After two weeks of intense cooking and baking the books, it’s time for a kitchen break and for me, the start of winter always means hibernation and crafting season. Every annual June long weekend coinciding with the Queen’s birthday also means the Brisbane Scrapbook & Paper Crafts Expo is here again! And each year on this particular public holiday weekend I get to escape for much needed respite from my home and mothering duties to indulge myself in my love of paper crafts. There were fantastic demos to watch on die-cutting machines, how to use personal letterpress plates to manufacture your own series of cards (my favourite this year) and a range of other exciting ‘how-tos’ employing mixed media techniques, tools and supplies to add dimension and magic to all manner of craft projects.
It was nice to be greeted by a freebie on entering: a table full of Women’s Weekly May issues for the the taking. Walking through the inspiring and colourful gallery panels of displayed craft works by various paper craft artists and teachers, I scrutinised and took pictures of beautiful framed scrapbook spreads, 3-D paper flowers on wooden window sills, embellished vintage paper trunks, mini paper caravans with exquisite embellished details, pretty greeting cards displayed on cake stands looking so delicious you wanted to eat them.
Shopping (my favourite part of going to the expos) at the different booths were great fun although you had to shop around before committing to impulse purchases that can so easily happen with the excitement of the crowds and the typical ‘herd instinct’ of jumping in when everyone seems to be snapping up the goods. Prices vary greatly from one washi tape booth to another, for example, and there are always bargains to be had when you are diligent and do the ‘browse around’ before parting with your credit card or cash for that fancy paper pack or new gadget such as the ‘Big Shot’ embossing and cutting tool which was one of the most highly sought after items this year. I met a lady who regretted paying $99 before she spotted another exhibitor selling the very same machine for $90 with free bonus giveaways. Always good fun to rummage into bargain bins for pre-packaged ribbons, butcher’s twine, ink pads, glitter sets, distress inks, printed adhesive sticker packs and monogrammed letters. The lines are always long on the first day; Monday might be best! I’d recommend that if you’re attending next year that you should plan to go on the last day of the show to avoid the crowds.
This was my haul at the show this year—I had been extremely disciplined and went armed with incredible restraint and willpower not to overbuy like I have a tendency to!
I picked up some great buys like dimensional paint (Liquid Pearls), Dew Drop Brilliance stamp pigment inks, more washi tape (who can have enough of these!), Kaiser clear stamps, die-cut shapes, ribbons and assorted paper pads on half price discount, utility tools like silicon glue, pen tip glue sticks and a precision hobby knife.
I’d say that online shopping has made prices more competitive and customers are demanding more of the same from brick and mortar craft stores (the exhibitors at the show) who must include more value-added services and personal service to continue a roaring trade and for survival.
As for the expo, the ticket price of $16 is one I can hardly justify these days. I suppose it’s because I don’t sign up for the classes on most of the years I’ve attended faithfully. The discounts this year were lacklustre compared to previous years and one may do well to shop online. The pros include the mere festivity and convenience of visiting so many craft retailers under one roof and perhaps having your craft queries answered by the helpful and knowledgeable sales people.
My suggestions for the organisers would be ‘once-off-limited-to-the-expo-only’ discounts from retailers for higher value merchandise (like the gadgets and machines), more discounted craft merchandise that are on special only at the show, perhaps sponsored goodie bags in a carry-on canvas tote (like you get from any expo booths) for our shopping convenience (and as advertising as well as a constant reminder for next year!). Like the Ekka, the organisers could persuade retailers to assemble ‘show bags’ for purchasing that could be released for preview online before the expo date. Just some of my personal ideas to add more festivity and punch to the expo in future.