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Craft, Hobby and Stitch Int. (ICHF) Show Report

Paper, paper ... and home dec.

by Julie McGuffee (March 7, 2005)

After spending three and a half days running from hall to hall at the CHA show in Atlanta, the ICHF show (formerly Stitches) was a refreshing change. It was obviously nowhere near the size of CHA, but when one considers that England can be placed in Texas six times over, size is relevant. Roundabouts, snow, rain, and a two-and-a-half hour drive from Gatwick (in a car with a stick shift) notwithstanding, I was glad I went and happy to report that general crafts are still very much alive and well in England and Europe!

Scrapbooking is growing in popularity and yet another magazine, Scrapbook Magic, will make its debut this Spring, but card making is still number one when it comes to paper crafts. Rubber stamped designs on cards are still popular, but I saw more cards designed with dimensional embellishments. According to the German distributor I spoke to, Germans are not interested in scrapbooking at all, they have their own "new and exciting" hobby (see below).

I had a nice conversation with Alan and Barry, the dynamic duo who host the craft segments on Idea World and Create and Craft TV show. I saw excerpts from their show and they are certainly bringing lots of fun to crafts. No wonder people watch them every day. It made me remember the "old days" when crafting was a lot more fun here, too.

Itís been a couple of years since I last visited, but the show has grown tremendously. More than 300 exhibitors packed two halls and 20% of them were new. The majority of companies were from the British Isles, but 22 of them came from overseas. There were 45 workshops each day providing 150 hours of education and they were FREE. How nice. The only prerequisite to attend was an advance reservation.

Unlike CHA, the show doesnít divide its exhibitors into sections, so when you walk the show you get to see everything and everyone. Knitting, sewing, and the needle arts are still strong, and many of the needle art companies continue to carry card kits in their lines, and small needlework designs that can be placed into an aperture card.

I caught a segment on BBC news the morning I left about a group of people who were knitting on London Bridge. They are also trying to bring knitting out of the home to show the younger generations that it isnít something that only grandmothers do. The yarns are wonderful, but considering that Bradford in Yorkshire was the centre of the woolen industry for many years, I expected nothing less. (Bradford was my hometown and all my family members were connected with the woolen industry in one way or another.)

Beading and jewelry making are strong and there was a good representation of crafts for children. There is strong recognition that children are their future customers.

Paper and cards were everywhere. Card blanks continue to be in abundance and every type of paper imaginable, from clear and metallic holographic papers to the most beautiful stitched and glittery papers I have seen.

The variety was amazing. Itís no wonder that card crafting is so popular; the papers just beg to be purchased and used to decorate just about anything. Iím sure that some of these will find their way onto scrapbook pages too, but I can see them being used more for collage work and other areas of paper crafting. To me, scrapbooking is still about the photograph and the memories it evokes. I wouldnít want it to have the photos/memories compete with these particular papers.

The gold and silver peel-off stickers were in abundance. I have loved these for years and was thrilled to find more U.S. companies carrying them now that the patent has expired.

Sheets of Paper Tole (3-D) artwork (being called dťcoupage by some) was featured in a number of stands. There was a wide variety of designs including licensed designs Ė Mickey Mouse (of course) and the artwork of Berta Hummel to name a few.

Yes, itís been around a long, long time; I did it in the Ď70ís and Backstreet Designs always had a great selection of designs. It was so time consuming to complete back then, but now the majority of the sheets are die cut so these embellished, dimensional designs can be completed in minutes! Theyíll be great for embellishing scrapbook pages and many other paper crafting projects.

Rayher, a German company, had a line of the most exquisite paper-cut designs for paper crafting, but also showed how to use them in home dec. Kars showcased a number of European paper crafting techniques including Lucido and Harmonica folding which Iím sure will eventually find their way to the U.S.

U.S. companies are well represented in the UK by a number of distributors. Provo Craft had its own stand as well as Fiskars and Ellison, and EK Success products were represented by Kuretake.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that a number of manufacturers were handing out their catalogs on CDís, and some companies were selling CDís of their paper designs instead of having printed sheets available. Alan and Barry have their own CD of mosaic paper designs, which were really quite cool, and another exhibitor was also selling her original tea bag folding papers on CD.

A new hobby.

Now back to Germany and the exciting new hobby. As I mentioned earlier, many of the embellishments for paper crafts were also being shown on home dec items at Rayher. I definitely got the impression that home dec is quite strong in Germany, especially when I heard that this latest hobby is decorating pre-stretched canvas. The canvas is painted and embellished with dimensional accents: Polystyrene, fabric, papers, and more. Sounds a lot like collage on a larger scale for the home. It might be worth a tryÖ..


There were no restrictions on photography at the show, so I have quite a number of digital photographs of a variety of stands (mostly paper) and the New Product area. I will be putting these on a CD together with a copy of this report. If you would like a CD and/or additional information please email me (mcguffee@flash.net) with ICHF in the subject line.

(Note: Julie McGuffee is originally from England. She hosts the Scrapbook Memories TV series on PBS and has been professionally involved in the industry for more than 15 years. In 1996 she and fellow designer, Jean Kievlan, formed their own design services and consulting company, Kievlan-McGuffee Design Services, Inc.)

(Note: To read previous Scene & Heard reports, click on the headlines in the right-hand column.)



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