Macrame is back, but with a modern take, as seen in these kit projects from Design Works Crafts/Janlynn.

Crafters spent about $36.2 billion dollars on creative products in 2017, mostly at physical stores but also on the internet and through catalogs, according to a study commissioned by the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI).

AFCI, the major trade association for the global creative arts community, released the data at Creativation, the re-branded craft industry trade show held Jan. 18-22 in Phoenix, Arizona. Attendance figures for the show were not immediately available, but last year drew 338 exhibitors and more than 3,000 attendees from 54 countries.

The ongoing research, conducted by marketing research firm MaritzCX, updates the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study and shows stable consumer spending and growth, with 62% of U.S. households participating in at least one creative activity in the last year. The study is based on responses from 6,194 adults 18 and older, collected between October 2016 and September 2017. Although spending declined among 11 product categories between the second quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, sales are rebounding. MaritzCX also recalibrated the numbers after finding that in the earlier survey, people often overstated online spending.

Even card makers like cross stitching, as shown in this card made using a layering stamp set from Waffle Flower.

Marbling made easy with acrylic-based paints. These are from Plaid.

The study shows that 91.3% of craft spending is at physical stores, including craft and discount chains; club stores, local craft stores, supermarkets and craft shows; art supply, hardware, office supply, and home good stores; department and drug stores, and at in-home parties. The other 8.7% is spent at internet or online stores (Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy), websites of physical stores, catalogs, TV, etc.

“These new findings support the need for retailers and suppliers to engage with their customers through an omni-channel strategy that integrates satisfactory in-store, online and print shopping experiences,” said Mark Hill, AFCI president and CEO, at the presentation of the data to attendees.

Children’s crafting is blooming. Fablossom’s new kits comes with a unique tool to easily make paper or fabric flowers.

Pompoms, tassels, weaving, and macrame can be found from several vendors, including Plaid.

The children’s market is growing, according to Rick Stringer, vice president, customer solutions at Crayola, and one of three speakers at a general session focused on that particular segment.

“The category is up double digits over the last two years, driven by activity-based crafting (slime and coloring),” Stringer noted. “We have seen an increase in shoppers’ desire to be inspired by clever and creative projects they can participate in with their children.”

This new machine from We R Memory Keepers makes it easy and less messy to pour your own candles.

Suppliers can better capture that market, he added, by “showcasing projects using their creative tools/products to inspire shoppers along the path to purchase, from digital assets on Pinterest, YouTube videos, and point-of-sale materials (both in store and from screen back).”

The top five crafts in terms of consumer spending, according to the MaritzCX report, are edible arts, painting and drawing, children’s crafts, sewing and fabric, and paper crafts.

Those crafts were well represented at Creativation this year. Needlearts vendors offered embroidery, cross stitch, weaving, pompoms, and macramé. Don’t like anything premade? The Folklore Company lets you design your own embroidery patterns or individualize company patterns by changing fonts, colors, etc. Cardmakers can even get a cross stitch look with stamps.

The yarns from Hoooked are made from recycled fabric waste.

Pompoms are making a statement. This rug was made using Red Heart’s Pompadoodle yarn.

For the eco-conscious, Netherlands-based Hoooked BV recycles fabric waste from European textile factories into new yarn suitable for soft toys, beanies, sweaters, bulky home knits, and more. Newcomer Flex Knit introduced knitting needles that bend at wrist level, designed to ease wrist discomfort.

Texture was trending for everything from home décor to paper crafts. From glitzy to vintage to boho chic, there are plenty of choices from pastes, paints and embossing powders to ready-to-use marbling paints and sprays, paints and other aging mediums.

Plaid’s new watercolor acrylics blend well when wet and give a translucent look.

Faber-Castell’s Translucent Gelatos have a different formula than regular Gelatos sticks. The translucents mix well with water but are stable when dry.

Plaid’s new FolkArt® watercolor acrylic paints blend like watercolors when wet but are set when dry and work well on several surfaces, while Faber-Castell®’s Translucent Gelatos® (a different formula than regular Gelatos®) also have a watercolor look.

New tools include Arkon®’s re-chargeable Clip-on LED Ring Light that clips on your mobile phone to shed light on any subject. We R Memory Keepers introduced USB-enabled power tools, and a no-pour candle maker that looks like a coffee machine.

And last, but certainly not least, mermaids, unicorns, and sloths were this season’s design darlings, seen on stamps, papers, stickers, embroidery, toys, and more.


Roberta Wax is an award-winning journalist and imperfect crafter. A former news reporter, her freelance articles and projects have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, from the Los Angeles Times and Emmy magazine to Cloth Paper Scissors, Somerset Studio, Craftideas, Belle Armoire, etc. She has also designed for craft companies. Although she has no art background she was a crafty Girl Scout leader. www.creativeunblock.com

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