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Interview | Amy Tan on bringing Amy Tangerine to American Crafts

During the CHA Summer 2011 show Scrapbook Update had the chance to sit down for a few minutes with designer Amy Tan to talk about scrapbooking, Big Picture Classes, and, of course, her new Amy Tangerine product line with American Crafts!

Scrapbook Update: I know you started generating a whole lot of buzz in the industry when you did your online class on a private blog last year, and I think you gained a lot more followers then. So, can you tell me a little about that class that’s now at Big Picture and how it came to be?

Amy: Sure. So last year when I offered the workshop, it was my first one online, and it was a success in my mind because a lot of people who signed up just loved it, and they made their projects and they really enjoyed the two weeks that they spent with me in the class. So, I met with Big Picture, and they were hoping to put together a workshop, like a live workshop, when the line launched, and I said, “well, I already have this one on my blog…I don’t know if you want to look at it and see if it’s something you want to offer to your students as a download any time.” So, they looked at it, and they loved it, and they offered it for a really good rate, and students are able to just go onto the site and download it whenever they want, and they can use it anytime, and they’ll have access to it forever.

Scrapbook Update: So, how many people did you have in the original run of it?

Amy: Ummm, enough! [laughing]

Scrapbook Update: And have a lot more people downloaded it since then?

Amy: Oh, yes! I really like the fact that the people who signed up the first time were able to have a little bit more of an intimate classroom experience because I was on the blog every day and they were able to comment and I was able to interact with them a lot. This workshop on Big Picture is more of a self-paced class, so they’re able to gain the same knowledge from those lessons, but in a way that they can just do it on their own. So now with the workshop coming out, it’s going to be announced in a few weeks…it’ll be a four week workshop where it’ll be very interactive.

Scrapbook Update: That was actually going to be my next question…did you have any new classes at Big Picture or anywhere else coming out, so that’s exciting!

Amy: Yes!

Scrapbook Update: So is the workshop the workshop version of the downloadable class, or is it a totally new class?

Amy: It’s a totally new class.

Scrapbook Update: Can you tell us anything about what that is?

Amy: Sure! It’s called “The Good Life,” and I can just tell you that it’s going to run for four weeks, and it’s going to use some of the products that are launching with the line with American Crafts. And I’ve got new techniques, and it’s jammed full of fun stuff.

[Note: Amy Tan's new workshop, "The Good Life" was officially announced last week at Big Picture Classes!]

Scrapbook Update: That’s great!

Amy: I’m so excited!

Scrapbook Update: So, are you going to offer a kit or anything like that with it?

Amy: Yes, we’re talking about that, too…which, I’m putting together right now. I think that people really enjoy having a kit to purchase along with the class.

Scrapbook Update: And so the kit will of course draw from the new line pretty heavily?

Amy: Yes.

 

 

Scrapbook Update: So, let’s launch right into the new line from American Crafts- it’s really exciting for you! How long ago did they contact you about that?

Amy: So, actually we were talking about it since last June.

Scrapbook Update: Last June…so it’s been a little over a year.

Amy: Yeah. So we were just talking, and it was just put out there as a suggestion…an idea…and we just kept it in the back of both of our minds, and I got the call in December saying that it’s a go, and it was really exciting. So I spent a week in Utah in January, and here we are now at CHA in July.

Scrapbook Update: So during that one week, that was when you designed the whole line? Or did you go in with some ideas before that?

Amy: I went in with a lot of ideas, and I had two wonderful designers working with me during that week.

Scrapbook Update: So, a lot of the product types are based on things that you already used in your mini albums and your travel books, but what was your inspiration for the style of the line?

Amy: I guess I was just really influenced by stationery and home office and things that I loved that I didn’t really see in the scrapbook world, so I drew inspiration from just the world around me and just kind of everything that I liked, which was just so fun and natural because all I did was select elements that I loved and we were able to put it together in a really cool way. The designers that I worked with were just so incredibly talented. I feel very, very lucky.

Scrapbook Update: It’s got a very eclectic feel, but it all pulls together nicely.

Amy: Oh, thank you!

Scrapbook Update: Can you tell us if there are any new lines planned…being talked about?

Amy: [laughing] We’re talking about it. Hopefully. I think that the response so far has been great. It’s just day two of CHA, but so far I’m really, really excited, and I know that I think American Crafts is really happy with the response.

Scrapbook Update: If you did one, do you think it would be a follow-on with more additions to this line, or a different style of the same types of items, or is that not decided yet?

Amy: I think that it would still stay true to Amy Tangerine and American Crafts, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Scrapbook Update: So what’s your favorite piece…your favorite product…from the new line?

Amy: If I just had to pick one, I think it would be the mini book because I was so excited to be able to mass produce something that’s so unique and offer it at a really good price point to everybody. And I think it’s something that I would use all the time if I had it available to me in the past couple of years that I’ve been scrapbooking. So instead of having to make an actual mini album yourself, you have it ready-made and you can add your bits and pieces to it to have your own twist.

Scrapbook Update: And that book wasn’t sneak-peeked with the rest of the line. In fact the email just came out from American Crafts yesterday in their newsletter that it was released, so you guys kept that one under wraps!

Amy: Yeah, we tried our best. You know, we try to release things and make announcements as we go, so we’re always cooking up something.

Scrapbook Update: I was actually very excited to see those, as well!

 

Scrapbook Update: So, how did you start scrapbooking originally?

Amy: In 2007 when I was doing my t-shirt line heavily, I actually stumbled upon a local scrapbook store who had a class the next day with Emily Falconbridge, and my cousin and I signed up and we took the class and just fell in love with her and her techniques and scrabooking in general, and I guess it’s just kind of been a ride from there.

Scrapbook Update: How is designing your product line different from designing scrapbook pages? Is it harder? Is it easier? Is it just different?

Amy: It’s just different. I mean, it’s so much fun, just as scrapbooking is. I have to think a little bit outside the box because I want to kind of get into the minds of other scrapbookers and try to fill in a need that maybe isn’t available already. There are so many wonderful products out there, and I want to be able to come up with something fresh that complements everything else that’s out there, as well. It’s been a fun challenge.

Scrapbook Update: So, you work in the industry in another kind of unique way. You’ve got your own business. Can you tell us a little about that?

Amy: Sure! When I was making the transition sort of out of the fashion industry the way I was enveloped in it before, I decided that I wanted to do something really fun at events where I would put together scrapbooks for clients and the scrapbook would actually be made the night of the event. So I teamed up with a company called LA Photo Party, and they basically set up a photo booth without the booth at events like weddings, bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, and corporate events, and they print the photos on site. Once they’re printed, they hand them over to the scrapbooker. The guest can write a note to the host, and at the end of the evening a full scrapbook is presented to the host.

Scrapbook Update: Wow! So you have to scrapbook a whole lot of pages really fast.

Amy: Yes, so that’s what we first started doing, but we fine tuned our formula a little bit and we’re able to get the theme and the color scheme beforehand from the event planner and we put together a lot of base pages. So we got a little bit smart about that and it’s a really good system, and everybody is always so happy with their album because the night goes by so fast, especially for weddings, you know, it’s such a nice keepsake that they can take home with them right away.

Scrapbook Update: Is it stressful at all, having to make that many pages in that short of a time?

Amy: You know what? It’s fun! I don’t think it was ever stressful. I really enjoy the process, especially after we fine tuned the way we were doing it.

Scrapbook Update: On average, how many pages do you scrapbook at an event, or is there an average?

Amy: I would say the average is about 30 to 40.

Scrapbook Update: 30 to 40. Wow! And what’s the most you’ve ever done at an event?

Amy: I had help, but we did I think 70 pages.

Scrapbook Update: You scrapbook for some names…some people that I’m sure our readers are going to recognize, so can you maybe just drop some names for us?

Amy: [laughing] Well, I do like to keep my clients’ privacy in mind, but the ones that I can mention are…we did Dr. Phil’s 60th birthday party, and that was a whole lot of fun. It was just an amazing event. And I scrapbook with Mindy Weiss, she’s the party planner who does a lot of celebrity weddings and events, so we have a really good clientelle, and we feel so lucky to have those people to work with.

Scrapbook Update: And it’s definitely one of those niches that doesn’t get filled.

Amy: [laughing] Yeah.

Scrapbook Update: Well, those were all the questions that I had. Is there anything else that you want to add before we wrap it up?

Amy: I just want to thank you for your time and thanks for doing this. I really look forward to when the line hits the shelves and everybody gets their hands on it and starts using it. I’m most excited about that – to see what everybody else creates.

Scrapbook Update: And I know our readers are excited to get their hands on it, too! Well, thank you so much for joining us, Amy!

Amy: Thank you! I really appreciate it.

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CHA Summer 2011 | American Crafts, Webster’s Pages, and Fancy Pants

Want more booth photos? Yes? I hope so, because I have plenty more to share with you today as we check out the offerings of American Crafts, Webster’s Pages, and Fancy Pants.

Design powerhouse American Crafts had a massive booth, and introduced several new lines at CHA Summer 2011.

Their popular line of albums got a refresh with some new designs added in with the old standbys.

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Popular fashion designer and scrapbooker to the stars Amy Tan made a huge splash with her new signature line called “Amy Tangerine”, generating lots of buzz both on and off the show floor.

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I love all the Thickers in her new lines, especially these with faux stitching drawn around the edges – so cute!

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American Crafts is known for certain signature embellishments (such as Thickers), and their Mixtapes are fast becoming one of those staples. The “Amy Tangerine” line features several new styles and patterns of this washi-style tape.

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Amy’s line is also bursting with extras such as clear stamps, ephemera, and letter stickers.

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American Crafts’ “Daydreams” line is a fun, feminine collection that sports a bright color palette and funky bold designs.

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The Thickers in this line are smaller than the normal letters that American Crafts produces, making this lover of tiny alpha stickers very happy indeed!

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“Night Fall” is American Crafts Halloween/Fall offering. There are only a few strictly Halloween themed papers in this line, and even those sheets have “B” sides that are neutral enough to use for general fall pages.

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“Hollyday” puts American Crafts’ signature graphic spin on a red, green, and silver color palette. Clean lines and mod designs make this a fun and cheerful collection!

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These candy cane striped Thickers are simply genius!!

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American Crafts also offers Christmas patterns in their popular Pow! glitter paper, famous for sparkly stuff that never flakes off.

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The “Garden Cafe” line, with its punchy flowers offset by deep browns, has a funky retro vibe about it.

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“Margarita” was American Crafts’ mid-season summer themed release and features all the bright, vibrant colors associated with the season.

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Webster’s Pages is known for their elegant designs both on paper and in their embellishments.

The “Western Romance” line features a soft country look filled with feminine touches such as painted cowgirl boots and flower covered mailboxes.

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Webster’s Pages is also known for innovative embellishments like these delicate feather flowers.

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The brightly colored “Let’s Celebrate” line would be perfect for scrapping birthdays.

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Webster’s Pages’ “All About Me” line features a pleasing color palette that will “play” well with many different types of photos and layout subjects. With its mix of pleasing patterns and gorgeous illustrations of every day (and some not so every day) objects, I could see this being a great candidate for use in a “Week in the Life” album.

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Webster’s introduced not one, but two Christmas lines at this CHA show! “Winter Fairy Tales” is filled with fanciful scenes and a soft color palette, while “Botanical Christmas” features bolder colors and a more traditional Christmas theme.

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Let’s round out this portion of our CHA Summer 2011 tour by stopping in at the Fancy Pants booth!

Fancy Pants’ new lines featured some of the most creative color combinations that I saw anywhere at the show. For instance their Christmas line, “Saint Nick”, has a mostly traditional color palette but adds a light shade of purple to just a few prints for added contrast and interest.

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Their fall line, “Summer’s End”, has the oranges and browns that you’d expect from a seasonal fall line but also includes a punchy shade of blue-green for an unexpected twist.

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And “Oct. 31st”, Fancy Pants’ Halloween line? It includes a bit of bright blue amongst the orange and purple! Not to mention all the lush damask prints scattered throughout.

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This piece of paper was my absolute favorite of the whole booth – it totally appealed to the geeky engineer in me!

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Fancy Pants was also one of the few companies offering a strictly “back-to-school” line. “Off to School” has been getting a lot of buzz on the blogs lately, and I predict that it will be a big seller this fall.

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Fancy Pants’ Brag Books were actually released at the Winter CHA show, but with the huge success of EK Success’s Smash books they were smart to bring them back to the summer show. Fancy Pants’ version of the blank journal trend is less decorative than the EK Success version, giving the scrapper full creative control over the final look of their project.

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Have you all been making your post-CHA shopping lists as you read these booth tour posts? I know I’ve been making mine as I write them! Don’t finalize that list just yet, though, because there’s so much more to come!

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CHA Summer 2011 | Scrapbook Update Top Ten Hot Picks

It’s finally here! After lots of discussion with my staff, debate and agonizing on my part….I’ve made the final decisions and here are the Scrapbook Update Top Ten Hot Picks from CHA Summer 2011!

These are the lines that were truly new, that were fresh, that were buzzed about at the show, that were in demand by buyers, and that Scrapbook Update believes consumers are going to be clamoring for in the next few months.

So, in no particular order…let’s get started!

Lily Bee Design

Like I mentioned in my previous article about Lily Bee Design from CHA Summer, this company achieved something rare for a show release – an entire batch of new collections that are all home runs. All four of the company’s new lines for CHA Summer 2011 are downright usable, an important difference from some lines that are beautiful to look at but difficult to actually execute using.

Memorandum is especially notable because all of the backsides are office paper designs, a theme that has been trendy but that is also becoming something of an industry staple. Paired with classic, elegant vintage designs on the front side, this collection could have a long shelf life.

The other “general purpose” line is called Head Over Heels, and while probably technically intended for the valentine’s day market, it can serve as a beautiful vintage look for a wide variety of projects and topics. The color palette is very trendy and the floral design that unites the palette of all the patterns is just beautiful. The line’s other patterns include a full range of currently trendy elements: damask, doilies, sheet music, stripes, lace and dots.

Fans of Lily Bee’s cardstock alphabet sheets won’t be disappointed, as the new releases are accompanied by some beautiful coordinating alphabet options. Of particular note is the floral alphabet option that coordinates with the Head Over Heels line:

The rest of the line’s embellishments are just as beautiful, and the 6×6 paper pads will make these patterns – in their scaled down form – indispensible to card makers.

Lily Bee’s fall and holiday themed lines (Harvest Market and Jingle) are also extremely versatile (one of Scrapbook Update’s favorite words). They will be perfect for everything from layouts to cards and decorations.

Echo Park Paper

No surprise here, because they consistently put out great stuff, but Echo Park Paper just about entirely nailed their CHA Summer 2011 collections as well. They were one of the companies that chose to do two separate holiday themed lines with two very different looks to appeal to a wide range of crafters.

Echo Park is one of the many companies that debuted beautiful brad assortments at CHA Summer 2011 (watch for an article soon from Scrapbook Update on that topic!), and their large assortments coordinating with their holiday collections are sure to please crafters of all kinds of projects.
The Halloween line, Apothecary Emporium, has incredible possibilities as well. These were demonstrated beautifully by the samples in the booth:

Echo Park’s mid-cycle release, Victoria Gardens, that is just hitting stores, is full of pastel vintage goodness that will be snapped up by papercrafters for a variety of everyday uses.

My Mind’s Eye

How does this company keep putting such massive releases that are so beautiful? Their releases are always among the largest on the show floor and yet rarely contain many items that fall flat. Like Echo Park (mentioned above), My Mind’s Eye was another company that decided to cater to the huge Christmas market by introducing two holiday collections, one vintage (“Lost and Found Christmas”) and one bright in style (“12 Days of Christmas”).

But the real star of the show for My Mind’s Eye was Lost and Found Two, the sequel to the stunning Lost and Found collection. Another huge collection like the original, this collection follows beautiful in the style footsteps of the original and is sure to be a hit with consumers.

My Mind’s Eye also committed fully to the trend for 6×6 paper pads in the papercrafts market, introducing a collection called Six by Six that consists of twelve paper pads exclusively avaiable in the 6×6 size.

Basically Bare

New exhibitor Basically Bare specializes in producing die cut items from chipboard, acrylic and corrugated material that can be used in all types of papercrafts and mixed media projects. Their booth was absolutely packed when I visited it on Thursday.

While the concept of their products is simple (and not completely new), the scale of their products is larger than competitors and well-suited to the new mixed media projects that are becoming increasingly popular. Also, corrugated cardboard is becoming quite trendy due to the rise of mixed media and they offer a wide range of corrugated, including mini albums sure to be popular with consumers looking for a different type of surface to experiment with.

Bella Blvd – “Making The Team” collection

Sometimes, I hear so much about a single collection from a company that it warrants its own spot on the Hot Picks list. “Making The Team” from Bella Blvd was just such a collection at CHA Summer 2011. It invariably seemed to come up when I asked anyone what they had seen so far at the show that excited them. The big excitement seemed to be that “Making The Team” is a sports collection that is unisex, great for making projects for boys or girls, and that it is flexible across a lot of sports as well.

Why all the excitement about a themed line? As much attention as is paid to the non-themed trends such as vintage, a sizable segment of the scrapbook market still creates in a heavily themed way.  A line like “Making the Team” that seems to instantly speak to scrapbookers as filling a niche they’ve been missing will find a large market easily.

Amy Tan for American Crafts

This line was heavily buzzed about at the show by attendees excited to see it debut. American Crafts has had huge success previously with a signature line from Liz Kartchner called “Dear Lizzie”, and it looks like history is about to repeat itself with the introduction of Amy Tan’s “Amy Tangerine” signature line.

“Amy Tangerine” is a perfect fit for American Crafts’ fun, graphic style, and Amy Tan brings an avid fan base to the table both within and outside the crafts industry that will move her product in stores.

One of the most heavily buzzed-about items in the Amy Tangerine collection was the new mixtape (already a popular item for American Crafts) designs that accompany it.

Studio Calico

This company has fast become an industry powerhouse since debuting as a wholesale company at CHA Winter 2010. This may be the most solid release yet from Studio Calico, anchored by the Classic Calico line of neutral brown basics that are sure to have a long shelf life and be used – and reused – by crafters of all kinds.

It wasn’t just Classic Calico getting the buzz, however. Show attendees seemed just as enamored with “Memoir” and “Autumn Press”. These collections will be pleasing to fans of both the vintage and graphic styles that seem to be dueling for dominance in the industry at the moment – which is perhaps the ultimate secret of Studio Calico’s success.

The accompanying embellishments are what Studio Calico has been known for since their kit club days – their signature twist on graphic, making it somehow elegant and even somehow vintage. Their new partnership with Hero Arts has brought rubber stamps into the collection, and they continue to produce embellishments that are simple but have impact (like the wood items from previous shows). This time around it is die cut kraft stickers, labels, and beautiful alphabets getting all the buzz. Well, almost all the buzz – the company’s new 6×6 paper pads were crowd favorites as well.

October Afternoon

Their heavily western-themed booth made a statement on the show floor, and October Afternoon’s collections made an impression on show attendees as well.

The western-themed line “Sasparilla” charmed many attendees, and stood out among the heavy crop of Halloween and Christmas products that populated the show. Despite the line’s seeming to have heavy theming, all of the patterned papers have at least one side that is actually usable for a wide range of generic topics, making the line versatile for both retailers and consumers while still providing some fun.

Very different from “Sasparilla” but still in October Afternoon’s signature style was “Sidewalks” – a beautiful, bright and happy line for scrapping children and back-to-school. 

One heavily buzzed-about product at October Afternoon was the Sprinklers. In a market saturated with spray ink products, their products are attracting a lot of attention for both their color palette and their pigment ink formulation.

The Crafter’s Workshop

As papercrafters are experimenting more with mixed media techniques, their interest in products like templates to use with mediums like inks and paints has grown significantly. The Crafter’s Workshop has quickly become the industry’s template of choice, and at CHA Summer 2011 they added a strong new pull to their catalog – designs by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

Balzer (seen above using her incredible talent for teaching in The Crafter’s Workshop booth) brings an artsy, offbeat design aesthetic to a product that could otherwise be staid and boring. Through her template designs, she is bringing a new dimension of style to the papercrafting world – one that seems to be being well-received, and which may open the industry to a whole new market of crafters.

Jillibean Soup

And last, but not least…there’s Jillibean Soup! This is yet another company that consistently turns out good, reliable product lines that both consumers and retailers can come back to time and again.

Their holiday line “Christmas Eve Chowder” contained a popular icon for this show: Penguins. We predict that the bright, colorful line will be popular in both its full-size version and in the 6×6 paper pad version for making cards and other small holiday projects.

Jillibean also previewed another holiday line that was heavily buzzed about – for Valentine’s Day. “Hearty Barley Soup”, with a palette of pink and red and white on a kraft background, was a heavy favorite of show attendees.

The company’s several other lines, all in bright colors, were also buzzed-about heavily at the show as crowd favorites for various seasons. Jillibean released lines that spanned summer to Valentine’s Day – a wide range of options to choose from.

But perhaps above all, the star of Jillibean’s introductions was their embellishments. They made a small, important change to their paper embellishments (cardstock alphabets and stickers) – they are now printed on matte finish paper for ease of writing on, inking, distressing, etc. The company’s button assortments are beautiful, and along with their soup label sheets, are sure to be popular with the growing market of card makers in the industry.

So…there they are…the Scrapbook Update CHA Summer 2011 Hot Picks list! It was a difficult decision, and there were many successful companies and products that didn’t make the list since we can only pick ten. But we believe that these are the true standouts in the crowd…and we can’t wait to see what they and everyone else will bring to Anaheim in January 2012!

[Editor's Note: Many thanks to Scrapbook Update Contributing Writer Melissa Stinson for contributing the fabulous photography for this article.]

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American Crafts Launches Amy Tangerine Signature Line

American Crafts announced today that they are teaming with Amy Tan to launch a signature scrapbooking product line named for her Amy Tangerine brand.

The Amy Tangerine brand is already well-known as a boutique clothing line for children that has been sold in Bloomingdale’s and Nieman Marcus, as well as through Tan’s Etsy storefront. Tan herself is a familiar figure in the scrapbook industry as a long-time member of the American Crafts design team. Her resume also includes the Hambly and Girl’s Loft design teams, and being an instructor for Big Picture Classes.

The Amy Tangerine line is described by American Crafts as a “fresh collection” of “everyday scrapbooking” products. The initial release, to be debuted at CHA Summer 2011 in Chicago in July, will feature 24 patterned papers, including eight that are stitched or adhesive-backed fabric. New embellishment introduced by American Crafts for the Amy Tangerine line will include fabric stickers, fabric Delights, shaped paper clips and a mini album. The line will also include designs in American Crafts’ standard embellishment lines: acrylic stamps, Mixtape, Remarks stickers, fabric brads, multi-layered Details, and Thickers (in three new fonts).

The Amy Tangerine line’s design elements appear from the sneak peeks on the reveal blog hop of the line to be vintage-graphic, with lots of felt and stitching used in the embellishments.  This debut looks to stay very true to Amy’s signature style as a clothing designer, which should delight her loyal fans. The color palette is wide-ranging, featuring many bright tones layered on top of more muted ones, it appears – again reminiscent of the style of her clothing designs.

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