for CKU anyway) night. The hotel is huge and absolutely beautiful. It has live gators in the atrium along with a replica of Castillo San Marco and whole faux Everglades and Key West areas as well. You can visit the Gaylord Palms online here. And I have already visited the Ben & Jerry’s onsite and they make absolutely wonderfully berry smoothies!

Tonight we had two small meeting rooms to crop in and I got to meet the pubsters who are in my dorm with me as well as a few others. I am looking forward to meeting even more of them in the next few days! The first picture is of Lisa (mom2sophie) and Tammy (marajo) at the crop. The second one is Shannon (shanduck) and her mom. The third picture is me (sitting next to Tammy) along with the ladies from the other photos. On the extreme left is Martina (marluli) and her friend.

I will try to give you all another report tomorrow!



The Smallest Slights….

As the big contests come and go this past year, I find myself not even entering most of them. CK Hall of Fame, Memory Makers Masters, PK Power Team – all of those contests will pass this year without an entry from me. I feel like I don’t have enough of a chance at winning to justify the time and effort spent on entering. I feel like my time is better budgeted to other projects. So for now I am sticking mostly to smaller things like manufacturer contests or magazine page calls. But I am finding that playing on a smaller field raises my hopes and expectations….making it even harder when they come crashing down.

The few times that I have entered large contests or calls, I really haven’t had any high expectation for myself. The prime example of this was with the Simple Scrapbooks Coolest Album Contest last year. Because of the scale of the contest, I really did not have any expectations for my entry. It looked like calls had been completed and I was happy congratulating the anonymous winners on my message board and not really all that disappointed or let down that it appeared I was not a winner. After all, I hadn’t really been expecting to get a call for this kind of competition! I had entered for the fun of it. And then to my utter disbelief the phone rang and suddenly I was talking (or more like stuttering actually) to Stacy Julian on the other end! And the biggest part of the shock was that I really felt I had so little chance that I really wasn’t all that surprised or disappointed thinking that I hadn’t won anything.

In contrast, when I enter a call of late for a magazine or for a design team, it feels to me like I should have a better chance of actually getting somewhere with my submission, especially if it’s work of which I am really proud. I do let myself imagine getting the call or email and seeing it in print or getting the position for the company. It seems attainable when I’m submitting for a more ordinary call. And so I get my hopes up. And then they are crushed when inevitably the calls go out, or the winners are announced, and I am once again left out. It’s those supposedly small rejections that actually hurt the most – because you think you actually have a chance to begin with.

Rejection is an inevitable part of this business of freelance design and submitting. So how do you pick yourself up and continue on, instead of being worn down by the repeated blows? I’m sad to admit that I am still working on the solution to that. Does anyone know where I can get steel plated armour for my self-esteem?