Creativation 2017 - Innovative Products

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One of the most exciting things about attending the Creativation show is the chance to see and try innovative craft materials and tools before they hit the market. At past shows, many of these items have been featured as Hot Products. This year, they did something different. Anybody with an innovative product was invited to apply for something called The Ultimate Pitch, based on the concept of Shark Tank.

Over 80 inventors applied for The Ultimate Pitch. They were narrowed down to 25 who displayed their products in a special area of the show floor. Then, five finalists were announced. Those five presented their products live, where one was awarded $10,000. Huge congratulations to Let's Hang, chosen for its uniqueness and potential to change the industry.

Rather than me try to explain it, check out this video about how Let's Hang works. It's really clever and so easy.

There were other really neat products among the 25 semi-finalists, but I'd argue that some of the most innovative things I saw at the show were not entered for The Ultimate Pitch. Here are my votes for most innovative product, counting down from #5.

#5: Rinea

Rinea is colorful paper foil. It tears like paper, but holds its shape like foil. You can paint or write on it, die cut or punch it, emboss it and much more. It's neat stuff.

This spray paint bonds to metal, glass, plastics, sealed wood and more. When you want to change the color, simply peel off the paint! How cool would it be to temporarily paint your patio furniture to match a party theme!?

Unicorn Spit is a very vibrant gel stain. It works on glass, metal, wood, and laminate. The colors are bold and bright. 

Here are three different items made with Unicorn Spit. The photos don't do them justice. 

Chameleon pens are high-quality, double-ended alcohol markers that allow you to color with all the tones of a color with a single pen. By 'charging' the pens with one another, you can get practically any shade you want. These really are great fun. There's a video on their site so you can see what they can do.

The Fuseworks Microwave Kiln Kit lets you do glass fusing in the microwave. IN. THE. MICROWAVE. It took me quite awhile to wrap my head around that. You may recall that I tried glasswork for the first time as part of my 40 Things. We were using temperatures near 1000°. You can do this in an ordinary home microwave?! Without burning down the house, subjecting the family to poisonous fumes, or breaking the microwave? As it turns out, yes. 

See the orange stuff? That's molten glass, after less than 3 minutes. Mindblowing, I tell you. 

So what do you think of these innovative products? Any of them stand out to you? Anything you'd like to try? 


Creativation 2017, the Overview

I'm back from an absolutely amazing 7 days in Phoenix for the 2017 Creativation Show! I'm also back from 4 horrible days with a post-convention illness that completely took me down. It's good to be back from both.

I've been trying to decide how to sum up the experience of this year's Creativation. It's a tall order! Hopefully, you followed my adventures on the My Creative Life Facebook page. That will give you some of the highlights from the week, particularly on the trade show floor. Today I'm going to summarize how I spent my time, then dive deeper into classes, trends, new products and more in future posts.

Wednesday, January 18

Steve, Trevor and I flew from Sacramento to Phoenix. We checked into the Sheraton and then headed out to complete the Phoenix Urban Adventure Quest. It was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the area around the convention center. Many of the Quest challenges had to do with the amazing public art in downtown Phoenix. We particularly loved The Arizona Bolas

Thursday, January 19

We got up early and hustled over to the convention center to pick up registration materials.

Each attendee got a nice tote of goodies.

We spent the rest of the morning at the Arizona State Capitol and the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza. Both were incredible and so worth the visit. We spent over three hours and could have stayed longer.

At lunchtime, Steve and Trevor dropped me off at the convention center for my first classes. I'll be sharing details about all my classes in a separate post. 

After my classes ended, I headed to a craft blogger meet-up at a nearby restaurant. I was a bit late, and my friends were already seated at full tables, so I sat with a group of strangers. I am so thankful I did, as they ended up being really awesome people and so much fun. 

Meanwhile, Steve and Trevor went to the outstanding Arizona Museum of Natural History and had a great time. We had a lot to share with each other when we finally met back up at the hotel!

Friday, January 20 

Today was a very full day of classes, classes and more classes. I walked away with my head stuffed full of ideas and my notebooks jammed with to-do lists.

In the evening, I met up with Vickie and we attended the innovative products preview. 

Steve and Trevor had a full day as well. They started their day at the Arizona Science Center, then went to the Pueblo Grande Museum after lunch. Both were fantastic and they enjoyed their day thoroughly. 

Saturday, January 21

While the education portion of the show is very valuable, there's no question that the real fun happens once the show floor opens! And boy, did it not disappoint, with inspiration in every direction. And cacti in every direction. (More on that when I tell you about the trends I saw. Spoiler alert: cacti.)

I spent the day checking out new products, doing make-and-takes, and looking for trends. I stopped in to say hi to brand representatives I work with, one of whom I'd never met in person. I observed where the crowds were, and what was exciting them. Again, I'll share more about this later, but over and over I kept hearing two words that I'm sure I'd never heard together before: Unicorn Spit.

That evening, I went to a blogger networking event, sponsored by Prime Publishing. It's a chance for craft bloggers and manufacturers to meet off the show floor and is very valuable.

What did Steve and Trevor do while I was in crafter's paradise? Plenty! They'd intended to stay at the Musical Instrument Museum for a few hours and then do something else, but it was so awesome that they were there from the minute it opened until it closed! Then they raced over to watch an Arizona Coyotes game. Another great day for all of us!

Sunday, January 22

I got up bright and early to attend the annual Craft and Hobby Association Business Meeting and Town Hall. There were surprisingly few people who chose to attend, which is a shame for a number of reasons. I am VERY glad I was there to hear the huge announcement that CHA is no more. Effective immediately, our organization is the Association for Creative Industries.

Overnight, all the branding for the entire conference had changed from CHA to AFCI. 

There are many reasons for the change, but the quick summary is that the name is more inclusive and does not carry any of the connotations that 'craft' or 'hobby' do. I'm onboard.

Unlike Saturday, where I was focused on trends, buzz and generally soaking things in, on Sunday I spent most of my time on the show floor talking with select manufacturers about working together. I am really excited about some upcoming partnerships. Stay tuned!

On Sunday afternoon, we parked Trevor in the lobby with homework and Steve joined me on the show floor. (No kids under 12 are allowed on the show floor. At 12, those with a business interest are allowed with restrictions.) While Steve doesn't play too large of a role in the crafting portion of my blog, he is critical to keeping the blog running and dealing with all the technical aspects. He is the behind-the-scenes guy that makes everything I do possible. It was great to be able to show him around the floor, introduce him to key people, and let him experience the show for an hour.

I left Steve and Trevor once again and headed with friends to the Creativation After Party at The Duce. The highlight for me was watching the incredible fashion show. Front row seats! 


Monday, January 23

Up bright and early again, this time for the keynote, the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study. It was absolutely fascinating. 

The craft industry is no joke. It's big. $43 billion big.

By noon, the trade show floor was a bit of a ghost town. I'd never stayed this long on the final day of the show, so it was fascinating seeing things wind down. I loved the opportunity to take photos and talk with manufacturers without dealing with crowds. It was really hard to see it end. 

Steve and Trevor spent the day at the Desert Botanical Garden and returned with beautiful photos and lots of stories of the plants and animals they saw. I'm so glad they had as much fun during Creativation as I did!

Tuesday, January 24

Time to return home, my head filled with ideas and suitcases filled with craft supplies. Next year's Creativation show is already on the calendar!

And I can't wait!


Creativation 2017

Today is the first day of the Craft and Hobby Association's Creativation Show and I couldn't be more excited!

I gave you a brief overview of my schedule here. In just the few days since I wrote that, I've added three more items to my already jam-packed calendar. It's going to be crazy, but in the best of ways.

It's unlikely I'll be able to squeeze in time for blogging during the show, but I am planning to share as much as I can via my brand-new Facebook page. Let us know what booths you'd like to see, new products you want us to check out, or anything else and we'll do our best! "Us?" you ask? Sadly, Tanya isn't traveling with me for this show... but I will have some help, specifically with social media!

Vickie is my aunt and one of those super creative people who is always crafting up beautiful stuff. She does many crafts well, but her strengths are different than mine, making her an excellent assistant for the show. Vickie is a former 4th grade teacher and a current curriculum director, so she knows kids' crafts and educational crafts inside and out. I'm very excited to have her working with me. 

I will not be running blog posts while I'm gone, so be sure to follow our adventures on Facebook and let us know what you want to see!


Spices and the Age of Exploration

The fifth graders and I have wrapped up our unit on Native Americans and moved on to the Age of Exploration. During our first session together, I showed them my closed fist holding mystery items that were more valuable than gold during the 1400's-1500's. They guessed that I was hiding diamonds (!), or other special rocks and minerals. Nope. After a few clues, they correctly deduced that I held spices. 

Spices were incredibly valuable back then. They improved the taste of bland food, made spoiled meats palatable and masked strong body odor. They were used to cover the smell of dead bodies and were made into salves that were believed to cure disease. 

Rather than do a cooking project like usual, we did a spices taste test. I showed the kids whole peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, some of the most highly coveted spices in the 1400-1500's. Then I gave each of them the ground version of those spices (plus turmeric) to sample on carrot sticks.

Some were timid, trying the tiniest amount of each spice.

Others dove right in. 

Along with our spices taste test, we talked at length about the motivations, obstacles and accomplishments of European explorers. We made this handy chart:

A handful of the kids thought being an explorer in the 1500's would have been fun. Let's see if they change their tune next week when they learn about life onboard a ship and taste sea biscuits!


May I offer you a drink? Perhaps some switchel?

As you can tell from the Christmas tree in the background, I made this switchel a few weeks back. New Year's Eve, to be specific. Usually, I make some sort of crazy themed meal for New Year's Eve. I ended up changing my plans and doing a very ordinary meal because of new food restrictions for some of my guests. So I made a crazy drink instead.

Jonna gave me a cool book called Pioneer Mixology: Switchel, Sack Posset, and Shrub. I love cooking and eating my way through history, so it was the perfect gift for me. 

Having never tried any of these intriguing drinks, I was eager to make switchel for my guests. According to the book, switchel is "a mixture of molasses, ginger, water, and a dash of vinegar, contained in a brown jug cached under the shade of a bunch of alders or partly submerged in a spring hole. On a hot day when men were mowing, raking, or pitching hay, frequent trips were made to the switchel jug."

There wouldn't be any mowing, raking, or pitching of hay on New Year's Eve (other than feeding some to Trouble), nor do I have alders or a spring hole, but I didn't let that stop me. 

The recipe starts with 2 quarts of cold water, 1/2 c. of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 c. of brown sugar. 

Next, add 1/4 c. molasses.

Add 2 tsp. of ground ginger (I grated mine fresh), stir, and serve. 

So how was it? The opinions were mixed, but I found it weirdly tasty. I could see how it would be very refreshing on a hot day while working hard. I'm looking forward to trying the sack posset, shrub and dozens of other intriguing prairie beverages!


MunchPak Product Review

Any adventurous eaters out there? These interesting snack foods showed up on my doorstep recently, and I couldn't have been more excited!

They weren't loose on my doorstep. They were in a box. Specifically, a MunchPak Mini. 

When MunchPak offered to send me a sample for review, I was all in. I LOVE trying new-to-me foods

Steve and Trevor were also excited to give them a try, so I made each of us a sample plate: 

First, we tried the cacahuate estilo Japonés (Japanese-style peanuts). They're not Japanese. They're Mexican. And they're yummy. They have a slightly sweet, slightly soy coating on the peanuts. My Spanish is decent, so I was able to get some clues from the wrapper about what's in them. 

Next up... well, I don't know exactly what they are. They taste similar to Pringles but are shaped like rings. Following the illustration on the package, we ate them off our fingers. Yum!

Another mystery. The only English on the wrapper says "sour paper." There are illustrations of fizzy soda. Sure enough, this tasted like a cola-flavored fruit bar with a light dusting of citric acid. It was pretty good. 

No English on this wrapper either. It's 26 cm. of something, but what? I'm not a big fan of gummy candy, so I didn't love this, but I didn't hate it either. Both flavors were pleasant if hard to identify. The brown might have been root beer. Trevor loves gummy candy and really enjoyed this. 

Finally, the only item in the box that's both familiar and written in English - the original GooGoo Cluster. Can't go wrong with that! Delicious!

All three deRosiers give a big thumbs-up to MunchPak! We love the idea of mystery snacks showing up on the doorstep. This would be such a fun gift to give or to receive. I think it would be especially awesome to send as a care package to a college student. 

MunchPaks come in three sizes - Mini (5-6 snacks), Original (10+ snacks) and Family Pak (20+ snacks). They can be delivered weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. Shipping is free within the US.

People with dietary restrictions or preferences can customize each package by clicking buttons to show their preferred and non-preferred snack types. There are 15 options, so you can avoid (or request) meat, seafood, nuts, gummies, and more. Each customization adds $1 to the price. Personally, I think the randomness of what you get adds to the fun, but it is nice that people with allergies or preferences will receive foods that are safe for them.