I spent the last week of October on a beautiful ship, visiting the Caribbean and crafting the days away! This was my first cruise and the second Michael’s Craft Cruise, and when there’s another (scheduled for sometime in 2013), I will be sure to sign up!
Our ship was Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and I could go into much detail about the wonderful food, helpful staff, gorgeous ports of call and fun activities. But today I’m going to concentrate only on the “Michael’s Craft Cruise” aspect of our trip – because it alone was so fabulous and amazing, it could have happened in a delapidated backwoods cabin and still been just as wonderful!
The first day on board, we were treated to a champagne welcome reception, during which we got to know some of our fellow crafters and met the Michael’s team. Jo, the creative director for Michael’s, was friendly, fun and funny! Loved her. Here she’s wearing a necklace from one of the classes:
The highlight of the evening was when we were given our tote bags. Now, when I hear the phrase “tote bag,” I think of a two-sided canvas bag about 14″ square with two handles. So imagine my utter delight and amazement when the Michael’s team wheeled these babies out!
Dear Michael’s: This is NOT a “tote bag.” This is LUGGAGE! (That’s a 15″ stuffed kitty on top, which I brought on the trip to hug when I miss my cats! Quit laughing – I met two other people who had done the same thing!) We were also given beautiful silver luggage tags, name lanyards and lots of “bling” to decorate them.
So, what was in this tote bag? Oh, not much…it was only STUFFED TO THE BRIM with craft supplies!!!
Two pair of scissors, a Fiskars paper trimmer, several paper packs, a jewelry tool kit, many different adhesives, glitter and glitter tape, gems, stamps, ink pads, colored pens…the list goes on! (I was later told there was over $500 worth of products in that bag! OH, and guess how much each of us paid to take part in the Michael’s activities? FIFTY DOLLARS. Yes, you read that right!) They said they didn’t want us to have to bring a single thing to take part in the classes, and in fact gave us more crafting items as the week went on, including paintbrushes, a set of watercolor pencils, micro scissors, paper pads, crochet hooks, yarn, adhesive gems, layered stickers, buttons, beads, ribbon, watercolor paper, blank ATC cards, 12″ and 8″ paper pads, silk flowers, felt flowers, book rings, ephemera, paint…am I forgetting anything?! Good grief! I had to do some VERY creative packing at the end of the trip!
Our first class lasted most of the day. We made fun little journals; the covers were flat artist canvases on which we glued watercolor paper that we had drawn on with pencil and then painted with watercolors, then added a coat of Mod Podge over the entire thing. A wealth of page inclusions was provided, such as scrapbook paper, handmade paper, envelopes, tags, cardstock, etc. My book was very fat by the time I’d added it all!
Naturally I decided to paint a cat on my cover.
I made the eyes out of buttons and added silver Stickles for pupils. Then I managed to keep smearing the Stickles all over the place, so my kitty has quite a bit of shine to him!
I was fortunate to sit at the table where Michael (not THE Michael, but the digital director of Michael’s) was teaching. He drew us each a “30-second portrait” to put in our books (which turned out hilarious because he wouldn’t actually look at the paper while he was drawing).
PS: I will NOT make a joke here about Michael having “a heart on.”
PPS: I wonder if there really is a “THE” Michael…?
Anyway, Michael (who is not THE Michael) stamped and painted signs for our table so he’d remember each of our names. Naturally I had to save mine to put in my travel journal when I got home. 🙂
Here’ s a view of some of the rest of the class from my seat. What you can’t see on the right is a table filled with delightful pastries and coffee, tea and water urns. They didn’t want us to start flagging from hunger in the middle of our creativity! 🙂
Aside from the regular classes, we also got to create several “make ‘n takes,” wherein we’d hop from one table to another and do quick projects. I made an ATC (the “T” stands for both my favorite cat, Taz, and my BFF, Terri), some bottlecap pendants, a button & bead necklace and two Christmas themed ceramic tile coasters (which I forgot to take a picture of).
There were other make ‘n takes, but I didn’t get to all of them.
On our second full class day, we made two projects. The first was this pretty needle-felted bird bag. We were also given a kit to make a needle-felted butterfly applique.
I’d done needle-felting before (quite a lot, actually) and wasn’t that interested in spending a long time on it. I managed to get my butterfly done and attached that to the bag in lieu of the bird, then decided to take a break and work on my cruise journal over a long lunch.
The afternoon project was embellishing a 12″ stretched canvas. We were supplied with a black gessoed canvas, a large photo of “Aunt Martha” (who really had been one of the instructor’s aunts), paint, papers, stencils and embellishments. This is the sample that Jo made:
“Just Put a Bird On It,” became the catch-phrase of the day!
My “Aunt Martha” was definitely in a feline mood, so I gave her cat ears – and wings just because I could. 🙂 I found the phrase “rebel soul sista” on a collage sheet we were given and decided it would add just the right humorous touch!
That night we attended a Halloween Glitter Ball, which was super fun. I hadn’t danced so much in years! Michael, dressed as a vampire, was the hit of the party. The best part was when I won second prize in the costume contest – a tote bag stuffed with Martha Stewart products! (It was a REAL tote bag this time, not luggage!) It was also announced at the party that each of us would be given a $25 Michael’s gift card! (Whoo-hooo!)
On the second-to-last day, we all got to take two more classes, those of our own choosing (which we’d signed up for before the cruise began). In my morning class, we painted the covers of ring-bound journals, which was really fun and turned out to be my favorite project. The instructor had forgotten to bring the paper necessary to transfer the design, so we had to draw it free-hand. We all agreed it was much better that way; everyone’s painting turned out different, but they were all wonderful! I was quite proud of my glittery palm tree and sparkly waves. (As Jo would agree, everything’s better with glitter!)
In the afternoon, we decorated plain wooden boxes with Tim Holtz papers, paint, beads, wire and other ephemera.
Again, everyone’s turned out different, depending on what collage elements we chose and how we painted the box. (Note: I did not realize until later that the cover quote has one wrong word in it! When I get around to it, I’ll print the correct quote…otherwise it will drive me nuts.)
During the afternoon, the Michael’s crew drew tickets for prizes. We had “earned” tickets throughout the week by coming to class on time, etc. They did the prize drawing “auction” style, wherein you’d put as many tickets as you wanted into the kitty for each prize. (I imagine most of the tickets went for the Cricut drawing!) While I didn’t win one of the “main” prizes, one of my tickets was drawn for which I could go choose my own prize from a selection, which about ten of us got to do. I chose a pink Scotch ATG tape runner – can’t wait to try it!
All in all, a fabulous creative week. Many, many thanks to the friendly and fun Michael’s team for making this one of the best experiences a crafter could hope for. You all went way over the top – I appreciate all your hard work and can’t wait for the next one!