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The industry as seen by top designers.

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CHA Summer Show Trends

"The simple, flat, non-dimensional page is a trend of the past."

by Tracia Williams and Lynda Musante (July 30, 2004)

With industry unification complete, the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Summer show was a great success. The combined staffs of Offinger Management and the former Hobby Industries Association created a smooth transition to the single, creative industry association.

While paper crafting continued to be a standout category, other craft categories were busy and many line extensions and even new product introductions were found throughout the show floor.

Paper crafting abounds in the craft industry! With several new paper crafting periodicals coming from a wide variety of publishers, support for this category's unprecedented growth continues.

The focus on card making did not seem to be as concentrated as it once was – instead the focus has widened to include mini-books, journals, tag art, and artsy jewelry made from slide mounts, dominos, beads, etc. Basically, the combination of a wide variety of materials used on a paper background is an additional way for retailers to attract new customers.

Embellishments flourished with charms, ribbons, beads, wire, threads, fibers, buttons, slide mounts, metal elements, and tags being attached to everything! Acrylic medallions with etched designs, letters, and words were seen in one or two booths at the HIA show in February; we saw them in several booths at the summer CHA show.

Scrapbooking appears to be continuing its tendency towards less uniform designs with more eclectic, free-form, layered, and collage styles with dimensional designs abounding. The simple, flat, non-dimensional page is a trend of the past. In fact, Plaid featured a new line of scrapbooks specifically designed to hold dimensional pages.

We found it interesting that entire booths were dedicated to specialty-themed scrapbooking products, such as spiritual products (from www.remindersoffaith.com and www.joyfulexpressionsinc.com), the armed services, masculine, and even nostalgic papers themed to popular US cities.

The results of acquisitions and investment in growing scrapbooking vendors were seen through the paper crafting categories. One popular scrapbooking vendor indicated that the scrapbooking division had grown larger than the parent-investing company!

Stamping does appear to be a very strong category; the lines between stamping and scrapbooking are becoming less distinct as consumers are expanding their skills and experimenting with new materials. New specialty inks that can be used on a variety of surfaces to achieve special aurora borealis effects were featured in the Clearsnap booth, as well as several line extensions to their Style Tiles stampable surface accessories. Product Performers, with popular designer Tim Holtz, showcased a variety of inks from Ranger. Tim's unique usage of Adirondack Alcohol Inks and Color Wash are very inspiring and have many fans. One of the most FUN products we saw at the show was the Leisure Arts new line of specialty scrapbooks in the shapes of hats, shoes, and handbags.

Crafts.

We noticed big crowds in some general craft booths:

Design Originals featured a demonstration of creating with bottle caps ... AMACO featured a Red Hat Pin created with Friendly Plastic ... Delta featured four make-it /take-its using a variety of their products and had a video presentation of their "Visioneering" process running in the booth ... Sulyn’s new Keepsake Jewelry make-it/take-it was always busy ... FloraCraft's Smooth Finish paint dries to a shiny, hard finish in two coats and cleans with water ... Halcraft's new Book Effects program helps a crafter create a one-of-a-kind book for a base for all the paper crafting accessories ... Yarn companies who showcased yarns featuring combined fibers in an expanding array of textures and colors ... Blumenthal Lansing's inkjet fabric line attracted lots of interest through the company's demonstrations.

Organizing craft supplies – especially paper crafting supplies – seems to continue to increase in popularity. Scrapbook vendors who entered the industry in a single category were introducing additional related categories, including home storage and fashionable poly-storage products.

We heard a lot of chatter about home party programs, with at least five different programs being mentioned; it reminded us of the HIA about four or five years ago when the hot topic was about craft-related web sites. It will be interesting to watch if large retailers embrace this trend – one benefit will be the additional consumer education and research opportunities.

The House that Crafts Built returned for a second year with new themes and color palette. This four-room display featured designs from industry designers, with one of the highlights being a larger-than-life snowman created by Dondi Richardson, the in-house designer at FloraCraft. Seeing what designers can do with a few craft supplies is inspiring – we hope this industry never loses sight of the value and importance design plays in our industry.

Note: For previous columns written by Lynda and Tracia, click on the titles in the right-hand column. Any comments or questions? Any suggestions for topics for future columns? Email Lynda Musante, Cardinal Brands, at lsmusante@cardinalbrands.com and Tracia Williams, Tracia & Co., at traciaw@earthlink.net.

xxx

 

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