Industry News & Reviews

CHA 2016 Product Picks!

Hello!

I feel it’s time to ease myself back into blogging after taking a long winter break! Did you all have a great Christmas and New Year? Ours was lovely though very busy. Things are just about getting back to routine now – it’s no less busy, but it’s more structured!

Today I’m going to share my product picks from the latest CHA Mega Show releases. In case you don’t know, the CHA Mega Show is when the Craft & Hobby Association USA have a big trade event with hundreds of craft manufacturers displaying their new lines, so that stores and kit clubs etc can choose what to order. The manufacturers tend to also share their new items on their blogs and social media in the run up to and during the show.

There is, as usual, lots that I want to buy. I won’t be able to get it all. But here are my CHA 2016 Product Picks…

Pink Paislee – C’est La Vie & Fancy Free

Pink Paislee C'est La Vie and Fancy Free

Pink Paislee have blown me away with their new lines! Fancy Free is designed by the lovely Paige Evans whose style I’ve always admired so it’s no surprise I like her collection too.

My favourite item from the C’est La Vie collection is without a doubt these mirror stickers – so shiny:

Pink Paislee C'est La Vie Mirror Stickers

And whilst I love everything in the Fancy Free collection (the colours are so perfect) my must have item from it is this string-art template:

Pink Paislee Fancy Free String Art Template

Which will be great to design a page background but also some wall art, don’t you think?!

My Mind’s Eye By The Sea & On Trend 2:

My Mind's Eye By The Sea & On Trend 2

I usually do like a good sea-themed collection, thanks to us living near some beautiful beaches. By The Sea has some great animal icons including a narwhal. So fun! I’m loving the chipboard elements:

My Mind's Eye By The Sea Chipboard Elements

On Trend 2 is another beautiful collection from designer Jen Allyson. It includes golf foil touches, with flamingos and cacti! I think the item I want the most is this sheet of paper to cut apart (called ‘Little Things’):

My Mind's Eye On Trend 2 Little Things Foiled Paper

Heidi Swapp Minc Mediums:

Heidi Swapp Minc Reactive Mist

I purchased the Minc last year (some of your will remember my unboxing video and layout process video using the machine) but I haven’t used it too often. The main reason is that while I love Heidi’s style I really wanted to be able to foil my own designs, which I thought I’d be able to do because we have a laser printer here. However my own printed designs never come out that well – I don’t think out printer is ‘juicy’ enough, and there’s no way to adjust the ink output. So I had the Minc toner ink pen on my xmas wishlist, but I didn’t get it and now it’s sold out everywhere.

So of course I am excited to see there’s some reactive mist, paint, and art screen ink which are all coming out soon!

You can see the mist in the photo above, you can click HERE to see a photo by Amy Tangerine of a tag she’s made with the paint, or you can click HERE to see a video by Scrapbook.com showing all the new Minc supplies.  I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

Simple Stories – Robin’s Egg Binder & Basics Woodgrain Paper Pack:

Simple Stories Robin's Egg Binder & 12 x 12 Basics Paper Pack

The colour of that binder is amazing, I have to have it! I don’t know what I’m going to use it for yet but I will be buying it for sure! And I can never have enough woodgrain and ledger papers, as they work great for photographing projects as well as actually using on projects. Every time I use one on a project I feel a bit sad that I’m not going to be able to use it as a photography background anymore!

Crate Paper Bloom Mini Tassels and Bow Stamps:

Crate Paper Mini Tassels and Bloom Stamps

The Bloom collection designed by Maggie Holmes is cute but I probably won’t buy all of it as I can’t afford to buy everything I want! I do, however, think I’ll get the mini tassels and the bow stamps if I can manage to. They are just plain adorable.

Jillibean Soup Mushroom Medley Pea Pod Parts:

Jillibean Soup Mushroom Medley Pea Pod Parts

Something else that’s adorable is this Mushroom Medley collection by Jillibean Soup. I like the papers but they aren’t calling to me as much as the Pea Pod Parts shown above – I think it’s brilliant that there’s so many little pieces which I can scatter about on my projects! I also want the stamps!

Queen & Co Donuts:

Queen & Co Donuts

I felt like I needed to finish with something sparkly, and these ‘Donuts’ from Queen & Co look sparkly and fun. There’s something irresistible about them!

That’s my product picks for the season! Has anything caught your eye?

CHA 2016 Product Picks at Jennifer Grace Creates

I hope you are having a great week. I’ll be back again soon, I promise!

Jennifer x

Frosty Festivities Christmas & Winter, Giveaways / Winners, Industry News & Reviews

My Crafty Christmas Wish List 2015 – And A Giveaway! {NOW CLOSED}

(This post is part of my Frosty Festivities 2015 Blog Event – see a list of all the posts HERE)

As we’re getting close to the end of the event (tomorrow’s the last day), I thought we’d have one last giveaway {NOW CLOSED}. Today I’m going to share what I’ve got on my crafty Christmas wish list this year, and I’m giving away a £10 GBP Amazon Gift Voucher (or nearest equivalent in your local currency) to one winner, so they can put it towards something they’d like! If the winner doesn’t have Amazon in their country we’ll think of an alternative prize, but I think most of my readers do!

My husband asked me to make a wish list for him to choose something from for my Christmas present. I love it when he asks me to do that, as then I can browse and ‘window-shop’ lots of things I’d like, but it’s still a surprise as to which item he’ll choose to buy.

Here’s my Crafty Christmas Wish List 2015. The links go to Amazon UK but they are not affiliate links, I don’t have any connection with them, I just thought you might like to see more about the products. Amazon also have full release on anything to do with the giveaway – they are not involved at all.

1. ‘I Just Like To Make Things’ book by Lilla Rogers – I’ve been wanting to take Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Classes, about designing illustrations and patterns for scrapbooking, clothing and more. But they cost hundreds of pounds so are out of our price range right now. This book looks like it would be a nice taster of what the courses are about:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

2. Cricut Faux Leather in Walnut – Cricut have recently added some more materials to their line-up, and this one excites me the most – faux leather in walnut woodgrain. It looks like a nice warm colour which I can imagine cutting embellishments and jewellery from using my Cricut Explore. You can see some items made with faux leather on the Cricut US blog HERE. I can’t wait to get my hands on some:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

3. ‘Doodle Stitching, The Motif Collection’ book by Aimee Ray – As you can probably tell from the Little Dorrit Embroidery Patterns Giveaway, and my Embroidered Tags, I have been enjoying embroidery lately. This collection of ideas looks like it would be fun inspiration for a host of projects:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

4. Pink Paislee Memorandum Gold Phrase Stickers – I want a lot of Pink Paislee’s Memorandum and Cedar Lane collections, but this is one of the bits I want the most. So shiny and fun, these would make any scrapbook page special:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

5. ’20 Ways To Draw A Jellyfish (And 44 Other Amazing Sea Creatures’ book by Trina Daziel – As I’ve been wanting to practice my drawing for illustrating scrapbook items or for clothing design etc, the ’20 Ways To Draw’ books caught my eye – they have a variety of titles. This one is the one I want the most, because I live by the sea and love the beach:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

6. DIY Wooden Clock Kit (19cm) – We need a new clock for our kitchen. We have needed one for years, but I’m fussy and can never find one I like. Then I had a brainwave moment when I was scrolling through more clocks online that I didn’t like the other day – why not just make our own? This kit looks good because it comes with the numbers pre-drawn, which would save a lot of ‘time’ with measuring it out:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

7. Becky Higgins Blush 12×12 D Ring Album – Well really I just need more 12 x 12 albums in general, as I have too many pages to store. This one is particularly gorgeous, and on trend for 2016, when this blush-pink colour is supposed to be really popular according to trend forecasts. But I’ll settle for most 12 x 12 d-ring albums:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

8. ‘Creative Lettering & Beyond’ book – Since writing my first post on brush lettering I  have discovered Dawn Nicole, a fabulous designer, who has a blog, and wrote a post recommending hand lettering books HERE. She also has a free facebook group with lessons and tips on hand lettering which you can join HERE. This is the book she recommends the most, and I have to agree it looks very helpful:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

9. A T-Square – This is simply to make it faster for me to draw straight lines for my brush lettering:

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10. A Minc Toner Pen – At the start of the year I bought a Minc Machine to do some foiling (see my original post about it HERE), but I haven’t used it nearly enough. Mostly because I don’t like being limited to the Heidi Swapp designed items, and I’ve found it difficult to get my printed items to look good – which I think is a problem with our laser printer rather than the Minc. When I saw they’d brought out a Minc pen I got quite excited – I would love to try this out:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

My husband is spoilt for choice on what to get me, huh? I do have some non-crafty items on my wish list too, including a mini food processor so I can make hummus, and the game Rummikub which I could remember playing with my grandparents, but only recently discovered what it’s called!

Now for the giveaway:

My Crafty Christmas Wish List at Jennifer Grace Creates

One person will win a £10 GBP Amazon Gift Voucher, or closest equivalent in their local currency. If the winner doesn’t have Amazon in their country we’ll work out an alternative prize.

To enter to win: Just leave a comment telling me a crafty item or two that’s on your wish list this Christmas! What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

The giveaway {NOW CLOSED} closes at 10pm GMT on Sunday the 6th of December 2015. It is open internationally. The winner will be announced here on Thursday the 10th of December, so make sure you check back to see if you won.

I’ll be back tomorrow for the final Frosty Festivities post. See you then!

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

A Review Of The Handmade Fair (Our Mummy And Daughter Date)

On Saturday the 19th of September my daughter and I drove to London to experience Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘The Handmade Fair’ at Hampton Court Palace. We had a lovely day, but also came away with a few niggles & tips, so I thought I’d do a review of The Handmade Fair to tell you all about it!

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Handmade Fair is a 3 day event with talks, workshops, and ‘grand makes’, as well as stalls selling handmade supplies and finished items – with lots of stalls doing demos too. We won the tickets from Hester’s Handmade Home on Instagram, though I did see quite a few people running giveaways for the tickets in the run up to the event!

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

They were entry-only tickets, which meant I’d have to pay extra to go to any of the talks, workshops, or grand makes. I didn’t bother upgrading our tickets as my daughter couldn’t join in with the crafting – children under 12 couldn’t participate in workshops due to ‘health and safety’ reasons. It seems a shame that they don’t have at least one child-friendly workshop a day, as my daughter is a super keen crafter, and it’s good to nourish the next generation of creative minds!

We didn’t make it to the fair until 11.30am, as we got stuck in a ridiculous amount of traffic – the last little bit of the journey from the M3 to Hampton Court should have taken 15mins and actually took 1 hour and 45 minutes! The last 30minutes was driving from the full-up green car park to the further away blue car park. I may have cried a little bit when they said the green car park was full. I know the Handmade Fair organisers can’t help the traffic (there was extra traffic because of rugby and other events), but you would think they could find a venue with a bigger car park for all the attendees. It wasn’t like they were using the grandeur of Hampton Court Palace at all, as the Fair was over the road from that, on ‘the green’ which, let’s face it, is basically a field. A new, more accessible venue next year please?!

Anyway, rant over. We made it to the fair eventually, and wandered around to start with, checking out the lay of the land. This was made easy due to the colourful and iconic signposts:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

We spotted that a couple of tents were doing free workshops, but it wasn’t the right time to start one, so we went for a look around the shopping tents. We found lots of lovely stalls – here’s a few of them:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Top left = Cool Crafting (where we got some cute wooden buttons / pendants), top right = The English Stamp Company (where I bought a stag stamp), bottom left = Ruby And The Crow (where we bought some gorgeous ribbons), and bottom right = Peach Blossom (where we didn’t buy anything though I was seriously tempted as it was all so pretty!).

We popped by a couple of the stalls doing free workshops – Craft Asylum and Janome, but their next workshops were full. So we continued our wander and stopped by the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint tent, where you could paint the furniture pictures on the wall. Little Miss really enjoyed this. Someone had already painted a bit of blue on this side-table, but she painted the rest green and orange, then I added white polka-dots to the blue bit. We were there for a while!

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

(Speaking of Annie Sloan paints, I just saw THIS BLOG POST by Kat at Housewife Confidential, re-doing a piano stool with pink and yellow paint, and it looks awesome!)

After that we headed to the Press Tent, where Louise from the BLoved Blog was running an Instagram #InstaPrettyParty workshop for bloggers and other interested people to attend. Louise was lovely and inspiring, and she’d set out a very pretty worktop to kick-start our ideas for flat lay photography:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Little Miss was very well behaved – while I listened to the workshop she was doodling in my notebook, looking very pretty against the tent backdrop:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Though her floral dress didn’t match the wall paper quite as well as Louise’s:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

I wrote a post (HERE) back in May about how I was interested in using photo props and experimenting, so I really loved this workshop. Louise also gave great tips about scheduling your instagram photos and what times to post them, etc. It was fun to be in a room of other excited bloggers too! The BLoved Instagram account is HERE if you want to see some of their photos.

After this we visited the Mollie Makes tent, where Little Miss did a bit of colouring, and I browsed the books and picked up a free banner-making kit. It was also somewhere that you could get a cup of tea and a bit of cake, though when we were there they had run out of teacups!

We headed to the Craft Asylum tent for the next workshop but it was full again. So we ate a bit of our packed lunch, then went back there again for the next workshop – arriving half-an-hour before it this time to be sure of our place. A queue formed behind us so it was definitely the right decision – if you want to attend a free workshop, get there at least half an hour beforehand!

The tent was decorated beautifully with paper lanterns and rosettes:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

The lovely Katie Skilton (who I met at Creative Exchanges in April) was running the workshop to make a paper rosette. Me and Little Miss made one as a team – I did the dangerous craft knife bits, and she did the fun sticking and stamping:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

We also bumped into Dorothy Wood and Suzie Candlin who I’d last seen at Creative exchanges too. It was really fun spotting people who I knew and introducing Little Miss to them!

By now we were beginning to feel tired, so we had an afternoon super-treat of a pancake for Little Miss, and Churros for me. Another tip – make sure you do a lap of all the eateries before you choose where to eat, as there are so many delicious things to pick from. We made good choices – wow they were yummy:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Then we wandered around the stalls some more. We thought about going back to the Sizzix or Janome tents for the free workshops, but decided we didn’t want to spend the rest of our time waiting for a spot and then doing the 45min workshops. So we just spent a bit more money instead! We’d gone to the fair with a £50 budget (hubby actually took my cards away and made me take cash, very sensible of him), but we managed to get a lot of things for our money! Some were chosen by Little Miss, and some by me:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

The banner kit is the free one from the Mollie Makes tent, and the Reloved magazines were in a £5 goody bag with some ribbons and buttons. The Craft Asylum deal was the best in my opinion, and 4 stamp sets and / or embellishment sets for £10! We each chose a stamp set and a embellishment set from there.

When it was time to go we stopped by Hampton Court Palace for a look. Little Miss was unimpressed – unless a Queen lives there then it’s not really a palace, apparently! She did like playing in the wooden carriages outside, and we took a few selfies of course:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Then we walked back to the car park… which I admit didn’t seem so far away now that we weren’t in a hurry! Thankfully there was no traffic on the way home, so we got back at a reasonable time, feeling very happy with our purchases and our mummy & daughter date!

The best bit of the day? When Little Miss looked up at me (I think it was when we were in the Annie Sloan tent) and said:

“Mummy, this is just the perfect place for us to be!”

My heart just melted. There’s my girl!

We would definitely go to The Handmade Fair again. But I’d love them to include a workshop that kids can join in with. And I think a new venue with more parking would be good, but I guess they need to make sure it’s accessible by public transport too. I did consider taking the train but it cost more and would take longer (when there’s no traffic). Perhaps I might brave the train journey next year.

Did you go to the Handmade Fair? Would you like to?

I hope you have a lovely, crafty, day.

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

Fun at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

It’s been quite a long time since I went to the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event, way back on the 18th – 20th of April. But I never wrote about it on here – when I got back from the weekend I was straight into preparing for my Focus Your Craft & Soul blog event, and since then everything’s just been so busy.

So here’s a little run-down of how my weekend went… I warn you this is a long post!

Fun at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

I arrived at the hotel (The Coventry Holiday Inn – Academy) with time to spare, so I had a cup of tea in my room and perused the timetable:

A cup of tea at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

When I headed down towards the conference suite I stepped out of the lift, and straight away I spotted some ladies who I thought I recognised from the FB group we had been chatting on in the run up to the event. Claire Newcombe, Clare Brown, and Jaine Drake all knew each other, online at least, as they are all on Sarah Hurley’s Design Team. But they were all lovely and let me join them for the evening. I am so grateful to them for letting me tag along! Here’s a photo of me with Claire (the tall one on the left) and Clare (on the right):

Making new friends at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Over the course of the weekend I got on particularly well with Claire. We seemed to have a similar family / craft life balance, the same nerves about the weekend, and the same drive to make our crafting become our work life too. It was great to be able to talk to people who ‘get’ what you are talking about!

The Saturday evening was fun and relaxed (there were no talks to go to). We had an introduction/welcome talk, dinner, a decopatch crafting challenge, networking, and sponsor demos. Here’s our messy table when the decopatch activity was in full swing:

Decopatch Challenge at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

We were all decorating cupcake-shaped boxes!

I also went to a demo for Indigo Blu, led by the fabulous Sara Naumann. We were each given a FlitterGlu starter kit and taught to make a couple of cards using the kit plus a few extra items (like stamps and paint):

Indigo Blu FlitterGlu Starter Kit

I loved the blue & gold card – bold and bright! You can see another card I made with the kit HERE.

There was also a raffle table with lots of prizes which got drawn throughout the weekend. I was happily surprised to be the first winner of a big prize – I won this Grand Calibur by Spellbinders!

Winning a Grand Calibur at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Thank you so much to Personal Impressions for sponsoring the prize! I was so excited to win this. I’d just been saying about a week beforehand that I wanted to get a manual die-cutter as I’d seen some dies and embossing folders I liked. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to play with it much, nor money to spend on the dies I wanted. But I will definitely get round to using it and sharing some projects with it on here!

We spent the rest of the evening chatting all things craft. My ‘Mummy’ gene kicked in and I tried to help tidy up too, but Craig wouldn’t let me… I’m glad he didn’t really as it was nice to just sit and chat!

The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast. I’d arranged to meet the lovely Sue from Stamping Sue Style and we had a nice meal and gossip. After a morning welcome talk it was straight into the schedule of informative talks.

I’m not going to write about every single talk I went to, because there was 8 of them and that would take ages. Here’s a list of what I went to:

 Social Media – How to manage your online marketing
Pitching To Craft Manufacturers
An Introduction To Licensing
How To Get Published in Magazines
Intellectual Property Q & A
Design Teams, What You Should Know
Legal Tips for Setting Up A Business
Your Creative CV

I’ll tell you about my favourite two talks.

The first was ‘An Introduction To Licensing’ with Helz Cuppleditch. I was gutted that I missed the beginning of this talk – I had a pounding headache after the first 2 talks of the day, and I thought that there was a time slot when I wasn’t worried about any of the talks, so I went to my room to have a lie down. But when I got there I suddenly realised I had the time slots confused and I was actually really looking forward to this talk, so I had to run back downstairs. I’d missed the first ten minutes or so. But what I did hear was so interesting – it was all about how she designs artwork for companies like Trimcraft. She talked about how to make a repeat pattern and other design tips. As I’ve been designing my own things over the last year or so, and want to do more, this talk was perfect for me.

The other was ‘How To Get Published In Magazines’ with Lara Watson, the editor of Mollie Makes. I had a little bit of a fan-girl moment for this talk, as I used to read Lara’s old blog when she was part of the Scrapbook Inspirations team, and had felt so pleased for her when she’d announced on social media about her becoming the editor for Mollie Makes. So I was excited to meet her! There were only a few people listening to the talk (she ran it again later in the weekend so I think more people went to that one), so we all sat round and had a friendly talk about things. Her presentation was spot on and I made lots of notes. She was so lovely and friendly and made me feel like I COULD approach magazines, with the right plan in place. Thanks Lara!

We also had a couple of keynote talks for all attendees. The first was with Leonie Pujol, who was funny and also made you think. I liked how she said that our industry will keep us young – it keeps your brain ticking over as there’s always more to learn!

The other keynote was with Zoe Arch about Pinterest. This was really interesting as she had loads of good tips on using Pinterest, for example that specific board names are better than vague ones – eg. a board called ‘boots’ is more likely to come up in searches than one called ‘shoes’. The main tip was to think about what you might type in when you are searching for something, and then making sure you are using those phrases in your board names and pin descriptions. She was another lovely person to meet:

Meeting Zoe Arch - Pinterest Ambassador at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Sarah Hurley also talked about the Designer Accreditation program that CHA UK are starting, and how it is important to CHA UK to focus on designers and bloggers as well as suppliers and shops, hence why they want to run weekends like this one. I wrote down this quote from Sarah:

“Even if you love what you do, you should still get paid”

Which I keep remembering every time I read a tweet from an artist that’s been asked to work for free. It would be good if there were more opportunities to earn from creativity!

Here I am with Sarah Hurley, and Craig De Souza from CHA UK. I’ve been following Sarah’s career for years, and I’d been talking to both these lovely people on FB in the run up to the weekend, so it was great to meet them both. They were both so brilliant at making sure everyone was happy all weekend and that things ran smoothly (along with Sara Naumann who was organising things too, I just didn’t catch her for a photo):

Meeting Sarah Hurley and CHA Craig at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Aside from the talks we had a few other fun activities too. There was a onesie party on Sunday night – we all had bunny rabbit onesies on! We were decorating them with fabric paints too, which turned out a bit messy as they took so long to dry. The better option was getting your name put on your onesie using the Cricut Explores that Suzie Candlin had brought along and set up on behalf of Cricut. I helped people use them when Suzie wasn’t around! Most people had their name in glitter vinyl on their onesie. Here’s a photo taken by Laura Strutt at @madepeachy:

Onesie Party at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

I had a lot of fun with Jenniffer Taylor from the Great British Sewing Bee that night, just generally being silly!

Meeting Jenniffer Taylor from The Great British Sewing Bee at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

I think she was going for a zombie-bunny look to her outfit!

A bunch of us stayed up late drinking wine and chatting some more too:

Onesie Party at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Overall the weekend was fabulous. It was informative and enjoyable. There were a few things I didn’t like about some of the talks – eg. a couple of the speakers kept going off on tangents which were not as interesting and made me confused, and I definitely preferred the talks with powerpoint presentations to those that didn’t have them – partly because I’m a visual learner and found it easier to absorb info that way, and partly because it helped the speakers stay on topic.

The venue had both positives and negatives. The food was really good and all the staff I encountered were helpful. The conference suite was well set out with good space to move around and mingle. But there was very little natural light (hence why most of my photos are blurry), in fact some of the rooms the talks were in had no windows at all, which made me feel a bit claustraphobic. Which is probably why I had a pounding headache on day one. I don’t think there’s much that can be done about this though, I’m sure most hotel conference suites would have similar problems. Plus if you had more natural light it would make it harder to read a powerpoint screen! So I just need to take more headache tablets next time.

There were so many wonderful opportunities to meet new people, to try out and maybe win some crafty goodies, and to learn lots and lots and lots about the crafting industry and how to turn crafting into a business. Plus we all got an amazing goody bag too:

Goody Bags at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Weren’t we lucky?!

There are so many other people I met that I haven’t mentioned yet, like Katie Skilton, Dorothy Wood, Linda Simpson, and the lovely ladies from Bella Crafts. If I’ve forgotten anyone else I’m sorry! It was great to meet everyone.

If you want to go to the next Creative Exchanges event then you can contact CHA UK. It was announced HERE that the dates for next year are the 23rd – 25th April 2016. I will hopefully be going again, I certainly want to!

If you have any questions let me know. Have you been to any blogger meet ups or events? Did you enjoy them? Would you like to go to Creative Exchanges?

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

My Product Picks – Summer Releases 2015!

Have you been watching all the scrapbook companies release their latest products over the last couple of months? I was too busy to keep an eye on it, especially as they all spread their releases out now that there’s no big summer CHA show.

However, I did sit down a couple of weeks ago to use the links from Scrapbook Update HERE, and Scrappy Jedi HERE, as well as scrolling back on manufacturer blogs, so that I could see all the new goodies!

My Product Picks Summer 2015 at Jennifer Grace Creates

Here’s my product picks of all the latest things I’d like to buy when they hit the shops. The titles and the photos are linked to the full reveals. I’m going to start with the everyday-themed items then move on to the Christmas collections & stamps…

Non-Christmas

Pink Paislee Cedar Lane:

 Pink Paislee Cedar Lane

Autumn is my favourite season, though we don’t get as many golden colours here in Dorset as we used to in Essex where I grew up. But that’s okay as I can console myself with this collection – full of fall hues and heart-warming phrases.

I especially like the ephemera, with the leafy wreath and the ‘snuggle up’ golden words:

Pink Paislee Cedar Lane Ephemera

American Crafts – Amy Tangerine Finders Keepers:

Amy Tangerine Finders Keepers

I have become a big fan of Amy Tangerine and Her YouTube videos lately. This colourful collection is perfectly her style – colourful, quirky, fun!

I am drooling over the wood slices and the wooden stamp set. I don’t know how much I’d use the pineapple stamps but I want them anyway:

Amy Tangerine Finders Keepers

Crate Paper Wonder:

 Crate Paper Wonder

This is such a cute childhood collection. It’s filled with whimsical characters and pretty icons. I really like the puffy stickers which features houses and the little animal faces.

But the item I want most of all is the wood veneer framework in the shape of a house:

Crate Paper Wonder Frame

I can totally imagine me filling this with pretty things!

Jillibean Soup Mix The Media – Wood:

There’s a few different wood plank shapes on the reveal, but the one I really want is this star. It would be great for any time of year:

Jillibean Soup Mix The Media Wood Star

Christmas

My Mind’s Eye Christmas On Market Street:

 My Mind's Eye Christmas On Market Street

This collection is just so gorgeous. I want to wrap my house up in it at Christmas time! I love the mix of teal, red and gold, and the swirly writing, and all the decorated antlers.

The glittery puffy stickers are the bit I love the most. This product photo below doesn’t do them justice, see THIS PHOTO that MME posted on Instagram where you can see a snippet of how sparkly they are. I must have them:

My Mind's Eye Christmas On Market Street Stickers

Pinkfresh Studio Christmas Wishes:

 Pinkfresh Studio Christmas Wishes

The character in this winter collection are just so full of personality! It’s the most unique Christmas collection I came across – I feel like it’s something I’ve never seen before and it would make my projects feel super special.

I really love the stamp set and the puffy stickers:

Pinkfresh Studio Christmas Wishes Puffy Stickers

Cocoa Vanilla Tis The Season:

 Cocoa Vanilla Tis The Season

This collection is pretty! The soft minty blue is stunning!

These stars look so shiny. And they’d look good on projects all year round:

Cocoa Vanilla Tis The Season

Lawn Fawn Christmas Stamps:

These two stamp sets from Lawn Fawn have totally stolen my heart. You can expect to see some projects using them during Frosty Festivities 2015. Isn’t the snowglobe totally perfect?!:

Lawn Fawn Christmas Stamps

Hero Arts – Kelly Purkey Stamps:

I also really like these smaller (3×4″) stamp sets, designed by Kelly Purkey for Hero Arts. The ‘joy’ brush-writing sentiment is gorgeous and I love the patterns on the trees. These sets would be good for layouts as well as cards & tags:

Hero Arts Kelly Purkey Stamps

I want to stamp some little trees, cut them out, then tie them around a candle jar!

So those are the items I’d like to buy. I won’t be able to afford them all but I’m sure some of them will slide into my online baskets! Especially the Christmas stuff – I can’t run Frosty Festivities without them, can I?!

What have you spotted recently that you’d like to get your hands on? Anything from my list?

Have a great day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews, Your Craft & Soul Events

Focus On The Props – Photo Styling

(This post is part of my Focus Your Craft & Soul Blog Event – see the list of all the posts HERE!)

You may have noticed that I’ve been attempting to make my photos a bit more arty and styled lately – using props rather than just photographing a project on a plain background. This is for several reasons – 1. I got a bit bored with the way I was doing things, 2. I wanted to emulate nicely styled photos like you see in magazines like Mollie Makes, 3. I noticed that things which get pinned more on Pinterest are often the ones with more props.

I still have a lot to learn, and I thought this event was a good excuse to practice a bit more and share what I’m doing!

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here’s some of the photos I’ve posted recently using props:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I also used props to style my header for my Jennifer Grace Creates Facebook Page:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Adding the scissors was the ah-ha moment in the above photo!

On these pictures I’ve mainly been using crafty items as the props, but I want to start adding other pretty items too. One of my inspirations for adding more items is the #propstylers challenge on Instagram, set up by Georgie St. Clair and Christina Colli. Each month they challenge use to use a certain prop (for this month, May 2015, it’s ribbon) and style it in a gorgeous way, to post to instagram using the hashtag. You can see Georgie’s original post about the challenge HERE. If you click HERE you can see some of the recent #propstylers entries on Instagram. I thought I needed a plan of action to help me focus on this!

So I gathered up a basket full of bits and pieces:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here they are all spread out. It include a big mix of items, large and small, and different sizes and colours – though I did keep it to more muted colours rather than bold and bright ones for now:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Note the little boxes of sequins and buttons – these wouldn’t be necessary for everyone but I think it’s good for me to use something I’m comfortable with, and so I can keep my scattered style!

I tried to create a styled photo straight away, using the ribbon prompt for the challenge. Plus I used an empty frame and a triangle button to keep in with my ‘focus’ theme for this weekend. I liked how the tarnished frame looked with the green flowers inside so I picked these out with a couple of other bits in the same hues:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Which looked okay but I thought it needed something else to make it ‘pop’. So I added in a couple of coral-coloured buttons:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I liked this much better!

Next I decided to try and photograph my ‘On A Journey’ Brooch again with these new props. I also kept some ribbon in for the challenge, but wanted to do something different with it, so I wrapped it around a piece of slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I thought I’d try a different background surface, so I photographed the same set-up on a woodgrain patterned piece of paper:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I’m not sure if I prefer this on white or on woodgrain, what do you think?

One tip I’ve learnt is it’s great to have a lump of Blu Tack to hand while you are styling. You can put a small piece under a curved object to stop it rolling around, or you can use it to keep things level – for example in the above photos the brooch is propped up at the top with a thick button and a piece of Blu Tack to keep it level with the slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

What do you think? Have you ever tried to add props to your photos? You could try photographing some of your favourite things, or a nice meal, or a new purchase, in an arty way like this, then use the photo for a scrapbook page!

Be Inspired:

Style a photo using some props

Wrap ribbon around something grungy / discoloured

Put some flowers inside an empty frame

Which of my styled photos do you like the best?

I’ll see you again soon for the last post of the day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

Amy Tangerine’s Creative Handbook Review – Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted my Amy Tangerine’s Creative Handbook Review Part 1, and here I am with Part 2 – the rest of my pages are completed!

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

If you haven’t already got it then you can  check out the handbook here: Amy Tangerine’s FREE Creative Handbook. Just head over to Amy’s blog, fill in your email address in a box in the sidebar (in the sidebar of her blog, or at the top of her website homepage), and you’ll receive a link to download the handbook. It was designed by Amy and her friend Jamie Waters to get us creating more!

Practice 3:

At the end of my last review I had completed one of these ‘practice 3’ sheets already, but I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t resist doing another one:

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I went through my Pinterest boards again to print some inspiration for the top half of the sheet (see the globe HERE, the necklaces HERE, and the layout HERE):

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

And I chose a Roald Dahl quote (‘if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely’) for the bottom half of my sheet:

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I painted this using watercolours – something I’ve seen Amy Tangerine do and I wanted to try it out, as I don’t usually to paint words, just pictures.

Practice 4:

Check out Amy and Jamie’s video for practice 4 HERE. It’s about not ‘feeding the bad wolf’ ie. your negative thoughts. You have to write your negative thoughts at the top left and the positive thoughts you should be thinking at the bottom right. I chose to write about blogging-related worries as I am trying a lot of new stuff this year (see my 2015 Blogging Goals HERE) and I’ve been bouncing back and forth between thinking I can achieve things or thinking they are impossible!

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I realise I need to be brave and just take it one step at a time.

Practice 5:

This is the last practice (see Amy and Jamie’s practice 5 video HERE), and it’s about how we usually start crafting with a blank canvas, but for this one you work in reverse, starting with a page filled with text and blocking most of it out:

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

My text was an interview with Judi Dench from the Christmas edition of The Radio Times.

I got a bit over excited (it was fun using my gold sharpie!) and kept blocking out words I meant to leave open, so I copied out what it was supposed to say into the middle. My poem reads:

Amused,
I realise how good that gift
I always want to improve
Is.
In a wonderful way
You have a Family Pattern.
I laugh through my tears!

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I quite like it. I think I might use it as journaling on a scrapbook layout – maybe with a collage of photos of everyday life. I might take off the last line about laughing through tears though.

Extra Page:

There’s one last page in the handbook – an ABC list which you can use how you choose. I decided to quickly fill it out with the first words that came into my head when I thought about blogging and creating:

Amy Tangerine's Creative Handbook Review Part 2 at Jennifer Grace Creates

Conclusion:

I have really enjoyed using this handbook. I liked some pages better than others. I definitely think I will be printing the Practice 3 page again and again as I can keep changing it up and sticking it up on my wall! Considering this is FREE and Amy and Jamie created videos to help inspire us too I think it’s awesome! If you haven’t got it already I suggest you get it now. You can download it and then just print off the sheets you think you will use, or you can push yourself to complete the whole thing as a creative exercise!

You can also see what other people have been creating with the handbook by checking out the hashtag #amytangerinehandbook on Instagram!

In the meantime, you should watch Amy and Jamie’s new series called ‘Design On Time’. They are challenged to use three embellishments / techniques and then have 15 minutes to create a layout using those. The videos are sped up, so they are quick and fun to watch! You can see them on YouTube HERE.

I hope you are having a great week!

Jennifer x