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Author Archive | Nancy Nally

Update | Michaels, Studio Calico, Jared Leto, Sew Sweetness & More!

Dream Job. For many crafters, the dream job is to get a staff designer position where they get paid to craft to produce project samples all day. Find out from three of Cricut’s staff project designers how they got where they are, and what the job is really like in this fascinating behind the scenes article.

Sizzix Sew Sweetness Box Pouch

 

Designers. Sizzix used Quilt Market last month to announce the launch of their new collaboration with “Sew Sweetness” blogger Sara Lawson. Lawson’s three new Bigz L Dies, which retail for an MSRP of $29.99 each, will launch this month. The three new dies create a box pouch (pictured above), coin purse, or purse tabs. For more information, visit the Sizzix website.

Designers, part 2. Tammy Tutterow has announced a partnership with StencilGirl to make signature stencil designs. The initial release of 9 designs includes 7 two-step stencils that create layered designs such as flowers and plaid.

Exclusives. Joann Fabric & Crafts stores are getting four new exclusive kits to add to their large Project Life offerings. There’s “Lullaby”, a value kit available in boy and girl versions, as well as a recipe card value kit and matching album. There’s also an exclusive core kit called “Modern Wedding”.

Mixed Media. Designer Anna Dabrowska has announced that a selection of products from her popular Finnabair mixed media line made by Prima Marketing is hitting the shelves at Michaels Stores. The selection includes rust paste, patina paste, mixed media essentials, glitter, and more.

Trends. Slime is hot this summer and according to Adweek, the trend is paying off huge for craft brands like Michaels Stores and Elmers that have committed heavily to it. My own local Michaels store has an end cap right by the register area in the seasonal section containing gallon sized containers of Elmer’s along with all sorts of additives and other slime accessories.

Marketing. The wedding market is highly competitive, and content marketing continues to become more and more important. How important? Blogger network Aisle Society has just completed a successful $30,000 Kickstarter campaign to create an online tool to make submitting products and content to their more than 30 top wedding bloggers simpler and more streamlined for companies. The tool, called Matchology, will launch later this month, and cost $69.99 a year to use.

Equity. Kentucky-based Inked Brands – better known to most scrapbookers as Studio Calico – has raised $4 million in Series A equity funding. The equity was raised from BIP Capital, whose portfolio also includes companies like Tropical Smoothie, Huddle, and a variety of technology and health companies. Inked Brands was founded in 2007 by April Foster, and creates products for influencer brands such as Ali Edwards, A Beautiful Mess, Baby Boy Bakery, and Tom Kat Studio in addition to their in-house brand Studio Calico.

Equity, part 2. Digital education platform CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from a combination of investors that include GSV Acceleration, Creative Artists Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. (Now there’s a few names I thought this site would never have Google results for…) This raises to $58.8 million the company’s total funding. Part of the new funding will be used to extend CreativeLive more into the enterprise market.

Earnings. Michaels Stores will be reporting its first quarter earnings on Tuesday (June 6th) before market open, followed by a conference call at 8am central time. For information on how to take part in the conference call, visit the Michaels website.

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My Sweet Petunia Sues Tonic over Tim Holtz Stamp Press

The question of whether competitor products infringe on the patent granted to My Sweet Petunia for its MISTI stamp platform has become a legal battle with the company’s filing of a patent infringement suit against Tonic Studios on April 3rd.

My Sweet Petunia was granted their patent on the MISTI tool on March 21st, after a more than two year application process that saw the patent request initially rejected but then subsequently granted after being revised and reconsidered.

The MISTI was an almost immediate hit when it was launched in 2015. In the interim period between the MISTI going on the market and being granted its patent, several similar looking products entered what appeared at the time to be a new tool market segment. The We R Memory Keepers Stamp Press launched in 2016, and late 2016 saw the announcement of the Hampton Art Stamp Perfect. Then January 2017 brought the announcement of the Tonic Studios Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, intended to be launched in late spring of this year.

Although popular, the MISTI’s premium price point left room for competitors, and the We R and Hampton Art tools quickly gained market share after their launches as more affordable options. The announcement of the Tonic Studios tool was also well received by consumers and the tool’s launch in stores was eagerly anticipated.

After My Sweet Petunia learned they would in fact be granted the MISTI patent, the We R Memory Keepers and Hampton Art tools rapidly disappeared from retail outlets. In a blog entry announcing the issuing of the patent to MISTI fans, My Sweet Petunia owner Iliana Myska wrote of the situation that “I was thankful that two companies accepted my design as unique and graciously withdrew copies from the market.”

This left only the question of whether Tonic Studios’ much-anticipated Tim Holtz Stamping Platform would launch as scheduled or not.

According to court filings made by My Sweet Petunia, Tonic Studios was notified of the impending patent issuance for the MISTI on March 13th. Around the end of the that month, bloggers began to post on social media about receiving shipments of the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, and post videos and reviews. On April 3rd, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Tonic Studios for patent infringement in Federal Court in Delaware (where Tonic Studios USA is incorporated). The suit cites the activities of bloggers it names who posted about the Tonic tool (among other activities) as proof of patent infringing activity by Tonic.

On April 12th, shortly after receiving the suit, Tonic Studios issued a statement to its wholesale customers. The statement said that the Stamping Platform product was being delayed due to the MISTI patent being issued and the product being “redesigned” because “we do not want to expose our customers to any legal action from MSP” despite Tonic not considering their product to be infringing. The company said a new product, designated by a new product number as model 1707e, would ship within 6-8 weeks.

Patent litigation frequently is lengthy, and the initial stages of the suit between My Sweet Petunia and Tonic has already generated a lot of motions. My Sweet Petunia has amended its initial complaint once in response to a Tonic response motion, and Tonic has filed a motion requesting a change of venue to the court district near their California headquarters (a move opposed by My Sweet Petunia in its recent response). My Sweet Petunia is requesting a jury trial, a 3x multiplication of awarded damages for what it alleges is willful infringement, and attorney’s fees and expenses.

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Make Geo Heart Wall Art with Cricut Explore Air 2!

A lot of what I cut on my Cricut Explore Air 2 is cardstock for my scrapbooking projects. But there are so many other materials that it can cut, and it’s fun to play with those – and often exciting to see what the machine can do, with the right blade, mat and setting. When I was working Scrapbook Expo shows for Cricut, we had a keychain in the booth with samples of material that had been cut on the Explore machine. It was downright amazing to see some of them, such as leather, craft wood, and acrylic. I’ve actually cut acrylic on my own machine – I just had to try it after seeing that key chain! I’ve also cut fabric (with an iron-on stabilizer backing), and wood veneer paper. Cricut advertises that the Cricut Explore Air 2 will cut over 100 materials…I’m not even sure that I could name 100 materials to try to cut! Perhaps instead of asking “what can I cut with my Cricut?” we should ask – “what can’t I cut with my Cricut?”

Projects like this Geo Heart Wall Art are so fun because it gives me a chance to play with a couple of different materials, in this case Holographic Vinyl and Glitter Cardstock, neither of which I had worked with before. It’s always exciting to see what my machine can do with a new material!

Cricut Geo Heart Wall Canvas

Supplies Needed:

Not on the supply list, but an important tool to completing this project, is the Cricut Essential Tool Set. Over the course of completing this project, I used virtually every tool in this kit: the trimmer, scissors, scraper, spatula, and weeding tool. I even used the scoring tool, despite there being no scoring on this project, because it is the perfect size and so smooth for rolling flower petals on!

And bonus – it perfectly matches my Mint Cricut Explore Air 2 machine! (It’s also available in Rose and Blue.)

Cricut Tool Kit

To create the background for my wall art canvas, I used a 12″ by 12″ pre-primed canvas from a major craft chain store. Then I used a large brush to swipe green acrylic paint back and forth across it, but stopping short of the edges by about an inch. Once that paint was dry, I used a stencil to dry brush a design on top of the green in white acrylic paint.

Cricut Wall Canvas background

I’ve been a bit obsessed with geo hearts lately, so I decided to make one in Cricut Design Space for this canvas! The Vintage Revivals cartridge had just what I needed, a geo shape that I could slice. Then I searched and chose a heart that had an outline of about the same thickness. I laid it over the geo shape in a way that I liked, duplicated it and set the duplicate aside (this will be important later), and then used the slice tool to cut the geo shape.

Cricut Geo Heart Construction

Next I removed all of the sliced pieces that I wouldn’t need in my finished piece. This was followed by using the basic shape tool to lay another (this time solid) heart over the remaining geo structure and slicing again. Then I took that heart that I had set aside, and laid it over the geo design, selected the heart and the geo design, and hit “weld” to create my geo heart!

Cricut Geo Heart construction

This ability to experiment and try things (and hit the undo button if they don’t work and then try again) is one of the things I love about Design Space. But if all of that seems like a lot of work to do…here’s the link to my completed Geo Heart file that I’m sharing in Design Space.

Cricut Geo Heart construction

Once I had created my geo heart, I made it 7 inches high and added some 3D flowers from the Flower Shoppe cartridge to my design. If you’d like to be able to replicate my design, here’s a link to the design I created in Cricut Design Space.

Cricut Holographic Vinyl

I’ve worked quite a few times with Cricut’s regular vinyl, but the Cricut Holographic Vinyl is more like foil than vinyl in appearance, and weight. It cut beautifully and just like vinyl on my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, by using my Smart Set dial on the “vinyl” setting. This pink is dark pink and, depending on the light and angle that you look, will turn almost burgundy. (There’s also a gorgeous lighter pink color that is called Opal.)

Cricut Tools for Vinyl

I’ve always found weeding to be a bit of a zen experience. It can be challenging, for sure (especially when there are small details in a design), but there is something immensely satisfying about the sort of reverse jigsaw puzzle effect of watching the design reveal itself.

Weeding Die Cut Vinyl

Once the design was completely revealed, I laid a piece of Cricut Transfer Tape on top of it and peeled it up and transferred the heart to the upper right corner of my canvas. To press it down on my canvas with my tape, I laid a book underneath the area of the canvas the heart was going onto so that the canvas was better supported and was flat.

Cricut Geo Heart

The Holographic Vinyl is thin enough that it will take on the texture of the item is it applied to, so surface preparation is important! The material is delicate, but the transfer tape held it tightly and then released it perfectly without ripping the vinyl or damaging the painted surface. (I also recently used the Cricut Transfer Tape to apply vinyl to a kraft paper notebook cover and it released from the paper cover perfectly without damaging it when I was done applying my image.)

Cricut Glitter Flowers

Next, I used Cricut Glitter Paper to cut my 3D flowers. I’m normally not a huge fan of working with glitter paper, as it sheds and is difficult to cut without it losing a lot of glitter. This glitter paper is none of those things! The glitter on this Cricut paper seems to be finer than most other glitter papers that I’ve tried, and is extremely well adhered. It cuts absolutely beautifully, and having tried it I will now be looking for excuses to cut glitter things on my Cricut. (Luckily I have a teenage daughter so it won’t be hard!)

Cricut Glitter Flowers

I used a hot glue gun to assemble the flowers and then also to adhere them to the canvas. Before I glued them in place, I rolled the ends of the petals around the Cricut Scoring Tool to give them a nice curve. For the smaller flowers, the small point of the tool was used for rolling the petals around. I finished the flowers with buttons hot glued into their centers.

Cricut Geo Heart Wall Art

This Geo Heart Wall Art is great for a teen girl’s room. I used my 14 year old daughter’s bedroom wall for some of the photography for this article, and I’m not sure that I’m getting this project back!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Craftsy Bought By NBCUniversal

Online craft education and retail portal Craftsy notified its staff and customers on Wednesday that the company has been bought by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast.

craftsy logo

Denver, Colorado-based Craftsy, which grew out of a start-up called Sympoz Inc., was founded by former executives of eBay and ServiceMagic.com and went live in 2011. By the end of 2014, the company had received four rounds of venture capital funding totaling nearly $100 million. No terms have been announced for the company’s acquisition.

Although it has never been profitable, Craftsy has boasted of having over eleven million users (and a million visitors per week) in recent press statements. The site’s online classes in creative arts include such topics as papercrafting, photography, quilting, sewing, knitting, cake decorating, drawing, painting, cooking, and crochet, among others. Craftsy also sells craft supplies and patterns via their online platform.

In a letter to the site’s users and staff, founder & CEO John Levisay indicated that he will be remaining with the company for the next four years. Levisay also indicated that the company’s offices in Denver and Indianapolis will both continue to operate. NBCUniversal also has an office in Denver. Levisay also revealed that Craftsy had been approached by multiple prospective buyers previously whose overtures were rebuffed, but that he felt that NBCUniversal was a good fit for the company.

For those looking to join the newly acquired company, Craftsy posted a job opening two days ago for their Denver office for a Community Manager position.

The streaming craft educational content market has has seen a few interesting alignments in recent months. In early March, Craftsy announced a new partnership with Michaels Stores that would provide exclusive offers to Michaels customers for the site’s classes and provide the site’s customers access to Michaels’ product offerings. This was followed in April by the announcement that Creativebug had been purchased by Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores. It seems that the major players in the space – and the major players interested in the space – are picking sides and placing their bets.

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Project | Travel Album: Auf Wiedersehen

Sometimes, for workflow reasons, I like to do things in an album project out of order. That’s the case with the Frankfurt trip album that I’ve been plugging away on for quite awhile. I recently completed what will be the final page of the album, even though I still have a massive section of it to do that deals with the day that I spent in Heidelberg.

[Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links or advertiser courtesy links.]

So why would I choose to do it this way? When I ordered my photos, I actually planned to do it this way. I took a massive number of photos on this trip, so I decided to edit and order them in two batches. The first batch was all of the ones that I took while flying and in Frankfurt itself. This included my photos from the last day at the airport. Then the second batch will be the Heidelberg photos. My reasoning for breaking it down this way was that I planned to scrapbook these two groups of photos with fairly different styles, so it made sense to order and scrap them in batches, even if they weren’t entirely chronological.

travel album back page

Supplies:

This page is pretty simple. All of the cards are from the Project Life “Wander” Core kit, although I embellished a few of them. The today journaling card had a stamp from the Kelly’s Food Coma set added to it that said “#delicious” to make it more food themed. Then I used the Kelly’s Outline alphabet set to stamp “Auf Wiedersehen”  – German for goodbye – on the title card. Hey, that high school German comes in handy sometimes (the three words I remember, anyway).

Besides the stamping, the only other real embellishment was a few phrase stickers from a Tim Holtz sticker set. I used the stickers to create a bit of mini journaling on two of the photos.

travel album back page title

The biggest design feature on this page was actually a functional feature. I used my Fuse tool and added an extra pocket as a flap on the bottom left of the page. On the front, my boarding pass from my flight is visible. But if you flip if up, there is a white card with typed journaling telling the story of my trip home while I battled an unwanted souvenir – the flu.

travel album hidden journaling

In addition to hiding the journaling, the add-on pocket also hid the photo that I had put on the bottom left. While I enjoyed the novelty of my German chicken nugget box and wanted to record it, it really didn’t match the rest of the layout. So obscuring it behind the pocket for the boarding pass was a good way to include it without it looking too out of place.

Now that the Frankfurt section of my album is done, it’s time to move on to the Heidelberg section…I guess I better make that photo order!

Check out the rest of the album so far:

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Telling A Story With A Must-Scrap Picture

Every so often one of these pictures comes along that you know you just must scrapbook. For me, this relatively ordinary looking image of my daughter is one of those pictures. There’s a story behind this snapshot!

[Disclosure: Graphic 45 provided some of the product that was used in this layout, and my company is the social media manager for 28 Lilac Lane’s manufacturer. Some links in this article are affiliate links that provide a commission to this site when a purchase is made after a click.]

Our daughter has always had really long hair. But recently, it had become very dry due to her medical treatments. Her hair being so dry led to really nasty tangles that were virtually impossible to get out, especially since one of her autistic sensitivities is having her hair brushed. Many battles were fought and tears shed. We finally decided that long hair was not worth the trouble and reluctantly took her for a haircut.

We weren’t prepared for the result…our little girl grew up right before our eyes in just a few minutes! She adores what she calls her “Taylor Swift hair” and there’s no more tears when it comes time to do her hair!

A couple of days later, I had her model a t-shirt for me that I’d made for a website project. My normally awkward and shy in front of the camera child flashed a rock star smile and posed like a pro. Where did this grown-up kid come from?

I’ve been dying for a reason to use this Portrait of a Lady collection that Graphic 45 sent to me, and this seemed the perfect reason! It’s even covered in roses, and Rose is my daughter’s middle name. The pink on the t-shirt was a bit bright for this collection, but since this image isn’t about the t-shirt, I just printed the photo in black & white. Problem solved!

Hello Beautiful scrapbook layout

Supplies:

Patterns like the large roses are gorgeous but can be visually overwhelming. I prefer to use them in small doses, like this vertical strip that takes up 1/3 of my layout. The roses are carried over to the right side of the layout in the borders of the two cards that I used on that side, to create balance.

The secret to layering visually busy papers is to create the pattern version of contrast. Layer a pattern with a light base over a pattern with a dark base (such as the pink text paper in the photo mat being layered over the rose pattern). Or layer a more open pattern over a more dense pattern (such as the green text paper that is over the tan background pattern). And of course you can layer different sizes of patterns to create visual contrast, as well.

Hello Beautiful scrapbook layout

To enhance the visual divide between busy patterned papers, I like to ink my paper edges. Sometimes I just barely run an ink pad along the white edge of the paper to darken it. Other times, such as on the photo mat on this layout, I shade more in from the edges to create more of an edge.

What’s your favorite trick for working with busy patterned papers?

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