Oh dear, I hardly know where to begin! After being away for a week and soaking up lots of sunshine and inspiration, my mind is kind of a befuddled whirl. But I know you just want to hear about crafty inspiration, so, let's see. Sachi and I arrived on Sunday morning to the downtown Los Angeles convention center, where the Craft and Hobby Association was holding its biannual meeting/exhibit/show. The event includes workshops on building your business, social networking and crafting, as well as showcasing products from about 500 exhibitors. There are always zillions of make n' takes that one could spend time on, but we were really focused on checking out all the vendors, stocking up on ideas and inspiration and products for the shop.
We walked the entire show on our first day, with a break for lunch, placed a few orders, and then returned the next day to walk the whole thing again, make final decisions and place orders. The show is for all sorts of crafts, so we get to see embroidery floss, yarn, canvas, sketchpads, scrapbook papers, Mod Podge, you name it. There are fine craft supplies and more basic items - things you might find at Anthology, and things you might find at Michael's craft stores.
As usual, there was lots of inspiration to be found. I'm not sure if it is because this is our third year - things that looked new for two years can't sustain the third year, or if the economy had an effect, or what, exactly. It didn't seem like there were as many fabulously merchandised spaces as I remember from the past. That said, some of our favorites included lots of clever ways to use paper: as garlands, wreaths and other decorations.
This might be one of my all-time favorite wreaths. It uses little puffballs of yarn and also cupcake papers (!!) and strips of book pages to fill the various paper cones that compose the wreath. Seriously, this (plus Anthropologie's clever cupcake wall art installations) makes me want to go out and buy all the many cute cupcake papers like these that are available nowadays and use them for paper projects.
Overall, it's pretty amazing to see everything that people are doing with paper. There was very little 2-D work, lots of dimensional additions to pages and "scrapbooks" that went completely off the page: either as framed wall pieces, shadow boxes, or embellishments on accessories, aprons or tote bags.
It reminds me of what my former boss used to say of accessories: a handbag starts out with a simple new shape. Then the next step is to embellish the simple shape, and then embellish it more, and then more. Eventually you reach a point where you've embellished it all that you can, and we react by going back to a new, pared-down and simplified shape, and the cycle starts all over again. It feels a little as if scrapbooking is reaching this point. Just about everything that can be added to a piece of paper is now available. It appeals greatly to me - flowers and sparkles and texture and glitter but it is hard to see what more can be done. That didn't stop us from buying flowers and sparkles and textures, of course. There are some great stickers and flowers and cabachons on their way.
There sure are some amazing things being done to paper, and it felt a lot more creative. There was less of the cookie-cutter template work going on and a little more creativity flowing underneath it all. Say what you like about scrapbooking, but I consider it a gateway drug - getting people who don't consider themselves crafty to start to consider composition and color. And I think their desire to move beyond the page is reflected in these more elaborate works of paper craft bordering on art. Certainly there were lots of possibilities for things that I'd consider more altered books and less scrapbooks, if that makes sense. We found some really lovely wrapping/art papers, including handmade textures in sheer whites and gorgeous Florentine patterns.
There was also a strong underlying element of textile being combined with paper. Besides, the needlepoint and yarn-hooking and knitting and needle-felting, there were spools of thread for decoration (is this wreath so great? It uses old spools wrapped with various pieces of scrapbook paper) and also patterns on papers and notions. Additionally, there was a lot of sewn paper, people using sewing machines to stitch paper together for garlands and onto scrapbook pages. I love sewn paper so that was fun to see. Sorry you have to tip your head, the computer was not cooperating (but that was a bunch of tickets sewn together into garlands for decoration. That was the 7 Gypsies booth - they always have such clever displays!).
Other inspirations for things to do with paper: party decorations for straws and cupcakes,
sweet simple garland made by stapling little scraps of paper and many other garland ideas
accordion folding them to make medallions - petite for first place ribbons or oversize for party decorations. I could see filling the window with a whole bunch of these made from our various wrapping paper sheets.
a paper bird cage holding a paper bird
shadow boxes filled with fun vintage ephemera (we'll be getting blank shadow boxes that you can paint or decoupage and then fill with your own goodies).
and other fun random groupings of paper and ephemera like this one, which got us to dreaming about plans for new window installations.
Combined with all the inspiration we found visitng L.A.-area shops and the orders that we placed, Sachi filled several pages on her little notebook with ideas and plans for the shop. Should be fun to see how it all rolls out over the next several months (the ship dates are staggered between now and mid-April - first to arrive are encaustic kits - I got the email notification from USPS today).