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Cricut Gift Guide: Top 10 Gifts for Cricut Lovers for 2019

It’s holiday shopping time again, and that means we are all looking for gift ideas! If you (or someone you love) are a crafter who loves Cricut, this Cricut Gift Guide is for you! I’m sharing my top 10 gifts for Cricut lovers to help make your Christmas shopping easy this year!

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

 

Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker Rose

If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your earlier generation of Cricut machine, now is the time to go for it! With the release of the latest set of Cricut Maker tools (more on those in a moment), the Cricut Maker has really matured into its promise as a machine. The Adaptive Tool System, which gives the Maker machine 6x more cutting power than the previous generation machines, makes this machine much more expandable than any other Cricut has ever been. It’s truly the most versatile Cricut machine ever, starting right out of the box with the included rotary blade that cuts fabric beautifully!

Cricut Access Annual Subscription

Cricut Access

The first thing I always recommend that new Cricut machine owners do is sign up for a Cricut Access subscription! When you pay annually, it’s only $7.99/month, and you get the ability to use 100,000 images and 400 fonts from the Cricut library at no charge. Plus, as a bonus…you get discounts on purchases of licensed images not included in the subscription, discounts on purchases from Cricut.com, as well as priority access to Cricut support! Access is by far the most cost-effective way to get loads of content for your machine – and the discounts help you get affordable supplies for your machine too!

Cricut Machine Tote

Cricut Machine Tote

This item is on my personal wishlist this holiday season! Your Cricut machine is precious – make sure it is protected when you take it on the go! The tote looks stylish on the outside, but inside, it has soft foam designed to gently cushion your Cricut machine from the bumps and bruises of being out and about. And with four colors to choose from – tweed, purple, navy, and raspberry – there’s one to match everyone’s style. (I’m partial to the raspberry tote myself, but it’s hard to resist that oh-so-sophisticated tweed!) Carry it by the handles, or with the included matching detachable shoulder strap.

To really travel in (organized) style with your Cricut, don’t miss the matching Rolling Tote, which is the perfect size to trolley your machine tote with and holds materials, 12×12 mats, tools, and your laptop or mobile device – everything you need to Cricut on-the-go!

Cricut Maker Tools

Cricut Maker Tools

There’s so many tools to choose from to expand your Cricut Maker by using the Adaptive Tool System! I recommend starting with the Knife Blade, an addition to the Cricut tool box that lets you cut garment leather, balsa and basswood, and chipboard (among other things). Then for papercrafters, the Scoring Wheel and Double Scoring Wheel are absolute must-haves for creating professional looking creases on cards and 3D objects. Of course, there’s options like the Wavy Blade and the Basic Perforation Blade for more advanced papercraft projects.

Cricut Wood & Wood Veneer

Cricut Wood Veneer

One of the things that I was most excited about when I first learned about the Cricut Maker’s Knife Blade was the new ability to cut wood with my machine. I do enjoy cutting plain basswood with my machine, and Cricut makes that easier with their 11″x11″ and 12″x6″ packages that are the perfect thickness and sized just right for the Cricut Maker. But if you want your wood projects to have a bit more flair, Cricut’s new natural wood veneer is what you are looking for. Available in Walnut (pictured above), Maple, and Cherry, this veneer will add sophisticated wood tones to your next project!

Cricut Fabric

Cricut Fabric

I’m very picky when it comes to selecting fabric. (Just ask the ladies at my local quilt store where I have been known to spend hours picking fabric for a sewing project…) But Cricut has partnered with one of my favorite fabric companies, Riley Blake, to create their fabric sets, and the results are amazing! The fabric assortments are nicely balanced sets combining different large scales of patterns with smaller scale ones. The result are selections that are easy to put together into projects. And with these beautiful florals and geometric designs…you’ll want to make ALL the things!

Cricut Pens

Cricut Pens

I’ve loved the Cricut pens since I got my first Explore machine in 2014. They are my secret weapon to looking like I have mad drawing and handwriting skills when I really have neither! With such a large variety of them available – metallics, fine point, markers, gel, calligraphy – there’s a pen that matches every project. And by combining pens, you can get limitless possibilities of looks. Choose metallics or calligraphy tips for an elegant look. Gel pens or bright colored fine points make for fun doodles! A great place to start with pens are my two personal favorites, the Metallic Pen Set and the Black Multi Pen Set.

Cricut EasyPress 2

Cricut Easy Press

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the EasyPress completely changed my attitude towards working with iron-on. I’d always loved the possibilities of the material, but I never had the patience to work with it with my regular iron. The EasyPress lives up to its name – it’s simple to use, it’s fast, and it gives me perfect results the first time. I now love working with iron-on! The EasyPress has opened up so many creative possibilities for me!

Cricut Infusible Ink

Cricut Infusible Ink

The EasyPress isn’t good just for iron-on. It’s got the high temperatures needed for working with Cricut’s new Infusible Ink products. This DIY dye sublimation iron-on process embeds ink right in the fabric, for professional looking projects that are washable and last longer. Combine the special Infusible Ink blanks (like coasters, t-shirts and totes) with Infusible Ink sheets cut on your Cricut to make brilliantly colored designs. And you’re not limited to just solid colors with Infusible Ink – try out beautiful patterns like patina, watercolor, or galaxy for an extra special touch on your project!

Cricut EasyPress Tote

Cricut EasyPress Tote 9x9

Another item from my personal wishlist, the Cricut EasyPress Tote is a must-have accessory for your EasyPress! This padded, heat-resistant tote is a secure and stylish way to store your EasyPress or take it with you to craft at events. The tote holds your EasyPress, its base & cord, the matching size pressing mat, and small accessories. A velcro strap holds your machine in position so it stays in place during transport. Pick the size – 6″x7″, 9″x9″ or 12″x10″ – that matches your EasyPress for a perfect fit!

Cricut Gift Guide

2

2019 Christmas Scrapbook Paper Collection Round-Up!

There’s a fall breeze in the air, and forget pumpkin spice and fall leaves…many crafters are already thinking Christmas! Most of the scrapbook manufacturers have already announced their 2019 Christmas scrapbooking products, and many of those products are already available on store shelves. Here in the Scrapbook Update 2019 Christmas Scrapbook Collection Round-Up, you won’t miss a single one!

2019 Christmas Scrapbook Papers

Disclosure: Some links contained in this article are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to you when a purchase is made after a click.

As evidenced by the huge number of collections – and their early release before the holiday – Christmas scrapbooking remains one of the most popular themes to create for many crafters. Whether creating cards & invitations, party decor, advent calendars, December scrapbooks, Christmas villages, or other projects, there’s so much crafting to be done around the holidays!

What are the trends for Christmas 2019?

Consolidation in the scrapbook industry is affecting virtually everything, and that includes industry trends. A total of two-thirds of the paper packs on this list are the products of only four industry companies (American Crafts, Simple Stories, Echo Park, Photo Play) through their associated brand names.

What does this mean for the trends? It largely kills them, at least as we knew trends a decade ago in the industry when they were flagrant and at times overwhelming. Comparing product lines from year to year, it’s apparent that most of these large companies design their Christmas products to fill a certain staple “slot” in the holiday product line-up. So, for instance…DCWV has a blue and white Christmas paper pad this year, and they had a blue and white Christmas paper pad last year. They are both beautiful, and different from each other, but the general look is similar. If you liked last year’s, you’ll like this year’s.

Overall, a few subtle trends are still apparent. That blue and white paper pad I just mentioned? Let’s take a closer look. Last year’s gingham pattern is replaced with two plaid designs. This is a reflection of two trends. First, it shows the conversion of plaid (which was a trend a few years back) into a holiday scrapbooking staple. And it also shows that the “farm” look is receding in the industry, replaced by mid-century modern. Look closely and you’ll see that last year the pad’s paper designs had a more classic look, and this year the designs are infused with just a bit of a mod direction.

One interesting thing to note this year is the number of “themed” collections within the Christmas offerings. Simple Stories has expanded their Say Cheese theme park line to Christmas, and Photo Play Paper is offering the dog-themed “Muttcracker”. Several companies (including Authentique, with a whole paper pad) have food & baking themed items – great for making items to accompany holiday treats.

If you know of a Christmas scrapbook paper collection that is new for 2019 that should be included here, please email nancy@nallystudios.com.

2019 Christmas Scrapbook Paper Collections

The collections below are arranged alphabetically by company:

Authentique: Calendar Collection – December

Size: 12×12, 6×6
Shipping: October
Wholesale: Authentique Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Authentique Calendar-December

Authentique: Rejoice

Size: 8×8, 12×12
Shipping: now
Wholesale: Authentique Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Authentique Rejoice

Avery Elle: The Holiday Collection

Size: 6×6
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Avery Elle
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Avery Elle The Holiday Collection

BoBunny: Christmas Treasures

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

BoBunny Christmas Treasures

Carta Bella: Buffalo Plaid

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Carta Bella Buffalo Plaid

Carta Bella: Christmas Market

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Carta Bella Christmas Market

Carta Bella: Merry Christmas

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Carta Bella Merry Christmas

Carta Bella: Snow Much Fun

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Catherine Pooler: Patterns & Pine

Size: 6×6
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Catherine Pooler
Retail: Catherine Pooler

Catherine Pooler Patterns and Pine

Color Play: One Night In Bethlehem by Becky Fleck Moore

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Color Play One Night in Bethlehem

Color Play: Dear Santa Recipe Cards

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Photo Play Dear Santa Recipe Cards

Crate Paper: Snowflake

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: October
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

Crate Paper Snowflake

DCWV: Candy Cane Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Candy Cane Christmas 2

DCWV: Christmas Nutcracker

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Christmas Nutcracker

DCWV: Christmas Pals

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Christmas Pals

DCWV: Classic Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Classic Christmas

DCWV: Joyeux Noel

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Joyeux Noel

DCWV: Merry & Bright

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Merry & Bright

DCWV: Merry Mod Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Merry Mod Christmas

DCWV: Mrs Claus’ Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Mrs Claus' Kitchen

DCWV: O’ Christmas Tree

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV O' Christmas Tree

DCWV: Winter Wonder

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

DCWV Winter Wonder

Doodlebug Design: Christmas Magic

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: October
Wholesale: Doodlebug Design
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Doodlebug Christmas Magic

Doodlebug Design: Christmas Magic Petite Prints

Size: 12×12
Shipping: October
Wholesale: Doodlebug Design
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Doodlebug Christmas Magic Petite Prints

Dress My Craft: Christmas Bells

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Dress My Craft
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Dress My Craft Christmas Bells

Echo Park: A Cozy Christmas

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Echo Park A Cozy Christmas

Echo Park: Away In A Manger

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Echo Park Away in a Manger

Echo Park: Here Comes Santa Claus

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Echo Park Here Comes Santa Claus

Echo Park: My Favorite Christmas by Lori Whitlock

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp, Amazon

Echo Park My Favorite Christmas

Echo Park: My Favorite Winter by Lori Whitlock

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Echo Park My Favorite Winter

Echo Park: Warm & Cozy

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Echo Park Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Echo Park Warm and Cozy

Fancy Pants Designs: Home For Christmas

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Foundations Decor
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

Fancy Pants Home for Christmas

Graphic 45: Joy To The World

Size: 8×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Graphic 45
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Graphic 45 Joy to the World collection

Graphic 45: Joy To The World Patterns & Solids

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Graphic 45
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Graphic 45 Joy to the World patterns solids

Heidi Swapp: Winter Wonderland

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Heidi Swapp Winter Wonderland 2

Kaisercraft: Let It Snow

Size: 6.5×6.5, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Kaisercraft
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Kaisercraft Let It Snow

Kaisercraft: Peppermint Kisses

Size: 6.5×6.5, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Kaisercraft
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Kaisercraft Peppermint Kisses

Kaisercraft: Starry Night

Size: 6.5×6.5, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Kaisercraft
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Kaisercraft Starry Night

Kaisercraft: Under The Gum Leaves

Size: 6.5×6.5, 12×12
Shipping: October
Wholesale: Kaisercraft
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Kaisercraft Under the Gum Leaves

My Mind’s Eye: Holly Jolly

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: My Mind’s Eye
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

My Minds Eye Holly Jolly

My Mind’s Eye: Yuletide

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: My Mind’s Eye
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

My Minds Eye Yuletide

Pebbles: Merry Little Christmas

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Pebbles Merry Little Christmas

Photo Play Paper: Christmas Memories by Becky Fleck Moore

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Christmas Memories

Photo Play Paper: Christmas Memories Solids Plus by Becky Fleck Moore

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Christmas Memories Solids Plus

Photo Play Paper: For The Love Of Winter by Michelle Coleman

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play For the Love of Winter

Photo Play Paper: Kringle & Co

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Kringle and Co

Photo Play Paper: Kringle & Co Solids Plus

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Kringle Solids Plus

Photo Play Paper: Muttcracker

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Muttcracker

Photo Play Paper: Muttcracker Solids Plus

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Photo Play Paper
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Photo Play Muttcracker Solids Plus

Pink Paislee: Together for Christmas

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: American Crafts
Retail: Scrapbook.com

Pink Paislee Together for Christmas

Pinkfresh Studio: Home For The Holidays

Size: 6×6, 12×12
Shipping: now
Wholesale: Pinkfresh Studio
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Pinkfresh Home for the Holidays

Reminisce: Gold Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Reminisce
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

Reminisce Gold Christmas

Reminisce: North Pole Express

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Reminisce
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

Reminisce North Pole Express

Reminisce: Santa’s Sweater

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Reminisce
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Amazon

Reminisce Santas Sweater

Simple Stories: Simple Vintage Country Christmas by Katie Pertiet

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Simple Vintage Country Christmas

Simple Stories: Simple Vintage Country Christmas Simple Basics by Katie Pertiet

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Country Christmas Simple Basics

Simple Stories: Holly Jolly

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Holly Jolly

Simple Stories: Holly Jolly Simple Basics

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Holly Jolly Simple Basics

Simple Stories: Say Cheese Christmas

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Say Cheese Christmas

Simple Stories: Winter Farmhouse

Size: 6×8, 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Winter Farmhouse

Simple Stories: Winter Farmhouse Simple Basics

Size: 12×12
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Simple Stories
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Simple Stories Winter Farmhouse Simple Basics

Tim Holtz idea-ology: Mini Christmas Stash

Size: 8×8
Shipping: October
Wholesale: Advantus
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Tim Holtz Mini Christmas Stash

Tonic Studios: Merry & Bright

Size: 6×6
Shipping: Now
Wholesale: Tonic Studios
Retail: Scrapbook.com, Simon Says Stamp

Tonic Merry and Bright

What is your favorite new Christmas scrapbook paper collection of 2019?

2019 Christmas Scrapbook Paper Round Up

21

ClearSnap Closing Down Operations

ClearSnap announced today that they are closing down operations. The Burlington, Washington-based company has been  manufacturing industrial and craft inks in the U.S. for nearly 30 years.

[Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program. Some links in this article are affiliate links.]

ClearSnap was purchased either by direct sales company Stampin’ Up! or its founders Shelli & Sterling Gardners in 2006. It was being run by Sterling Gardner (husband of Stampin’ Up! founder Shelli Gardner) as a separate entity from the Utah-based Stampin’ Up!.

News of the closure was shared with ClearSnap’s wholesale customers last week. In the announcement to consumers today, ClearSnap said it was sharing the news “with a heavy heart” and thanked customers “for all your continued support over the years.” The company said that the last day to place orders from ClearSnap is July 31st, but gave no final date for ceasing operations.

Clearsnap Inks

My personal stash of Clearsnap inks.

ClearSnap, under its brand name ColorBox, is widely known to scrapbookers and stampers for its signature Cats Eye pigment ink pads. In addition to its pigment ink pads, the company is also known for its Petal Point, Chalk, India Ink, and other specialty inkpads. Graphic 45, Doodlebug, Stephanie Barnard, Ann Butler, Eileen Hull, Donna Salazar, Susan Weckesser, and Teresa Collins have all produced licensed products with ClearSnap.

I caught up with Eileen Hull when she was demonstrating her ColorBox Blends at Creativation 2019 back in January:

The closure of ClearSnap will leave Ranger and Imagine Crafts to fight it out as the major brand players in the retail ink market, along with contributions from companies such as Lawn Fawn, Hero Arts, and others. And of course, Stampin’ Up! and Close to My Heart will continue to provide stamping ink to the direct sales market as well.

Asked about the impact the closure of ClearSnap will have on the stamping segment, Hero Arts CEO Aaron Leventhal told Scrapbook Update:

ClearSnap is a long-time contributor to the stamping market and I’m sorry to hear they will no longer lend their innovative approach and quality products to our industry. We will miss you!  Not having quality companies like ClearSnap means less investment in the industry — in the form of marketing, advertising, new products and creative ideas, which is bad for everyone.

According to the Michaels website, my local store has about two dozen Colorbox SKUs stocked. (Joann’s is only showing a handful of Colorbox SKUs available in store when I search.) Who will get that shelf space is a big question. Will it be Ranger? Or Imagine Crafts? Or store brand products? Or will no one get it, further shrinking the big box’s paper crafts foot print?

If you want to grab reinkers for your favorite ink pad or that must-have item from your wishlist before they are gone, ClearSnap products are available online at Scrapbook.com and Amazon.com

22

Ellison/Sizzix Patent Litigation Update

In a move likely in the works for months, Stampin’ Up has announced that they are discontinuing the Sizzix Big Shot and also are replacing Sizzix as the manufacturer for their dies. Stampin’ Up’s new dies will be a slightly different die style than the previous ones. As part of the transition to a new die manufacturer, Stampin’ Up is discontinuing (they call it “retiring”) a large number of die designs from their catalog The existing designs that are being retained in the product line will transition to the new style of die once existing inventory of the old Sizzix-manufactured die style is sold out.

In early April, Ellison laid off a significant number of staff in their U.S. office in Lake Forest, California. The layoffs, reportedly as high as 20% of the U.S. staff, included at least some of the company’s U.S.-based in-house project designers. Several of Ellison’s graphic designers also departed the company around that time, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Ellison lawsuits

Against the backdrop of those events, four of the patent lawsuits initiated by Ellison in defense of its die patent have also continued throughout April. (To learn more about the background on these lawsuits and the patent they are alleging infringement of, click here.)

Court proceedings have been quiet in Ellison’s case against Stephanie Barnard since early March when a Special Master was appointed by the judge to assist in managing the case. The parties have entered the time-consuming (and expensive) period of litigation involving discovery and other out-of-court preparation for an eventual court trial scheduled for September 2020.

April has been taken up by relatively routine matters in the case between Ellison and Hero Arts. The two companies jointly requested a protective order from the judge to govern the handling of confidential information during the case. That order was granted on April 24th. The two sides have also agreed with the court to a schedule for the case that will lead to a trial in October 2020.

Heartfelt Creations filed a Motion to Dismiss Ellison’s case against them on April 24th. The filing claims that Ellison was too vague in their original lawsuit filing, failing to meet a sufficient burden of proof for a claim of infringement because they never pointed to a specific product of Heartfelt’s that allegedly infringes under the ‘325 patent standard. Heartfelt is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed as a result.

Avery Elle was responsible for the most notable activity in any of Ellison’s ongoing lawsuits in April. On April 11th, Avery Elle’s lawyers filed a Motion for Sanctions against both Ellison and their lawyers. The motion accuses Ellison of filing a frivolous lawsuit to harass Avery Elle and failing to do a proper investigation before filing. Avery Elle claims that their dies do not infringe the ‘325 patent because 32% of their dies’ flat border extends into the center and the ‘325 patent describes dies with “none” of the border extending into the center.

The company went a step further in its Motion for Sanctions, however, by claiming that prior art from Spellbinders (a 2011 video and an internet archive of their website)  and Quickutz (a 2007 circle die) makes the patent itself invalid. Avery Elle also claims that Ellison should have been aware of this art, and concludes, “Ellison and its Attorneys either failed to perform a basic pre-filing investigation or they knowingly brought an objectively baseless lawsuit.”

As a result of the claims in its motion, Avery Elle is asking for the court to sanction Ellison and its attorneys by awarding attorney’s fees and other costs to them to compensate them for what they call an action that was “frivolous and filed to harass.” Attorney’s fees being awarded to a successful defendant is not the normal outcome in patent litigation. It’s only done when the court rules there has been some egregious behavior by the plaintiff in the course of the suit. (Coincidentally, the industry’s previous die patent litigation ended this way, with Spellbinders ordered to pay attorney’s fees to Quickutz.)

Ellison filed its response to the Motion for Sanctions on April 29th. To defend their lawsuit, they presented some interpretations of both the word “none” and the first claim in the patent to the court.

The original patent application demonstrated the die construction with “none” of the cutting edge extending into the center of the die with this art:

 

325 Patent Illustration - figure 4

However, Ellison (via an affidavit from ‘325 inventor Kevin Corcoran) now claims that the word “none” encompasses a lip inside the die’s vertical surface because that lip is technically part of the blade. They used this art to demonstrate their claim:

Ellison die lip blade

They also made a second argument, however, that could render that one moot. They claim the “none” description of the die lip is part of a “preamble” and not actually a technical requirement of the patent. In essence, they are trying to divorce it from the method claim of aligning a die with a stamp to cut it out. Were that argument to be successfully defended, Ellison would be the only company with the legal right to manufacture and sell open centered chemically etched dies that match stamps – regardless of whether there is an edge extending into the center or not – in the U.S.

Oral arguments are scheduled about the motion on May 13th in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California before Judge Marilyn Huff.

47

Ellison Sues 5 Companies, Alleging Patent Infringement

Ellison Educational Equipment, the parent company of Sizzix brand, has sued five companies over the past few months alleging infringement of a die technology patent that they own. Since November 2018, the company has sued Prima Marketing, Stephanie Barnard (and her The Stamps of Life company), Hero Arts, Avery Elle, and Heartfelt Creations.

Ellison logo banner

The ‘325 Patent

The patent at issue in the lawsuits filed by Ellison is No. 9,079,325 (referred to here and in court filings as the ‘325 patent for the sake of brevity). The first paperwork related to the application for this patent was filed on July 15th, 2011. The formal patent application is dated July 26th, 2012. The patent was ultimately granted on July 14th, 2015.

The ‘325 patent has three elements, or “claims” in patent law terminology. All of these claims relate to the construction and use of chemically etched metal dies. These are the dies commonly called “thin metal dies” by crafters.

Claim One: The first element of this claim is the actual structure of the die. The patent claims ownership of the technology of manufacturing dies with an open center – as virtually all thin metal dies manufactured today are – that do not have a lip extending past the cutting edge into the center of the die.

A method for cutting out, by means of a first die, a shape that is printed on a sheet material, wherein the die includes an inside opening that corresponds to the shape to be cut from the sheet material, a flat outside border having first and opposite faces that surround said inside opening, and a cutting edge that projects from the first face of the flat outside border, such that said cutting edge surrounds the inside opening of said first die and corresponds exactly with the shape that is printed on the sheet material and none of the flat outside border of said die extends into the inside opening of said die

To put that description in graphic terms, it means a die with the profile below. (Graphic taken from the patent.)

325 Patent Illustration - figure 4

325 patent illustration - figure 6

Claim one goes even further though, taking ownership of the technique of using dies designed like this by aligning the die with a shape (such as a stamped image) on material (such as paper) and then putting the die and material through a die cut machine to cut the shape out.

said method comprising the steps of:

locating the shape printed on the sheet material to be cut therefrom;

placing the cutting edge which projects from the first face of the flat outside border of said first die directly against the sheet material, and looking through the inside opening of said first die so that the shape printed on the sheet material is located entirely within the inside opening of said first die and the cutting edge which projects from the first face of said flat outside border is automatically registered so as to surround the shape to be cut from the sheet material;

positioning said first die and the sheet material having the shape to be cut therefrom within a roller press; and

moving said first die and said sheet material through said roller press for causing a force to be applied to the opposite face of the flat outside border of said first die after said cutting edge has first been placed against the sheet material and said first die and said sheet material have been positioned in said roller press for pushing said cutting edge through said sheet material to cut the shape outwardly therefrom.

An illustration accompanying the patent shows a basic die cutting out a stamped shape:
325 patent illustration - figure 8

Claim Two: This claim stipulates that the die utilized in step one is created using a chemical etching process from a flat sheet of metal.

Claim Three: The last claim patents ownership of the invention of nested dies that are shaped like the image above.

forming at least a second die by chemically etching the flat piece of metal, such that the second die is nested within and spaced from the first die so as to lie at the inside opening of said first die, whereby the size of the inside opening of said first die is larger than said second die.
The patent’s illustrations show the nesting concept in product form:
325 patent illustration - figure 9

The Lawsuits

Ellison is being represented in the four California cases by lawyers from Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, P.C. The case against Heartfelt Creations is located in Indiana and required hiring local counsel, so their representatives there are attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. Various attorneys are representing the different defendants in the case, although several of the companies have called on creative industry intellectual property law specialist Tammy Browning-Smith as an assistant counsel in their cases.

Ellison has not responded to a request for comment on their pending litigation.

Stephanie Barnard Designs

The first suit was filed against Stephanie Barnard and Stephanie Barnard Designs (dba The Stamps of Life) on November 15th, 2018. In addition, the suit names as defendants unknown parties referred to as Does 1-10. Barnard has been a licensed product designer for Sizzix for nearly a decade, but the suit alleges she and her company are violating the ‘325 patent by producing products for The Stamps of Life that are covered by the patent that aren’t licensed from Ellison.

In an amended complaint filed against Barnard in December, the company also alleges Barnard and The Stamps of Life are violating the ‘325 patent by teaching the method described in Claim 1 of the patent in videos on the website:

In addition to directly infringing the ‘325 Patent, Defendants indirectly infringe on the ‘325 Patent by instructing, directing and/or requiring others, including customers, purchasers, users and developers, to perform some of the steps of the method claim, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents, of the ‘325 Patent, where all of the steps of the method claim is performed by either Defendants or its customers, purchasers, users and developers, or some combination thereof.

Barnard filed a response in mid-January, categorically denying Ellison’s claims of infringement. She also filed a counter-claim against Ellison, alleging the ‘325 patent is invalid and therefore cannot be enforced:

An actual case or controversy exists between Counterclaimant Barnard and Counterdefendant Ellison concerning validity of the ’325 Patent by virtue of Counterdefendant Ellison’s assertion of infringement of the patent.

The claims of the ’325 Patent are invalid on the ground that the purported invention, attempted to be patented therein, fails to meet the conditions of patentability specified in Title 35 of the United States Code, including, but not limited to, the conditions specified in 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, and/or 112 of the Code.

The sections of U.S. code cited refer to specific things regarding patents. Section 101 refers to patents only being granted to inventors of an item. Section 102 refers to prior art and when its presence does and doesn’t impede the ability to patent. Section 103 is very brief, simply precludes granting of patents ” if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains.” Section 112 deals with how an inventions specifications must be described in a patent. (Read the entire text the U.S. code on the U.S. PTO website here.)

A Special Master has been appointed in the case, and the parties are entering the discovery phase of the litigation. Trial is scheduled for September 2020.

Stephanie Barnard declined to comment to Scrapbook Update on the pending litigation.

Prima Marketing

Ellison filed two lawsuits on December 21st, 2018. One was against Prima Marketing. Like in the previous suit, the Prima Marketing suit also alleged infringement against who it called Does 1-10 that it said it was “ignorant to the true names and capacities of” but who it alleged “were and are a moving, active, conscious force behind the infringement of Ellison’s rights.”

Prima has never been known as a major die producer. Its only product line that incorporates dies in a major way is the Julie Nutting paper dolls line – and that is the product line cited repeatedly in Ellison’s court complaint against Prima. Other than the company-specific details, the complaint is generally a duplicate of the one against Stephanie Barnard.

One difference of note from the previous suit is that Prima was sent a cease & desist notice shortly before Ellison took the matter to court, a step that isn’t mentioned in the Stephanie Barnard filings. One of the demands in the cease & desist was that Prima “provide information on the manufacturer(s) or source(s)” of the allegedly infringing products. Another notable difference is that where no time frame is used in describing Ellison’s discovery of Stephanie Barnard’s alleged infringement, Ellison’s court filing in the Prima case says that “Ellison recently discovered that Prima is making or having their patterns made into chemically-etched dies that perform the method taught by the ’325 Patent.” [emphasis added]

in mid-February 2019, Prima filed a response to the suit taking much the same position as Stephanie Barnard and challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent based on the same sections of U.S. code. However, by mid-March, the parties reached a settlement and the case was quickly closed. Terms of the settlement are confidential and neither party has responded to a request from Scrapbook Update for comment. But the Julie Nutting dies (and all except a handful of their other ones) have disappeared from product listings on the Prima website, and the video cited in the suit as infringing has been removed from Prima’s YouTube as well. (The Julie Nutting and other Prima dies can still be found for sale on sites such as Scrapbook.com and Amazon.com, though.)

Prima has not responded to a request from Scrapbook Update to comment on its settlement with Ellison.

Hero Arts

The second lawsuit filed by Ellison on December 21st, 2018 was against Hero Arts. Like with the previous suits, it also names as defendants unknown persons or entities as Does 1-10. According to the filing, Hero Arts was sent a cease & desist order on December 12th, 2018. Like with the Prima c&d letter, Ellison demanded information on the source of the products from Hero Arts.

The Hero Arts complaint is largely the same as the Prima one filed the same day, with the exception of the company-specific information. It contains the same language about recent discovery of the alleged infringement. Ellison alleges infringement by dies Hero Arts make that match their stamp sets. But the filing also returns to a theme from the original Stephanie Barnard case by alleging the company is also infringing the method in the ‘325 patent through video content produced by their design team that is “teaching members of the public how to infringe the ’325 Patent”.

One section of the Ellison complaint against Hero Arts appears erroneous. It shows photos of two of Hero Arts’ layering stamps, under a caption that labels them as infringing products. There are no dies (the product covered by the patent) in the images. I wasn’t the only one confused by this, since Hero Arts’ response to that paragraph in their next filing says “it does not understand the allegations of that paragraph.”

Hero Arts filed their response to the suit on March 8th, 2019. Like the other defendants, they are challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent in a counterclaim against Ellison. But they are taking their defense further, asserting fourteen different affirmative defenses.

Under the proposed schedule, which hasn’t yet been made final, the case would be scheduled for trial on August 24th, 2020.

A representative for Hero Arts responded to Scrapbook Update with the following statement when asked for comment:

Hero Arts firmly believes this lawsuit is without merit.  Hero Arts does not infringe Sizzix’s patent nor does it encourage anyone else to do so. Hero Arts intends to fight this lawsuit and win.   But mostly, I am very disappointed in Sizzix’s decision to sue before even trying to resolve any issues they have in a respectful manner that involves talking as opposed to engaging in a blunt legal process, which is bad for everyone — Hero Arts, Sizzix, and the entire community.  We are fortunate that we all get to play, craft and create together in this wonderful industry, and I, as one of the members of this fine community, intend to do what I can to keep this misguided action from fracturing the cooperative, family spirt that has been the norm for so many years.

Avery Elle

Ellison filed suit against Avery Elle and unknown defendants named as Does 1-10 alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent on January 25th, 2019. Ellison says in court documents that it served Avery Elle a cease & desist notice on January 15th, 2019 – two days before the first education day at the Creativation trade show at which both companies exhibited.

The court filing against Avery Elle is again largely a duplicate of the previous filings, with the exception of the company specific material. Ellison alleges that Avery Elle violated the ‘325 patent both through its product sales and through indirect infringement by instructing others on how to do the method included in the patent. A video on the Avery Elle YouTube channel (that has since been removed) is cited as evidence of the indirect infringement.

Avery Elle filed a response on March 6th denying infringement of the ‘325 patent, challenging the patent’s validity, and also claiming several affirmative defenses. The same day, they also filed a counterclaim response asking for a judgement declaring the ‘325 patent invalid, as well as a judgement declaring their non-infringement of the patent.

Ellison responded to the counterclaim in a filing on March 27th, 2019 asserting the validity of the ‘325 patent and denying Avery Elle’s arguments of a right to relief.

No schedule has yet been set for trial or further hearings in the case.

Avery Elle’s representative has not supplied a comment to Scrapbook Update as of publication time of this article.

Heartfelt Creations

The most recent case filed by Ellison alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent was filed against Heartfelt Creations (and unknown defendants Does 1-10) on February 18th, 2019. It’s the first of the suits to target a company outside of California, where Ellison is headquartered. Ellison says Heartfelt Creations was served with a cease & desist letter on December 21st, 2018.

As with the previous lawsuits, Ellison is alleging that Heartfelt Creations is violating the ‘325 patent with both the products it sells and by instructing others on the method included in the ‘325 patent. The court filing cites content from the Heartfelt Creations YouTube channel as proof of the indirect infringement by teaching of the method.

Heartfelt Creations has until April 23rd to file its initial response in the case. The company, when asked for comment, confirmed the existence of the suit and told Scrapbook Update that “We are investigating their accusations and will be able to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

The Analysis

Ellison is claiming ownership via the ‘325 patent of not just thin metal dies that have a completely open center (with no lip that extends past the cutting edge towards the middle), but also the technique of aligning them with a stamped image and running them through a die cut machine to cut out the image. The ‘325 patent also claims ownership of so-called “nested” dies created with the open centers.

Several designer/bloggers are called out by name in the various court filings as examples of infringement of the patent by teaching in videos this method described in the ‘325 patent. This will almost certainly have a chilling effect on the production of influencer content using stamps with matching dies until more clarity is brought to the legal situation regarding the ‘325 patent.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that craft industry companies have fought over technology that involved chemically etched dies with open centers. Spellbinders fought for several years to enforce a patent it had on chemically etched die technology against QuicKutz, ultimately losing both the case and the patent in 2013. The ghost of that case will almost certainly come back to haunt the new Ellison-filed cases, for multiple reasons.

One of the key reasons the Spellbinders patent fight will be relevant to the new cases will involve the question of prior art. Whether there is “prior art” of the concept is key to determining if something can be patented. Lack of prior art by other companies or individuals is typically seen by the patent office as proof an idea is unique. However, the market for thin metal dies with open centers was artificially chilled during the period of 2009 to 2013 while the Spellbinders case was ongoing. The vast majority of companies were holding out of the thin metal die market waiting to see if the patent suit was won or not. It was right in the middle of that period, in June 2012, that Ellison applied for the ‘325 patent. The final appeal in the Spellbinders case wasn’t over until the patent was declared invalid in the summer of 2013. Then the market started to be flooded with thin metal dies (including ones that matched stamps) in early 2014.

Perhaps the biggest question remaining to be answered about the Ellison suits – besides who will eventually prevail in them in court – is why Ellison seemingly suddenly chose now to go on the offense regarding the ‘325 patent that it has held since 2015. Two of the specific products cited in the court complaints were already on the market prior to the granting date of the ‘325 patent. So why did Ellison wait until late 2018 to begin enforcement instead of following the model utilized by My Sweet Petunia with their stamp platform patent to begin pursuing alleged infringement the moment the patent was approved? Ellison will have to answer that question eventually, since Hero Arts has raised it in its response as one of its affirmative defenses (the doctrine of laches).

Ellison also holds a patent similar to the ‘325 patent in China (Click here to view) that was granted in April 2016, after the U.S. patent had been granted. Online records show at least one suit filed early in 2018 in China in defense of that patent, months before the first U.S. suit was filed. Scrapbook Update has been unable to confirm the outcome of that case or the existence of any others.

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5 Reasons to Sponsor (or Attend) a Creativation Workshop

Products from Creativation 2019 are still shipping to store shelves, but it’s already time to start thinking about Creativation 2020!

[This post is sponsored by AFCI and the Creativation show, but all opinions are my own.]

The Call for Submissions is now open for proposals for workshops and business presentations for Creativation 2020. The deadline to apply is June 10th. Full guidelines and the applications are available at the link!

Thinking of sponsoring a workshop at Creativation University at Creativation 2020? Here’s five great reasons you should take the plunge:

Create Display Samples

This is the most common reason I hear from retailers for taking workshops, and from manufacturers for sponsoring them. Workshops allow retailers to arrive home from a show with design samples created and ready to go to sell newly-ordered inventory, before the product even arrives in the store. There’s no question that quality samples sell products, so it’s understandable to see so much emphasis placed on this reasoning by both manufacturers and retailers.

But samples are just the tip of the iceberg of the reasons to take or sponsor workshops at Creativation!

AFCI Creativation 2019 workshop

Build Show Buzz

Many of the hottest products at the show have already been determined by the time that doors to the show floor open for buyers to start browsing booths and placing orders. Starting with the first official event of the show on the education days, attendee buzz builds about products from workshops and events like the New Product Showcase.

All of this buzz generates excitement in show buyers to visit certain booths and order products – and buzz isn’t limited to just the attendees of a specific workshop or event. Show attendees tend to be quite social in sharing their show experiences with each other, and in showing off the samples they’ve made in workshops. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire in the Creativation community!

Build Sales Enthusiasm

For most crafters, it’s easier to fall in love with a product when you’ve been hands-on with it. And for retailers, it is easier to authentically sell a product that you are excited about. Workshops give retailers hands-on, first person experience with a product. Workshop attendees can speak crafter-to-crafter to customers and describe a personal experience making with a product. “I made something really wonderful with this” is a much more convincing sales pitch to a customer than “I saw this hanging on a booth wall and liked it”. So manufacturers, don’t forget to think of a workshop not just as an instructional session to teach the steps of a project. Make sure it is also a session that builds hype and enthusiasm for the product!

AFCI 2019 workshop

Educate Retailer Staff

It is the inherent nature of craft products that many have a learning curve of some kind. This makes user error a major driver of dissatisfaction with products, whether it is using a product improperly or for the wrong application. (No one is immune – even a relatively experienced crafter like myself can still fall victim to this on occasion when working with a new product!)

Retailers and influencers are on the front lines of contact with consumers, educating them about new products. Having a good foundation of education on products via workshop education helps to ensure they are passing along proper product usage information to their customers and followers. Educated consumers using a product properly and how it was intended are far less likely to be dissatisfied customers – and far more likely to be repeat buyers!

Build Instructor Reputations

Having a nationally known designer/instructor traveling to teach at local stores and events is a powerful promotional tool for manufacturers. And bringing in an outside instructor for a special event can be a great excitement (and revenue) generator for a local store. These events, however, entail big commitments of resources for store owners, especially for international events. Ensuring the quality of experience for their customers is critical.

Creativation workshops allow storeowners to essentially “test drive” company instructors, to see if they are a good fit for their store’s customers. They can meet an instructor, and experience their teaching method. A successful Creativation workshop can be the first step in partnering with store owners nationwide and worldwide on events to promote your products in their stores!

A workshop isn’t just a chance to sell buyers on a single product. It’s a chance to sell attendees on your company, your people, and your marketing support system. It’s a chance to build a relationship – or enhance an existing one.

Interested in sponsoring a workshop or business presentation at Creativation 2020? Click here to see the guidelines and apply!

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