June 9, 2014

Surtex, Part 3: Trends and Friends

Posted by Cathy Heck

“Did you see any new trends?” This is the question we hear most often upon our return from Surtex. The dilemma is that it is difficult for Surtex artists to see new trends, because we are all manning our booths! All day. Every day. Making trends.

However, my boothmates and I did find time for a little trend-spotting during our many treks for water refills. Below are a few of the hot themes and colors that we noticed were either new or back again. Now comes the tricky part. We have to decide if a trend is on the way in … or on the way out … and draw accordingly. Sometimes, we wonder if it might just be safer to get out the Ouija board. (Wait … that was once a trend … Hm. A trend searching for a trend. I might be on to something!)

So here is our official list from Surtex, National Stationery Show and the streets of New York. (Note: All data was gathered without the advice of the Ouija Board.)



The good news is that no matter which trends are in and which are out, there is something at Surtex that never becomes old hat … the new artist friendships that we make every year. Here are a few shapshots from our Surtex neighborhood this year.



We had a beautiful view across the aisle from pink paisleys to purple parrots: Meet our neighbors, Diane Kappa from Seattle, Washington, and Nina Favata from Ridgewood, New Jersey. Next door to Nina lived Rachel Gresham from Nashville, Tennessee and her lovely helper, Jill Raney, while our next door neighbors were Colleen MacDonald and Alanna George of Hot Fudge Studio, which, I must say, is a very delicious name for a company.


And, we were so happy to arrive and see our fun neighbor from last year, Sheila Meehan, who is an artists’ agent and consultant. Sheila is wise and wonderful, and funny, too, which are all very nice traits for a next-door neighbor.

And, finally, the youngest neighbor to visit us was from around the corner … the adorable baby belonging to Ana Davis. And as you know, we love babies! Plus, we thought this outfit coordinated very nicely with our booth decor.


So that’s a wrap for Surtex 2014. We had a great time in our home-away-from-home with so many talented artists and art directors from all over the world. It was a great show.

June 4, 2014

SURTEX 2014: Part 2, Louie Awards, The Oscars of Cards

Posted by Cathy Heck


Conversation overheard at the Surtex booth of Cathy Heck Studio

Susan Birnbaum and Tom Vituj of Design Design, Inc: “Congratulations!!”

Cathy , Ellen and Julianna: “Thanks!  … um … for what?”

Susan and Tom: “You won a Louie!”

Cathy, Ellen and Julianna: “We did?”

It’s true! … and as you can see looking at the photo above … Ellen and Jules are even walking on a red carpet to go see it! The piece that won was a boxed Christmas card that Ellen designed, called Snow Angels. produced by Design Design.  It was also sold as gift wrap, and this year, they will be adding cocktail napkins and hankie packets. Snow Angels was also sold as a fun glittery holiday fabric through David Textiles.


P.S. We know most of you do not want to think, for one minute, about sparkly white snow after this very long winter, so, until next winter, we hope you can enjoy making snow angels on the beach in the warm white sand. Happy summer!

May 30, 2014

SURTEX 2014: Part 1, Stitching Up A Booth

Posted by Cathy Heck


Ahhh SURTEX. Our booth this year involved a little stitching. In a big way. We decided to feature our new hand-made eco-hip Made With Love collection, and, as you can see, the walls were covered with giant embroidered characters. And, no, we did not actually sew directly to the 8-foot panels (thanks for asking) … but many visitors wondered, and asked to touch the walls–just to make sure. We felt proud … like the peacock behind us.

So, how did we achieve the booth seen in the photo above? Well, as you might guess, a heck of a lot of stitching. (Please forgive the pun about our own name.)

First, we stitched the pre-show marketing.


Then we stitched the wall panels.

CathyHeckStudio_SurtexRecap3 CathyHeckStudio_SurtexRecap4  

Then we stitched giant ABC blocks to hold our samples, and flags to adorn our flowers, and an owl that said, “What?” We even stitched the logo for our sign. (And, yes, you are correct. It is possible that we were, perhaps, in need of a bit of intervention.)


I can now report, however, that although our usual mediums are paint, pencil and pixels, we loved drawing with thread. And, we could tell that our Surtex visitors could feel the love.


For example, above is an enthusiastic art director who loves our work. Okay, I admit it. Since we rarely have a chance to take a picture when we are meeting with clients, this is actually a pretend enthusiastic buyer, played by Ming Platt, fellow artist and friend. But, we think she did an excellent job portraying the typical exhuberance felt by those viewing our portfolios.


And, then suddenly, like our owl, we were saying, “What?”

Surtex was over. It had come and gone. It was time to move out of our embroidered home-away-from-home and get back to our drawing tables … and sewing chairs. Now the real work will begin–developing favorite collections for our clients, old and new. And after that, we are lucky enough to enjoy knowing that we have created artwork for someone somewhere who will find the sweetest baby book, or the cutest fabric, or the perfect card to give to someone he or she loves. That’s the best part of all.



May 18, 2014

SURTEX is now!

Posted by Cathy Heck

SURTEX is now. Come and see us! And, if you can’t make it to New York, come see us cyberly from our new updated website. We will be sure to report back on new trends and new friends, as well as any dining discoveries we make in between.




May 16, 2014

A Pack of Pachyderms from Cathy Heck Studio

Posted by Cathy Heck


This year, at SURTEX, we are featuring our new collection, Made With Love. And, indeed, all of the original art was stitched by hand–a labor of love. And time. The silver lining was, however, that we could stitch the art while enjoying a variety of excellent PBS programs … except Sherlock. (You CANNOT stitch and watch Sherlock with any hope of following his digitally displayed deductive reasoning.)

During SURTEX, we will also be sharing many other collections, which have been created with a variety of media. Sometimes, an art director will ask us, “What medium do you use?” And, our answer might be, “What medium would you like us to use?” We enjoy choosing the perfect material to fit the collection: watercolor or gouache, cut-outs or collage, pencil or pixels–or all of the above. We think it makes the final collection stronger. Plus, it’s more fun.

So, we recruited a few of our studio elephants to help us compile a packet showing the variety of mediums and styles we use in the studio. See some of the samples from our Pack of Pachyderms below.




If you are an art director looking for a painterly elephant of a giraffe in stitches, please come by our booth. We would love to visit. (And if you have to miss the safari party this year, just give us a call when we are back in the studio, and we’ll party digitally.)

Hope to see you at SURTEX. Cathy, Ellen, and Julianna

May 14, 2014

Mr. Moose Goes To SURTEX

Posted by Cathy Heck

If you are headed to SURTEX, we hope you will stop by our booth. Or, if you prefer to have an appointment, just click on the SURTEX button from our new updated website. We look forward to seeing you in NYC.


P.S. If you find at any moment during the show that you have been so excited about seeing so much amazing art all in one place and forgot to eat something and are feeling faint and woozy, we will again offer a pepper-upper show snack. This year’s menu: granola bars to celebrate our eco-hip hand-made collection, Made With Love. (We didn’t actually hand-make the granola bars … just the collection. You will be glad to know this, as we only have a License to Draw*, not a license to make food.)

*I presume we have a license to draw … since we read Ronnie Walter’s book, License to Draw. Ronnie, do we have an official license to draw if we read your book?


January 24, 2014

Window Stitching: Atlanta 2014

Posted by Cathy Heck

Gosh, I am so sorry to be so long in posting some pictures from the Atlanta Show. I just have one excuse. Food Poisoning. If you have ever had it, you will know why I can’t really say the words “shel_ fi_h” ever again.

BUT, the good news is that we were able to see our pretty window in the front of the C.R. Gibson showroom before I went for a fun dinner and ordered … well, you know … the food that shall not be named.

So, finally, here are some pictures from the debut of our Made With Love collection. The original stitchwork for the covers and interiors, fronts to backs, were stitched by our own little fingers. We were drawing with thread! We hope lots of new babies will feel the love we poured into this group of baby memory books.

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Above are several of the new products from the collection, which you will be able to buy at retailers across the country. You can contact C.R. Gibson for more info. (The new collections are not up on their site yet, but will be soon.) The cute fox seen in the photo above, however, is not part of our group …  he was just the perfect spokes-model for our Made With Love stitches. (He comes from the family of adorable critters from the blabla group of knitted toys.)

One of our favorite additions to the collection is this adorable jaunty elephant coin bank, pictured below. And the cute Grandma’s Brag Book will just make you want to … well … smile!

CathyHeckStudio_AtlantaGiftShow3 CathyHeckStudio_AtlantaGiftShow4

Of course, the best part of seeing a new group introduced, is seeing the wonderful people who collaborated to make it happen.  We were so happy to see the director of the project, Sherrie McCulloch, (below left) who worked with us on every detail, from the perfect paper stock to the prettiest book binding.  And, below right, is Betsy Ferg, who we know gave up some Christmas holiday time to make sure that the fun window display was ready by the first of January!


And, below, is the person we really have to thank for this inventive collection coming to life … Ellen, herself. The original sketches for this group came from her head and hands.  Her persuasive encouragement went something like this …

Ellen on phone: “Really, mom, I do think we can stitch a 72-page interior by the deadline … if we all do it together. Jules can help, too. We can do it!”

Mom: ……..

Ellen: “Mom … mom … hello, Mom, are you there?”


But, Ellen was right … we did it … and it is, indeed, a labor of love. Be sure to keep an eye out for our new collection … and as soon as we receive our samples, we’ll be hosting a fun giveaway.

In the meantime, here is my next call to Ellen:  “So Ellen, I had this idea for a 72-page interior that we would mold out of clay, what do you think?”

January 8, 2014

Hello Atlanta, Hello World

Posted by Cathy Heck

We are off to the Atlanta Gift Show for the debut of our new collection, Made With Love. We created this group of friendly characters one stitch at a time, and, it is indeed made with love just in time for cute babies arriving in 2014.


If you are headed to the Atlanta Gift Show, be sure to stop by the C.R. Gibson showroom to see our new baby collection. We hope you will feel the love, too!

We’ll be sure to tell you all about the show and share pictures when we return.

Love, the Heck family stitchers … well, except Neville (the dog) … he can croon, but he does not stitch.

October 26, 2013

To Market, To Market, Jiggity Jig

Posted by Cathy Heck

We are wondering how many sewing machines were making the same whrrrrrrr ours were making this week before International Quilt Market .  And how many floors looked like this?


We will have so much to share when we return from Houston.  Most importantly, I (Cathy) will be able to demonstrate that you, too, can learn to sew in one month!  It’s true.  I even learned to make my own piping, so I am feeling like a sewing stud. If I can do it, you can do it!


When we received our beautiful samples of the new Cuteville County Fair fabric, which we created for Henry Glass Fabrics, we pulled out our sewing machines, and I pulled out my sewing machine manual.  I made a little quilt, and Ellen made a big quilt. Thankfully, Ellen taught herself to sew in the 5th grade when it was clear to her that sewing was not in her mother’s skill set. We will show the quilts at market and the big quilt even has a free downloadable pattern on the Henry Glass site.

Here is Julianna pretending to be a quilt model in the back yard on Ellen’s big quilt.


Come see us at the Henry Glass booth at 2pm today (Saturday), where we will be sharing a bit about the way we work together from our studios in Austin and Berkeley. Even though I have been designing for fabric companies for ten years, it’s more fun than ever now, because Ellen and I create the collections together. Also, we are bringing a gift for the first 30 visitors–a DIY kit which includes everything you need to make a fun personalized embroidered pillow using the Cuteville fabrics … I bet you know a Best-In-Show baby that needs one!

Photos below are of Julianna making excellent kits. Thank you Jules, you are definitely the Blue Ribbon studio elf of Cuteville County.




See you in Houston.  And, for those who will be following the show through the blogosphere, we’ll be sure to report back next week.  Off to Cuteville.


June 28, 2013

SURTEX 2013: Lesson #4: The Most Important One

Posted by Cathy Heck

Lesson #4:  Make new friends.

Our favorite part of Surtex is meeting the people who live around us for four days.  Not only do we learn trade tips and tricks, but we have made life-long friends from our trade show seasons.


A new friendship at Surtex might start like this: “Oh my goodness, all of my artwork fell in the night, do you have any tape?” “Here are some Command Strips, they are much better.”  “Will you watch my booth while I just grab some coffee?” “Disney came by while you were away, and we signed a deal for you … is that okay?”

No matter how the friendships start, they are lasting.  Here are some of the new and old friends who were living near our Little Big Top this year, deep in the heart of Surtex.


We were delighted when we arrived to see that the Surtex staff had moved our neighbors from last year to the very same corner to which we were moved.  Right across the aisle were Elliott, Sherry and Debbie of the Debbie Taylor-Kerman team.  Not only did we get to hear Debbie’s wonderful Scottish accent for three days, but we loved being near her husband, Elliott, who still makes us feel starstruck because … well, you will have to read about him here!


When we first saw Debra Jordan Bryan walk in, we were in awe … she was wearing high shoes!  We are so very impressed with artists who can stand in their booths for three whole days with high shoes. Then it turned out that she was not only fashionable, but very talented … and adorable.  When clients weren’t clamoring to meet both of us, we were able to visit and learn that we had so much in common … well, except trade show shoes. CathyHeckStudio_SurtexFriends4

Across the aisle was Sheila Meehan, who is an agent for a great group of artists, and lucky for them, because Sheila is one of those people that you just want to be around.  She is fun and funny.  Sheila has also been in the design licensing business about the same amount of time as we have … which is basically since it began, so it was fun to compare notes and reminisce about the old days now that we’re both so wise.


The team from Roaring Brook Art was catty-cornered across from us, which really made our corner feel upscale and elegant, because their booth had the feeling of an inviting living room. I hope they weren’t concerned when they saw that a bunch of loud circus clowns were moving into the neighborhood.


Ed Miller, who was new to Surtex, was across from us and his booth was as cheerful and fun as he was.  We knew we were going to love him, when he stayed for booth set-up as long as we did (which was loooong) making awesome paper garlands from his great juvenile patterns.


And last, but not least, a fellow Austinite!  Samantha Stevens is the licensing agent for Terri Puma Design.  When we were introduced, we learned that  (1) Samantha was from Austin and (2) Terri has a child at Colorado State where we have a child.  And then it turned out that (3) Samantha has a child that played lacrosse against my child.  We were both lacrosse moms!  It just doesn’t get any small-worlder than that.


So these are the new and old friends that lived near the Little Big Top, USA for three days. During those few moments between signing big deals, we were able to share photoshop tips, copyright info, organization ideas, and even camp stories.

We feel very lucky to be part of an industry full of artists and agents who are so willing to share and support each other, and also just so ding dang fun. (See! I learned that great expression from our booth neighbor and dear new friend, Debra Jordan Bryan. You never know what you might learn at Surtex.)




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