Craft Tips:

Here are some gathered up tips and ideas to save time, money, and effort on your next craft adventure.


Instead of buying a plastic paint palettes:  
  • The clear plastic acetate casing of many items is perfect for paint, as it can be washed off, and often the recessed shape allows for water and mixing without anything dribbling off the sides. 
  • Yogurt lids, or any malleable plastic lid for that matter, also work well.  They are flexible enough you can usually peel the dried paint right off when you are done. 
  • Coated ceramic tiles are great for watercolor or anything where you need a lot of space for small, detail paint blends and water-blends.  


Here are some great resources for free (or almost free) paper and patterned papers:
  • Consider all the magazines that you get in the mail (for free, if you are doing it right!) This is AWESOME FREE PATTERN PAPER - consider: 
    • Taking sections from large photos provides colors without necessarily showing what the original item was. 
    • Taking many pieces of similar colored sections of magazine pages (consider an inchie punch) and putting them together creates an awesome mosaic of one, two, or every color. 

  • Insides of envelopes have all sorts of neat patterns on the inside, sometimes in different colors, to prevent people from reading through the envelopes.  This can be used as pattern paper on their own, or dressed up with any kind of colored pencil, marker, watercolor, chalk, etc, for some truly unique paper.
  • Many heavyweight flyers or cards that come to you as advertising make great paper scraps of color and pattern.  I usually cut out the largest sections of word free paper into rectangles, then add these to my paper scrap bags. 
  • I find the amount of unclaimed printed on office paper at my work daunting - so many wasted pages.  If there is no personal info/numbers/etc on the papers, feel free to take these home and dress them up with your own inks, paints, dyes, colored markers/pencils/chalks/etc.
  • Print off your own patterned paper from all sorts of FREE downloads from the internet.  People love making 'just the right' paper for their projects and then often share these online.  It costs a little ink, but reuse office paper and it's still less than the 10cents a piece at the scrapbooks store for a custom piece of paper.
  • Make your own paper with recycled shredded paper, dryer lint, and bits of whatever else you can find.  These come out in a variety of color and texture depending on how you go about making it. 
  • Save the tissue paper from those gift bags, shoe boxes, or other items you receive.  These are great for small craft projects, card making, flowers, or any of the many light and pretty projects tissue paper can make.  
  • Hobby Lobby, the Dollar Tree, and other stores sometimes have really pretty tissue paper that they use for rolling up breakable items.  I sometimes ask for a piece unused from their pile when it is a particularly striking marble pattern. 


Make the most of the markers you buy by giving them a longer life:
  • Keep markers alive longer by storing them tip DOWN, so the ink always goes to the nib where you want it.  
  • Make sure their lids are on TIGHT. 
  • If a marker is dried out (the tip is hard and/or dry though the marker has ink), consider:
    • For dried out water-based markers, the kind with thick, felty tips, you can bring it back by inserting a hyperdermic needle with a syringe full of water into the marker - push the needle up through the felt and slowly and carefully plunge in the water, giving time for the water to absorb into the felt and air bubbles to push out.  
    • Sharpie colored markers are alcohol based, and you can use a little rubbing alcohol in a cap to let the tip of the marker soak in until you see ink swirling out.  Replace the cap and wait 15 minutes for it to soak up and redistribute the colorant. 
    • Dry-erase markers are often alcohol based, so use the same method as with the sharpie markers to revive dried out dry-erase markers.  Also, consider filing or snipping the tip of the dry erase marker, as sometimes the tip just gets gummed up.  
    • Prismacolor and Copic markers are alcohol based - but with a higher grade alcohol than plain old rubbing alcohol.  To revive, use a stronger, finer paint solvent like denatured alcohol (77% Ethyl Alcohol).  For Prismacolor, I've seen people use a small diabetic hyperdermic needle to insert into the thick and thin felt tip ends, releasing the alcohol like the water above (SLOW!)  For copic markers, I've read about people able to remove the tips and soak them in blender solution/denatured alcohol.  A great post on keeping up Copic markers is here...

Wood Bits:

Though wood isn't used in our day-to-day as often as it used to be, it is still more common than one thinks.  Here are the ways wood scraps might find you and what to do with them:
  • Chopsticks/toothpicks saved up over time equal a nice project stash. Sand to remove any food/staining.
  • Corndog / Popsicle sticks saved up are easily re-purposed.  Just sand to remove any food/staining.
  • Ice cream or samples "single serve" woodsie spoons are fun shapes for miniatures, dolls, paper craft embellishments, etc.
  • Wood shavings from pencils can be interesting to add to art or for certain miniature works.  
  • Cedar chips from those with pets (don't reuse these AFTER being in the animal's cage, though!) make good sachet fillers.
  • Pencil nibs cut into rounds are awesome tiny hexagons and circles just looking for a place to belong, on colored pencils they are quite colorful, too!
  • Construction sites' dimensional lumber cut offs/scraps are a great place to collect wood for blocks, art projects, small woodworking or house projects, and more. 
  • Wood shims, wood shingles, wood slates from construction projects are also obtained on sites, and can be used for various purposes in wall art, outdoor projects, and more.
  • Look around wood working tools at friends' shops for small bits/scraps of wood that you can utilize.  Make sure to take only true scraps!  Wood dowels, caps, biscuits and similar items may look like scraps but can be expensive in small quantities for your friends. 
  • Broken clothespins, wood buttons, wood rings, and wood beads, etc may show up in your laundry room, and should be squirreled away for the miniature maker or scrapbook-embellishment master.
  • Consider wood untreated by man- a wood stick from outside, a branch, logs.  These can be cut down into cookie slices, shaped like flowers in a vase, or used like lumber depending on how busy you want to get.
  • Not so common now that they are fashionable, you will still find the occasional old wood spoons, wood bobbins/spools, or wood cutting board/wood bowel floating around with no purpose.  Give it one! 
  • Those singular or group items we instantly recognize - wooden 'nickels', wood bingo pieces, scrabble pieces - these are crafter's embellishing gold.  Find them cleaning out closets and game board shelves.  
  • We don't think of it, but cork is wood - from wine corks to cork tiles to cork boards and coasters, this material is pretty useful in a variety of crafting purposes. 

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