Friday, February 24, 2012

Store Explore: Ink About It, Westford, MA

Serene.  That's the first impression you get when you walk in the door of Ink About It in Westford, Massachusetts.  The combination of the soft yellow and green colors of the interior, the bright atmosphere with ample lighting and clean, clear showroom floor will instantly whisk you into a peaceful calm.

I arrived to speak with one of the owners, Lori Champine, but the merchandising looked so inviting, I just wanted to grab a basket and browse.  OK - back to Lori!

Lori Champine and Laurel Lee Pollard
Lori greeted me with an open, generous smile.  It was no surprise to see she was enjoying a nice hot cup of tea - I instantly felt like she was welcoming me into her living room for a chat.

And "chat" we did!  Talking trends (have you tried Zentangle, yet?), friends (Ink About It continues to have an unbelievable lineup of guest artists), and favorite magazines (Lori immediately went for Cloth Paper Scissors Studios), she spent upwards of an hour giving me the VIP tour of the store.

Here's what I learned:
Lori Champine began as a Stampin' Up demonstrator.  She and her friend, Linda Donovan tired of making long excursions to their closest Local Scrapbook Store, over an hour away.  Linda proposed opening one of their own.  When a high-visibility storefront opened up eight years ago, they jumped at the chance.  Together, Lori Champine and Linda Donovan have created a wonderful paper crafts destination.

Linda Donovan has the background in high-tech, handling the social media for Ink About It.  They maintain an active blog, "Ink About It! {The Blog}," website, "Ink About It! {The Web}," and "Ink About It Fan Page" on facebook.  There's no shortage of options to be able to keep up with their latest offerings!

Lori Champine is a Memory Box Design Team Member.  Her confidence in the versatility of the brand is evident in the depth of Memory Box product line they carry.

Lori and Linda's business is based on creating an oasis for adults.  Their merchandising certainly reflects this attitude: it is organized and deliberate.  They mix like-minded papers and embellishments with associated stamps, die and inks.  It was a total joy to peruse.  Tour the store by clicking HERE.

Boy, the customers certainly appreciate the respite the shop offers.  While the attitude in the shop was calm, the long-trusted sales associate, Karen, was BUSY!  She was locating merchandise quickly for a customer, taking special orders (they keep a BINDER for them!) and welcoming incoming guests to the next class  . . . and handled it all with a happy smile.  Fantastically professional.

I haven't even gotten to the BEST PART: the classes!!  Having Lori Champine, a Memory Box Design Team Member, in the house, is a huge benefit for their clientele as she offers classes on a regular basis.  They have huge names booked, too: Fred Mullett owner of Fred B. Mullett Company/Stamps From Nature, Sue Bleiwess, 2012 Niche Awards Finalist, Jenn Shurkus, Copic and Ranger Ink Certified and Creative Imaginations Design Team Member, Dave Brethauer, Designer, Memory Box and Dyan Reaveley, Senior Educator, Ranger Ink.  And these are just the beginning of what's offered for classes on Ink About It's calendar.

It was a true pleasure to shop Ink About It.  It can easily be considered a "destination store" for paper crafters of every level.  My recommendation: take the time, grab a friend and a cup of tea and GO! - Laurel Lee Pollard, New England Paper Crafts

ink about it paper arts westford massachusetts

Monday, February 20, 2012

The 411 on Creation Destination Event's 3rd Annual Winter Wonderland Crop

Creation Destination Events hosted a vibrant three-day crop this past weekend: The Winter Wonderland Crop.  Over 60 paper crafters, hailing from Maine to New Jersey, loaded up their abundant stash of paper crafting tools and supplies and converged for the 3rd annual event at the Boston Marriott Quincy.

The event ran from 4pm on Friday, February 18th, 2012 and didn't let up until 4pm on Sunday, December 20th, 2012.  I really appreciated the options that were available for registration: I could stay the weekend, come for the day and enjoy the buffets, or just come for the day.  If I didn't want to stay & crop, I could  pop by to shop, or just take any of the classes provided.  The staff was very open and accommodating to my schedule.

Dee Pierce, owner of The Crop Shop and Creation Destination Events, is the CHA 2011 Innovative Retailer of the Year.  I had high expectations and she and her staff did not disappoint.  There was plenty on the agenda to keep paper crafters of every ability inspired -

Headlining Class:
- Cheryl Mezzetti, Education and Design Team Coordinator for Creative Imaginations and an AccuCut Craft Designer, was the headliner for this three-day event.  A nationally recognized artist, she introduced the class to new techniques including Creative Imaginations Luminarte Twinkling H2O with her newest rendition of The Snowman Album featuring Fancy Pants Designs Winterland Collection.

Additional Classes, taught by The Crop Shop's experienced team

The Crop Shop Team offered Make-N-Takes and demos all weekend, too:

There was well over 1,200 s.f. of shopping was available, too:
Creation Destination Events enhanced the cropping experience with registration gifts, hourly raffle prizes, "Snowball Fight" (using styrofoam balls) prizes, and three competitions. Many of the prizes featured products by Creative Options.
I enjoyed a very well-run event at a gorgeous venue that offered great food with enthusiastic and accommodating organizers.  I will keep in mind couple of things the next time I go: (1) Stay longer (2) take more pictures (3) bring additional table for spreading out and (4) add additional extension cord to my kit.

* Check out The Crop Shop and Creation Destination upcoming events, and be sure to ask about their upcoming "Christmas in July" scheduled for Warwick, RI!
Many thanks to The Crop Shop/Creation Destination Events Team:
Photo, L-R: Dee Pierce, owner, The Crop Shop & Creation Destination Events
Laurel Lee Pollard, New England Paper Crafts
Event Staff: Jean MacLeod, Susan Chalifoux, Andrea Joaquin, Nancy Hawes,  (not shown: Donna Coleman, Donna Maligno and Jacki Bates)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The 411 on Valentine Mailboxes with 
Sizzix eclips and SVGcuts
Oh, I had a great time with this project!  What made it possible?  The Sizzix eclips running ecal software!  

My little guy's preschool class was planning on decorating mailboxes for their Valentine's Day Celebration.  After seeing the Valentine's Mailbox SVG Kit Preview from SVGcuts, I knew I wanted  to create thses with my Sizzix eclips electronic cutter to share with the class.

Check out the Valentine Mailbox Preview Video:

I ordered the SVGcuts kit online and downloaded it right away - I love instant gratification at 10:00 at night!

Each part of the kit is in it's own file, so I took an hour to configure the complete project into a 5-page template using my Craft Edge ecal software for the Sizzix eclips.  It was so nice to be able to copy and relocate the items I wanted to cut in order to maximize the cutting area on the paper!!

I made sure to keep in mind that I was using patterned paper, so I would make sure the items I needed in the template were "right side up."  The template I created (showing page 4/5) included enough pieces to create 2 mailboxes:

OK, template prepared, now for the supplies:

I knew the mailboxes would be opened, so I wanted to use heavy, double sided paper.  Michael's had just what I was looking for - K&Company's 12x12 Specialty Paper Pad by Kelly Panacci.

I needed 12 mailboxes and it took two hours to get all the pieces cut and stacked using my ecal software on my MacBook connected to my eclips.  Pretty quick, considering 30 sheets of paper were sliced & diced!  Paper was flying!

Next, assembly:

SVGcuts offers great assembly tutorials for many of its projects, this one included:

Each mailbox took about 20 minutes for me to assemble, which was dependent on allowing time to score the pieces and for the adhesive to dry.  While I couldn't get around the necessary step of scoring (yes, even preschoolers will appreciate crisp, professional work!), I found I could improve on the "drying time."

I was very happy I took the advice on the video to use glue for adhesive, rather than tape, as it gave a certain amount of "open time" to make slight adjustments.  However, in an effort to cut down on drying time, I used different options than the white craft glue they used.

For the long, straight junctions, I used Zip Dry Paper Glue.  It dries quickly (but not TOO quickly), clear, and smudges can be rubbed off.

For the arched pieces (a total time killer) I really wanted to pick up the pace, so I used a thin application Ranger's Inkssentials Glossy Accents.  While mostly associated with creating glossy embellishments, this is one fast-drying glue!  Plus, it has a fine, flexible tip that is perfect for getting to tight spots.

The project took a total of 4 evenings to make 12 mailboxes.  Would I take up this project again?  YES!

Many thanks to all the generous teachers who create these wonderful, enriching events for our children!  We appreciate your efforts!