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WARNING: HUMONGOUSLY long post... get yourself a drink and be prepared to read for a while. You won't be disappointed!

WOW! What a week it's been! I'm home from Las Vegas, Nevada - also known as the home of the 2006 Winter Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show. It was everything I expected it to be - and so much more. I had a great time visiting with friends, and meeting new ones. I had an awesome time seeing all of new product releases from various manufacturers and distributors. Many of you have commented, emailed, and called me asking for reviews and information on specific releases. While I may not have gotten to them all, I will share with you the things that impressed me most.

The main theme I saw throughout the show was paisleys (be still my heart!!!!) and something along the line of bohemian gypsy (think... um.... Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen clothing style - i.e. various patterns & textures that all go together). One of my all time favorite design/shapes are paisleys so this turn is a huge boost for me! I am SO excited. Granted, we've been seeing paisleys in the crafting market for some time, and more over the last year - but they've exploded lately!

In alphabetical order (not in order of favoritism), here are the companies and products that impressed me most, or stuck in my mind.

Around the Block - ATB is a relatively new company to the industry. Previously, their big hits included roll on transfers (rub-ons that roll on... Ingenious!), fantastic mini brads, and their scrapbook satchel (a high end looking crop bag). The big hits at this show include new (mini?) accordion books, fantastic brads (in a huge variety of textures, themes, and colors), 13" magnetic boards, and stretchy frames.

Basic Grey - As soon as I walked into the Basic Grey booth I recognized the both adorable and beautiful childrens photos from Amy Howe. Amy outdid herself with layout designs and inspired me to create a few of my own. Her use of the Basic Grey new lines (Urban Couture, Color Me Silly, Hang Ten, and both Oh! Baby collections) were creative and eye catching. These incredible collections will continue the hugely acclaimed history that Basic Grey has maintained over the last year or so. The additional BG BasicElements releases will continue to be huge hits.

Crate Paper - A buzz was heard all across the show floor about a new exhibitor called Crate Paper. The buzz was and remains to be entirely appropriate. Their patterned paper is fresh with modern colors and patterns. It has a clean flow, and fun attitude that is reminiscent of spring fields. Stripes and polkadots flow together with ease. Keep your eyes open - this collection is a sure fire winner.

Daisy D's - As a long time fan of Daisy D's, I was especially excited to see what new collections and products the were to release. I love that they create albums and projects - and give you the instructions and kits to create one of your own too. Their "the lullaby collection" is sweet and tender - and as the name ___ is focused towards baby or infant designs. However, after reviewing and relishing their new line, one can easily see how the patterns can be easily interpreted towards other themes. The Treasure Box, Board Book , Mini Book Kits are sure to be a hit, especially with those crafters who can't attend classes due to conflicting schedules. Their metal and chipboard accessories already have a huge following among crafters, and that trend is sure to continue. DD bookplates, photo corners, picture hangers, and hinges are among some of my favorite products, and the colors continue to coordinate with all of their other lines.

Flair Designs - Flair did not fail to impress at CHA. Their new paper collection titled "True Love Collection" is beautiful and will be easily used. I plan to use it in my wedding album. Flair also released ScrapBeads which are slim, smooth, archival quality glass embellishments. They've been released in schemes designed to coordinate with their other paper collections. At CHA, Flair also released an expansive line of rub-ons. As a rub-on addict, it brought me great glee to find a fun line that would easily coordinate with their other fantastic lines. Bag of Tags, Cardstock Stickers, and "ABC's & 123's with Flair" are all incredible additions to their quickly expanding fun lines. An additional fantastic feature of the Flair booth was the helpful, and friendly design team. They were all very educated on every aspect of the Flair products, and always had a smile on their face - even at 5pm. The product design samples (as found on both their website and on the back of every package) are creative, fun, and inspiring.

Heidi Grace Designs - WOW!! This company has taken a total turn for the better, if that was possible. The last word we heard was that HGD had become part of the Fiskars family, and what a great move this appears to have been. Most of you would remember HGD as the company w/the fun acrylic shapes in oodles of colors. You may also remember HGD as the company that released a line (last year sometime) of acrylic charms and bracelets.

The releases for this show are incredible, and as their new byline states, they are "bringing art to life". Texture and dimension are where it's at. At first glance, you may not notice the difference, but upon closer inspection, you quickly realize (to my glee) that the new papers have a variety of textures, and shine. Embossed shimmery papers, and fuzzy flocked papers. Prima-like flowers preset with brads. Double sided fasteners. Plastic poly tags to match each collection. Decorative trims! Multi-textured stickers. Rub-ons in various sizes, colors, and themes. Alpha pins - everything just oozes fantastic!

The best part about the HGD releases, is that when you use them in your work, everyone will want to touch and really look at your work; instead of just flipping through. Each piece of every collection offers something to stimulate your visual sense.

Junkitz - Junkitz has really been racing in on the up-and-coming scene for the last few shows. They've continued speeding along the path and have released a BUNCH of fanastic new products. It's great to see a design team work so well with their management. The creative/product designers for Junkitz include the fabulous Teresa Collins, beautiful Jana Wilson, heart stopping Tim Holtz and the outgoing and outrageously fun Stacey Panassidi.

The J releases for this show are INCREDIBLE. Starting with the paisley foam stamp (I told you I was a paisley addict!) that Teresa designed, and the paisley papers included in the Rhythmz paper collections to the Flower-Ful and Delight-Ful collections from Jana. Although Jana has been designing rub-ons for Junkitz for some time, I believe this was her paper designing debut - and what an incredible debut it was! Her Paperz and Expressionz are bright and vivacious, and lead to many different artist interpretations. Jana's Flowerful Tag Buttonz, Flowerful Buttonz, Flowerful Garland Twillz, and various chipboard collections (check out the photo corners!!! Another addiction of mine) are imaginative and fun. Both lines and all of the fun products are sure to be a great hit.

I also especially love the various albums from Teresa's "Books & Things" collection. Her "Box Bookz" and Envelope Accordian albums are ingenious and inspiring. Teresa has been one of my favorite designers over the years, and that admiration has been further carried with her new paper designs; "Shabby Chic" and "Love Line". As a foam stamp lover, I can't wait to get into my studio with her new foam stamps. They lend very easily to scrapbookers, rubber stampers, and other artists. I have a feeling that they'll be making an appearance on an article of clothing in my wardrobe! Another awesome release from Teresa are the rub-ons created to coordinate with each of her paper lines. An awesome feature are the words and phrases created in Teresa's own beautiful and famous handwriting. The colors used are fantastic and also coordinate with the colors used in her lines. While the embellishments created for both lines (Love and Shabby Chic) do go very well with the paper designs, they also lend to other product lines.

This year, Tim won two prizes (one for his Ruler Book design, and the other for his epoxy stickers - both favorites of mine!) from either Craft Trends or Primedia (I'm sorry.. I lost track... YIKES!). Although he released quite a few fun products (ruler book accessories, more epoxy stickerz - you HAVE to see the Flat Pinz stickers!, and a few additional items for his metalz line), something that particularly caught my eye was his "Junk Bagz". They're familiar as make-up bags but created to carry your tools and other miscellanous items to crops and classes. The patterns used are bright and funky. Tims designs and creations continue to dazzle the papercrafting world.

Lil' Davis Designs - As always, Lil' Davis brings us fun products that we're dying to use in our work - and this show was no exception. Their booth was full of inspiration and creativity. One of the things that excited me most was their product releases full of swirls! Keep your eyes open for beautiful chipboard pieces (big beautiful patterned alphas), fun foam stamps (in new fonts and sizes), acrylic paints, BIG flowers, and patterned TAPE! There were MANY other awesome products too! Their products are sure to impress AND inspire you!

Magic Scraps - Magic Scraps is sure to be a big winner with their new line "Route 99" release - "A dollate line with innovation and style". The thought behind this line is that everything in it retails for less than $1. Some of the awesome products released in this line include stapler free staples (think fastenator, without the machine - and WAY cooler colors, designs, and patterns), photo turns, poly pieces, poly tags, clear accents (complete with coordinating brads), felt ribbon, and flat paper clips. Each piece of this line is awesome, can be easily used with any project, and lends itself to awesome interpretation. In addition to the Route 99 line, MS released two new paper collections; Wedding and Beach. Each of these collections features creative and beautiful patterned paper, two fold fasteners, adhesive rub-ons, kaleidosline mini's, felt die cuts, frameworks picture pockets, clear detail mini's, and flair. MS line of adhesive rub-ons, continues to be one of my favorite new products and I'm thrilled that they've chosen to expand this line. Ashley Smith, Magic Scraps Founder and Creative Director, has created a sure fire winner with her new releases and fantastic designs. Look for them in your local scrap shop!

Maya Road - One can't help but be drawn into the Maya Road booth. Previously, their releases oversized bottle caps (2"), printed & embroidered ribbons, chipboard collections and acrylic filled ribbon slides amazed us and made us crave more from the Maya Road ladies. Their CHA released didn't let me down! Some of the awesome items included PAISLEY chipboard, chipboard albums (including MORE paisley!!), additions to their acrylic filled slides (and YES, more paisley!!!), two incredible metal lunchboxes - with removable handles (makes it WAY easier to alter and cover the boxes), and matching chipboard albums. Maya Road continued their ribbon collections with additions featuring hearts, flowers, paisleys and words. The intricate details on the ribbons can't be missed. Foam stamps and other additional chipboard collections were also added to the Maya Road lines. If you took a gander into their booth, you were amazed at the product samples and designs created by their design team. One of the most popular items was a set of wigs created soley with ribbons, and various bottlecap wall art.

One Heart...One Mind - One Heart...One Mind is a company that is not new to the scrapbooking scene, but they've taken their products in a different direction. Their lines are fresh and invigorating. Their booth display was fun, exciting, and made you feel like you were at home. One of the concepts I really like from their line is the "bits-n-pieces" and "multi-card maker". Each double sided cardstock piece is 12"x12" and is designed to be used multiple times, in multiple projects. The "multi-card maker" is designed to assist card (and ATC) makers by putting coordinating patterns together in sizes that can easily be used to quicky create beautiful cards. The "bits-n-pieces" is also a 12"x12" double sided cardstock filled with fabulous pieces to assist any papercrafter with embellishments or enhancements. Each page has pieces that can be used as journaling blocks, borders, tags, or other items.

Each piece of patterned paper in their new collections (Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Central Park) are loaded with great colors, fresh designs, and incredible possibilities. Additionally, OHOM has a fun line of "Personal rub-ons" that coordinate beautifully with their other releases and can easily be used with other papercrafting projects.

Pressed Petals - Pressed Petals continued their awesome line of chipboard. You may recall their ChipChatter release from 2005 which included two sizes of alphabet chipboard that had a white core. It is fantastic chipboard, and is very versitile. PP continues their chipboard trend with their textured, self-adhesive chipboard, Chip Chatter Shapes. A huge perk of their collections is that the distressing tool is included!

Scenic Route Paper Company - Scenic Route has always been one of my favorite companies - starting way back at the beginning with their first release of double sided rustic heritage paper designs. To this day, they remain up there at the very top, and all of their papers are still double sided! They never fail to impress me with their fun new releases and this show was no exception. Sarah Milne, the lead (and may be the only) designer, always brings something fun and fresh to the table.

SR released two new collections, Charlotte and North Shore. The feminine Charlotte Collection flows with both spring colors and modern patterns. The masculine North Shore Collection has a bold color scheme and classic patterns. SR also released a "Collection Series" for those of us who just HAVE to have the whole collection. Each collection kit has a complete SR paper line with the coordinating stickers. They also released "Designer Scrap Strips." I love the concept behind the design. It's basically a 12"x12" piece of paper that has coordinating patterns from popular SR collections. You can use this one piece of paper to create multiple coordinating layouts, cards, or other projects - without destroying or having to purchase an entire 12" piece of paper and only using a small portion. The SR booth had multiple layouts completed with only one piece of this fantastic paper.

SR offers many incredible products for the scrapper, paper crafter, card maker, or any other kind of artist. Some of my favorites include the SR twill (all hand dyed by Wendy - Sarah's sister-in-law), SR Chipboard (embellishments and alphabet stencils), and SR Rub-ons (their rub-on go on like BUTTER!! One of the best features is that they don't have the typical halo like most other rub-ons have.) Scenic Route Paper Company is a fantastic company with designs that may initially be gender designed but can be used for any theme and are versatile for any design.

Technique Tuesday - As the creator of my all time favorite clear unmounted stamps, I was very interested in checking out the Technique Tuesday booth and new releases. I was beyond excited to see what they had up their sleeves. After getting over the shock of their retirement announcement (various sets are being retired - including the paisley set... ACK!), I was able to thouroughlly enjoy the page samples and new releases. Some of my favorite releases from the last few shows included their "Hanging By a Thread" set and the "Infinite Wisdom" set. Although I love ALL of the new Technique Tuesday releases, and I would give my eye teeth to own them, my favorite sets include "Functuation Character Stamps", "Big Timber", "Big Timber Line", "Eiffel Tower" uppers and lowers, the whole "Santa Cruz" collection, "A Day to Remember" (that is SERIOUSLY the coolest set), & "Petal Pushers". Technique Tuesday is SERIOUSLY the coolest company, and I can't wait until they are in my area again!

Okay, there are at least another dozen companies I want to share my reviews on. But, it's late (or really early depending on where you are) and I've gotten at least a dozen emails and phone calls asking about my trip. So, I'm going to go ahead and post what I have, and will update as soon as I can.

Creatively yours (and soon to be completelyout of money - thanks to CHA),
~heather
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