These are Craft Tips that are all tested by me. I'm a real live, authentic crafter, with many years of trial and error experience. Here are the things that work and some that don't.
This Craft tips page has good advice, you just can't live without! Each month, I will add another tidbit, to make your crafting easier and more enjoyable.
With some craft projects, patience really is a virtue. If you don't have patience, at least have a husband that does. He can remind you to be patient, when you aren't. This will either be really helpful or just make you mad and more impatient. It will all depend on the mood you are in, at the time.
Let it dry!! More patience required. BLAH!! Glue needs to dry, paint needs to dry, paper mache needs to dry. This is not just good crafting advice. This applies to all sorts of things in life. Grass needs to dry before you can mow, hair needs to dry before you use the curling iron, the floor needs to dry, before you walk on it. The let it dry theme goes on and on. The January and February advice seem to go together. This still counts as two tips, Thank you very much.
Be patient, March isn't here, yet! haha. I'm trying to think up something really clever. I just need a little more time.
Okay, March is here, just barely. It happens to be 1:30 A.M. I knew that everyone was probably in a BIG hurry for this...
Use the right glue for the job. Hot glue doesn't work very well for outdoor projects. As soon as it gets hot outside the glue softens! I have a story about someone (I won't mention who) that repaired their sunglasses with hot glue. The glasses were left hanging from the sun visor in the car, on a hot day. Upon returning to the car later and reaching up to retrieve them, the only thing that remained, still hanging from the visor, was the arm of the glasses. Envisioning this, makes me laugh!
Solvent based glue doesn't work on foam.. it eats it.
There are times when silicone is actually a better alternative than glue for some projects. Crafters goop is silicone based. I don't consider it glue that is why it is called goop.
It isn't that helpful sometimes, to go by what it says on the back of the glue container. There always seems to be whole list of material that the glue will work for and it doesn't. Super glue is a wonder glue but it only seems super for gluing my fingers together!
Don't bother listening to instructions. Do your own thing, like using blue dye without gloves. You might as well walk around looking like a smurf for days afterwards. Why not?
This is closely related to wearing good clothes to do craft projects. Oh, I'm sure I won't get them messed up. I'll be careful.
I'm an April Fool. I reserve the right to be a fool but only for the month of April, then I promise to smarten up for the rest of the year. Well, maybe.
Take a break. Even though crafting is suppose to be enjoyable, sometimes it can get to be too much. If you are feeling tense or things aren't going right, have a rest. Come back later. Sometimes later can be an hour, a week or maybe even longer.
Already? Where did May go? Ready for my version of more craft tips? Now that the weather is getting better, it's time to make your craft projects, outside. You won't be stuck inside, missing the sunshine. If you are doing paper mache projects, the sun will help them dry faster. (Just don't forget and leave them out in the rain.)
This is also a good time to collect supplies for those nature crafts you have been wanting to do.
July: I have ended up with three burned fingers, from one misplaced glob of hot glue. Prevent burns when using a glue gun by holding the item you are gluing, with pliers. No more burned fingers!
Glue adheres better to unpainted surfaces. When working on a project, sand off painted areas where glue is going to be applied.
You can also use masking tape when painting, to cover an area that will need to be glued. Remove the tape after painting, to reveal the spot.
Glue seems to be quite a theme here. Who knew there would be so many craft tips all related to just that!
Keep notes in a key tab with different ideas you have, for projects you want to make. Use it for sketches and doodles too. If you have Crafters block, but still want to make something, you can refer to your notes.
Definition of Crafters block: My creative mind has decided to go on vacation and I'm drawing a blank.
Where are all those great ideas that pop into my head at 3:00 A.M? They may not be in my head at that moment but if I wrote them down, they aren't completely lost. Now, if I can only remember where I put that book!
When kids are crafting, avoid the temptation to help too much. This stifles creativity. It is amazing what kids can come up with when left to their own devices. No, I don't mean devices like the i pad, the i phone or the playstation. Have them put those away for an afternoon and get out the craft supplies.
Time for winter projects and possibly digging out supplies to use, left over from last year. Ever use snow tex? I opened mine up the other day, only to find that it had hardened. This doesn't make me very happy, especially since this stuff isn't exactly cheap. I put some water in the container and left it soak over night and much to my surprise, TA DA it was fixed. * This only works with Snow Tex, not other brands.
December: The best craft tips are the ones that make crafting easier. Here is one that does just that! When using fabric glue, use clothespins as mini clamps, to hold the material together, until the glue is dry.
Look Ma, no hands!
This worked well, when I put the trim on Santa's hat.
January 2015 Craft tips:
Don't despair, most crafting mistakes can be fixed. If they can't, SO WHAT!!? If that project really isn't working out, ask for input, from someone else. If that doesn't help, call it a loss cause and find something else to work on. Even craft wrecks have their place. People really seem to enjoy seeing someone else's failed creations and laughing at them. Sometimes, we need to not be so serious and learn to laugh at ourselves too. This crafting stuff is suppose to be fun, isn't it?
Go out of your comfort zone. Try something new. Take a class. I just went to the Tucson Bead show and attended polymer classes with Christi Friesen. This was definitely out of my comfort zone but so worth it!
I asked a certain someone for some help this month, coming up with a craft tip. Well, I got a whole bunch of tips to share with you, thanks to my hubby helper. Here we go: Don't run with scissors. Don't snort hot glue. Don't eat oven bake sculpey. If you need to know why exactly you shouldn't do these things, please contact 1-800-I should give up crafting.
Get inspiration from pinterest, facebook or other web surfing, but don't take others ideas and call them your own. Be respectful and remember to give credit, where it is due.
When sculpting a face, turn it upside down or hold it up to a mirror. It is a good way to see if the sides are symmetrical. Suddenly, that issue you may have been having but couldn't quite put your finger on, becomes more apparent.
Nothing puts a damper on creativity more than not being able to find something. It is annoying when you have to search for it. This ends up being a distraction. The craft project, you thought you were going to make, never actually gets done. Just ask me.
Be organized. Have a specific place for your craft supplies with items that are alike, grouped together. As soon as you buy something, find a spot for it. Make it easily accessible. Use craft boxes that are the same size, with labels on them. Put boxes in shelves, but stack only two high. Any more than that and they will be difficult to get at.
Now, I guess it is time to take my own craft tips advice and do some organizing. I would rather be crafting but I know in the long run, being organized is going to make me more productive.
July Craft tips:
The old saying "You get what you pay for" is highly overrated. I believe that is why sometimes you may think you are getting something better, by paying more and you actually aren't. Are big companies and name brands really giving you quality for that higher price? The only way to find out is through comparison with other brands. I have found that sometimes, no name is actually just as good or better.
Yes, I am a cheapskate and I like to find the best deal possible. I don't believe paying more will always get you more. When I see the proof, then I may loosen up the purse strings. It also depends on the situation. If you need a specific tool that you won't be using often, it may not warrant spending the extra money, even to get something better. Is that durability worth it? Is it necessary? Not always.
Recently I tested three different brands of craft paint. Craft Smart, Crafters Acrylic and Americana. Most of the time I use the cheaper brands without a problem. The project I am currently working on is a paper mache fire hydrant. The red paint in the Americana provides much better coverage, with fewer coats. Since it requires fewer coats than the other brands, the actual cost is probably not any more, even though the initial cost is higher. It will also take less time to complete my project. In this case, it is worth the extra money.
Craft tips for saving money on craft supplies: When buying craft supplies, try to use some money saving strategies. This doesn't necessarily mean always buying no name items or cheaper brands. Sign up with Michaels and get email coupons that can range from 20 to 30% off entire purchase, including sale times. They also regularly have coupons for 40 to 50% off one item. If you want to buy more than one thing, just do separate transactions.
If you have an Apple phone, some stores have an App that allow you to put items on a watch list. You will get a notification when they go on sale.
For me, saving money = being able to buy more craft supplies. Yippee!
So you want to age metal but you don't have the time to let nature do it for you. Did you know you can speed up the process? You can age metal using a mixture of vinegar and salt.
Did you know that you can use Elmer's® glue to create a crackle paint technique? Actually, here is a little secret... you can use any white glue that dries clear. Sorry Elmer!
October Craft tips:
Sorry, no anti aging tips here. Aging... Making things look old seems to be a popular subject these days. Too bad getting OLD wasn't as much fun. Want to make new wood look old? Soak steel wool in a mixture of water and vinegar. After a couple days, it can be applied to the wood, to make it look old and weathered. Could this be what is happening to me, while I sleep? I'm hiding the steel wool and vinegar!
Don't believe all the craft tips you read on Pinterest. Sometimes, I wonder if people have really tried some of the things they have posted or if it is just made up. Everything I post on my website is handmade and personally tested by me. If it isn't going to work, I find out and then I certainly don't post it.
Craft tip to prevent possible glue gun injury: My fingers somehow ended up getting hot glued. Ouch! I should have had a glass of water sitting nearby, to dip my hand in. Hot glue seems to take forever to cool down, when it is on your skin!
No matter how much I try and convince myself I am not going to make a mess, I ALWAYS do. The best, down and dirty craft tip? Prepare for the mess, even if you think you aren't going to make one. Use an old shower curtain, cheap plastic table cloth or a large sheet of cardboard, to protect your work surface.
You can get large flat pieces of cardboard from Costco. They are used on the pallets, in between the layers of grocery items. They are the perfect size for protecting your desk or countertop from damage. They also work well for making many craft projects, like this giant sized gingerbread garland cardboard craft.
February: Craft tips for parents:
Making crafts can be a good way for kids to develop hand, eye coordination, build self esteem and keep occupied, especially on rainy days. Remember to keep craft supplies stored safely out of reach of children. Even some items that may be perfectly fine for kids to use when supervised, shouldn't be left out, for them to get at on their own.
There is a whole long list of crafters items that can be dangerous to a child. First thought of course would be the obvious things like the glue gun, glues and solvents. (Although my hubby is a survivor of ingesting blue crayons and paste, with no ill effects. Well, I'm not so sure about the "no ill effects" part.) There are also the age dependant supplies like buttons, beads, pins etc.
What about something not quite so obvious? Did you know that even something like magnets, can be deadly? Those super strong magnets that are sold as a fun toy, have now been banned in some places, including Canada. Read about the problem with magnetic toys.
There are various recipes on the internet to make your own chalk paint. This is an inexpensive alternative to buying it ready made. You can add plaster of paris, baking soda or unsanded grout to ordinary latex paint. Have you tried any of these recipes on furniture to create a distressed look? What is your favorite?
Polymer clay craft tip: When baking polymer clay, use a thermometer to check the temperature of your toaster oven. Even a seemingly reliable toaster oven can suddenly go haywire and over bake your project. Ask me, I know. Another project bites the dust! Over baking polymer clay also produces toxic fumes. Always have good ventilation.
Flour, salt and water make a budget friendly glue used in Paper Mache. It resembles pancake batter. Store leftovers in the fridge but make sure it is in a marked container. This doesn't make good pancakes!
If you are working with air dry clay, make sure to have some plastic wrap and paper towel handy. Anyone with a family knows that as soon as you get started, there is bound to be an interruption of some kind. Have to drop everything before you are done? Keep the clay from drying out by covering it with a damp paper towel and a piece of plastic wrap.
Did you know you can make your own non slip, texture paint? It's easy! All you have to do is add a bit of sand to your paint, stir it up and it's ready. I used this technique on a cardboard pyramid model.
If you plan on making crafts to sell, don't expect to price items according to the amount of hours you put into them. Most of the time even bothering to try to calculate this out, will only cause a great deal of disappointment and possibly frustration. Unless you are a famous artist, you may discover that all your effort, works out to diddly squat per hour. Make craft projects because you enjoy it, not to make money. The process will be much more rewarding.
Hot glue doesn't have to be permanent. If you used the hot glue gun to glue something, but now it needs to come OFF, here is a nifty trick:
Use a heat gun or blow dryer to melt the glue. Once the glue is warmed up enough, whatever it is holding, will pull right off. I used this method on a pallet sign that held certificates. I wanted to remove them and put something different on the board. Works great!
After years of crafting, we all find our own way to do things. I may include craft tips that others don't agree with. This might be one, but it works for me.
Sewing thick material by hand can be difficult. Add slippery fingers to the mix and it is even harder. Here is a craft tip to help solve the problem...
A thimble can help to push the needle to get it started, then use pliers to get a better grip on the needle, to pull it through the material.
Make fire starters by melting paraffin wax and wax crayons together. Add a couple of drops of cinnamon oil. Dip pinecones into the wax, to coat.
The best part of the Holiday season are the delicious smells of gingerbread, peppermint, cinnamon and a fresh cut Christmas tree. Some craft projects smell yummy, like homemade scented pinecones and cinnamon ornaments.
Do you need to apply sealer to a project? There goes that nice Christmas smell, right out the window. Sealer STINKS! This time of year can make it impossible to apply it outdoors. It's TOO cold! In this case, the best choice is to buy a water based, paint on sealer. If that isn't suitable and you still must spray, place the item in a cardboard box, to prevent over spray. Open a window for ventilation and choose a low odor sealer.
It is easy to make your home smell like the holidays, without actually baking cookies, using overpowering smelly candles or harsh chemicals. Simmer two cups of water, a sliced up orange (including the peel), one teaspoon of allspice and a teaspoon of cinnamon, on the stove. You will have your house smelling like Christmas, in no time.
Happy New Year! It's winter and it is cold outside!
Working with Polymer clay can be difficult in cooler temperatures. It can be quite hard to condition, especially if you have arthritis in your hands. Put the clay in a ziplock bag and place in a bowl of warm water. (Not too hot.) This will help make it softer and more pliable.
Need wax for a craft project? It is expensive to buy at the craft store. Use paraffin wax from the grocery store and add color with paste food coloring.
Paper mache projects are fun but messy. Here are some craft tips, from the mess maker of all mess makers, to make clean up easier.
#1: Have all supplies rounded up before starting. Make sure to include extra water and old rags or paper towel.
#2. Use a cheap plastic table cloth over your work surface. Tape it down to hold it in place. Wipe when finished or if you are feeling lazy, throw it away.
#3: Don't try answering the phone or the door with gunky hands, that stuff gets all over. Have someone else to do it for you or decide the phone and the door aren't that important. How about hanging a do not disturb sign?
#4: When it is time to wash up, remove dried on paste from your hands by rubbing them together, inside a plastic bag or over the garbage can. Lots of the mess will crumble right off. Now, wash in a plastic dishpan filled with warm soapy water.
Hard clay can be difficult to work with, but so can clay that is too soft. I am finding out, the very hot Arizona weather can turn clay into a mushy, soft mess. If it is melting in the heat, try sticking it in the fridge for a few minutes to stiffen it up.
Do you have old masking tape that has lost the stickiness? Warm it up in the microwave and the sticky comes back!
Never underestimate the usefulness of making a craft project. It can be a great stress reducer, esteem booster and pain reliever. Try it and see for yourself!
Recycle plastic containers to use for painting.
Use the lid from a container. It makes a great palette, when you won't be using much paint. Need something that holds a bit more paint? Use a pudding container. Working on a Bigger project? Try a yogurt or margarine container.
There is always a suitable sized, Free container for the job!
Polymer clay that is old, will eventually get hard and crumbly, but it can still be salvaged. It can be rehydrated, using a liquid clay softener. Working it into the clay, can be really difficult. Usually, I get my hubby to do it, because he has strong hands and can squeeze WAY harder than I can.
For the really ancient old clay, even the Jolly Green Giant would have trouble conditioning, there are a few alternatives you may want to try.
The pasta machine can sometimes be used, but it won't work, if you can't flatten the clay enough to run it through.
A small food processor will work, but then it can't be used for chopping food, ever again.
The number one way to get that old clay conditioned, using an inexpensive tool, almost every household has? Beat the crap out of it, with a hammer. It turns the chore of salvaging dried out clay, into a really fun activity!!
September: The power of determination....
I hear all the time "Oh, I'm not creative. I'm not crafty. I have no talent." Seriously, there are many times that I could say those exact same things. The real difference is determination and the desire to create.
The only thing that stands in the way of creativity, is your attitude. Craftiness can be learned, if you have the interest. With the help of the internet and the zillions of tutorials available, it's possible to make craft projects, without having a lot of talent.
No more excuses, just make SOMETHING! You will be glad you did.
If you haven't done a lot of crafting, start with something simple, so you don't get discouraged. The more you do, the easier it gets. Soon, you will be moving on to bigger and better things. You will adapt and find your own special techniques.
Even as a long time crafter, if I take a hiatus, it takes a while to get back into the groove. Age, amplifies this problem. I sometimes find myself thinking... "How did I do that again?"
Usually, you think of procrastination as putting off getting started on a project. For me, the worst kind of procrastination is actually FINISHING. It's those tiny details that can turn a craft project from ordinary to extraordinary. My advice? When you get that close to completion, don't put it off. Get it done or you may NEVER do it!
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Featured Craft of the Month
polymer clay creations inspired by Christi Friesen