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The CHA 2006 Winter Convention, January 30 - February 2, 2006. Las Vegas, NV.

The CHA Conventions are the premier events that serve the craft and hobby industry, and the gatherings are attended by all the major players in the craft industry. Aisle after aisle, display after display, new products, and beautiful projects made with those products, introduce all the new items that we will soon see in the craft and hobby stores. Polymer clay is represented by many of the vendors and companies that we all know, and for this show PCC arranged to have our own "Special Correspondents" attend the show and give us a report on the Polymer Clay displays! We are honored that our "press reps" are none other than Arlene Thayer, creator of the original Polymer Clay Central website and one of the pioneers of polymer clay, and her husband Richard, who took all the wonderful pictures accompanying this article. So, sit back and enjoy this clayer's visit to Las Vegas and the Winter 2006 CHA Convention!

(Click Pictures for a Larger View)

Monday, Jan 30, 2006, my husband Richard and I arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center about 11:00 AM, ready for a lot of walking. We found the press room, checked in, and proceeded to gather our gift bags and all the free goodies that the press is welcome to. We sat down with our map and planned our route. We had to make sure we visited every polymer clay booth on the floor!

Signing in at the Press Room

Arlene Thayer,
PCC's "Special Correspondent!"

Karen and Ann Mitchell

Partial View of the
Polyform Display
First up was Polyform. They were introducing the new Sculpey Ultra-Light, which will be available to the public in April. I am very new to all these changes that have taken place in the polymer clay world the past few years, and I was amazed to see this white polymer clay being colored with Jaquard inks! Karen and Ann Mitchell pressed the clay flat, and then they dabbed the surface with the Jacquard inks. When the first side is dry, the clay is turned over and it's dabbed on the other side. When completely dry on both sides, Karen and Ann ran the clay a few runs through the pasta machine, and the resulting beautiful colors were amazing! With this technique, the palette is endless.

The display at the booth was beautiful, all decorated in white with pastels everywhere. We photographed many of the exhibits and talked to everyone. Iris Weiss of Polyform was there as an exhibitor and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time and talking with her. We photographed several items that Leigh had sent along to exhibit, and several other pastels by Tamila Darling - very nice! Any bride would be happy to walk down the aisle with Leigh's Wedding Bouquet.

Arlene and Iris Weiss

Patti Kimle and Karen and Ann Mitchell did a great job of demonstrating the new Ultra-Light clay, and had crowds around their tables all day. I loved the feel of the thin, baked Ultra-Light. It's easily cut with a punch, and those colorful leaves they made worked into a great necklace.

Everyone we talked to was well acquainted with Polymer Clay Central and couldn't say enough nice things about how well Leigh has developed the website, and how much it has grown (shameless plug<G>).

syndee holt
Next we moved on to the Jaquard booth, so that I could get a look at those colorful inks that turned the Sculpey Ultra-Light into such great pastel colors. There we met Syndee Holt and realized it's been a long time since we have seen each other. She was moving around between the Polyform and Jaquard booths - all the exhibitors were doing double duty. Syndee was doing a demo, but we were happy that she had some time to visit with us.

Time was moving along so fast! We hurried to meet Kim Cavender at 3:00 PM at her book signing. Her new book, Polymer Clay For The Fun Of It, published by F & W Publications, is full of wonderful new ideas. There was a crowd gathered around her table, but I managed to make myself known. I was so happy to meet her. She is a great gal! She even signed a book to send along to Leigh.

The Book Signing Announcement

Kim Cavender and Arlene

Signing Books for Eager Fans
The show would be over for the day at 5PM, so we kept moving along, taking a break now and then for food and drink in the press room. Nice of them to feed us!

Donna Kato and Arlene
We rushed back to the floor to visit the Kato Clay Booth next. I was so surprised to see that Donna Kato was there - I guess we caught her just in time. She let out a scream when she saw me. I was surprised that she even remembered me. You can imagine how I felt when SHE called me "the mother of polymer clay"! Quite an exaggeration, but it sure impressed my husband! We talked and talked, and took many photos. Her work is so different than most designers - just beautiful work. She said she has been so busy that she has not stopped around PCC for a while, but promised that she would visit very soon. Allison Bolm, (photo at left) was the designer demoing for Kato Clay, ans she did a wonderful job. Unfortunately, Kato Clay didn't have the best location for their booth and there were not many people around.

(left to right) Katie Munday, Tamila Darling,
Arlene, Marie Segal

Then we moved on to find the FIMO/AMACO booths. On the way, we literally ran into Marie Segal, Tamila Darling and Katie Munday of Kemper Tools, all chatting and laughing away in the middle of the aisle. Lots of hugs all around, and it was great to see them again. We talked and laughed and blocked the aisle for even a longer time. What a racket we made. You can tell from our photos, we had a good time.

With time about up, we found the FIMO booth. Sue Lee was there demonstrating Fimo Soft, and Lisa Galvin was showing several AMACO products.

Sue Lee Demonstrating

Sue's Demo Table

Lisa Galvin Demonstrating
We left the CHA show at about 4:30pm, glad that we drove our car to Las Vegas so we would not have to wait for buses or taxis. This is a huge show with thousands of participants.

We stayed at the Bellagio Hotel with a lovely view of the dancing waters and the Paris Hotel across the way. We were looking forward to tomorrow and a whole day to spend exploring Sin City. So we ate, we walked, we gambled (a little) and overall had a wonderful mini-vacation. Wednesday morning we got an early start on our drive home as it's about an 8 hour drive to Tucson.

In closing, I would highly recommend these CHA winter and summer conventions for anyone interested in crafts, especially for Scrap booking, which seemed to be the major theme of this convention. It is very noisy and everyone is having fun. If you have the chance to attend one of these conventions, I guarantee you will enjoy yourself. The next CHA Convention is this coming summer and will be held in Rosemont (Chicago), IL, Friday, July 21 to Sunday, July 23, 2006. For more information, go to

Press Rep for PCC: Arlene Thayer
Press Rep & Photographer for PCC: Richard Thayer
©2006 Text and Photos

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