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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Basic Craft Supplies: What I Keep on Hand All the Time

As a constant crafter, there are certain "consumable" supplies I try to keep on hand at all times. Here are a few of my basic "go to" supplies. If I have these items, a recycled cereal box, and Netflix, anything is possible!

For starters, you always want to have a clear drying white glue on hand. My absolute favorite basic white glue is Aleene's Original Tacky Glue. It is affordable and dependable. It grabs fast, so you don't have to wait a long time for glue to dry. I usually buy the eight ounce size (here is an affiliate link to the product:  ALEENES 15599 All Purpose Glue, 8-Ounce).

Lately, I've been thinking I should just go ahead a buy the gallon size bottle -- it's actually a great deal on Amazon. Here is an affiliate link for that, if you want to try it: Aleene's Orignal Tacky Glue 128oz.

I still use regular white school glue for many projects, but for anything that needs to "grab" quickly, I reach for Tacky Glue.

Another staple in my craft supply stash is paintable Elmer's Wood Glue. I've tried many other brands, and always return to this one. I use wood glue for building three-dimensional items out of cardboard, such as putz houses, models, and holiday ornaments. It doesn't set up fast, but the bond is super strong. Wood glue does not dry clear, so it is really only appropriate for projects that will be painted, or decoupaged, or similarly covered. I will sometimes paint a light coat of wood glue over a cardboard or chipboard blank, to seal it and harden it.

Here is an affiliate link:  Elmer's E7020 Carpenter's Wood Glue, 16 Ounces.  If you have space to store larger sizes of glue, the one gallon bottle is a great value. Here is that affiliate link: Elmer's E7050 Carpenter's Wood Glue, 1 Gallon. You can also find Elmer's wood glue at hardware stores and some discount stores.

My all time favorite decoupage medium is matte Mod Podge. It's great for sealing paper projects. It has some thickness to it, and seems to sit on the surface more than other brands. A few years ago I was in an art show in Seattle, but did not have access to any of my original renderings because we were in the middle of a move and our stuff was in storage. I was able to print color copies of my work and Mod Podge the pieces to mat board. Once the pieces were dry, I went back in with more Mod Podge and a brush and made brush marks, following the stroke marks of the renderings. The results were beautiful -- the Mod Podge did not significantly alter the colors, and the brush strokes lent a "high end" feel to the pieces.

Here is an affiliate link for Mod Podge:  Mod Podge CS11302 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish. If you decoupage a lot, and have the storage space, the gallon size is a good value. Here is that affiliate link: Mod Podge CS11304 1-Gallon, Matte

Another decoupage medium I love is Beacon Adhesive's Fast Finish Decoupage Sealer. It is a sealer and bonder, all-in-one. I like it because it dries very fast and hard. It is also very thin and seems to penetrate the item you are gluing down. Sometimes Mod Podge looks thick, so if you want a subtler decoupage medium, this may be exactly what you are looking for. It is a little more expensive than Mod Podge, but you don't use more than a few drops, since it is thin. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes indispensable.

It is a little hard to find -- here in Seattle I can sometimes find it at Pacific Fabrics. Here is an affiliate link to the product through Amazon: Beacon Adhesives Fast Finish Decoupage Sealer, 8-Ounce.

Gesso! I love gesso and use lots of it. Gesso is great for priming canvases and so much more. I use gesso to prime and seal recycled cardboard for painted Christmas ornaments, and for many other mixed media projects. I also use it for paperclay and wood pulp clay and paper mache projects. In a pinch, I've made my own using talc, but I am pretty pleased with this acrylic gesso from ProArt. It is very affordable and gets the job done.

Here is an affiliate link: Pro-Art 16-Ounce Premium Gesso Canvas Primer. If you have enough room to store the 64 ounce size, the economy gesso is a terrific value. Here is that affiliate link: Pro-Art Economy Gesso Canvas Primer, 64-Ounce. You can also find Pro-Art Gesso at most large craft stores.

Dimensional Magic is another favorite. I don't use it as often as the other items, but it's great to have on hand for paper jewelry projects, or to add a "domed" glossy effect to other projects. I seal my projects first, using decoupage medium, then add the dimensional magic. One thing I have learned, is that you must set your items on a perfectly level surface while waiting for the Dimensional Magic to harden, or the surface can end up being a bit lopsided. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it takes quite a bit longer to dry (days), but patience pays off with a hard glossy surface.

You can find Dimensional Magic at most large craft stores. Here is an affiliate link to the product on Amazon: Plaid Mod Podge Dimensional Magic Glue.

I seem to use copious amounts of gold Folk Art paint. It's cheap, it comes in various gold colors (silver is great, too), and it can add a nice finishing touch to projects. I keep it on hand all the time. You can find similar craft paints at large craft stores and discount stores and online. I also keep other colors on hand, but if I run out of purple or blue, the world won't end. I'm not so sure that would be the case if I ran out of gold....

For painting gold on leather, I like Lumiere Bright Gold. It grabs the leather and has a rich luster. There are lots of beautiful Lumiere paint colors, but Bright Gold is the one I keep on hand all the time. Here is an affiliate link to that product: Jacquard Lumiere Metallic Acrylic Paint 2.25 Ounces-Bright Gold

Foam craft brushes. I keep these on hand always. They are great when you need quick smooth coverage, or when you don't want to use your nice brushes, or when you are working with a product that is difficult to wash out, or when you just don't have time to wash your brushes. I actually do wash my foam brushes out -- most of the time -- and often get several uses out of them. They are especially good for squishing paint into awkward nooks and crannies in furniture projects. You can buy these singly, or in multi-packs in just about any craft store, hardware store, discount store or dollar store.  I don't usually use foam brushes for decoupage, as a I find they create tiny bubbles in the medium, but I do use them for most types of paint. I will sometimes use foam brushes for primer and base coats, then switch to a nicer brush for finish coats.... or not, depending on how lazy I'm feeling.

My newest bff is PC-Petrifier. Here is an affilliate link, if you want to check it out: PC Products PC-Petrifier Water-Based Wood Hardener, 16 oz Bottle, Milky White.

Although it is intended for hardening rotted wood, this is great for hardening paper jewelry projects. I learned about the product from the YouTube channel Beyond Bracelets. She uses them for rolled paper beads, but I have also used wood petrifier on flat cardboard jewelry projects. It definitely darkens and intensifies the colors in your papers, so test it first. Here in the Pacific Northwest, you just never know when you're going to get wet, so I was thrilled to discover this product! Although I'm not sure I would swim in paper jewelry hardened with this product (why tempt fate?), I have placed "petrified" paper jewelry components under running water, and perceived no change in the item. I do recommend doing several coats. For flat projects, use a brush to apply, for rolled paper beads, check out Beyond Bracelets for some great tips.

As with all products, wear gloves if necessary, and follow package instructions for use and handling.

I hope this list of products was helpful to you! These are the products I buy again and again and again. Some of the products are typical "craft" products, some are not.

Do you have favorite supplies that you use all the time? I would love to know what your favorite products are, so please share in the comments section!

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To see how to make your own paper bead roller to use with that PC-Petrifier, click here.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

How to Decorate With Zinc

Don't you just love an old-fashioned kitchen work table with a zinc top? Zinc can feel charming or industrial -- or even a little bit of both!

You may feel like zinc is out of your price range, but you can add zinc accents to your space on any budget.

For a big splurge, you might use this vintage architect's table as a kitchen island. This table would be equally at home in a farmhouse kitchen or an industrial urban loft.

Anything with chippy goldenrod paint makes me giddy, but add a zinc top and I am in love.

If you can't find just the right vintage piece for your space, SDS Designs builds custom zinc topped tables!

You can even use zinc for you countertop material. The zinc countertops in this kitchen, from Country Living, are simply gorgeous.

Zinc countertops and tables may not be within your budget, and that's okay. You can add just a touch of zinc, with this boot tray, from Crate and Barrel.

You can organize your desk in style, with this zinc wire basket.

Keep track of incoming papers with this beautiful zinc-finished tray. I love that it has a surface on top to put a pen holder and a few office supplies. I'm pretty sure I NEED this!

I am a big fan of mail sorting baskets, and these are no exception. This first sorter would be perfect in the mudroom for school papers.


For an even smaller budget, I found these vintage Ball jars on Craigslist yesterday. I LOVE Craigslist. You can find vintage ball jars and Mason jars, with their original zinc lids in antique stores, on EBay, on Craigslist, and even at garage sales. They are a wonderful way to add storage to a kitchen or craft room.

Do you love zinc? Zinc lends such a warm patina to a space. I would seriously LOVE to have that chippy yellow table as my kitchen island, with lots of blue Ball jars for storage.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cool Stuff You Find When You Clean Out the Attic

Cleaning out the attic, as it turns out, is kind of fun. You find all this awesome stuff you forgot you had! You get all the happy brain chemicals you might get from shopping, without any of the remorse you get from spending money and bringing home more stuff. It's a win win!

It's kind of hard to go wrong! When I left off last week, we'd just spent one weekend unboxing and getting rid of stuff, and two weekends building and placing shelves and caulking all the places where the wind came in.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Make Pretty Jewelry From Paper Scraps

The other day I had a bunch of tiny paper scraps strewn around my dining table. The paper was left over from the Chinese New Year wreath project, and from the Chinese Paper Lantern project.

The paper scraps consisted of handmade papers, colorful deli papers, and Chinese red envelopes. The colors looks so pretty all jumbled up together, that I didn't have the heart to toss them in the waste bin. Does this happens to you? My husband suggested I may have a special kind of crazy, but I told him seeing beauty in mayhem is part of my charm. I'm not sure he was buying it....

In spite of the fact that it was already way past my bedtime, I snapped a quick cellphone shot of the papers, then grabbed a bottle of glue. I envisioned turning the pile of tiny scraps into pretty multi-media pendants.

Also sitting on my table was a pack of index cards, that I shared about in my $1.50 store post.

I grabbed two of the cards, and proceeded to glue the tiny scraps all over them. I just kept layering the papers on, occasionally dry brushing a bit of gold craft paint between layers. When all the papers were used up, I glued the two cards together, back to back, and brayed them down really well, so they would be nice and flat.

Then I grabbed a pair of old scissors and cut the card into rectangles. I wasn't worried about making them perfect. I rounded the corners a bit, then brushed some more gold paint around the edges.

The rectangles still needed "something", so I wrapped them all with strips of handmade paper.

Next, I hardened the rectangles by brushing several generous coats of wood petrifier over them (affilliate link: PC Products PC-Petrifier Water-Based Wood Hardener, 16 oz Bottle, Milky White).

This is where I ran into a little problem. Do you see how the strips of handmade paper, above right, are really dark? That's from the wood petrifier. The rectangles in the middle were only coated with Mod Podge, and they darkened a little, but not too much. The rectangles on the left have not been treated at all. After some thought, I decided to petrify all the rectangles, then go back and wrap another layer of handmade paper strips right on top of the previous wraps. Then I sealed the whole thing with Mod Podge. It all worked out in the end -- in fact, I love the extra dimension the little rectangles have now!

I definitely love how the wood petrifier soaks into the paper and hardens it -- living in the pacific Northwest, you never know when you're going to get caught in the rain -- but you will always want to test it to see if it darkens your paper too much.

To turn the rectangles into jewelry, I grabbed some thin craft wire and some beads from a couple of broken vintage necklaces.  I simply wrapped the wire around the rectangles, and occasionally threaded a bead through the wire.

I LOVE how the paper and wire and beads look together! I made several pendants, and even made a set of earrings.

For the earrings, I gently bent the paper rectangles while they were still a bit damp from the wood petrifier.

I could not have been more thrilled with how these pieces turned out! You do not need any special tools to do this --just an old pair of cheap scissors. I cut the wire with the old cheap scissors (don't use your good fabric scissors), and wrapped and twisted it with my fingers. On a scale of one to five, this projects requires a skill level of one!

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