Last month I started a discussion about some of the tools I own for my obsession...um, hobby. The first part of the conversation was about tools that I purchased and could probably do without. What I did wrong, if you will. Well, I'm happy to say that I did make a lot of excellent purchasing decisions, too. I have some tools that are time savers, some that allow for special techniques and some that I use every single time I sit down at my craft table. Do I think every rubber stamper/crafter needs them? Yes and no. Yes, you need to have tools that are of good quality and allow you to make the art that you want to create. No, I don't think you need these exact items. I just think that I do.
I was lucky enough to receive the largest size cutting mat that Michael's sells for Christmas one year. (Okay, it wasn't really luck. I cut out the 40% off coupon, grabbed my husband and made him buy it for me.) It's really big and covers over half of my table. It's from the sewing department in Michael's and it has ruler measurements and other kinds of cutting templates which don't mean anything to me. I could cut on it since that's what it's for but it is so pretty that I can't bring myself to do it. I use it mostly as a table protector and it has saved my table from a couple of major spills.
I have a Fiskars 12x12 cutting mat that I use for making my cards. It's mapped out in quarter inch lines. I use this mat every day with my handy Xacto knife to make most of my cards, cut out embellishments and sometimes just to check that a panel really is square. The back side is shiny and is wonderful for messy projects that need to be painted or for decoupage. I just pick up the whole mat and move it aside to let projects dry.
There are so many fancy types of scissor on the market that are supposed to be geared to certain kinds of crafts. Do you know what the best scissors are? The best pair of scissors are the ones you can grasp comfortably and firmly and use for long periods of time. I have one pair of standard household 8" scissors that I bought 10 or 15 years ago. They serve me well. I can cut small images with them because with the wide handles I have good control. I can cut cardboard and plastic, tissue paper and tape all with the same pair. I just keep a bottle of Goo Gone near the sink and clean off the sticky residue from time to time. I wouldn't replace them with any of the fancy pairs out there.
I have several Xacto knives. I have been through cheapies that break or where the blades loosen as you cut. Go for a quality knife and keep a supply of blades on hand. Just like kitchen knives, sharp blades prevent injuries! I keep a couple on my table because just like pencils, I tend to misplace them while I'm working.
I have a basic Fiskars paper cutter. It doesn't have a fancy laser or light attached. It's just a rotary blade that makes my life easier when I am cutting a high volume of paper like when I make my Christmas cards. I prefer to use my mat & knife but I don't want my arm to fall off, ya know?
It's hard to be creative when you spend all your time rummaging around in desk drawers for the right color marker or a glue stick. Keep your favorites at hand and make your life easier.
Whether you use it most for embossing, spot drying or stripping paint you need to have a quality tool that you can rely on. I love my Marvy! I've had it from the beginning. It heats evenly and is comfortable to hold. It also has a built-in safety stand. Mine has a home in an aluminum can so that I can put it back on the desk even when it's hot.
I have an awesome halogen lamp that has two light settings. It is adjustable and has a wide base to keep it from moving. You have to be able to see what you're doing when you are working up close. Plus the halogen is very warm and keeps my fingers toasty in the cold basement where my craft room is! Invest in a good lamp. You'll thank me.
If you use ink pads at all in your crafts I recommend buying a reinker for each one. Moist stamp pads work best. These little bottles are worth their weight in gold.
I like the look of the paper sorting towers. How cute to be able to see my colored paper out in the open, right? How cute is it when your paper fades? I have all of my paper in hanging files sorted by color or pattern. Yeah, I have to take a few minutes at the beginning of a project to pull what I want, but I know it's all going to be the same shade. My 12x12 is in a plastic cart designed for scrapbookers because I can't find a file cabinet that can accomodate it. Yet.
COMPUTER WITH SCANNER
I love making the inside sayings for my cards on my computer. I have a Print Shop program that allows me to print the perfect size to go in my cards. I have rubber stamps with sayings on them like everyone else does, but I don't like being limited. My own sense of humor is so corny that I can't always find stamps that say what I want. It also allows me to personalize the saying. And I keep a scanned copy of everything in my computer portfolio. I can recreate designs I've made years ago (or avoid them).
PERSONAL ITEMS FOR COMFORT
Let's face it. We can spend hours in our crafting space. Be sure you have the little touches that will make you comfortable while you work.
I have a TV/VCR/DVD. I can watch regular TV, movies or pop in a project tutorial. I have a boom box - yes, I know they aren't called that anymore but I'm a dinosaur - so I can listen to music or a book on tape.
I love my mug warmer. I get so involved in what I'm doing that without it I would be drinking cold coffee every day and who wants that? I also have the worlds best drink caddy. It's called and Octopus and is in the automotive section of your local store. There are arms inside of it which keep even narrow glasses from tipping but it also has a cut out for a mug handle. And it holds BIG glasses!
AND FINALLY...DIE CUT/EMBOSSING MACHINE
I will admit that this used to be on my list of things I thought I would never buy. Last year I went on a weekend retreat and the woman at the next table had a Cuttlebug. (She had a LOT of fun looking scrapbook stuff.) Remember the advice from last time about trying equipment first? Well, I watched her for a day and then asked her to cut out some leaves for me out of my paper. I had fun with them. I had a lot of fun. I asked her questions about the machine and the different things she used it for and she was very helpful. After I got home I was still thinking about it. Then I found one at Meijer on clearance! I knew I was meant to have it. And I've been having fun ever since. I can't imagine what took me so long!
So, there it is. My two cents on the tools of the trade, so to speak. Now I'm going to go pick up that Xacto and get to work on some swap cards. If you like my blog you can leave a comment or click the little link at the bottom to follow me. Happy crafting!