Some shows there’s so much buzz about specific products that the Hot Picks practically write themselves. This show, however, the standouts were more difficult to pick out from a solid field of offerings at a quiet show in Chicago. But after much consideration, and some difficult decisions about some eliminations to get the list to only ten, here’s the Scrapbook Update Top Ten Hot Picks List for CHA Summer 2012:
Martha Stewart Adhesive Silk Screens by Plaid
I knew as soon as I saw (and tried) this product that it would be a hot pick! These silkscreens are an extension of Plaid’s fabulous line of Martha Stewart acrylic paints and adhesive stencils – and the silkscreens really impress.
At first glance the silkscreens look just like the Martha Stewart line’s regular stencils:
However, if you look really closely, you can see the difference between the traditional stencil and the silkscreen – the fine mesh in the template’s openings:
The silkscreen allows for much finer detail in the stencil design, and also means that the design doesn’t have to be all connected – it can have “floating” elements in it. Elements like this finely detailed feather would never be possible in a traditional stencil:
These silkscreens are so easy to use that they, in combination with Martha’s applicator tool, even allowed me to create a perfect stencil impression on the first try – something that I can never do!
(And while we’re at it – check out the finish on that paint too! I can’t help but love that Martha Stewart pearl finish acrylic paint!)
These products appear similar to Plaid’s “Simply Screen” silk screen stencils, which according to the Plaid website, are reusable 20 times. The technology for the silk screen stencils is patent pending by Plaid.
FarmHouse Paper Company
The new exhibitor section was smaller than usual at CHA Summer 2012, but the new entrants to the show were a strong group overall. Unlike some of the other CHA newbies, FarmHouse Paper was a completely new company as well as a CHA show first-timer. They made an impressive debut.
The company presented three full collections – patterned paper, embellishments and stamps – at the show.
“Market Square” is a red, blue and brown palette, full of retro trendy design elements like kraft, vintage text and graphics, and retro patterns.
“Sugar Hill” is a classic looking autumn collection that isn’t too heavily themed. Paper crafters will also find it versatile for providing projects such as cards and layouts a more masculine tone.
“Fair Skies” is a loosely travel themed line that incorporates a lot of currently popular vintage design elements in it, along with a color palette of deep blue and red and cream.
FarmHouse also debuted with something fairly ambitious for a new scrapbooking start-up – an entire line of chipboard mini albums, in very heavyweight material that will be sure to get attention.
Learn more about Oklahoma-based FarmHouse at their website.
Another new exhibitor that made a big impression at CHA Summer 2012 was Elle’s Studio. The company’s name is familiar to many in the industry already, as they began first selling direct to consumers – and then later wholesaling their products – some time ago. But this show was their first foray into the CHA marketplace, and the company was well-received by show attendees.
Items such as these 1.25 inch Tidbits from the Sweet Life collection are especially popular with Project Life fans:
But Elle’s Studio is not just for Project Life fans. Her designs straddle beautifully the line between the industry’s popular vintage and graphic looks, and lend themselves perfectly to being used in the current trend toward layering in designs. This sample project features some of the company’s signature calendar tags, in the upcoming 2013 versions that will be shipping on August 13th:
In a nod to what buyers expect to find at the CHA Summer show, Elle’s Studio was offering up two holiday themed lines, one for Halloween and one for Christmas, something of a departure from previous offerings for the company.
Spooky Tales, shipping Sept. 24th, focused on browns and harvest gold for Halloween:
The color scheme for the Christmas line, which is called Be Merry and also ships Sept. 24th, is much brighter:
You can learn more by reading the full report about Scrapbook Update’s visit to the Elle’s Studio booth.
If you liked the last pick, you’ll probably like this one too. Jillibean Soup is also part of the emerging style in the industry that pairs brights with natural browns, for an effect that is homespun and charming. They’ve won fans among scrapbookers and card makers for their papers, stickers and embellishments, and their market-savvy CHA Summer 2o12 release will only continue to cement their popularity as a fast-rising powerhouse in the industry.
Perhaps the hottest of their new introductions was the addition to the Soup Staples paper line that featured chevrons on one side and small dots on the other. It was unanimously popular among show attendees I spoke with.
Jillibean’s affordably priced stickers usually fly off of store shelves, and especially hot from this new round of releases will be the new Soup Labels for card labels, and the uber-trendy hexagon stickers:
Another set of Jillibean stickers that are sure to be popular is the brand new colors for their wonderful Alphabeans line:
Jillibean Soup introduced four new lines at CHA Summer 2012, but the biggest guaranteed hit I believe is the Grandma’s Lima Bean Soup line. A versatile combination of amazing vintage elements in a broad color palette that ranges from pastels to brights, this collection is sure to attract die-hard vintage fans as well as fans of the country and graphic looks.
To read full coverage of Jillibean Soup’s CHA releases, visit our Jillibean Soup CHA Summer 2012 report.
This company just seems to hit all the right notes with the changing trends lately. Sometimes, a change in ownership takes the heart out of a company. Instead, its time at American Crafts has seemed to re-energize the Pebbles brand. They are actually rapidly becoming one of my favorite companies.
Pebbles has displayed absolute genius lately at creating patterned papers that use trend-forward color palettes, and are well-scaled for use on layouts as well as slightly smaller projects like mini-books. The truly amazing thing is that these patterns then also scale down perfectly in 6×6 pads to use on cards – satisfying both the scrapbook and card crafting markets. While most companies these days offer both sizes in their collections, many times the collections really only “work” in one of the sizes. With Pebbles, that is not the case – their patterns almost always work well at both scales. (Pebble’s upcoming “Walnut Grove” collection is featured below.)
The company has always paid attention to detail in their embellishments, but since having access to American Crafts’ production resources they’ve really stepped it up a notch. Their embellishments are arguably unmatched in the industry for pure beauty as well as usability.
Pebbles is also trying to get its piece of the market in the pocket scrapbooking segment as well. Their new “Seen & Noted” collection contains divided 12×12 page protectors, and also books of coordinating journaling cards. The journaling card books are 4×6 sized, and some of the pages are made up of two 4×3 cards. It’s an innovative way to market these sizes of elements, which mostly have been sold in 12×12 sheets or as die cut packages until now. (Simple Stories is also trying the pad format for journaling cards with their new Sn@p Studio line.)
The 4×6 cards from the journaling card pads can be used in another product from the “Seen & Noted” line. The “o’flip” album is ingenious in its simplicity – it is postbound, an acrylic cover with strips of adhesive in the binding that can then be attached to either 4×6 photos or 4×6 cardstock elements to create the album’s pages. The “o’flip” will be a new way to create 4×6 mini-books. It’s available in either 25 pages or 53 pages (perfect for photo a week albums, with one page for a cover).
If you’d like to learn a bit more, see our report on the o’flip from CHA.
Echo Park Photo Freedom
Echo Park is a perennial hot pick contender for its reliable and beautiful collections. This time, however, they are a hot pick for their new entry into the pocket scrapbook market, a line called Photo Freedom.
A lot of companies are jumping on the pocket scrapbooking trend, but Echo Park’s offering stands out for several reasons. First, Photo Freedom is actually a trademark of Stacy Julian’s from the book of the same name, and she, Big Picture Classes, and the book bring marketing power to the product line. No other pocket scrapbook line besides Becky Higgins’ Project Life has a celebrity power driving it and an entire philosophy behind it in anywhere near the same way.
Another major difference about Photo Freedom is the way in which it is packaged. Most pocket scrapbook systems are packaged and sold ala carte. Consumers buy page protectors and design elements separately. Even Project Life is now sold this way after starting out as an entirely pre-bundled kit. While Echo Park will sell packages of Photo Freedom page protectors (pictured above) and sheets of stickers and journal cards ala carte, it will also be featuring all-in-one kits.
The Photo Freedom kits will MSRP for $11.49, and will include a sheet of stickers, 6 12×12 sheets of journal cards, and 5 pocket page protectors. In this single affordably priced package, customers will be able to grab everything they need (besides an album) to get started with pocket scrapbooking. This makes for a great gift item.
Another thing that Photo Freedom has going for it is the diversity of designers under the roof of Echo Park Paper. Most companies doing this sort of system, like Simple Stories, have a very distinctive signature look to their offerings. Echo Park’s signature is their diversity, using a variety of signature designers. Their first three Photo Freedom lines exemplify this, with offerings from elegantly classic Carina Gardner (pictured below, top) and funky graphic Allison Kreft (pictured below, bottom) as well as a cute holiday line by Sharon Rowan.
Photo Freedom will be shipping to stores in October.
Jenni Bowlin embellishments
This company is known for its incredible attention to detail in it’s embellishments, and several trends apparent at this show were tailor-made for them.
First up is an item that I heard a lot of buzz about on the show floor: paper feathers. These are truly unique and so true to Jenni Bowlin’s signature style.
While they look interesting in the package, you don’t see these items’ full potential until you see them in action:
The white feathers are translucent because they are vellum, and the feathers are wire so they can be twisted and bent to add incredible texture, depth and movement to a project.
The layout above also shows another of Jenni’s unique products from this release in action, her perforated papers. These 12×12 sheets are perforated like tickets and can be used in strips or individually. The perforation is great for folding them to provide depth, or for creating strips just the size and shape you want easily!
Bowlin’s stickers, which have long been popular, really exceeded her usual standard of excellence with the CHA Summer 2012 releases. Bowlin has a distinct style but one thing that stood out about some of the CHA Summer releases is that they would appeal to an audience that wouldn’t normally go for her products, while still maintaining her signature style.
These airmail themed stickers key on a huge trend in scrapbook products right now, and fit perfectly with Jenni’s signature red palette.
The stamp-themed number stickers also combine several current trends – stamps and numbers – into one fun product that is sure to have wide appeal. The small sizes of these stickers makes them great for everything from layouts to cards to Project Life.
The stamp line shown above actually has four different designs in it. The third design is a sheet filled with the vintage graphics that Jenni is known for:
Jenni also released a slate of true vintage embellishments such as buttons and milk bottle caps. However, those (while beautiful) are likely to appeal only hardcore vintage fans. The items highlighted above will have broader appeal and bring Jenni outside her core fan base.
Sn@p Studio by Simple Stories
A significant sub-market of the pocket scrapbooking trend is evolving in 2012 with the rise of the “mini album” in this format – the 6″x8″ sized pocket scrapbook. Simple Stories introduced a limited line of 6×8 products at CHA Winter, but with their new Sn@p Studio line at CHA Summer, they proved they are the force to be reckoned with in the segment.
The color palette for Sn@p Studio is somewhat brighter than the traditional Simple Stories look, and is clean instead of being distressed. The look of the line is kraft layered with bright colors. The new 6×8 line started from scratch, starting with the albums, which are now offered in kraft chipboard with a rainbow of colored spines.
Each binder comes with inserts such as pocket pages and dividers. There are also basic print papers in the coordinating color palette (as pictured above) available in 12×12 and 6×6 sizes.
Once you have an album, there are too many available options to count of what to put in it. There’s a huge selection of 4×6 and 3×4 cards, plus stickers sold on both 4×6 and 12×12 sheets:
With the exception of the custom 6×8 dividers, many of these elements – journal cards and stickers, for instance – can be used in full sized 12×12 pocket scrapbooks as well, and will be likely to appeal to people not using the Sn@p mini albums.
Put it all together and you get a really bright, fun project:
These smaller albums may be great introductions to paper crafting for kids and teens who would otherwise be overwhelmed by a larger project, or for a “mini album” of a specific scope like a vacation or event.
My Mind’s Eye
This company has, quite simply put, become a powerhouse when it comes to producing paper collections. They do a very specific thing, and do it extremely well. And consumers have responded to it. This is an amazing third time in a row that they’ve made the CHA Hot Picks list, but buyers and consumers keep flocking to their reliable collections.
At CHA Summer, My Mind’s Eye released their standard “mega” collection of feminine shabby chic that they do every show. This one was called “The Sweetest Thing”, and designed by Jen Allyson. As is typical of the MME mega collections, “The Sweetest Thing” is made up of four sub-collections: Tangerine, Honey, Bluebell, and Lavender. Stephanie Howell created a sample layout using “The Sweetest Thing: Tangerine” for the My Mind’s Eye booth (pictured below), that really showed off the possibilities of this gorgeous collection. It also emphasized how the Tangerine sub-collection infuses some of the current trend towards brighter colors into a company that is mostly known for very muted tones:
One notable point about this My Mind’s Eye collection versus their past collections of this type is that this collection is much lighter on the pre-designed “scene” prints than the typical My Mind’s Eye collection, instead being almost entirely all-over prints. This doesn’t necessarily signal that My Mind’s Eye is abandoning that type of design, however, since several of their other CHA Summer 2012 releases remain heavily in that style. Many consumers find all-over prints easier to work with than pre-designed scene pages, so this shift may increase the marketability of The Sweetest Thing line to consumers that often pass up MME for that reason.
Another of the interesting details in the The Sweetest Thing collection is one of the embellishment SKU’s. My Mind’s Eye has created a button pack that is half wood buttons and half chipboard buttons, something quite unusual. The Bluebell version is pictured below:
This collection is heavy on pink and yellow tones, yet another indicator that we will probably continue to see those colors around heavily in the market for awhile.
For the upcoming Fall and Winter holidays, My Mind’s Eye also had new collections. First up, for Halloween, is an addition to the hit “Lost & Found” collection, called (appropriately) “Lost & Found: Halloween”. The collection includes brads, stamps, layered stickers, and chipboard, in addition to patterned papers, and is accented heavily with festive orange glitter for a bright touch.
The vintage graphics look and burnt orange has been extremely popular the last year or two with consumers for Halloween, and this collection is beautifully executed – spooky without being too creepy. It hits just the right themed notes and I expect that it will be a major win in the marketplace for MME.
Like many companies, My Mind’s Eye opted to offer two different looks for the Christmas holidays this year. The first, Winter Wonderland, is a bright, almost cute styled line, focusing on trees and houses.
The Christmas line that truly garnered buzz at CHA Summer, however, was their more vintage styled “All is Bright.” Designed by Rhonna Farrer, her signature style is very evident in the line, and it will be sure to make her legions of fans very happy.
Both holiday lines, of course, come with beautiful lines of embellishments as well as the paper and stickers pictured above: brads, tape, twine, buttons, stamps, and layered stickers.
Amy Tangerine for American Crafts
This selection is also a three-peat to the list for rapidly rising star Amy Tan, who has made the list with every single one of her releases since her debut a year ago at CHA Summer 2011. Amy’s quirky, funky, colorful style has proven to be a breath of fresh air for consumers burned out on the heavy tone of vintage that had overtaken the industry the past few years, and provides a much needed appeal to a younger audience for paper crafting as well. Her CHA Summer 2012 collection, Ready Set Go, looks to continue her rise.
Amy’s camera-covered Sketchbook collection album at the CHA Winter 2012 show hit a home run with consumers, and I believe she has done it again at CHA Summer 2012, with the release of two woodgrain chevron albums in the Ready Set Go collection:
Although at first glance the line doesn’t appear seasonal, compared to the spring/summer release “Sketchbook” which featured nearly neon colors, it actually has some seasonal elements to it. The colors are warm and muted, and the woodgrain used throughout the collection presents a very fall feel. The blues have a very gray undertone to them, a very winter weather sky color. Using these touches, the line retains the cheer and perk that is so characteristic of Amy’s work, without seeming completely out of place with the time of year.
One standout in the collection of amazing embellishments is the Thickers alphabets that coordinate with the collection. The offerings are simple and versatile, and should appeal to a wide range of paper crafters (not just Amy Tangerine fans). There are tiles, bright corrugated, and some light pinstriped alphabets, all in excellent font choices that go with anything.