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Author Archive | Betsy Burnett

Cricut Competitor Black Cat Lynx Announced

World Innovations Ltd. has announced the addition of a new machine to their line-up, the Lynx. This machine is a version of their popular Black Cat Cougar electronic cutter model designed for the craft market. The Lynx is intended to be capable of cutting a wide variety (such as cardstock, vinyl, cereal weight chipboard) of crafting materials up to 12″ in width, and will work with the full line of Cougar accessories already on the market. In addition, the Lynx is reportedly compatible with many of the software programs already on the market that are designed to work with electronic cutters (such as Makes the Cut and Sure Cuts Alot), and it will also be fully compatible with the company’s upcoming “Black Cat Cutting Studio.”

The Black Cat Cougar Line of die-cutting machines was launched in December of 2008 as a collaboration between Colin Russon and craft industry designer and teacher Dawn Grantham.  Russon is the partnership’s technical expert, while Grantham has knowledge of the craft market.  The Cougar is based on a machine originally designed for the sign making industry, but is modified to appeal to crafters.  The Cougar machines vary in size depending on the maximum width needed to cut various materials. Machines range from a 13″ cutting width to a 24″ cutting width. They are designed to cut everything from paper and cardstock to vinyl and heavy chipboard. There are even cutting tips designed to etch (toughened) glass, emboss metal, cut stencils and do intricate cutting work. For more examples, visit Grantham’s website Thyme Graphics.

The Lynx is priced at $499 retail.  The Cougar starts at $689, and increases in price based on the cutting width desired. Additional accessories available (for additional cost) include specialty blades/blade holders, cutting trays and more. For more information on the Black Cat line of cutters, visit the company’s website.


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A Muse Launches Consultant Program

A Muse Stamps recently announced they are launching a new consultant based program called A Muse Studio. The ten-year -old stamping company, based in Washington state, had previously announced to retailers late last year that they were ending their wholesale program.

In discussions with Scrapbook Update, A Muse Stamps founder Linda Hartwich cited a desire to connect with new crafters for the decision. “When you think of how somebody starts stamping, it’s not because they walk into a store and say ‘oh I want to try a new hobby.’ Most new stampers are introduced to the hobby by their friends… normally in a house party setting.”

The company sells cling mount red rubber stamps and custom dies, and also features their own ink, embossing powders, and paper lines with coordinating ribbon and embellishments.  They also retail other products by other manufacturers, such as Copic markers, the Sizzix Big Shot, Nestibilities dies, and the Crop-a-dile.

Following a traditional multi-level marketing plan, the company is currently in what they call “phase one” of their consultant launch. Phase two is due to be launched in April 2011. This phase will allow people to join specifically under another consultant via consultant websites, and will be featured in an upcoming Paper Crafts Magazine ad.

The A Muse consultant program launch may be on the leading edge of what seems to be a trend in the paper crafting industry. Unity Stamp Co. features their version of an independent consultant program called Ippity. Also, paper crafting superstore Archivers has made known plans to launch their own consultant-based program to promote scrapbooking and local scrapbook stores.

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CHA Winter 2011 Make & Takes: Educational & Enjoyable (Giveaway)

Having the chance to sit down and make projects with a manufacturer’s “latest and greatest” allows CHA attendees to see first-hand why they need what the manufacturers are selling. For retailer attendees, there is another benefit – to bring home creative samples to display using the product that will soon be in their store. For educator/demonstrator members of CHA, make-and-takes not only provide some hands-on time with new products, but a chance to work with a company’s designers to learn specific tips and techniques.

Betsy Burnett of Scrapbook Update and Wendy Russell of "She's Crafty" making a felt clutch purse at i love to create

At some companies’ booths at CHA Winter 2011, their make-and-takes were offered in sort of a classroom setting, with attendees even needing tickets to attend. Prima Marketing sent out email invites to retailers a couple of weeks before the show offering sign-up for a full assortment of classes from altered canvas bags to mini albums. Pink Paislee did something similar issuing email make-and-take tickets to attendees a week prior to the show, as Rebecca Cross (owner and creative director of Pink Paislee) explained: “Although there were some people who didn’t make their time slot, it was still a very successful way for us to make sure the make-n-take time slots would be filled and it kept store owners from having to stand in long lines during a busy show.”

One of Pink Paislee's five different make-and-takes (photo courtesy of Pink Paislee)

At those companies that didn’t require tickets, attendees normally had a bit of a line to wait in. Most lines, however, appeared to be less than a 10 minute wait. Projects ranged from mini albums (created using the Creatopia system by Xyron), to stamped pendants (at Rubber Stamp Concepts). One popular stop for attendees, Bottle Cap inc, was making a bottle cap necklace project and long time CHA make-n-take favorite Quick Quotes was creating decorated canvases.

"Family" canvas make-and-take from Quick Quotes

Some make and takes showcased a new line or concept. At Bo Bunny attendees were met with a table full of elements from the company’s “Crazy Love” card kit and given the chance to create a valentine or two for their sweetheart.  Best Creations showcased their St. Patrick’s line – there attendees had a chance to take home a 12 x 12 page ready to add photos onto.

 

Bo Bunny "Crazy Love" card kit make-and-take

Many companies worked together to showcase their products. Unibind and Fiskars worked together to create mini albums, using Fiskars punches to decorate the pages and the Unibind system to bind the mini purse albums. Also at the Fiskars booth, Simplicity/Burda was there making a fabric bracelet using Fiskars scissors and Spoonflower fabric.

Ever popular with attendees are what could be called the “free for all” tables. Here attendees were given a “base” for their project and an assortment of other trinkets and treasures to create with. At the Everything Mary booth, attendees were given a choice of catch all and then told to have fun decorating. Gemstones, flowers, foam and felt shapes and a hot glue gun were all provided to create a finished tote. At Westcott, attendees could decorate their own scissor holster in a similar manner. At the Tombow booth, there was a full assortment of their dual brush pens along with some simple instruction on ways to use the pens on an embossed tag. The i love to create booth featured several of these types of projects as well, including reusable lunch bags that became a canvas for a variety of painting techniques.

A zentangle inspired lunchbag from i love to create

On the last day of the show, Ranger Ink designers did something a bit different for their “make and take.”  Instead of having a project for people to do, they provided attendees with their full range of ink colors to make swatch cards of several of their most popular lines, including the new Distress Stains from Tim Holtz. During the make-and-take, Holtz was in the booth talking to people about the product and signing the swatch cards for retailers to display in their stores. In answer to the question, “why swatch cards?”,  Holtz explained: “By this point in the show most of us retailers, manufacturers, everyone… is tired and their brains are suffering from “crafting overload.” Who needs to do a project when you are like this? Creating a swatch gives retailers a tool to take back to the store with them. When customers ask “how dark is this color” they won’t need to open up stock to give an idea as to the actual color.”

Tim Holtz creating swatch cards at Ranger

So…would you like to win an assortment of make and takes from CHA? We have an assortment of finished projects and kits to create with to give away!

How To Enter: All you have to do to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before Midnight U.S. eastern time on Sunday night, April 3rd. Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the text of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only Scrapbook Update staff can see it). We will need it to notify you if you are a winner. Winners will be drawn by random drawing from all eligible entries. One entry per person. U.S. mailing addresses only please.

Scrapbook Update would like to thank the following companies for donating items for this giveaway: Best Creations, Deco Arts,  Feltables, Epiphany Crafts, Everything Mary, Fiskars, GCD Studios, i love to create, Ranger Ink, Rubber Stamps Inc.,  Simplicity/ Burda Style, Spoonflower, Quick Quotes, and Westcott.


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The Things You Still Do For Swag

The crowd counts down: 3…2…1 Then the show floor opens, and the race is on, a sea of frantic women trying to get to the back of the show floor. Some  are not even sure why they are running or where they are going. They just know if something was good for someone else to run for they should probably be a part of it.  Some women breathlessly discuss what they are running for: “Fancy…..Pants…….cute aprons….first 50.” Arriving in time to see the last few aprons handed out proves that to get the swag some must be willing to go “the extra mile” (Fancy Pants Designs apron pictured below.) Continue Reading →

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Cricut Celebrates 5th Birthday At CHA Winter 2011

What’s a fun loving bug to do on his (or is it her?) 5th birthday? For Provo Craft’s Cricut bug, the obvious answer was to celebrate in a big way, naturally!  CHA Winter 2011 marked the 5th “birthday” for Provo Craft’s Cricut machine, and so the company decided it was time to celebrate!

To kick off, the company launched the celebration with a special “anniversary” edition of the popular Cricut Expression Machine. This limited edition release machine, known as the E2, will be making its appearance in stores sometime in April. On first look at the machine, the body seems a bit sleeker and it feels noticeably lighter in weight. The added feature of a lighted cutting area is intended to help users see exactly what and where the machine is cutting.

The E2 will also have a LED touch screen control. This new feature eliminates the need to use overlays on the keypad, and allows layers to display on the machine’s display. Cutting will also be able to be paused in the middle, a feature intended for use when paper starts to shift on the mat to allow corrections. Users will also have  a home and zoom feature and the ability to cut out Cricut Imagine shapes (but not the ability to print the Imagine images.)

Provo Craft also announced their upcoming “online design studio” computer software called the “Cricut Craft Room” in Los Angeles. From the test version, it appears to be a more user-friendly version of the company’s existing Cricut Design Studio software. Users will be able to weld words with the click of their mouse.  They will also be able to “link” cartridges to their Craft Room (similar to the Gypsy’s current operation) and then cut images by hooking a Cricut to their computer. The Cricut Craft Room will also be compatible with the new E2 machine via Wi-Fi.

The birthday celebration/promotion was definitely Cricut’s theme on the show floor. Attendees at the show were invited into Provo Craft’s booth to create a 5th birthday cupcake featuring Provo Craft’s Cricut Cake machine, and given a clip-on stuffed “Cricut”  bug. They were then asked to photograph Cricut in creative places throughout the rest of the show, and given a chance to make a “Where’s Cricut” decorated frame for their pictures. The best “Where’s Cricut” photos were featured during Provo Craft’s big daily giveaway, and prizes were given to the winning photographers.

Cricut also celebrated its 5th birthday in a big way at the exclusive Conga Room located at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Attendees were met with food and drinks and shown a light-hearted video on how Cricut came to join the Provo Craft family and why they had to create the Cricut machine just for him (her?) Then, the crowd was surprised by an appearance by dancers from the popular Fox TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, who joined the party goers to celebrate Cricut’s birthday. (Author Betsy Burnett is pictured below with Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance?”) To end the evening, all attendees received a goodie bag with a large plush version of Cricut, a Cricut t-shirt, the Birthday Bash Cricut cartridge and the promise of receiving the new E2 machine when it was released.

The Cricut Expression 2, known as the E2, will be a limited-run machine, and will make it’s retail debut on HSN on April 26th, 2011. The MSRP for the machine is set at $399, which is the same as the previous Cricut Expression models. The Cricut Craft Room is expected to launch in April of  2011, and the Wi-Fi compatibility update is due to be released a couple of months later.

Pre-order Mark Montano’s latest book, The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor, available at Amazon.com April 10th:

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Charity Wings holds Charity Event Live from CHA Show Floor

Charity Wings started the 2011 year by holding their first ever “Live at CHA” event during the CHA Winter 2011 Conference & Trade Show in Los Angeles. They invited crafters that were not able to attend the show to catch a glimpse through Ustream of the manufacturers and their new products, and let them travel the show floor a bit to see the booths and even win a prize or two. Industry personalities like Jenni Bowlin, Anna Griffin, Teresa Collins, and Melissa Forsyth & Candy Rosenberg (from the Rubber Cafe, pictured below) stopped by to take part in the live event.

For a $48 fee, Live from CHA participants received a bag filled with 5 make-n-takes and goodies from event sponsors. Charity Wings also raised money for Crops of Luv at the event through manufacturer and designer-donated items that were put up for auction on ebay during (and after ) the Live from CHA event.

Charity Wings volunteers (such as Karen Poirier-Brode, pictured below) also helped out in the Westcott booth with make-and-takes. Westcott, a Charity Wings sponsor, features the Charity Wings logo on their product packaging and helps raise money for the Charity Wings Fund to cover operating costs for the organization.

This year also marks an increased partnership between Charity Wings and Scrapbook Expo, with Charity Wings agreeing to host all of the crops for Scrapbook Expo’s 2011 season.

For Charity Wings founder Elena Lai Etcheverry, all of this started from having a willing heart to help raise money at a Susan B. Komen breast cancer crop. She had so much fun with the crop she decided that she needed to help with the next one – and even joined the committee to help run the event.

It was after this experience she realized charitable work was something she wanted to do all year long. Scrapbook Royalty was born. With a talent for motivating crafters and having a wide network of crafters, retailers,  and manufacturers to work with, Etcheverry decided she could really help organize and creatively inspire crafters that might not know where to start raise money for their favorite charity.

Scrapbook Royalty’s first event in 2006 for the American Heart Association raised $2500. Participants enjoyed the event so much they immediately started planning the next one…and then another, and another.  American Heart Association, Susan B Komen foundation, Autism awareness/research and Crops of Luv are just a few of the organizations Scrapbook Royalty has helped to raise money for.

Realizing that Scrapbook Royalty was becoming something greater than its founder had imagined, the organization applied for non-profit status in 2008. In 2009, Etcheverry was joined in her work by another charitable crafter, Sheila Goldsberry, and they changed the organization’s name to Charity Wings to encompass all types of crafters and better describe their mission.

In 2010, the 100% volunteer-run organization lent a hand with 37 events across the country that raised money for over 27 different charities. According to Charity Wings’ figures; the organization has raised over $347,000 for various charitable causes during their 5 year history. Their participation in events can range from coordinating the entire event and finding sponsors, to just helping to advertise the event. In addition, they hold online raffles, do “fairy fly-bys” (giveaways) at events, and even have a monthly “do good” challenge with their “Club Royalty”. These challenges for the most part encourage members to use their crafts in some way to help the charity’s cause of the month.

To learn more about Charity Wings and their upcoming events, visit the Charity Wings website.

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