On June 6 – 8, 2014, I attended the CHA Designer, Educator & Creative Professional Retreat held at the Kempenfelt Centre in Innisfil Ontario. It was hosted by CHA, Craft & Hobby Association. It was put together by Paula Jones, CHA International Membership, with four members of the board for the Canadian Division who volunteered their time to put this event together.
Event Sponsored By
- Wescott * Sponsored and Extra Giveaway
- Deco Art
- Purple Cows
- Red Heart
- John Bead
- Janome *Sponsored a Free Sewing Machine Giveaway
In total, each designer received approximately $500 worth in free products to use and take home with them.
- Crystal Clay Workshops hosted by Carmi Cimicata
- Encaustic Painting with Nancy Donaldson
- Social Media for Designers with Michael Sellick
- Sewing with Linda Pidzamecky
- Building your Portfolio with Wendy Russell
- Mixed Media using Pebeo with Debbie Cotton
- Chalk Painting with Tracy Moreau
- Leather Work with Carmi Cimicata
Additional activities included:
- Meet & Greet with Name Tag Building
- Social Reception sponsored by Red Heart.
- Show & Sell
- Make-n-take Sessions
Of the 20 attendees. 9 were in leadership roles such as being sponsors, organizers and presenters. Everyone with the exception of Carmi Cimicata, who was pretty much the time keeper and hostess throughout the retreat to keep us on schedule and moving along, took part in the activities throughout the weekend.
I was asked by Paula Jones in February 2014 to come and host arm knitting at this retreat. With sponsorship backed up by Coats & Clark (Red Heart) to host the activities, I agreed to go. As the time got to the event and realizing that designers are pretty much there to get a helping hand in ideas and brainstorming, I approached Coats & Clark to see if I was okay to have my role changed to present social media to the designers instead of arm knitting. I felt the arm knitting was okay but if designers wanted a real helping hand, I have knowledge to help the designers move forward. With the blessing of Coats & Clark for a change of plans, I approached Paula Jones with the concept and she happily agreed.
The retreat was hosted at the Kempenfelt Centre in Innisfil Ontario. It’s a really old place, full of rustic charm. The outside of our building was not very easy on the eyes but once you got inside, the interior was like you walked backward in time. Giving a sense of what a retreat is meant to be. The rooms, decor and furniture were dated and was to be expected.
I was nervous to go to this event as I really didn’t know many people other than a couple of the organizers. To present to these designers, I actually had to buy a laptop to do a presentation on the overhead projector. I had never done that before.
I hadn’t really looked at the agenda for the weekend. I’ve been running on fumes as my workload is so heavy. I took my crochet with me as I figured there would be time to relax. Unfortunately, the schedule was so tight that relaxation was not scheduled throughout this retreat. It was go go go and go some more. I was utterly exhausted and ran out of steam in the mid day on the Saturday. Being a sponsor, I felt obligated to attend everything and I needed a time out. Unfortunately for everyone else, I wasn’t much company, not engaged and did my absolute best.
I’m used to working by myself, working at my own pace and this retreat was hands on and loaded with ideas, inspiration and much more. For me, as a person, I needed time in between things to think, absorb and contemplate what I had just did. I was totally excited to learn new things but I think for me, it was too much to absorb too quickly.
Other people also expressed this feeling of needing more break time while others were comfortable at the pace it was going at.
Here is my general thoughts about each session:
Crafting with Carmi – Crystal Clay
- Excellent teacher with thorough instruction.
- Never tried Crystal Clay before. It was harder than it looks but once you have your ideas and clay positioned, it’s pretty cool.
Encaustic Painting with Nancy Donaldson
- Amazing teacher that is so supportive and incredible encouragement.
- Nancy made learning so much fun with ideas and thoughts.
- For me, this was the best hands-on class of the entire retreat.
Social Media with Michael Sellick
- I hosted this so I am bias. I thought the designers really could use helpful tips.
- The designers asked great questions and I used some examples of their blogs for analysing.
- There is interest in hosting another social media presentation featuring other elements in the future.
Sewing with Linda Pidzamecky
- I know Linda from Creativ Festival. She is everything I thought she would be. She was well organized, excited about the sewing crafts and presented a project for newbie, like me, could do.
- I was really stressed about the sewing machine but Linda was so supportive and full of encouragement.
- I finished my project and I think it’s my first finished project since I was in home economics in public school.
Building Your Portfolio with Wendy Russell
Wendy is a DIY TV Producer for the Marilynn Denis Show in Toronto Ontario. Her point of view comes from a media background in understanding the art of pitching ideas and personal presentation.
- Wendy did an amazing job of interacting and really connecting with us. I loved how she sat down throughout the presentation with her slide show of cards while she talked. It was like you were having coffee with her as she shared her point of view.
- She had related topics for the designers and excellent advice.
- She shared a personal failure and shared how she got back up and kept on going. I think this was the most powerful moment of her presentation as we see celebrities thinking they have reached the top without issues. She received a round of applause at the end.
Mixed Media with Debbie Cotton
- Debbie was so amazing. She’s relatively new to the art technique she was teaching. Her examples were mouth watering. For me, this was my second most enjoyable hands-on class.
- Debbie is sweet and so helpful with tips. You can tell she is excited about the products and art form. She is soft spoken but connects with her students really well.
Chalk Painting with Tracy Moreau
- I didn’t think I would enjoy this course based on crazy assumptions. I will say, once Tracy presented her craft, she had me convinced to take up the craft and paint everything. She was exceptionally well organized, knows her products inside and out.
- We ran out of time and I ruined my stencil with not following the instructions… but hey… I can do it again. I have a new appreciation for this.
Leather Work with Carmi Cimicata
- Carmi presented the art of leather. Again, extremely well organized with fabulous hands on demos. She did an excellent job of rotating around the room.
- I finished my corset cuff and wore it home.
Think Tank & Good Byes with Paula Jones
At the end of the weekend, we did a wrap up of the events with ideas. Ideas were exchanged and it appears the retreats will be a once a year event in June going forward.
We were told by Paula Jones to invite more people to attend. The only hang up is that each member who attends must be a member of CHA that required steps of membership to be done first. Getting membership isn’t always easy to do as CHA likes to have a high standard of membership within it’s organization.
As it was suggested, the price of membership plus the retreat freebies that were received make up for a year of membership and retreat costs for new members to sign up. I’m not sure that is incentive enough or not, only time will tell. Remember, don’t join any organization because you are getting free stuff, be sure to do your research that the organization fits your personal objectives and has other perks that benefit you all year long instead of just one moment.
If you are a designer and can provide your credentials when registering for membership, this retreat may be up your alley. It was fun, the food was great and the accommodations were fabulous.
Networking is key to success in the crafting world. It’s a great opportunity to sit with industry leaders in an environment that is creative where you don’t feel rushed such as a live event or show.