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Event Review: Spark!

Reported by Erin Bassett
Spark No. 2 took place this past weekend in Lindon, UT and women from all around the globe came to renew the inner flame of creativity within themselves and to ignite it in one another.
The location at Noah’s was new this year (Spark No. 1 was at This Is The Place Heritage Park in UT) and although the building wasn’t as quaint and historic as the Spark No.1 location, it did have WiFi so I really can’t complain!
Rhonna Farrer, Margie Romney-Aslett, and Elizabeth Kartchner organized the event and let me tell you, those ladies have such an eye for detail!! Here’s just some of the décor they created this year:
I could seriously put up 100 shots of all the décor that was up throughout the entire building and the gardens. It was fabulous! And to top it off a lot of it was green and had been collected and upcycled into pure cuteness.
Everyone was divided up into color groups and rotated into each of the four core classes and the four mini-classes. Most of the materials and tools were provided to share so that those who had to fly could travel lighter.
The main classes were:
“Enlighten” with Wendy Whitacre was an awesome photography class that explained how digital SLR cameras work and how to make them do what you want them to do. Wendy has a great teaching style and simplifies the big scary parts of using your camera out of the automatic mode. She also had little stations around the class room for us to put into practice what we learned.
“Nurture” with Emily Falconbridge was a wool felting class where she taught you the concepts behind felting and then we were able to make either wool scarves or wool beads. It was really fun to watch how everyone’s projects came together and then see how they turned out….some turned out better then expected and some turned out different then expected and a bit quirky, but they were all beautiful in their own right.
“Cherish” with Janet Hopkins was a class where we created a corsage out of Glimmer Misted flowers, tulle, a vintage ticket, charms, and other doo-dads. While most of the finished projects looked similar they each had a bit of character from the person that created it.
“Uplift” with Margie Romney-Aslett was a fun home décor class where we used stripped down lamp shades to create mobiles. While everyone stuck to the same concept, no two lampshades were the same and the photos and ephemera that hung on them told such a warm-fuzzy story.
The mini-classes were:
“Explore” with Rhonna Farrer was a how-to digi-scrap class and we used an awesome House of 3 digital kit to create with. As an avid digi-scrapper I loved to see and hear traditional scrapbookers “get” how to create things digitally.
“Ignite” with Liz Kartchner was a class were we made a fun little mini-album that was shaped like a flag and was entitled “Celebrate”. I didn’t have time to get it finished in class, but it will be great to finish up and throw in some cute photos from a birthday or something.
“Create” with April Meeker was a mixed media class were we used paint, Mod Podge, paper, ephemera, and silhouettes to create beautiful canvases. There was not a enough time for me to complete my project in class, but that’s totally fine with me since I have some things at home I’d like to add to it.
“Relax” with the Dear Lizzie store was where we created a cute little pennant from ephemera and then had a chance to just chill or catch up on other stuff…like getting snacks from the snack room.
On Friday night we had a roof top soiree where we bundled up to do some “mini-mini’s” (aka: make and takes). The space was small, but the projects were cute!! Stephanie Hamen (Fiskars) had us making the cutest mini canvas. Michelle Hill (Epiphany Crafts/Polka Dot Whimsy) had us make a flower pin (or it could have been used as a barrette if you changed the backing). Lori Allred (Imaginisce) and Shannon Lerner (ProvoCraft) had us making quilled flowers that were embellished with the iTop and iRock. Lori Ward (Miss Ruby Sue) had us making headbands. Jayme Shepherd (Making Memories) had us creating some beautiful Vintage Groove necklaces. Rebecca McAllister (Sassafras Lass) and Hayley Blumenstock (Sassafras Lass) had us make a cute mini-book. (I love the technique they used for the spine and pages of the book.) And lastly, Jennifer Garry (We R Memory Keepers) and Mallory Straus (We R Memory Keepers) showed us how to use the Cinch to create a mini-book.
After the soiree was over we went out to the garden to enjoy a concert by Mindy Gledhill. This was my first time to hear her music and lyrics and I do have to say…her songs are magical. She told us the story behind many of the songs and that made the words mean even more. Once I got home I hopped on iTunes and downloaded her latest album “Anchor” so I could listen to it over & over again.
Saturday night after classes there was a private party at the Dear Lizzie store where we sipped on Fizzy Lizzies while we shopped and took even more photos.
All in all, it was an amazing event and I left wanting to flap my own wings home so I could grab my glue gun and some glitter and get busy creating.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Pandigital One Touch Photo Scanner

Reported by Jessica Ripley


If you’re a scrapbooker like me, chances are you have more photos on hand than the average person. We travel everywhere with our camera, and ignore the odd looks from passersby when we start snapping pictures in the grocery store, at the gas pump, etc. We know these everyday moments must be documented! Of course, thanks to digital cameras, we can take hundreds of photos anywhere, easily save and organize them on our computer, and then print them out when we’re ready to scrapbook.

But what about all those traditional film photos?

  1. They need to be scanned into a computer for preservation since they will eventually fade.
  2. Since you should never scrap an original photo, scrapbooking those on film takes extra time to scan and print copies first. My time is precious!

While photos on film that I, myself, have taken only range back to high school or so, I have rescued countless numbers of them from family magnetic albums. Also, when I got married, I asked for a few photos of my new husband’s family past and present. I was promptly presented by my sweet mother-in-law with thousands (yes, thousands) of photos in a huge Tupperware container with a sense of “here, you’ll give them a good home.”

“Yikes,” I thought, “this will be a lot of scanning.”

So, that was 8 years ago and I have barely started. Scanning photos in a traditional bed scanner just takes so much time! Open lid, carefully place as many photos will fit (3 or 4 tops), close lid, scan (wait!), repeat.

And then, I happened to run across the Pandigital One Touch Photo Scanner, and hoped I had found a solution. Santa was promptly informed that it was on the ‘must’ list, and he came through. And honestly, so does this product.

My first impression when opening up the box was that it looked like I had everything I needed to get started:

In the box comes:

  • The scanner itself (which is about 5 3/4″ x 3″ and very light)
  • An AC power adapter
  • A 512 MB SD memory card
  • Calibration card
  • Cleaners for the roller and image sensor
  • USB cable
  • Plastic sheath
  • Instruction booklet

The scanner itself is pretty basic and easy to understand what’s what. Other than the slot for the photo to pass through, there is the power button and status light (which blinks in different ways to inform you if it’s ready, the memory card is full, cleaning mode, etc):

There is also an adjustable guide for photos smaller than 4″ x 6″. I never used the guide and had fine results. But it is there for the perfectionist in you.

On the backside is the USB cable input (if you wish to connect directly to a computer, but entirely not necessary), the power cord, and the memory card slot:

The memory card which comes with the unit is an SD 512 MB. It is also compatible with many others, including MS (Memory Stick). Each photo is scanned in at 300 PPI (pixels per inch) with resolution around 1200 x 1800 (and smaller) depending on the size of the photo. With these things in mind, the card that comes with the unit will hold hundreds of photos before it is full. I found I liked to stop every 100 or so though to load them into my computer for organizing so it didn’t get too overwhelming (to organize photos once they are in my computer, I highly recommend ACDSee, which you can read a review on here).

The memory card storage feature, combined with the portability of the unit, is what I find most exciting. Since it doesn’t need a computer to work (you scan directly onto the memory card), I can carry this little unit with me to my in-laws that live hundreds of miles away, and simply scan while I’m there! No more huge Tupperware containers taking up my space.

The process of actually scanning the photos in is very quick and easy. In the box comes a plastic sheath which the instructions state should be used in order to get the best results.

For my first photo, I took this step.

The plastic sheath will hold a 4″ x 6″ photo and smaller, though the scanner will also take a photo up to 4.1″ X 12″ long. The black area around the photo will not be shown once the photo is scanned in, making it possible to scan smaller images than 4″ x 6″ (such as the one above) without the need for additional cropping. There is a drawback to this, just in the fact that if you have a photo with dark edges, the scanner will think those areas are to be cut off. I didn’t run across this problem, but it’s clearly stated in the instructions as a warning.

Just for comparison sake, I also tried to scan the same photo without the plastic sleeve to see if it would make a difference:


It really didn’t. In the comparison below, the top photo was scanned with the plastic sheath, and the bottom without. I can’t tell a difference:

Since the scanning process is so quick (about 6-7 seconds per photo), not having to load each one into the sheath before sending it through makes it that much quicker. What I found the sheath best for was if a photo had curled edges, old sticky tape on it, or was too small to stay straight as it went through the roller. Placing photos like these in the sheath first solved any problems those issues might cause.

I also used it for photos that were a little thicker than usual, such as old Polaroids. It took the scanner a second to get a good grip on the thicker photo, but it did feed through fine. According to the guide, it will take photos up to 1.0mm thick.

(P.S. yes that is me on the right. I figure if I’m going to write an article with old photos I have no right to embarrass anyone but myself when showing them… but don’t ask about the socks with the dress because I just don’t know either).

You can see in the photo above the little bit of black mat on the lower left that wasn’t automatically cropped by the scanner. This is easily cropped off, and didn’t happen very often. I haven’t adjusted anything on the photos other than size to post them on the web, so what you see is a good representation of the quality too.

The unit also comes with pieces to clean both the roller and the image sensor. This was super easy and took only seconds.

I just can’t tell you how much I love this product. Anything that makes my life easier and my crafty time more fun is a winner to me! At a MSRP around $100.00, it may seem pricey, but to me it is such a time saver I consider it a great deal. And the fact that I am finally taking steps to really preserve precious memories makes it all the more sweet.


To sum up:

Pros:

  • It’s portable and doesn’t need a computer! Scan here, there, everywhere there are photos you wish to keep. As long as you can plug it in to power, you’re good to go.
  • It comes with everything you need to get started (and keep going). The memory card holds hundreds of photos before it is full (and then just empty into your computer and start again).
  • The items that come with it make it work that much better. From the plastic sheath for scanning curled or small photos, to the easy cleaning tools.
  • It makes me feel great knowing I am preserving memories that might have otherwise been damaged or faded away.

Cons:

  • You do need to plug it in to a power source making it slightly limited in where you can scan. If it only had battery power, it would be amazing. (Scan at the beach? Why not?)
  • It won’t scan very dark photos very well due to the automatic cropping of dark edges.
  • Once you scan all your film photos in, you may not find it very useful. Also if you don’t have many film photos it may not be a good investment for the price.
  • It does only take photos up to 4.1″ wide, for 5″ x 7″ and larger, you will still need to use a traditional bed scanner.

So, do you think this would be a handy thing to have? Why or why not? If you have one and would like to share some tips we’d love to hear from you!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

One of a Kind Show, New York

Reported by Rachel Johnson

The One of a Kind Show and Sale is a yearly event that happens in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, and for the first time this year, New York City. (You can read Sarah Moore’s review of the Chicago show here.) On Friday, I braved the super-cold temperatures and headed out to Pier 94 to check out the show, which was described as an “an extraordinary holiday shopping show featuring the best in fine art and fine craft from hundreds of unique artists, artisans, and designers from across North America.” I was very curious to find out what the event had to offer.

My first stop once I was inside the doors was the crafting area. A bunch of cool, crafty companies were hosting “make and take” projects and I wanted to get in on the fun. I stopped by the ReadyMade and Janome booth where you could work on gift tags or sew pillows on Janome sewing machines. I also got to sign up for a complimentary, one-year ReadyMade magazine subscription just for attending the One of a Kind Show! Sweet!
Next, I stopped by the Hello Craft area, where they had all sorts of craft supplies available, including a button maker! Hello Craft is a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. The Hello Craft representatives, Sara and Kim, were so kind and informative that I decided to purchase a Hello Craft membership on the spot!
Then, I headed to the Etsy DIY area. Etsy had adorable fabric ornament kits that you could work on there, or take home to make later. (They had the custom fabric for the ornaments printed at Spoonflower.) I grabbed a kit for later and chatted up the Etsy representatives. They explained how Etsy was excited to be sponsoring both the DIY area and an Etsy Pavilion at the One of a Kind Show because they wanted to help the new wave of crafters break into the more traditional and established arts and craft world. It was great to see such a large website supporting their users in a tangible way!
At the Etsy Pavilion you could find twenty-four juried Etsy vendors all in one area. They also had a welcome booth with lots of information about Etsy.com and some free swag. There were plenty of unique crafts within the pavilion, but my two favorite booths were Gock’s Frocks felted wool clothing and Jill K. Davis Jewelry.
Kristen Gocker Hallagan of Gock’s Frocks makes adorable children’s clothing, stuffed animals, scarves, and more out of fabric and recycled, felted wool sweaters. She works on her craft full time, but has just started branching into the craft show scene. I bought a cute, felted wool flower pin from her that I plan to put on my plain black coat.
Jill K. Davis makes unique and charming silver and gold jewelry that often features a picturesque little house. I was enamored with her detailed work, and promised myself that I would purchase one of her amazing necklaces in the future!
Outside of the Etsy Pavilion there were hundreds of other vendors ranging from jewelry and fashion to food and photography. I kept track of all of my favorite booths, including the one above: Smitten Kitten. The Smitten Kitten booth immediately drew me in. It was all pink and colorful, but the beautiful statement necklaces are what really caught my eye. My little photos above do not do them justice. The designer, Amy, creates the necklaces using chunky, colorful beads and silk kanzashi flowers she has folded using vintage scarves. Oh, how I wanted one! Sadly, the prices were a bit too high for me on the necklaces, so I settled for a very cute, bright pink kanzashi flower pin.
I had a lot of fun checking out the Apexspire Jewelry booth. Above is a photo of Karen Clark, the designer of Apexspire. The understated beaded necklaces and earrings were both simple and detailed at the same time. I had a hard time deciding on only one item, but finally bought a very sweet pair of aquamarine bead earrings.
One of my absolute favorite booths at the One of a Kind Show and previously at the Brooklyn Flea, is the photography of John Murphy. Murphy creates vivid, striking photographs using small sets he constructs in his studio. He then frames the surreal images in super-bright, hand finished frames. I would love to own one of Murphy’s pieces, but for now I am making due with his Flora & Fauna stationery set.

Last but not least on my list of favorite vendors is the Rogue Confections booth. This booth blew me away with the beautiful design of both the environment and the intricate patterns printed on the handmade Belgian chocolates. I was amazed to learn that founder, Sherri Adler, was doing the initial launch of Rogue Confections right there at the One of a Kind show – everything about the booth was extremely professional and lovely. The free samples of the chocolate were delicious, and I will definitely keep the box sets in mind for future gift giving.
Overall, the One of a Kind show was a lot of fun and I got to check out a bunch of new crafters and network with many creative folks. The only downside is that I overheard a lot of the vendors express disappointment with the level of shopper turnout. A few people told me that they had talked to more press representatives and shop owners than actual holiday shoppers.
Did you attend the One of a Kind Show in any of its locations? What did you think? Did the number of shoppers pick up on the weekend in NY? Did you buy any holiday gifts or something for yourself at the show?
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Summer: Lensbaby

Scrapbookers need photographs. Mini album makers need photographs. Bloggers who want to show off their crafts need photographs. Craft product review writers need photographs. Pictures capture a moment in our lives and we want that moment to be recorded in the fun, unique, and creative way that it happens to us.

If you’ve ever heard of Lensbaby you know that their innovative lenses can give your photos that punch of excitement — that funky little kick.
This is Lensbaby’s new Composer selective focus SLR lens. It has a focal length of 50mm and is manual focus. It works with levitating aperture disks. Key differences between the Composer and its predecessor, the Muse lens, are better control and more precise shooting style. It is now available on the Lensbaby website for $270.


Lensbaby’s next release, due out later this year, is the Control Freak. It will also sell for $270. The difference between the Composer and the Control Freak, we were told, is the photographer skill needed to use the Control Freak. It wouldn’t be for the novice photographer but will give very fine control to the more experienced photographer.


Lensbaby products work with a wide range of SLR and DSLR cameras.


Another great feature we want to get our hands on and try out is the Optic Swap System. You can pop in multiple different opticals for different visual outcomes. There are single glass, double glass, plastic, and pinhole optics.

Check out the Lensbaby website to see some amazing galleries and let us know what lens or optic you’d like to know more about.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!