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Issue #24

May 2012

Plastic Canvas Crafts SECRETS

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Kathy Barwick


If You've Got the Plastic Canvas Talent, This is the Season to Flaunt It at the Fair!


The season for local, county and state fairs is upon us, and that means it's time to get ready for the crafts competitions usually featured at these fairs.


Entering your favorite plastic canvas crafts items into fair competitions can be a real blast, especially if you've got the talent to produce eye-catching plastic canvas projects!


So why not show off your talent in the craft competitions at your local fair, and maybe even win a blue ribbon or two? After all, everybody likes to be acknowledged and praised for their talent, right?


Here's what you need to know about entering your plastic canvas projects into the crafts competitions at your local fair, and WINNING every time...


Hi, Kathy Barwick here for www.AddictedToPlasticCanvas.com...


Local, county and state fairs generally run from May through September, and often feature a variety of crafts, hobby and fine arts competitions, including quilting, ceramics, wood carving, photography sewing, painting, weaving, knitting and of course, our all-time favorite, plastic canvas crafting.


In this article we'll focus on entering plastic canvas crafts projects into local, county and state fairs. They usually all have competitions. And they're all a blast!  


In fact, if you've never been to the crafts competition at your local fair before, you're really missing out. It's a real kick to go look at all the beautiful items people have created and entered into the competitions. After all, you can learn a lot by looking close-up at the work of other talented crafters.


That's one good reason why I always bring my camera when I go to the fair:


Whenever I see a particularly unique or remarkable design or technique that's been used by a fellow crafter - even if it's in a craft other than plastic canvas -- I always take a photo or two and then load it onto my computer at home to remind me. After all, one day I might want to incorporate the same technique or use a similar design in one of my own projects.  


But it's an even greater kick when the items you're looking at in the fair happen to belong to you, and you've got three or four blue ribbons lying around them! If you've never entered your finished plastic crafts projects into a competition at a local, county or state fair, you simply don't know what you're missing!


So what do you need to know to enter your own finished plastic canvas crafts projects into your local fair competition? Here are the basics:


Crucial Item: The Competition Handbook


The first thing you need to do is obtain the Competition Handbook from your local fair. You need this handbook, because it contains crucial information such as fair dates, competition dates and times, dates and times to drop off and pick up your entries, the divisions and categories you can enter into, costs per entry (usually $1.00 per entry), and much more.  


In some cases, your local crafts stores will have copies of the Competition Handbook. In the past, I've found them in our local Michael's Arts & Crafts, for example. But in many cases, you can just call your local city, county or state Chamber of Commerce (depending upon whether it's a city, county or state fair) and ask when and where the fair is being held, and who's in charge of the crafts competitions.


The Chamber of Commerce may even be able to tell you where to obtain the Competition Handbook for the fair. Or they may simply direct you to the person in charge of the crafts competitions. Either way, just follow through until you obtain a copy of the Competition Handbook.


Time-Saving Tip: Oftentimes, the Competition Handbook can be found online, on the fair web site. But make sure it's the new handbook for the current year, and not last year's handbook. The rules and parameters can change a bit from year to year.


Every fair is different, of course. No two are exactly alike. But the Competition Handbook usually does a pretty good job of laying everything out for you. And there's usually a phone number listed in the handbook so you can call to ask questions if anything is unclear. Or, you can often find the phone number online, on the fair web site.


Do keep one thing in mind, however, when calling with questions: You have to be patient and persistent. Typically, the people who handle these competitions for the fair are local volunteers - people just like you -- and they're often swamped with duties as they work to coordinate the events and put the competition together.


So always be patient, and super nice when talking to them, rather than abrupt or impatient, because you never know, the person you end up talking to could be one of the competition judges!


5 Important Things to Understand About Fair Competitions...



There are five important things you need to understand about fair competitions. They might vary a bit from fair to fair. But they're generally pretty much the same around the country.


1.) The very first thing to understand is that in most fair competitions, each item entered has its own Division.


In most Competition Handbooks, Plastic Canvas falls under the Crafts Division. This Division can also include other crafts such as Basketry, Leather Work, Woodwork, Stained Glass, Scrapbooking and others.


So you'll need to check your local Competition Handbook to verify which Division you'll be entering your Plastic Crafts projects into.


Usually, each Division offers a ribbon known as "Best of Division." There is only one Best of Division ribbon given out for each Division. So this is one you'll definitely be shooting for, as it's considered very prestigious to "take Division."


If you win this ribbon, it means your project was the very best out of all of the craft projects in the entire Division you entered into.  


2.) The second thing that's vital to understand is that within each Division you usually have "Sections" which are often labeled alphabetically, i.e., A-Z.  


Each Section is generally a specific type of craft that may contain several sub-types. For example, Needlecraft is often the Section that Plastic Canvas crafts are listed under, along with other related crafts such as Counted Cross Stitch and Hand Embroidery. So look through the list of crafts within each alphabetized Section and find the specific Section that includes Plastic Canvas crafts projects.


In the Competition Handbook from the last fair I entered projects into, Plastic Canvas fell under "Section H: Needlecraft."   But it might be different at your local fair. The Competition Handbook will clarify this for you.



3.) The third thing to understand is that within each Section you'll have a "Lot" number. In the most recent handbook from my local fair, Plastic Canvas was Lot #39.


There are often special Rosettes Ribbons given to the best entry as well as the second-best entry within the Lot. I love winning these Lot ribbons as they're usually absolutely beautiful!


4.) The fourth thing you need to understand is that within each Lot you have a number of different "Classes." You can enter a finished item for each Class. Depending upon your local fair, the different Classes for Plastic Canvas might include:


1. Holiday other than Christmas

2. Door Stopper

3. Tissue Box

4. Household

5. Boxes

6. Children's items

7. Christmas items

8. Coasters

9. Wall Hanging

10. Other


The ribbons that can be won in each Class are usually: First Place (blue ribbon), Second Place (red ribbon), Third Place (white ribbon) and Best of Class ribbons (this ribbon can differ in color depending upon your local fair.)




 The more Classes you enter into, the more ribbons you can win. That's part of my strategy for coming away with a Blue Ribbon every single time: Enter as many Classes as possible. If you do good work, you're bound to win a Blue Ribbon in at least one Class, and possibly more!


Fair Theme Award Recognition


5.) The fifth and final important piece of information you need to know is that almost every fair has a Theme. And each Theme also has a ribbon you can win if you design one of your entries to fit the Theme. I absolutely love winning fair Themes, as it's a very prestigious (and gorgeous) ribbon.


For example, this year our local Fair Theme is "Dr. Seuss and Friends." This means one of my main entries will be Dr. Seuss-themed. This is a tough one, but I'm determined to win it!



If you like the challenge of trying to create a project to fit the Fair Theme, you must remember when you fill out your entry form to write the words "Fair Theme" on the particular entry you've created for that purpose.



Your entry for Fair Theme can be in any of the different Classes, i.e., it can be a door stop, a tissue box, a coaster, a wall hanging, etc. But in most competitions I've been involved with, if you want to try to win the Fair Theme ribbon your entry must say "Fair Theme" on the entry form next to the specific project you're entering for the Fair Theme. (More on entry forms below.)


Naturally, your entry for Fair Theme must cleverly and delightfully depict the Fair Theme. (Duh!) Your entry will also be judged in the appropriate Division, Section, Lot Number and Class, and can win ribbons in any of those. But at most fair competitions, if it wins the Fair Theme it will receive a very special Fair Theme Ribbon (often a Rosette ribbon which can be absolutely breathtaking.


Below is an example of a Competition Handbook from the 2004 San Bernardino County Fair. The Theme was "Find the Bear Necessities".



I struggled for quite a while trying to come up with an idea for this theme. Finally, I went to Michael's Arts & Crafts store to stroll around, knowing that quite often this will trigger a good idea.


As soon as I saw the cute little bear patch (see the center of the photo of my finished project, below) the idea instantly came to life in my head. The patch made me think of a baby, and all the necessities a baby needs after a bath. Bare necessities = Bear necessities.



So I bought some baby-themed pink and blue yarn (of course!), and then found all of the little baby items I needed at Walmart to use as embellishments - i.e., baby oil, baby brush, baby comb, cotton swabs, pacifier, teething ring, etc. -- and made my idea come to life as you can see in the photo to the left.


You can do the same thing. Just be creative and let your imagination roam when you're trying to come up with an idea to fit the fair Theme.


The Entry Form


Your Competition Handbook will include an Entry Form which you must fill out and present to the people running the crafts competition at the fair. Usually, on the day you bring your projects in to enter them, you present your completed Entry Form, along with the requisite entry fee for each project being entered.


In most fair competitions I've been in, your entries are checked in and you're given a ticket stub with all your information for each item entered. Generally, it will include your name, address, phone number and a list of each item you have entered. Don't lose these stubs! You'll need to present each stub when you pick up your items.


Some local, county or state fairs, however, allow you to mail in your completed Entry Form first, along with the entry fees. The cut off dates for mailing in the entry form is not the same as when you deliver your items personally, so pay close attention to the dates listed in the Competition Handbook.


Some fairs will even allow you to mail in the projects you're entering, but you'll need to include return postage. Sometimes they require a $20.00 deposit (or even more) to cover postage.


But most fair competitions want you to come in and drop off your entries at a specified location (it's usually a building on the fairgrounds), on a specified day and during certain specified hours before the fair starts.  


What's more, most fair competitions won't give you any leeway on the deadlines. You either follow their entry policies to the letter - including dates and hours for submitting your finished projects -- or you won't get to enter. That's because the sheer number of entries they deal with are usually so great, they can't make exceptions for anyone or they'd have to make them for everyone.


Again, the Competition Handbook will give you all of the details. So check your Competition Handbook carefully for the policies regarding Entries. And of course, call the fair if you have any questions.


Finally, on the Entry Form you'll fill in the names of each of your projects being entered. And usually you must list the Division, Section, Lot number and Class for each entry. However, Entry forms can be different at different fairs around the country. So once again, they key is to read the form carefully and determine exactly what information they want from you. It's not at all difficult. After looking over the Entry Form carefully, it will almost always be self-explanatory.


How the Judges Will Judge Your Entries!


One last very important piece of information: Typically, your craft entries will be judged on four criteria:


1. Appearance

2. Workmanship

3. Originality

4. Quality


This means you have to do top-notch work with lots of attention to detail if you really want to catch the eyes of the judges. Some of the things they watch for are:


  • Is all plastic covered, with no plastic showing through the stitching? If plastic is showing the judges consider this lazy work.
  • Are a variety of stitches used? Is there a good combination of colors that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Judges are like everyone else - they want your project to jump out and visually grab their attention!
  • Is attention to detail and pride of workmanship shown? For example, when you're sewing two pieces together, do you take the time to make sure all of the holes line up? And if your piece is a larger stand-up piece, did you take the extra effort to make sure it's sturdy enough to hold itself up without bowing or bending?
  • Is creativity displayed? Judges love it when you put your own creative touches to the projects you enter. Remember, they've often been judging at these competitions for years, so they've seen just about everything. When a project has some unique touches, such as eye-catching embellishments or an original design worked directly into the pattern, this really gets their attention!


Those are just a few of the important things judges look for. The main idea is to be creative, and show your pride of workmanship by paying close attention to detail.


In Summary...


So now that you know pretty much what to expect, the rest is up to you. To sum everything up:

  • Call your Chamber of Commerce and ask where your local fair is being held. If you've missed your local fair, call the county and state Chambers of Commerce and ask about those fairs.  
  • Ask how to obtain a Competition Handbook, and get one right away. This is crucial!  
  • Ask the days and times to drop off and pick up your entries.  
  • Ask the price for each entry.  
  • Ask what the Fair Theme is if you plan on submitting an entry for that particular category. You'll need plenty of time because this category needs lots of planning and plenty of detailed work if you want to bring home the blue ribbon!  
  • Read your Competition Handbook carefully to determine the entry dates and deadlines.  
  • Fill out and submit your Entry Form and entry fees in accord with the policies spelled out in the Competition Handbook.  
  • And finally, make sure you bring your entries in at the appropriate time - don't miss the deadlines spelled out in the Competition Handbook!

The rest is up to you... Go have fun and bring home lots of ribbons. I wish you all the best!!


By the way, if you follow through on entering some plastic canvas projects into your local fair, please be sure to post your winning entries on my Plastic Canvas Crafts Designer's Community Wall on Facebook.


That way, all of your fellow plastic canvas crafts addicts can see how much fun it is to enter these competitions and bring home winning ribbons!


Until then...  

Best regards, and Happy stichin'!



Kathy Barwick,
Your Plastic Canvas Crafts Coach 



P.S.  In case you aren't aware of it, I've listed a bunch of new patterns from my Featured Artists. Each section is listed under the artist's name on my Etsy.com store, where I already have over 100 original plastic canvas crafts patterns listed. 


These are all real eye-catchers I know you'll love working on - not the usual run-of-the-mill stuff.  And maybe you'll even find two or three patterns you'll want to work and enter into the crafts competition at your local fair!


Plus, in other sections of my store you'll find hundreds more patterns available from my personal stash of difficult-to-find classic plastic canvas patterns.


And by the way, my Etsy.com store now takes credit cards!  So if you don't like fiddling around with Paypal, it's now easy-as-pie to order by credit card from my store.


Helpful Links:


5 FREE Plastic Canvas Crafts Patterns 

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Visit Kathy's Krafty Kat Blog 

Read Kathy's Plastic Canvas Crafts Ezines