Author Archive | Eileen Hull

Event Review & GIVEAWAY!: Great American Scrapbook Convention Review

Every year at the end of June, the Great American Scrapbook Convention (GASC) comes to the Washington, DC area.
In the past 10 years I have been attending, it’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the show. No matter how it is, I always spend money. They love me there!
This year, some of the regulars were missing. A lot of the larger companies that used to display are  selling off excess inventory to discount type booths. I love a deal as much as the next person but this is not a show where you will find lots of new product. But that’s OK with me! That’s what CHA is for.
There was a line to get tickets when I arrived on Friday about an hour after it opened but not sure how the traffic was the rest of the show.
There were LOTS of people there and they were buying. In fact, I had to wait in line at several booths. I don’t remember that happening last year. The aisles were narrow but there were no strollers allowed for which I was grateful (now that I am not pushing a stroller). There were considerably fewer vendors than there have been in the past- just another sign of the times I guess. In looking through the show schedule, I was surprised to see how many classes were being offered and they all looked pretty good. Next year I plan on taking a few.
On to the show…
Some Prima goodness caught my eye right off the bat.
Watched a demo by Epiphany Crafts– now kicking myself that I didn’t buy that little gadget!
Stopped in to see Jenni Bowlin’s booth because it was so so cute, complete with a vintage children’s oven and all kinds of cool little doodads. I was waiting to ask Jared, who was busy at the register, if it was OK to post pictures of the booth and into the booth walked Jenni! She is a delight and I was so happy to meet her and have the chance to talk a little.
One of my favorite booths is Dollar Scrapbooking, owned by Kristi Coy. She and her two daughters took a minute to pose for me. I love the new look of her booth and got lots of fun stuff in there, as always.
Here’s Mitra… owner and designer of Impression Obsession stamps, wielding her cool Mega Mount block designed to stamp large images. What a great idea- you can’t really see in this photo but it has a handle and is curved to get a good impression every time.
I always have to stop and drool at Melissa Frances’s booth. Love her little chandeliers and pretty display. Melissa was not at the show but I had a nice chat with her beautiful daughter Breigh.
The Original Scrap Box display really caught my eye. What a cool piece of furniture and so well thought out. The brochure is so clever- it actually opens out like the Scrap Box does and the outer cover looks like the front of the cabinet! Genius! I am actually considering buying one of these- it can hold a ton of stuff and the price is quite reasonable.
I had a great time at the the show even though I only spent half of my $100.
Our pals over at Dollar Scrapbooking are giving one of our lucky readers a $40 gift certificate! How cool is that? Not only do you win but you will win whatever you choose from her great website. In order to be entered to win, you need to answer any of the questions below in the comments section of this article. One entry per person, please.
Have you attended a Great American Scrapbook Convention? What were your thoughts? Do you attend any crafting events? Which ones?
Contest ends Sunday, July 17th at 6pm CST. Good Luck Everyone!

Report from the National Stationery Show

Reported by Eileen Hull

On May 16, I had the pleasure of walking the National Stationery Show. This was the 66th annual show and took place in the JavitsCenter in NYC. The show is held in conjunction with Surtex (Surface and Textile) and a large furniture show. One ticket ($150) gets you into all three events (with the proper business credentials). If you like paper, you could walk around forever. Vendors are set up with their latest and greatest new products hoping for retailers to come and place orders.

Unfortunately, I only had seven hours at the show so had to practically run through to see it all and fit in a couple of meetings. But here is a quick snapshot of what I saw.
The colors throughout the show seemed brighter than last year, perhaps reflecting optimism for better sales in the year to come. It looked like there was business being done and orders being taken.
I started on one side and was happy to find some familiar faces from the crafting industry. Canvas Corp was there with their Home Décor line, along with some of their signature kraft papers, canvas tags and embellishments. Mark Richards was a few booths down and then who should I see but Tim Holtz with his new line of finished goods. He graciously allowed me to video him talking about  District Market. Unfortunately, I lost my Bloggie camera somewhere between New York and New Orleans -so sad….
I moved on to see Ken Oliver from UniBind who also described some of the new products including talking books, cards and a really cool canvas covered photo book.
As I walked the show, I met some very interesting personalities. One of my favorites was Stephen Brown from Glitterville. That guy has some really cool projects in the works and I think we will be seeing lots from him. Don’t you love this booth? Stephen and Chico sure packed a lot of glitter in there. While I was talking with them in the booth, one of their good friends dropped by- Victoria MacKenzie- Childs. Four days later I was in New Orleans and saw her cool dinnerware displayed in a Saks Fifth Avenue window!
Crane always does a great display and this was no exception. Cool windows with paper sculptures lined their booth.
One of my personal favorite booths was the AneMoNe booth- it was beautiful. They produce handmade flower bouquets for weddings and special events. An accompanying line of cards completes the display. Paper flowers of all kinds, sizes and shapes could be seen every time you turned around.

Letterpress was stronger than ever. I saw more booths with designs that took letterpress from traditional to trendy with new fonts, icons and styles.
Text was huge. Compendium Inc. had a really cool booth using text all over their walls. Letters were everywhere; monogrammed items are still going strong. Books and journals also were very popular. I love this video about Smash Books from EK Success.
State Fair and circus images were sprinkled throughout the floor in all kinds of products as well as vintage ’50’s photo cards with snappy comments. Pennants and banners festooned the tops of many booths.

Mean cards also seemed to be a theme. A booth called Gigi was centered around a doll (which kind of reminded me of Chuckie) doing and saying all kinds of outrageous things, many of them not very nice.

Paper confections are still in. M.Middleton won Best of Show for their cake slice notepad. Cute! Lots of cupcakes and paper eye candy.

Eco products were out in force. I happen to own one of these Eco Cups by Decor Crafts, Inc.

Several booths offered laser cut services – one caught my eye in particular called Papyrus Cutters. The detail on them was unbelievable. Another company called Laser Cut It  had a cool display of stacking cut out boxes.

Birds, bicycles and typewriters were common themes and there was one vendor who was selling them right off the floor. I was even able to buy a ribbon for a little blue ABC typewriter I purchased years ago- never could find a source to buy ribbon that would work with it. Only in NYC!

I really enjoyed walking the show and was inspired by all of the creative displays, booths and products. There is definitely crossover between the craft and gift industries, as evidenced by the craft manufacturers who set up in this venue showcasing added ways their product may be used. Can’t wait till next year!

Do you like paper and stationery supplies? Have you ever attended this show? What do you think the latest trends are in the craft industry now? Do you respond to trends or try to create your own?

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

Crafty Business Week: Getting Started as a Designer

Reported by Eileen Hull

Anyone who has a passion for their craft, at some point, has probably considered doing it as a business. After all, you have all those supplies, lots of great ideas and the thought of earning extra income doing what you love is like a dream come true! Of course there are other (not so fun) aspects to consider, but let’s talk about them later.

What is a designer? Here’s the definition taken from the Craft and Hobby Association application form:

“A designer is an individual or firm that conceives, invents, creates or executes decorative crafts or artistic work for licensing or for sale to members of the craft and hobby industry.”

Do you have what it takes? The craft industry has changed a lot in the past few years. The downturn in the economy has forced manufacturers and retailers to take a hard look at their business models and streamline expenses. Countless crafting sites and blogs offering free content has caused many magazines to close up shop. Paying opportunities for designers seem to have dried up. Technology has made such rapid advances, it is impossible for one person to keep up to speed with all of the latest gadgets, sites and social media. Are you totally depressed yet? Don’t be.

There is always work for a good designer. A manufacturer can have the most amazing product in the world, but unless there are great examples showing the consumer what can be done with it, the product won’t sell. Good design sells product and that’s that.

Here are a few examples of what designers do in the craft industry: 


  • Create, write instructions and photograph projects for publication in books and magazines
  • Make samples for trade show booths, web and advertising.

  • Write books and articles on various crafty topics (like the one you’re reading right now)

  • Teach classes at trade shows, in stores and on line

  • Create one-of-a-kind art pieces

  • Demonstrate products at a trade show, store or special event

  • Contribute web content for a manufacturer as part of a design team
  • Share projects on YouTube, web or live streaming shows

  • Develop new products and pitch ideas to manufacturers

So, what will you need to start your designing adventure? 

  • Creative thinking- in your design aesthetic but also in how you approach your business with regard to marketing and promotion
  • Technical skill- yes, some skill and talent are required
  • Design from your heart. Authenticity and passion for your craft show in your work and are attractive and make it desirable
  • Positive attitude- be ready to deal with rejection without taking it personally
  • Persistence-although the idea of becoming an overnight success is very appealing, it rarely happens that way
  • Support of friends, like-minded people, or a group to meet with regularly who will encourage you and critique your work
  • A plan- what steps are you going to take to make your dream happen
  • An awareness of what is happening in the industry- new products, trends, and who’s who
  • Computer and photography skills
Some basic tips as you start out:

  • Be professional in dress, actions, and correspondence. Spell check.
  • Always carry business cards, and be ready to give a quick description of what you do- you never know who you will be sitting next to on a bus at a trade show or seminar
  • Establish yourself as an expert. Offer to teach classes to your child’s class, Scout troop, or church group. Write articles about topics you are familiar with and submit to local newspapers, magazines or trade publications. Offer to speak to groups about what you do. There are many opportunities to show your work on webcasts that are starting up and looking for guests. Make videos of yourself demoing products that you like working with and send to the manufacturer.
  • Take advantage of free seminars, web classes and professional training offered by trade organizations, small business organizations, or the Chamber of Commerce. Business, art, graphic design, or computer classes at local colleges offer great information and are reasonably priced.
  • Stand out from everyone else and showcase your style. Be yourself!   

  • Spot trends- read magazines, watch TV and fashion, shop with an eye to new colors and themes
  • There are many low-cost or even free marketing opportunities that just take a little thought and creativity to implement. Visibility in the industry goes a long way and makes you memorable to those companies you want to impress.   

  • Start a blog if you don’t already have one. Fill it with your best work and think of it as your portfolio
  • Join professional organizations relating to your field/media and volunteer on a committee

Becoming a member of the Craft and Hobby Association has been a big help to my career. The Designer Section is open to up-and-coming new artists, those with many years of experience behind them, and to all who fall somewhere in the middle. I have found this group to be very welcoming and supportive. As in any organization, volunteering and getting to know people will start opening doors for you. I am so inspired by all of the talent surrounding me that it makes me push myself to higher standards. The application for CHA Designer Membership lists requirements and guidelines for joining and I highly encourage you to do it if you are seriously thinking of going this route.

I consider myself so lucky to be a member of the design community. It can be done and I encourage you to make it happen.

  • flexible work schedule, which is great for those with small children or people who move often

  • y

    ou can work as much or as little as your life allows

  • truly rewarding
  • designers are a great bunch of people who “get” you


  • income is irregular and sporadic
  • you have to find or create your own jobs
  • can be expensive if you travel to trade shows and meetings on your own dime
  • frustrating and lonely if you are trying to do this without support from your friends or family
Have you ever given thought to becoming a designer? Was this article helpful? Would you like to see more on this topic? What questions do you have about designing?
About The Author
Eileen Hull is a designer, author of two books and licensed die artist. Her fourth Sizzix collection, Fresh Vintage, will be available in July 2011, with another new release coming out at CHA Summer. She is a member of several design teams and networking groups and currently serves as Secretary on the CHA Designer Council.

Eileen is married to a patient husband, has four grown children who have (mostly) flown the coop and a 91 year old step-dad in residence. Eileen lives in Virginia but her mojo must be on Australia time as it often arrives at the last minute. Please follow her blog to see what she’s up to!

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