Disclosures: Carolina Moore is a member of the AFCI Digital Content Creators Board of Directors.
Creativation, the annual trade show for the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) took place in Phoenix Arizona January 17-21, 2019. Yes, it was smaller; yes, there was intrigue surrounding the move to a management agency; and yes, it was absolutely worth attending.
As always, there was plenty to see and do at the show. While the show floor does not open until Saturday morning, the first several days are spent in classes. Some attendees elect not to travel to Phoenix until the show floor opens but for those who arrive earlier, there are educational classes on social media tips, growing communities, best practices for retail, and more.
The New Product Expo is held Friday night. Exhibitors showcase their newest and most innovative products in glass cases. Many made themselves available to answer questions about their new products. Judges scored the offerings, and the three winners of the New Product Expo were the Dripless Glue Gun from Adtech, washable photo buttons from Winky and Dutch, and the Foil Quill from We R Memory Keepers.
Saturday morning, the show floor opened. Many booths offered demos and make-and-take experiences for attendees to try out their products. From stamping to markers to glue and more, people had the opportunity to craft on the show floor. They could then bring their creations home to use as shop samples or share on social media.
Additionally, some booths offered full experiences to attendees. At the Plaid Booth, people could sign up to take a painting class later in the day.
Walking around the show floor, certain color stories became evident. Pastel tones and fall colors will be leading the way in 2019, according to papercrafting and yarn booths.
Both foil and glitter made many appearances on the show floor in various booths. Foil has been popular at the show for several years. While there was still lots of foil, this year it looks to be upstaged by glitter. Both glitter paints and glitter papers were popular throughout the show with multiple manufacturers.
Picking up on the glitter trend, crystals were in several booths. The trend in crystals is not to sell them as individual items. Rather, these gems are part of paint-by-number-style kits that are made using small stones and gems. Multiple booths offered similar yet slightly different styles of “paint with crystals” DIY artwork.
Hoops continue to be a popular substrate to craft with. While hoops at shows like Quilt Market often have fabric stretched in them, at Creativation the hoops were regularly decorative rather than functional – hanging from ribbons and used to frame other things.
Marbling with paints has been a popular craft form for the last year and continued to be showcased at Creativation. Now, not just paint companies are in on the trend. Resin companies are showcasing how resin can be used to create realistic looking faux marbled and geode looks.
For fans of resin, there was another new release from We R Memory Keepers. Their “Spin It” allows crafters to coat the outside of their mugs with resin to seal them, and ensures an even coating while the resin sets because of the slow spinning motion of the device.
Letters and letterboards were seen on nearly every aisle of the show floor. Using different styles of lettering to share funny or poignant quotes has become so popular that the Heidi Swapp team converted one whole side of their booth into a giant letterboard, and changed the phrase out daily.
Ahead of the trends was Glue Dots, with their packaging update. They are switching much of their packaging from plastic to cardboard, making it more environmentally friendly. Expect to see more companies follow suit in the coming years, creating a smaller carbon footprint with the craft products we love.
While the show was smaller, many creative professionals I met with still had trouble seeing the whole show floor between their meetings and commitments at booths. While the fabric industry is underrepresented at Creativation, yarn, paper, wood, clay, resin, craft storage, and adhesive companies are there to meet with, which can keep a crafter very busy during all their hours on the show floor!
This was my 9th tradeshow with the crafts industry, and I believe that serious business people in the crafts space should attend. Between the classes, the exposure to new products, and the networking that happens while at the show, I always find it worthwhile to attend!
Check out other reports about this show at these CIA members’ blogs:
Carolina is a creative blogger, and award-winning quilter living in sunny San Diego, California. She loves to come up with original craft, sewing, and quilting ideas, as well as re-invent old favorites. Many of her crafts are perfect for adults to create, while others are fun for children. She loves to create with and for her two young boys, as well as for herself, her friends, and her home. Find her at https://www.carolinamoore.com/