The JOY of our first in-person Cartonnage Retreat - Colorway Arts

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The JOY of our first in-person Cartonnage Retreat

When you LOVE so much what you do that you can barely wait to wake up so you can start doing it again… it’s not a work, it’s a blessing, it’s  love, is pure fulfillment, it’s God guiding and acting through us just as life is supposed to be….. pure LOVE!

And that’s me, Claudia, a person who has been guided and blessed way beyond any imagination. 10 years ago, I was trying to overcome depression, trying to find a purpose for my life and learning how to speak English, a language of the Country we decided to move and start a new life, not only to be able to offer our kids a different experience and opportunities, but also a place where may be I could find my way of life…. and oh my… I DID find my way of life!

I’m very emotional today, because this past weekend was one of the most special I can remember (and I’m literally with tears in my eyes now). Why? Because we had our first amazing in-person Cartonnage Retreat, and I simply don’t have enough words to describe…. it’s all deep in my heart…. ( some things are just meant to fell, not to describe)....It was connection, it was friendship, it was LOVE! 40 of us were there having lots of fun gluing fabric and making the special box I designed for this event, but it wasn’t only that…. Most of them are in my life for a long time, some started making boxes with me when it was hard to understand what I was saying…. Some of them are with us in the Club since the beginning, some started a few months ago… and it was if we had been always connected. I can barely believe that all of this JOY that was just a dream in my mind and heart a few years ago was now a reality, a beautiful reality to be inside us, as a sweet memory for years to come…. I’m so thankful to had the opportunity to deeply feel that we are creating a beautiful community, and why not so say a beautiful Family!!  A family of Joyful cartonnage lovers!

THANK YOU so much for all of you that came and made this even so wonderful! I know many more would love to join us and couldn’t, thank you to you too, because all your support and friendship means a lot to me, help me to keep my creativity going on more and more, and I hope I can also see you another time.  I’m always excited to create a new project and share all the JOY with you all, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Here are some of the pictures and details of this amazing weekend having fun gluing fabric:

Our Retreat happened in a beautiful Retreat Center called "Camp Geneva" in Holland, MI. Great facility, we had about 40 ladies in the class, and with the help of camera, microphone and some other teachers helping, the class worked just like a charm.... no one was left behind, everyone went home with a wonderful handmade chest to be SO proud of it!


If you are not familiar with cartonnage, it's the "art of box making" and my favorite way is making the projects, covered in fabric, but with no sewing required,  so, we spent the weekend having tons of fun gluing fabric and making those unique "Fabric Wonder Chests".

We had about 10 h of fun gluing in two days, and some of the ladies even stayed late night making the drawers and tray, as in our class we focused in making the chest the best we could. Drawers and tray are super easy, and they all have now great video tutorials I recorded previously so they can take their time at home and finished at their own pace. 

Now let's talk about fabrics.... oh my.... it's amazing how many wonderful fabrics were chosen by our ladies to make their chests....delightful to see! And even the chest being the same, the boxes just look so amazingly different and unique with those wonderful fabrics... if you are with me for some time you know we all say that our hard decisions on Cartonnage is choosing what fabric to use in each part of the project, and they all did a wonderful job.... it's impossible to have a favorite box, as they all are so beautiful. Some of them even have used panels (what I think this box is perfect for!), look at just some of them placed inside the lids of the boxes... isn't that a wonderful use of fabric panels? 

Look at just some of the boxes in progress.... if you are not a cartonnage lover (YET!) let me tell you that the masking tape is a temporary part of the process... it's always removed in the following day.

And a few more.....

Wow! There were so many beautiful boxes there! I couldn't take pictures of all of them and now they are posting on our Facebook group Cartonnage Fabric boxes(feel free to join us there and be part of this great family of cartonnage lovers). With time more and more pictures will be added there for our inspiration!

And just some more.... make sure to join our Facebook Group to see more and more!

And the Retreat wasn't JUST this class.... we had extra classes! My trained teachers Jill Simanek and Vicki Moser taught two extra classes on Saturday, cartonnage beginners were able to go home with 2 finished boxes in one day! Fantastic! 

And on Sunday morning Lynn Hodge and Joyce Gitter taught two other amazing classes. Lynn Hodge guided the group with many creative ideas to use Scan N Cut (or other cutting machine) to embellish our cartonnage projects as well as painting fabric.... and Joyce had a great class for making and embellishing paper/fabric albums... (I personally took that class and have great ideas in my just stay tuned!)

We had lots of fun in this Retreat, and they are all sweet memories that will be in our hearts for years to come....

We even had a bus trip to see my new local shop in Grand Haven and we enjoyed the beautiful view of the Lake Michigan... it was a little cold, but the view was amazing! One of the participants had her morning walk on the beach every day and she was gifted to see a Bald Eagle.... isn't that just amazing?

Well, as I said in the beginning, some things are hard to describe and this event was really meant to be felt.... deep inside our hearts! I will never be able to THANK YOU  every and each one of you enough for coming and making this amazing dream a wonderful reality!

I can barely wait to start planning our next one, as I'm already missing you!! 

 And if you couldn't come to this event, but still want to make the Fabric Wonder Chest, I have good news.... will be a special online course to make this project coming soon, and that can be a unique opportunity for you to also feel the JOY of making this box, but in your house, even your pj's and on your own pace! Members of the Cartonnage Club as always will have special discount to join, but you can enroll even if you are not a member. So, stay tuned, you can join our newsletter on our website,  and be the first to know:

A HUGE thank you to my family and our ColorWay Arts team that was so supportive and helped making this event a great success!!

I will love to hear from you, let me know if you are excited to come to our next Retreat or to make this Fabric Wonder Chest!

God Bless you! Stay positive, keep gluing and I will see you pretty soon!

Much love,


15 Responses

Pat Frieman

February 23, 2023

This was absolutely the BEST retreat I have ever been to. Well planned and executed and the facility was excellent.
I’m so sad to hear that there will not be a 2023 in person retreat. I hope I’m mistaken!
Please don’t drop the idea of an in person retreat for the future!
Thank you for all of your hard work, Claudia.

Joyce Gitter

August 03, 2022

What a joy to meet Claudia in person instead of on a screen! And it was so nice to meet other cartonnage lovers; everyone was friendly and happy to be there. The location, classrooms, meals, lodging was wonderful ; Claudia’s teaching was excellent as usual, well-paced so no one was left behind. The Wonder Chest project was amazing! And the trip to her store was a delight. It’s Claudia’s love for the art of cartonnage, her careful planning and attention to detail that made this event a success! Make every effort to attend next year!


August 03, 2022

There are not enough words in any vocabulary to express all of the blessings we received at this (too short) weekend retreat. Everyone who came as a stranger, left as a new friend. This was so well organized, beautiful surroundings, encouragement, inspiration & education at every turn… Claudia’s shop is beautiful… Thank you Claudia for inviting us all in your journey & giving us opportunity to be a part of your very first cartonnage retreat💕 I can hardly wait for next time💕

Chenelle Plyler

August 03, 2022

Oh Claudia, you hosted the perfect retreat. I traveled home excited and refreshed after meeting so many wonderful ladies and making a true work if art! THANK YOU!!!!


August 03, 2022

Thanks for coming out, Claudia!

Lilette Autrey

August 03, 2022

I can tell by the photos with the big smiles on the ladies’ faces that you had a great time with this beautiful assembly at the retreat . Happy that it was a big success because we all know that you have worked hard for this specially setting out your new shop at the same time. You deserve a good rest after all this Claudia , it will be a well deserved one. It is a good idea to have one online retreat . Those far or overseas can enjoy it too. Well done Claudia . You are the best organiser

Linda Lupton

May 25, 2022

What a joy it is to know Claudia, from her early journal cover classes to this masterpiece of a project. Her designs are so ingenious, meticulous and well thought out. And her teaching skills, combined with her sense of humor and candor make the classes a pure joy. I also enjoyed the additional class that Lynn Hodge taught, so many ideas, what a creative, inspirational woman. So happy and still basking in the glow from this wonderful experience.

Marla David

May 25, 2022

Your heartfelt message is so beautiful, Claudia. Thank you for sharing your charming self so openly with us all. It was no accident that this retreat was so much fun with all of the effort you put forth to make it so! All of your hard work and attention to every little detail did not go unnoticed. And what a special treat to have a personalized gift box filled with so many treasures awaiting us as we entered. Your shop is so quaint and lovely and what a special joy to be able to experience it in person. Thank you so much for all that you and your husband and staff did to make this happen. A forever memory. YES! Encore please!

Bev Gordon

May 25, 2022

I would love to make this chest box I’m not a paid member I’m in Australia my husband would cut the MDF wood that I use. I would be absolutely interested in making this. Love the chest box. Bev. Thank you Claudia for the chance.


May 25, 2022

Please let me know when the zoom class is scheduled Thanks!

Kim Harrington

May 24, 2022

Sheer happiness to see all of those students looking so excited and satisfied with their new treasure and boxes, etc.!!! Somehow you managed to get 40 people to complete this amazing project with no chaos ensuing LOL 😂 I am impressed, as I know what it is like to get just a handful of women to listen and learn. I would have loved to be there. It looks like a great place to do a retreat and to enjoy the lake. Congratulations Claudia! I have a feeling this will be the first of many ❤

Niki Jorgensen

May 24, 2022

I can’t wait for the next one – being there live instead of watching Claudia on a computer screen was fantastic. She thought of every detail and the facility was perfect for this event. And visiting her store was the highlight of the weekend! I’m awaiting my stuff to arrive as I was flying and of course bought too much to pack! Meeting everyone in person will make our ZOOM meetings so much more fun…it was delightful getting to know my fellow crafters. Thank you Claudia for putting your heart and soul into this, as it was truly a memorable event!


May 24, 2022

It looks like everyone had a fantastic time! I hope to attend the next retreat.

Donna Duff

May 24, 2022

The retreat was excellent!!!! I can’t say it enough!!! This blog is BEAUTIFUL, Claudia, including all the pictures!!! It couldn’t have gone any better. I sure hated leaving on Saturday night, but I was not feeling well, but I got my box done at home, even when feeling awful. Cartonnage actually took my mind off my earaches for four hours.

Debra Waters

May 24, 2022

Such a wonderful cartonnage retreat—could not have been better. Beautiful location, fun and inspiring projects, opportunity to meet friendly fellow cartonnage aficionados, visit to Claudia’s amazing new shop, and the joy of meeting Claudia and her family, although after all the video tutorials and zoom meetings I was not meeting a stranger. Thank you so much, Claudia, and I look forward to the next retreat!

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