Whether you're an experienced crafter, a newbie or a wannabe - the world of craft products is endless and to be honest it can be a bit of a minefield. It's hard to know where to start!
As a self-proclaimed craftaholic (and shopaholic...) I have spent hours researching products and tools so thought it would be helpful to share my top 10 essential pieces of kit!
Obviously what you need (or in most cases 'want'), will totally depend on what type of craft you're planning, but there are a list of essentials that span pretty much every medium. So to help you out I've made a list of my top 10 general tools and supplies that I use most often.
It might sound a little obvious or even a bit mad but scissors are so important for almost every craft (sewing, embroidery, paper cuts, decoupage... the list is endless). Not only that, you'll probably find you need several different ones.
My absolute essentials include:
everyday scissors (a large and a smaller pair)
Fabric scissors (only for fabric!!!)
Scissors just for cutting sticky things
stork or precision scissors for detail and intricate cutting
I also have a whole set just for using in the kitchen (more to stop others using my craft scissors for food and packaging!)
Not scissors but having a craft knife/scalpel is another really useful tool to have in your cutting collection. But make sure to always put the safety catch back on!
2. Glue Gun
A glue gun is really a key piece of kit, I use it on a daily basis whether I’m making cards, personalising gift boxes, making hair accessories or decorating items. What is also awesome is that you can put coloured or glittery glue cartridges in it and use it for creating wax seals! Amazing for wedding invites or beautiful packaging.
If you're thinking about getting one for craft I would generally advise getting a mini size one as the nozzle is smaller and better for precision work. If you're doing wood work crafts you might want a bigger more powerful one. In fact make sure you check what the voltage is. If it's low the glue won't won't get as hot which means the glue cools more quickly and you may find that things fall off. I always make sure that they are at least 20V but be careful because it means they can get pretty hot! I would recommend getting a silicone heat mat for it too it will keep your table top protected.
3. Craft Mats
I am constantly taking my craft mats in and out of rotation and I keep different ones for different crafts. I like to use a tempered glass or self-healing mat for cutting a variety of materials. They stay smooth for longer and of course it protects your actual table top from being scored by a blade. It's one of those things that you only find yourself buying after you've caused some major damage to a table.... I use a silicone mat for the glue gun which comes off so easily once the bits try. I also like to have a separate messy mat for when I paint - this one is permanently covered in paint.
4. Double Sided Tape
This is such a cheap and simple piece of kit that can be so easily overlooked. Glue can be so messy and can leave marks. You can basically turn any paper or card into a self adhesive sticker. So I often back my card with the tape before I put it in the die cutter. It makes intricate cuts so easy to stick down which otherwise would be super fiddly.
5. Craft Tweezers
I have a whole selection of tweezers that I constantly use. The two pairs I use the most are a super pointy pair (they are actually surprisingly sharp so you have to be very careful with them, I have accidentally cut myself so many times) and a slightly wider blunt pair. The first pair are really handy for small and intricate crafts when your fingers tips are just too big - you can also use them as a pokey tool so they're great for weeding vinyl and papercuts! But remember just like you would with scissors, wipe them down after each use to keep them going for longer!!
The slightly bigger ones are great for peeling off double sided tape, washi stickers and separating napkins. It also means you can keep everything really clean and pristine. It's inevitable that you'll end up with paint, glue or ink on your hands, and there is nothing more frustrating than finding an ugly thumb print on your beautiful work!
6. Paint Brush Set
A decent set of brushes is key! I use then all the time, for painting and priming, decoupaging, gluing and water colour. Of course you can buy a brush for everything but if you're starting out or want more of an all purpose brush go for a set of synthetic nylon brushes. All you really need is a small, medium and large.
This is one thing that I wouldn't get on the cheap though, as my husband always says to me "pay once - cry once". A decent set of brushes can really last you years if you look after them properly! If you end up with cheap brushes they are often poor quality, the bristles can fall out (leaving you with a balding brush and bristles stuck to your work), not to mention they may quickly crack, fray or go hard. I recently bought a lovely Martha Stewart set of x5 brushes which have been fab.
7. White Primer
One of my craft hacks is to always have a large bucket of white paint primer on hand. It is so much better value for money than constantly buying small tubes of acrylic white paint. I find that I paint most things white before I add colour or decoupage. I then sand it smooth to get a really lovely base which makes for a great finish later. I am always surprised how quickly I get through it too. Start off with a small pot and if you find you're going through it like I do,- go for the big 2.5L!!!
8. Double Sided Foam
These come in all shapes and sizes which is brill although I don't recommend the the double sided foam tape. I find that they are super sticky and you just end up with the adhesive all over your scissors - which is basically the end of them. Even with the amazing sticky stuff remover (which is also amazing by the way!) I find that it just wrecks the scissors. BUT, the foam pieces are fab. I generally buy a selection of circle and rectangular pads. I cut up the rectangular ones into smaller squares depending on what size I need. I seem to go through these like sweets, they are perfect for adding height to a project and add a professional quality to paper crafting. Simple but effective.
9. Art Rag
This might seem pretty random, but I find I am never without one. The best thing to do is to use an old towel or even an old t-shirt that you'd otherwise be getting rid of. I cut them into smaller pieces and use them to mop up spills (a hazard of crafting), drying brushes, cleaning scissors, rulers, cleaning my hands, smudging etc. Once I‘m done I just pop them in the wash and they come out ready to use. Even if they're permanently stained by paint or ink they are perfect for the job.
10. Heat Gun
Although I wouldn't say it is essential a heat gun is really useful if you craft a lot - I find that I use mine all the time. It is great for shrink plastic, embossing and paint effects - but you can also use a hair dryer on a low setting. I also have a really powerful Black & Decker paint dryer which is great to speed up paint drying. Firstly it means I don't have a million half finished projects drying all over the place, AND I can get through projects much quicker as I dont have to wait hours for each separate layer to air dry. Having said that you have to be a little careful that you don't hold it too close to your work. It's better to use it on a lower setting and let things take a little longer to dry. Otherwise you can end up burning your work and finding bubbles in your paint work.
So there you have it - my list of essential craft items which is a collection you build up over time. Craft items are also a great thing to put on a Wishlist - I always do!!
Thank you so much for reading this post - I hope it was helpful to some of you looking for hints and tips. If you find you need some help with choosing a craft item please feel free to get in touch or comment below - we would love to hear from you!!!