The Creative Connection Event

Wow, where do I begin?  I just got back from Minneapolis, MN after attending the Creative Connection Event. 

The photo below is one of two event posters featured at the conference.  Don't you just love that caption?

As I wind down from the trip, I'm happy to give you a recap of the 3-day extravaganza. 

Blog creative connection poster2



The event brought together, entrepreneurs, bloggers, crafters, artisans, creative industry leaders all in one place for three days of sharing, connecting and learning.

By the way, when you finish reading my recap you can read more play-by-plays and reviews of the event if you pop over to the Creative Connection blog. 


Blog creative connection page

The Creative Connection was the brainchild of former Country Living editor, Nancy Soriano and Jo Packham who many of you probably recognize from her popular Where Women Create book and as Editor-in-Chief of the subsequent quarterly magazine of the same name.

Nancy and Jo were positively giddy with the huge response and they seemed genuinely blown away by the turnout which represented 48 states and Canada. 

They're already planning the Creative Connection Event 2011, which will be held again in Minneapolis, MN.  Hmm, I may have to make this an annual sojourn.

Blog creative connection nancy-jo

At the registration booth, everyone got to create these cute little make-n-take canvas cases which could be worn around the neck. 

Perfect for storing business cards and keeping them within reach. 

Blog creative connection make-take

It's a good idea to have contact cards for an event like this, so I created these colorful blogger cards on my computer. 

I put my contact information on one side and my blog banner on the other side.  I struggled with trying to get the banner perfectly aligned on the card and even though it's not totally precise, I'm glad I stuck with it. 

It was worth staying up until 1AM the night before my flight printing them up.


Blog creative connection cards2

Of course, networking is a huge aspect of an event like this.

It's been fun going through all the different business cards I collected and getting a closer look at everyone's style and creativity. 

I've been following-up with the people I met, via e-mails as well as with visits to their blogs and websites all week.

Blog creative connection cards3

OK, let me get back to the Creative Connection Event.  It was a total whirlwind. 

Every hour was jammed-packed with purposeful, useful info including panel discussions on a variety of subjects ranging from jump-starting a business and improving or starting a blog to using social media to maximize exposure to getting your work published and into the right hands to the future and role of the digital marketplace in today's business environment.

There was much more information exchange but I'll stop with that limited listing.

Blog creative connection banner

The 3-days were runneth-over with great conversation, fun, fellowship, food, keynote speeches, shopping, classes, giveaways, networking just to name a few coverage areas.

On the subject of keynotes, let me fill you in on the guest speakers.  You'll probably recognize them right away. 

Blog creative connection keynote

Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummand writes an incredibly popular blog about life on a working cattle farm, her family, recipes, photography and her "Marlboro Man".  She gets more than 20-million unique blog readers a month.  Crazy numbers, right?  She comes across just like she does on her blog; quick witted,  friendly and just a nice person. 

I got a chance to meet Ree face to face the following night for a brief chat.  She was totally approachable and a real pleasure to meet in person.  By the way she said she's been in talks with Sony Pictures to have a movie made about her "love story" possibly starring Reese Witherspoon (who I think we can agree looks nothing like her).   

Blog creative connection ree-drummond

Fabric designer extraordinaire, Amy Butler who is known for her Midwest Modern style and colorful, hip prints and complimentary products was on hand too.  Amy is tall, cool, calm and so much more soft-spoken than I imagined she would be.  She had a beautiful keynote presentation that included pictures of her as a young aspiring designer as well as photos of her family and designs. 

Amy is one of my all-time favorite designers and I have all of her books and nearly all of her patterns.  I'm addicted to her fabrics and I have a huge stash of her prints from almost every line. 

Blog creaive connection amy

Finally, real farm girls (and wannabees) everywhere are familiar with Mary Jane Butters who has an inspiring back story which includes building a multi-million dollar empire from scratch which now includes a flagship magazine, products and books built around farming, embracing nature and the use of sustainable products.

I chatted briefly with Mary Jane and her daughter after dinner and she was so sweet and genuine you can easily see why she has such a loyal following.

Blog creative connection mary jane


Another fantastic offering at the event (albeit, painful in the pocketbook) was the Handmade Market. 

Ooh, la-la!  Vendors filled an entire hall with handcrafted goods, materials, books, jewelry, vintage accessories and so many categories of shopping I can't possibly name them all here.  

PERSONAL TIP FOR NEXT YEAR:  Pack lightly on clothes you won't need them.  SAVE the luggage space for what you will buy at the Handmade Market. 

 Delta Airlines wanted to charge me $99 dollars for being 12-pounds overweight on luggage on the way home.  $99 bucks, are you kidding me?!!!!  I pulled out the bag I had purchased at the Handmade Market, unloaded a few things from my main suitcase and took the extra items with me as carry on.  I kept that $99 dollars in my pocket thank you very much and so did the lady behind me who had to do the same thing just for being 4-pounds overweight on luggage and she didn't have a Handmade Market purchase to help with her extra load.  

Blog creative connection market 

OK, rant over.  Back to the Handmade Market.  Talk about eye candy and creative inspiration.  I was also thrilled to see so many participants supporting these wonderful artisans and crafters who came from all over the country to showcase their wares and creativity. 

It was also a blast to meet people that until now, I've only known through blogging.

That's Etsy shop owner, Charmaine McLaughlin with Pom Poms and Polkadots below on the right and on the left is jewelry designer Jill Schwartz with Elements and Vintage Groove.

   Blog creative connection mosaic market 

Some of the vendors inside the handmade market also offered on-the-spot mini classes.  I got a chance to learn how to make this adorable wired bird's nest thanks to Heidi and Dani of Oh Sweet Sadie.

This was so much fun to make and easier than it looks too.

Blog creative connection nest

Many of the well-known artists and sponsors also donated special designer items for everyone to enjoy.  This linen bag was custom designed by Moda and made from Kaari Meng's gorgeous French General fabric.  Oodles of goodies and supplies were packed inside. 

Conventioneers love goodies and freebies and this filled-to-the-brim bag was a huge hit with the crowd.

Blog creative connectin bag

Over the 3-day event, everyone also had an opportunity to take any number of structured technique classes.   

I took three courses including the the Cup O'Joe pincushion, Coiled, Looped and Woven Jewelry as well as the Family Heirloom Necklace class (although I didn't use any heirloom pieces for my necklace).   

Blog creative connection stubs

Oh, I must share my finished projects with you.  You're gonna love them.

First up is the Betz White's pincushion.  Betz is an author, crafter and textile designer.  She's a really attentive instructor too and she makes sure every student understands every step she demonstrates.

Everyone in class flipped over their finished felted coffee cups including yours truly.  This looks almost good enough to take a sip, right?   

Blog creative connection pincushion

Dollop of felted cream anyone?  Now, I'm not even a coffee drinker but how stinkin' cute is this?

I love this project which is simply made from old felted sweaters.  I'm sure I'll be making a few for upcoming holiday gifts this year.

Blog creative connection pincushion2

I also learned some really useful techniques in Ruth Rae's class.  She is an awesome instructor with a beautiful smile and a hearty laugh that makes you want to laugh out loud too.  Ruth has a great sense of humor and her class was laid back and totally fun.

I started practicing Ruth's techniques as soon as I got home.  Check out a few of my finished pieces in the photo below. 

I recently ventured into jewelry making so learning these various techniques was really timely.

Blog creative connection beads2 copy


Now, let's talk about turning trash into treasure.  The Heirloom Family Treasure necklace class was taught by Philadelphia-based, jewelry designer Halligan Norris.   Halligan is a real cutie and has a talented, sharp eye for design and jewelry elements.  Her class was a real eye-opener too, in terms of re-purposing old jewelry and trinkets. 

I made this gorgeous necklace out of some of my old costume jewelry that had been doing nothing but collecting dust in an old chest in the back of my closet.

I don't think I'll ever look at "junk" or costume jewelry quite the same way again and I certainly won't look at it with an eye toward tossing it. 

Blog creative connection necklace

In addition to a few chains, an old charm bracelet, various jump rings and random pearls, I also used this old, owl-brooch and giant pearl-bud earring to complete the necklace. 

Ahem, yes that was an actual kernel-pearl earring that I wore at one time in my life.

Blog creative connection necklace tight

I think the energy that is generated when so many like-minded creative types are in one place is something you can really feel, taste, even smell in the air.  It just washes over you and you feel grateful to be with a group of people who not only appreciate creativity but also totally get what you do.  Corny sounding?  Maybe, but oh-so true.

The Creative Connection was uplifting, affirming, rejuvenating, intense, overwhelming (in a good way) and inspiring all at the same time.  I could go on with more adjectives but I think you get the picture.

I learned a ton and my head is swirling with new ideas, projects, inspiration and motivation.  I even have a few thoughts on tweaking this blog so you'll soon notice a few changes here and there-including more frequent posts.   

Blog creative connection poster1

Meanwhile, this keepsake necklace by jewelry designer Lisa Leonard was also one of the gifts everyone received at dinner one night. 

I think the simple inscription says it all.  Don't you?

Blog creative connection leonard 

It's really great to look back on the Creative Connection Event and let all the energy and goodwill I absorbed there, really sink in now that I'm home.  It's actually pretty exhilarating.

It's fair to say, I'm motivated more than ever to continue living an authentic, creative life and doing the best I can to inspire others to do the same. 

So, that's my recap of my fantastic 3-days in Minneapolis or as my husband, Boris called it "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, without the bicycle".

Happy creating peeps. ā™„


  • Heather

    This sounds like a terrific event. Thanks for the great re-cap! I love your blog (which I came across via the BYW class…I took the first one). I’m going to follow you now!

  • Joellyn

    Lisa, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Fun to see yours! Oh my goodness- my friend was able to attend this and I wanted to go with her so badly. Just couldn’t swing it with a newborn. I’m jealous you were able to meet Ree. What an amazing person. Thanks for the recap!

  • Erica Cooper

    This was a great recap of the CC Event…
    how does one put into words all of the fun, excitement, kindred spirits, classes, passion and creativity? It’s so much more than words can truely express. Seriously, these types of events really are hard to encapsulate, but you did well lady!
    It was great meeting you and discovering your blog. I recently shared you with my readers here:
    so they could get in on your creative fun.
    Keep blogging, we’ll keep reading!
    Thank you!

  • Nikki Brey

    I am so excited to see what new idea’s you picked up. I love to admire the stuff you make.

  • Kris Binsfeld

    Lisa, you did an amazing job with your creations at The Creative Connection. It was a joy meeting you at the Handmade Market! Love your blog! Kris

  • Deb Wisker

    definitely planning to stash a week of vacation for the possibility of going next year!! If I go, I’ll let ya know if I need a roomie!
    Great recap!

  • Meghan Cobble

    I think I’ll join you at next year’s festivities. I have been joensin’ to go. This post perhaps eve solidified my plane ticket!
    .mac šŸ™‚

  • kerri

    how awesomely inspiring that must have been! so glad you were able to attend and do hope you get to make it an annual sojourn!

  • Cassandra

    I was a bit surprised to see the post off schedule. LOL! But I was glad to see it. I just saw another post about the Creative Connection and learned about the whole convention and I thought it was the coolest thing. I would have loved to go and see what it was all about. So I thank you for the nice post on the event activities. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to go. It’s really sounds super cool!

  • Berta

    Wow, it looks like such a fun event! Thanks for the great re-cap!

  • Terri

    What an amazing experience! I am really kicking myself for not going to this event since I live in Madison and my brother lives in Minneapolis (would have been pretty easy to go). I am impressed with all the goodies you received, all the fabulous and relevant information you came away with, and all the invaluable contacts you made!

  • Allie

    I am positively GREEN, Lisa….this sounds so amazing…what I wouldn’t give to go to this!

  • koralee

    Oh I was soooo much fun. And I sooooo remember you my dear….I was working there with the CC team…so nice to meet you.
    I have been following you for awhile and did not connect your blog with you until I just saw your photo.
    Friday hugs. xoxoxox

  • suzanne

    how FUN!!!! What a great opportunity!

  • Thimbleanna

    It looks like you had a wonderful time Lisa. And the goodies! Oh My!

  • Julie B

    oh, oh, oh! I think my head is going to explode (in a good way!) I would love to attend an event like this — maybe some day when I am through raising toddlers. What inspiration! Thanks for sharing.
    PS — LOVE that pincushion.

  • Sheri Maple

    Thank you for the wonderful posting about the Creative Connection event. I can only imagine all of that fantastic inspiration in one place. This just brighten up my day. Thanks again.

  • Amy - Amy's Creative Side

    Thanks for all the details! Can’t wait to go myself šŸ™‚

  • Suzie Button

    how fantastic it looked! I wish I had been there! Luckily, I am attending the gilded life’s last event here in Dallas in October though, so i have that to anticipate!
    These artful events can be addictive, can’t they?!! Suzie

  • Kim

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts… I am making plans to go next year…..

  • Elaine (mom) Tutman

    Thanks for giving us the virtual visit to this fantastic event. I appreciate the report which expressed your delight in the whole affair. I feel like I shared in the fun of it. Best wishes, Nana Banana

  • Susi

    I love your cards because I love your banner. Thanks for sharing The Creative Connection event with those of us who weren’t there and filled with wonder. It sounds awesome.

  • Stephanie

    wow! And no worries- we’re always inspired and captivated by all the amazing things you share. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Damaris

    WWOOWW!! Thank you for taking us along!! You pay so much attention to detail!! XXOO, Damaris

  • Charmaine McLaughlin

    Oh Lisa this is the most well-put-together recap of TCC event! And so classy too! Thanks for the shout-out, and right next to Jill Schwartz too (feeling very honored)! Your photos are beautiful and it gives people a feeling of “being there” if they actually weren’t. So glad to be blog buddies with you!!

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