So the last time I updated you from PA HQ was late February when we launched all our amazing new products at the UK craft trade show, Craft Hobby and Stitch International (now you know why we all call it 'Stitches'!). The first few months of the year are always a bonkers-busy time for us, and getting out all the new releases to our shops has been the top priority for us.
The last of the orders, and back orders all are going out this week, it's been a mammoth effort to coordinate. We and some of our suppliers have all had unexpected challenges in bringing product to market this year, so the process was not as slick as we would have liked, but sometimes that's just how it is! We always get there in the end!
The great news is that many of the shops we supply have been re-ordering new stock every other week, which means you guys must really like what we released!!! So the elves have been making new stamps, bottling paint, and packing up orders and working very long shifts to meet the high demand for the new stock. We are thrilled to be hearing that the You tube videos have been a real hit, and lots of shops have picked up the Fresco paints, and as you know, there are now 60 to choose from!! And a snip at £3.95 for 50ml
I can't wait to get some new videos online to show you ideas with the new paint colours, and of course the grunge paste!!! OMG, loving that stuff A LOT!
I have got some great things planned with the Grunge Paste. It's is so nice to work with, quite a smooth finish, dries with sharp detail, easy to manipulate and fully compatible with fresco's, in both wet and dry states. You might like to try some of the following:
- Tint it with fresco paint to create textured Frescos, that means you can make 52 shades of paste, and then another cazillon of custom made versions!!! This is soooo cool...textured paint pronto !
- Create a fab crackle background.....my happy accident.... With water and a heat tool....I'll share this in a video soon....
- Stamp into it with script or other cool stamp patterns or textured surfaces like bubble wrap, fabric etc.
- Smooch it through stencils for beautiful fine and über sharp detail
- Carve it! Yes really !!! You can carve designs into it once its dry, or near dry is even easier... #suchfun
- Shape, mold or splat into it to create freestyle textures, paint with it this way too.
- Paint over it of course with your frescos and you can easily mix your metallics into it (metallic glaze, pearl glaze) to make you paints more sparkly or more pearlescent...
Oh boy, I was going to be succinct and I haven't even started on all the news yet....
Soooooo, it's show time!! On Wednesday we head across, well technically under the sea, via the channel tunnel to France, and onto Paris for our favourite show of the year, Version Scrap. One of the reasons we have been working really really long hours for weeks and weeks is that we have been getting ready for this event. It's an amazing show. The offer in depth (2 hr +) classes from international and French scrapbook and altered arts teachers, proper humdinger make and takes on many of the stands, beautifully presented booths/stands with really unique products to buy, and you can eat fabulous food, with a glass of wine at the cafe in the hall, and there is usually a food show with local produce in the hall next door! All this is situated in a cute facility right next to a beautiful park, so a gorgeous setting! In Paris. Errrr why wouldn't we go to that!!! And you can too! It's only a train ride away for many of you! Nice day trip perhaps!!
It all kicks off Thursday evening 6.30-9.30 with a VIP evening for invited peeps only - you need one of those pink invites above.... I still have a few so email me BEFORE WEDNESDAY MORNING and I can leave one for you on the door. Then the show kicks of for Fri, Sat and Sun, 9am - 7pm or thereabouts.
This is what our stand looked like last year. Busy!This year again we are doing make and takes on the stand with paint, grunge paste, stamps and treasure gold, a bit like this kind of thing
And this.So if you want to do a make and take, it pays to come to the stand first thing, and book your place. We are doing longer make and takes this year, about 30 mins for €3 a great way to try before you buy!
I am also teaching classes at Version Scrap. One of these called Flower Power, is going to be an intensive paint learning session, how to build layers of colour, adding texture in different ways, and stamping, plus a touch of treasure gold to make your own book or journal covers. It's going to be a relaxed, enjoyable class over a couple of hours. I am really looking forward to it, I teach it twice, Friday and Sunday, there may still be a few places left on the Sunday , well there was last time I looked.... By the end of this class of will understand the difference between opaque and translucent paints, how to use each, and you will use stamps from 5 different PaperArtsy stamp collections!
I am also teaching another 2.5 hr class called Metallic Madness on the Saturday. This also involves paint, texture paste, but the focus is how to use treasure gold and other sneaky metallic accents in several different ways. We will make 9 technique-based 'samples' that will all get pieced together and laid up onto a 12x12 display. I know this class has already sold out, and I'm only teaching it once. Sorry, I don't have a piccie of this to show you yet, errrr it's still a WIP as I'm waiting for some of the finishing off bits to arrive... #yikes
On the Version Scrap stand Lin Brown will also be demoing all day long to show you her new stamps and dies, and of course she will also be using other exciting products we are bringing to the show with us. Here is a sample of one of the items she made at Stevenage recently, she has some cool ideas up her sleeve, as always!
We will have an amazing array of Tando chipboard products that are perfect to use with our stamps and paints, and we will have Paul from Go Create with a big selection of their UK made dies. We have a few other tricks and bits that I shall save for you to discover at the show!
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL FOLKS..... THE FOLLOWING WEEKEND IT'S ALLY PALLY ON April 13th &14th !!
Sooooo, we get back from Paris on Tuesday 9th, unpack, try to get some orders out that will have come in while we were away...restock the stamps and other stuff....and then on Friday we are back out on the road to our next most favourite show, Alexandra Palace in London Town! *more jazz hands*
Now I know this is going to be a super special weekend, as many many of our lovely Blog-land people are making special trips this time from oop north, and many many more twitter people also from oop north, and of course from Dahn sarf are also coming, so it's going to be one big par-tay on the PA stand. I'm so looking forward to it, and I know many of you guys are too!
I am particularly thrilled to announce that Lin Brown will be demoing with me once again on the Saturday, and Jo Firth-Young will be demoing with me on the Sunday, so you now need to be there both days to see all the amazing ideas these two have planned!!
But that's not all....rumour also has it that there will be some of our super duper fantastic Semester One Guest Contributor bloggers in da Ally Pally house #woopwoop...soooo I am going to try and rope them in for a random off the cuff demo spot on the stand tooo!!! Woo hoo!! I'm sure they'll oblige if we all ask nicely!
My last piece of news is postal related. On April 1st every year Royal Mail increases their postal rates. And this year it's a bit of a doozy increase. With the massive growth in online shopping over the last few years, their work is fast shifting from letters to small packets. And the costs to deliver bulky items are far higher than letters, a postman on foot with a sack of chunky stuff doesn't get as far as one with a sack of letters, lorries fill up faster with bulky items which means more fuel for less items...so for their service to be viable, they clearly have to increase the price for these types of items. I can understand that.
There are now 2 categories of 'parcels', small and medium parcel to REPLACE what was the small packet rate. (We used to send all mail out within the UK fist class packet rate)
A small parcel is still up to 2 kg but the depth must not exceed 8cm, there are 2 prices 0-1kg at £3, and 1-2kg at £6.85.
If the box is deeper than 8cm then you are into the medium parcel category, which has a starting price of £5.65 first class 0-1kg, and £8.90 1-2kg, there are then bands for 2-20kg (we would normally use the courier service with UPS on the rare occasion that an order goes over 2kg) Regardless, you can see that the 1-2kg category has been hit hard and will certainly cost a lot more than a diddy box used to cost to send.
This means for us, light, cheap, bulky items (like wood substrates) are not going to be overly viable to send on their own in the post. And for you guys, you may find that when you shop, it works out better value to buy several things in one purchase, than just one item because 0g to 1000g will cost the same price (£3) as long as we can fit it into a shallow flat-ish box.
Our shopping cart can only charge based on weight, it is not clever enough to know if an item is light and bulky (wooden house) or heavy and tiny (treasure gold). The majority of our post will default to the small parcel rate.
Recently, postal increases are not just a UK thing, we have noticed all our freight rates have jumped (incoming and outgoing) a lot in the last 6 months, so I really think that the cost of shopping online is going to be felt by many in the coming months as people adjust worldwide.
However, this nicely plays into the hands of our bricks and mortar stores. The high streets have suffered from highly competitive online-only retailers, so I really hope that this drives sales to the shops we supply. They need your business!
Don't forget, that if you shop from home you are saving your time and your petrol, perhaps also parking fees etc. So, the price you pay for that convenience is postage. Most of the online shopping that I do, I mostly pay a postage charge, be it groceries, amazon, orders from international suppliers and so on, and I always expect to pay that cost.
For the seller, on top of the postage cost, we also has to pay someone to pack and pick your order, which takes time and packaging materials, and they we have to get to and probably queue at the post office, or invest, as we do in hiring a franking machine. Even though we have a franking machine, we still go and take our sacks of post to the local post office every day.
So, for me, as I experience it from both sides, selling and buying, I am happy to pay postage, of course, naturally we would like it to be cheaper, but postage never gets cheaper, it ! I guess the days of free shipping might increasingly be a thing of the past. So if you really don't like paying postage, please, go and support your local stamp store if you can!
Look forward to seeing you again soon, or maybe at a show near you!
Come back and see what Michelle Webb is up to tonight on the blog!