Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too much fun in Tucson

So, originally I had planned to blog each day from Tucson, so I could keep my posts short.  Oops, didn't happen.  Tucson was a nonstop whirlwind for me this year, the best yet!

Everthing I do in Tucson centers around the Create Your Style in Tucson event sponsored by CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements which is held at the Tucson YWCA on North Bonita Ave.  This year I taught 2 Workshops and held 1 Demonstration, attended 1 Workshop, the CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements Ambassador meeting, and of course, THE party.  This is a great venue for Swarovski, and they graciously add a $5,000 donation to Your Sister's Closet;  the Y's used clothing program for women re-entering the workforce.

Swarovski's show is different from all the others in Tucson because it is based on sharing knowledge, not on selling products. 10 workshops are held daily for 4 days, and this year there was even one in the evening.  Various designers and application experts come in from around the country to teach. Swarovski sponsors the workshops, which keeps the cost low; often well below what one would pay for the elements alone.  The event is very well attended, and classes fill up quickly. 

Additionally, designers conduct free demonstrations showing easy or new techniques and examples of the various ways CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements can be used.

Spectacular pieces from the Inspiration books and Design Competitions are on display.

Crystallized Swarovski Elements are available to look at (and drool over) in the main showroom and a beautiful crystal curtain provides a sparkling backdrop for all the activity. Everywhere you turn, light and color bounce off the walls....everything is Crystallized!
There is a wonderful courtyard in the center area where you can sit and enjoy the Tucson sun, have a sandwich or salad, sip a soda and gab with your friends. In the showroom you can see see Swarovski's new Innovations and colors, this release is really fantastic, watch your local bead store for the ceramic beads, the new designer pendants and the gorgeous new Fern Green color.
And watch here for parts 2 and 3....Classes & Shopping
Sparkles and smiles,  Diane

Saturday, January 30, 2010


So, home Saturday night, and DH and I were back on the road for family dinner night at my brother’s house in Temecula. Tom’s wife Barb is a great cook, and put together a homemade pizza party for us. We had fun making the pizzas (trying to throw the dough, aghhh, it isn’t easy) and piling them high with all our favorite goodies. I’m really liking the family dinner nights we’ve done the past few months, and I think we are going to make them a regular event.

Back on the road to Anaheim on Monday to check out my very first CHA Trade Show. While this is a bit more subdued; many more business suits and much quieter, it is about 3 times the size as the SuperShow and open only to CHA members, vendors and their guests. The major craft companies put up huge booths to showcase all their products, and the smaller, newer companies have their own section. Color is everywhere, big signs at floor level and up in the air over the booths. Many more crafts are represented; where the SuperShow was slanted toward paper crafts and scrapbookers, CHA covers just about everything.

Beadalon had a big booth there, and I met Yvette Rodriguez; love having a face to go with the e-mails. Lots and lots of very cool new things are coming from Beadalon. Our Ambassador Katie Hacker has just launched her own line of beading components called Katiedids. You are going to want to have them all, because they work so very well with all our CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements . If you are going to Tucson make sure you check out Beadalon’s booth.

I spent the entire day walking up and down the aisles of the show. I watched Ambassador Lisa Pavelka demonstrate her incredible polymer clay skills and her Magic Gloss products at the Amate Studios booth. Amate sells the Base Elements line of jewelry bases, links, charms and belt buckles that have the recessed areas that can be filled with any manner of materials.

I learned how to use the Hotfixer from the fine folks at the Kandi Corp. booth. I also entered a “name the new product” contest…I think I came up with 2 good suggestions, so we’ll see whether or not they select my entry. I checked out some very cool yarns shown at the Saleutions (an Australian company) booth.

Ran into Lilian Chen…seems she and I are at the same places a lot these days. It is always a delight to hang with Lilian, she is a real force of nature! Then I hung out at the JHB booth where I met Lisa Lambright. Haley Hertz and I held a floor meeting (literally, we were sitting on the floor) and she showed me some of her designs. Loved her crocheted wire cuff, simple, elegant, but packs a big punch with the color and the CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements Rivoli Button Focal and clasp. Haley is my new hero, she is talented, funny, cute as a button, full of energy, knows just about everyone in our CRYSTALLIZED™ world, and has a very, very cool job. Lisa Lambright gave me a copy of Kristal Wick’s book,  Fabulous Fabric Beads, and Kristal herself (who I have been basically stalking for five years now) signed it for me. I met Kristal five years ago at the 2006 CYS in Tucson show and I knew from the very start that this was a lady who was going places. Now she has a best selling book, her own line of fabric beads, a line of toggles that are coming out right now, and she has 2 finalist pieces this year in the K. Gottfried design contest, which she placed 3rd in last year. Go, Kristal, Go!

From left to right:  Kristal Wick, Margot Potter, Haley Hertz, Lisa Pavelka, Lilian Chen

So, exhausted, hungry and thirsty I headed back to my car at 5:45 (15 minutes after the show closed). The people who work these shows are real seasoned professionals; many of them had their booths covered and were out of there before me. They were back early the next morning while I was slowly sipping my coffee and looking over all the business cards, fliers and goodies I brought home from my 3 days in crafting heaven!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

CHA, CHA, CHA* (Part I)

I went to the CHA show in Anaheim for the first time this past week...Flashback to my life's earlier sensory overloads: Sears' toy department when I was a child, Disneyland, Cirque de Soleil, New York City and Hong Kong....my overworked eyes didn't know where to focus first.
“CHA” actually refers to two shows: the Craft SuperShow and the Craft and Hobby Association 2010 Winter Convention & Trade Show. The SuperShow is a 2 day crafting extravaganza open to the public, held on January 22 & 23. On January 24, after the SuperShow closed, the Convention and Trade Show opened, and ran for 4 days.
More than 100 vendors presented products at the SuperShow and hosted “make & takes” where crafters gained hands-on experience using the latest tools and materials. Imagine your favorite big craft store, multiply it by about 30 and throw in the noise level of a professional sports event. Aisle after aisle was filled with papers, scissors, fabric, glues, containers, clays, books, paints, brushes, markers, rubber stamps, yarn, metals and tools for every imaginable craft. Oh, and glitter….glitter in every possible color and applied to every possible surface. Large groups congregated around demonstration sites and loud cheers and hoots accompanied the raffle prize drawings that seemed to occur every 15 minutes. Crafting celebrities were everywhere: conducting seminars, signing books, demonstrating products and walking the floor.
While I usually don’t last long in places with so much stimulation, I had no problem at the SuperShow. I wanted to absorb it all and store it away for later inspiration. Who knows what color, image or new gadget might provide the spark for something fabulous in a month or two. My first wander around lasted 4 hours and I never took a break from the sights and sounds.
At 7:00 on Friday I attended the Inspired at Home Pajama Party Live!, hosted by Tiffany Windsor, daughter of the famous Aleene, inventor of the super-tacky glue we all love. 100 attendees gathered around 10 tables, enjoyed their exclusive make-n-takes, made new friends and collected their SWAG. I was lucky enough to join the PLAID Enterprises table where I tried out the coolest tool: Simply Screen. This is a silk screening product used to make very professional looking designs on all types of fabrics. We applied our designs to a sleep shirt. It was so much fun to see how each person chose different parts of the design and different colors. There were plenty of raffle prizes, and lots of screaming. Our SWAG bag was a pink knit pillowcase filled with goodies.
After the party my fellow Swarovski Ambassador, June Beach and I went to the hotel for drinks, dinner and more fun. She introduced me to a crowd of industry people and we stayed up much too late gabbing at our own "Sparkle Sister" pajama party. The next morning we picked up right where we left off. Coffee, Facebook entries and some sorely needed primping occurred simultaneous with nonstop conversation. Then June whipped up a fabulous necklace because she didn’t have anything that looked “just right” with her outfit. She is such a talented designer and skilled jewelry maker, her wrapped loops are perfect! We were off to the show again; June was working and I was back to wandering around, trying to absorb even more.

And then, it happened! I met the Queen of Crafts herself, Carol Duval. OK, I about fell down when I saw her…and yes, I did the whole overwhelmed gushing fan bit with her. I’ve been a Carol Duval fan for many, many years, long before her hit TV show helped launch the HGTV network, and the careers of dozens of craft celebrities. Our Swarovski Ambassador Lisa Pavelka was a regular guest on the show.  Almost everything I know about crafting techniques I have learned from watching Carol’s show. She is just as gracious and lovely IRL as she is on TV, and she even consented to a picture of her, me and another crafting maven, Mary O’Neil.

On Saturday afternoon I taught four Needle Felting make-&-takes at the Craft-N-Spin(TM) booth. Again, so much fun and so many new friends! Before I knew it the SuperShow was over and it was time to help break down the booth and go home.

After, along with thinking about all the crafty goodness I saw, I was also thinking about how to incorporate CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements into all the new craft ideas. My new chandelier design T-Shirt that I won at the Pajama Party Live event is waiting for the addition of some Flat Backs. I think along with standard Xillion Rose shape I’ll add a few Teardrop shaped Art. 2300 and Marquise shaped Art. 2200. My needle-felting skills will be put to good use with some CRYSTALLIZED™ Yarn. So many paper crafts were being featured, and every time I saw a new paper punch design or rubber stamp I thought…Crystals…they were just missing that extra sparkle. As I watched a demonstration on a vintage technique of Hairpin Lace Crochet I thought how nice the scarf would look with a combination of Round Art. 5000, Bicone Art. 5328, Teardrop, Art. 5500, and Polygon, Art. 5203 beads on the fringed ends. And I am absolutely determined now to make some tassels with all the beautiful fibers I saw, and use my favorite Briolette pendants, Art. 6007 and 6010.
Like the SuperShow itself, I've probably overwhelmed you with information here, so I think I’ll wait to post Part II, the Trade Show. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Saturday. I apologize for not taking more; I was so busy looking at everything I forgot to take my camera out!
                  * a special Thank You to my friend Haley for the reference.

My Make-N-Take buddies

Mike in the Craft-N-Spin booth

My new BFFs at the Pajama Party Live! Event

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Setting up to blog

Well, I am finally jumping into the blogosphere and sharing how my passion for and obsession with CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements changed my life and brought me to a sparkling world where I belonged all along.

Welcome and thanks for visiting!  Whether you have come here directly, through a link on the COMMUNITY.CREATE-YOUR-STYLE.COMFacebook, or from another blogger, I'm glad you have dropped by to visit and I hope you are comfortable here.

So why "Sparkles and Smiles"?  Two years ago I was invited to join the testing team of Swarovski's new Sparkling Community associated with their CREATE-YOUR-STYLE.COM website.  I was honored to be included and then excited to find three of my favorite teachers; Margot Potter*, Lisa Pavelka and Val Hirata, were also on the team.  I signed in, created my profile, posted a few pictures and said hello to the people I knew.  I was immediately welcomed and embraced by some of the lovliest people I have ever met.  Soon, checking in on the community was something I looked forward to every day.  I posted more designs, added details to my profile, and ventured into the Community forum, where one of our members (and now moderator), Wendy had initiated a "Daily Chit Chat".  I joined in the talk and signed my posts with "sparkles and smiles".  The phrase summed up what the community meant to me and later became what I wanted to share with the community.  Now sparkles and smiles are what I want to share with everyone I meet.

Our Sparkling Community, by the way, went live in June 2008 and has grown to over 7500 members.  If you haven't checked it out yet, please do.  It's a vibrant, international collection of designers and enthusiasts ranging from beginners to seasoned professionals.  You can read blog posts from our other CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassadors.  I'm certain you will recognize many of them, for they comprise an exclusive network of well-known experts in the Do-It-Yourself field, have a passion for CREATE YOUR STYLE with CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements, a high level of design expertise and a strong record of conducting workshops.
So until the next time....

Sparkles and smiles,  Diane

            *Margot has a fun blog, The Impatient Crafter.  She has helped
              me countless times believe in my ability to make my wildest
              dreams come true. Check back here later and I'll tell you much
              more about Margot.