Well, I'm back from Nashville. I just spent Thursday - Saturday at the Scrap Etc. "Tell The Story Only You Can Tell" event with my Mom. I signed up for the event largely because I adore Wilna Furstenberg's work. Her pages are so artsy and cool and inventive and full of paint and handwriting and creativity. I just adore them! When I found out that she was teaching a class, I was very excited and immediately signed up. Other teachers included: Heidi Swapp, Jenni Bowlin, Angelia Wigginton, Monique McLean, Danelle Johnson, Vanessa Hudson, and Gretchen McElveen.
I'm going to try to do a brief overview of the event for those of you who may be interested in attending in the future. For me, this was my second large convention (I went to CKU-Albums several years ago) and my first time traveling on an airplane to a scrap event. I liked the idea of taking lots of classes. It has been a while since I've been a student in someone else's class and I miss it. There's no greater treat than learning a new technique or being inspired by someone else's passion and creativity!
At LaGuardia airport, I ran into fellow NYC scrapbooker, Tali Etra. We were on the same flight and got to ride to the event together. When I arrived at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, I will say that I was surprised. It's an enormous tropical biodome with a river running through it. The hotel is ginormous and split into many different sections. We got lost just going to our room. We had a room with a balcony overlooking the river. It's so surreal to be inside and outside at the same time. There was an earthquake as well as a rainstorm while we were here, but neither of them bothered us at all.
The night we arrived (Thursday) was the opening ceremony and a Q&A with the teachers, led by Jeanette Herdman from SIStv.com. The opening ceremony was in a huge ballroom and the festivities were kicked off by Vanessa Hudson's sister, singing a song she had written for the event. I started to recognize some people from my online message boarding life, including Martha Bonneau, who was handing out buttons from SIStv. There was some confusion about the start time of the Q&A and many people were very angry about sitting and waiting for over an hour when they could have gone to dinner. Ah, well. I have to admit that we skipped out of the Q&A after a bit. Hunger got the best of us.
Friday morning, bright and early at 8am, we hiked (quite literally) to our first class and met up with my friend Melissa Blades and her sister, Jennifer, seen here:
Scrap Etc. had divided the group of 600+ women into four groups. We were lucky enough to be in one of the smallest groups - only eighty people. Each group was assigned a room for the day. We sat at long tables with a center aisle. Here's a quick photo:
My poor Mother. This is such a terrible photo! But, it's the only one that includes any of the room.
We had four classes: a two-up album using Scenic Route papers - with Vanessa Hudson, a home decor item with Monique McLean, a non-traditional scrapbook with Wilna Furstenberg, and a mini album with Heidi Swapp, where we received her brand-new-not-yet-in-stores mirror album (debuting at Summer CHA). It was hard to photograph (because it's a mirror), but here you go:
Wilna's class was my favorite by far. It was well taught and the project was imaginative and out of the ordinary. She teaches in a loose and easy style, where there's no "right way." I found it very enjoyable. I hope to share some pictures of my project when I finish it, but in the meantime, you can see a bit of it here:
Friday evening, we attended a class with Danelle Johnson and Kristi Sikora-Blankenship (who has such amazing *energy*), from Creative Imaginations. Creative Imaginations is the company behind the "Creative Cafe," which can now be found in scrapbook stores across the country. It was mostly a lecture class and I was very inspired by their message: just get the memories down. Don't worry about rights and wrongs and the color of the paper or the spelling -- create books full of memories and then make art when you have the time. It seems contrary to the way I scrapbook, and yet, I kept a daily diary for years and years. I called it my "Everything Book" (I have about twenty-five of them) and I would write thoughts, glue in cards I received or fortune cookie fortunes or photos or receipts or whatever occurred to me in the moment. I carried it with me everywhere. It was full of phone messages, to-do lists, etc. I stopped doing it when I became a scrapbooker. It wasn't a conscious choice. It just slowly petered out. That makes me sad.
Saturday began early again. We moved to a much larger room and due to our tardiness, were placed at a cafe table at the back of the center aisle in the room. It turned out to be a great seat. Check out my Mom working at our little yellow table:
We had four classes: decorated BINGO cards with Jenni Bowlin, a Basic Grey chipboard album with Angelia Wigginton, a lecture class from Heidi Swapp, and an American Crafts mini album with Gretchen McElveen. I was glad to meet Gretchen, who is a SIStv Fashionista and was a Creating Keepsakes Scrapbooker of the Year finalist. She is super sweet. The Basic Grey album we made with Angelia is really beautiful, and I'm sure I'll find a great use for it. But, my favorite was the Jenni Bowlin class. I have loved Jenni's vintage style for a long time. Her products are very cool, but I've often been stumped as to how to use them. It was eye-opening to create a project with her and learn how she intended each of these things from her line of products to be used. She said something that I thought was very smart, "When you make a line, it should be called things-I-like. Because that's all it is. And you just hope that other people will too." Obviously, she was talking about her line of products, but it just reminded me to be true to myself in my artistic pursuits. I think I get a little too caught up in "what other people want to see" instead of just expressing my point-of-view.
That evening, we had SNL, or "Saturday Night Layouts." Basically, all 600+ women filed into a gargantuan ballroom and a variety of sponsors gave us page kits and instructions on how to create a layout using their supplies. Hambly was one of the sponsors, and so I had the opportunity to meet Kerry Lynn Yeary, who is a SIStv Fashionista and was there representing Hambly. I have to admit that I didn't do any of the layouts. I just collected the supplies and hung out until all the door prizes had been given away! I am a very bad student! LOL!
In all fairness, the weekend had a few issues too: none of the classrooms had trash cans or bags, most classes started late, the food was very expensive, at least one of the classrooms had major heating/cooling issues, almost every single class focused on "us" (which, if you're single, can be difficult), most of the instructors made topic suggestions featuring "our children" (again, if you're childless, that's not useful), there were a multitude of technical glitches (with the microphones and audio/visual equipment), and the classes were largely project-based rather than technique-based.
So, that's the skinny on the weekend. I had fun and I was very pleased to meet so many online personalities in real life.