2014 Craft & Hobby Association Show: It's Like If Willy Wonka Made Paper

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Fashion Show
Vanna White emceeing the Lion Brand fashion show

Today is the close of the 2014 Craft and Hobby Association trade show, and, I confess, I had to cry uncle. After a couple of days of pounding the concrete and being overwhelmed with eye candy, I had to wrap things up. It was an exhausting embarrassment of riches.

CHA is where the craft manufacturers all get together in one giant convention center, pull out all the stops, bring out their newest and most exciting products, and introduce them to all the buyers, designers, and press that come out to gawk. It's four solid days of the most beautiful, innovative, and inspiring stuff you can imagine. It's like if Willy Wonka made paper.

Martha Stewart Screenprinting
Martha Stewart's Screenprint Stencils for Plaid Enterprises

You can always count on Martha to come up with something fabulous, and her screen-printing stencils don't disappoint. As easy to use at home as a regular old stencil, but with the intricate detail of a screen print, and in Martha's signature classic designs. Plaid offered a stenciled chalkboard as a make-and-take, so I got to try it out first hand. The stencils work beautifully.

Rupert and me
Me and Survivor's Rupert Boneham

Lots of celebrities came out to the show this year, including honorary tie dye spokesperson Rupert, from Survivor. He was teaching some tie dye skills in the Tulip I Love to Create booth, but whenever I saw him he just ended up dying the shirts himself. There were a lot of fans who wanted a Rupert original. I caught up with him as they were turning the lights out and he was still a cheerful good sport when all I could think about was how badly I wanted to take my shoes off.

Anthony Ryan thinks I'm hilarious
Anthony Ryan thinks I'm hilarious

Another good sport was Anthony Ryan Auld from Project Runway, attending the show with Brother and demonstrating the new ScanNCut cutting system. He let me fawn all over him on behalf of my mother-in-law, and sent me home with a message just for her, so I think that means that I get all the daughter-in-law points ever.

Brother ScanNCut
Brother ScanNCut cutting system in action

But honestly, his delightful presence was kind of overkill. This machine was easily my favorite find of the show, and it's made everyone's best lists. It blew my mind. When I was getting a demonstration, they kept laughing at my enthusiasm -- but it was about all I could do to not drop down to my knees and worship like Wayne and Garth.

There are plenty of cutting systems on the market, but what makes this one so spectacular is that instead of buying special cartridges or being hooked up to your computer, the ScanNCut works by scanning the image you want to cut -- whether that's letters or cowboys or even a high-contrast photograph -- and converting that into a file it knows how to cut out. Anything you can draw, or print, or imagine, this machine can cut out of paper, vinyl, fabric, leather, cardboard...I'm sorry. I got a little misty-eyed again.

I've been a scrapbooker since the days when we had to buy a separate punch for every shape we had to cut out. The gal who owned an entire alphabet was the most popular gal at crop night. In my garage I still have a tackle box, well, a Martha Stewart "craft organizer" in the shape of a tackle box, stuffed with forgotten punches I bought thinking they were an investment. It's kind of ridiculous how much we have at our fingertips now.

Visit my YouTube channel for a special message from Rupert and Anthony Ryan, and to see more from CHA!

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