So one of my close friends from work recently admitted to being sucked into the craft world, uh-oh, we all know how that feels!
She asked me for a list of crafty essentials to get started and I thought, you know what, you’re probably not the only one wondering this, in fact I remember wondering this myself a couple of years ago.
So here we have it, my top 10 paper crafty essentials:
- Cardstock – If you’re going to make cards I recommend getting a good quality card stock for the base. I have 300 gsm white cardstock, but it’s always a good idea to have a good supply of black and kraft card also. Make sure the card is a good gsm (grams per square metre) or your card will be flimsy and may fall over after you have embellished it. Crafters Companion do a great selection here. While your there grab some coloured card stock and some glittered, the Crafters Companion glittered card stock doesn’t shed and to me that is amazing! Note: If you fancy making shaker cards you’ll need acetate, make sure that is a good weight too (some stores call it construction acetate.)
- Scissors/Guillotine/Tools – Two types of scissors are normally needed for paper crafting, big ones that can cut through all sizes of card and little ‘snips’ which are good for cutting out tiny detail such as decoupage pieces. If you’re like me and you can’t cut for toffee, grab yourself a guillotine to do to measuring for you. I recommend Tonic for any kind blades, Tim Holtz scissors are fabulous and Tonic Guillotines have never let me down. (If you’re 100% useless at any kind of measuring like me, see my dies section later on that will save you so much hassle matting and layering.) Also if you’re thinking of die cutting grab yourself a Spellbinders Tool In One or the Tonic pokey tool, to make sure you get all the little bits out of your die cuts.
- Glass Mat – If you have a crafty workspace or want to protect your dining room table, I would recommend buying a glass mat, Tonic do a nice one with measurements on. Not only does it protect the surface but it’s great for blending on. A brown non stick craft mat is also a good choice, Ranger make a good one.
- Glue – Cosmic Shimmer is sworn by in the craft industry but I also don’t mind Anita’s tacky glue. I also recommend a tape pen or double sided tape for when wet glue isn’t suitable, Crafter’s Companion’s tape pens are fantastic. If you’re in a rush and feeling brave, try a hot glue gun, but they’re a little messy and dangerous for my liking. If you need some dimension, grab yourself some foam pads or some silicone glue, Collall is a good brand to go with for this. If you’d like to make gift boxes or shaker cards, grab some red liner double sided tape. You will need most of the adhesive I have listed so it might be worth investing in a bundle, Crafters Companion do a good adhesive bundle with everything you need.
- Die Cutting Machine and Dies – If you’re just getting started in die cutting, get yourself a small machine. I recommend the Spellbinders Sapphire or Prizm but if you want to go bigger I recommend the Big Shot Plus or the Gemini, depending on your budget. To start with, get some basic dies that will help you. Sue Wilson does some fantastic double pierced squares and rectangles to get you started in matting and layering or Crafters Companion do some basics too, go for nested so you get all different sizes. Sizzix do some ‘framelits’ dies which are similar, you can get tag shaped ones also which will come in handy. Get yourself an alphabet set for personalisation as well as some numbers for those ‘big age’ birthday cards and then expand into dies of cute designs that would be great for toppers. I personally hate my handwriting and I am not very good at stamping so most of my dies are sentiments, Tim Holtz words dies are gorgeous and Crafters Companion do some great ones too.
- Paper Pads/Toppers – If you don’t fancy dipping your toe in the die cutting world yet, maybe pick up a paper pad with some co-ordinating pre die cut toppers inside. Crafters Companion do this a lot, especially in their Sara Signature collection. DoCrafts are also good at the co-ordinating pre die cut toppers/paper pad thing too, they also tend to also co-ordinate their ribbon and embellishments which is great because everything matches perfectly giving your cards a professional look.
- Stamps, Blocks and Inks – There are three types of stamps in the crafting world, wood mount stamps, clear mount stamps and photo polymer stamps. Wood mount and clear mount are some what a dying breed, most of the stamps you find on the market these days photo polymer as they are cheap to make and easy to stamp with. When working with photo polymer and clear mount stamps you will need your own blocks to put them on. I recommend the Slims from Inkylicious or Rock-A-Blocks from Crafter’s Companion. Don’t forget to buy a range of sizes to ensure you have a block for every stamp you may invest in, most blocks come in a set of different sizes. Of course, when using stamps you will need ink! There are two types of ink on the market and you will need both. A pigment ink is a waterproof ink so this is great if you’d like to stamp an image and then colour it in with watercolours. There is also dye based ink which is not waterproof but is great for detail and can be more vibrant in colour. I recommend getting a Memento (dye based) in Black, a Staz On (pigment based) in black, a clear sticky Versamark ink for embossing (more about that later) and Tim Holtz distress inks for all the colours you need. Tim Holtz makes mini distress inks which are great if you want to build quite a collection of colours and he sells a cute handy tin to keep them all in. My good friend John Lockwood recommended Wendy Vecci’s ink ‘Watering Can’ as it’s less sharp than a black ink if you can stamping out sentiments. It is very popular and a bit of a devil to get hold of but I managed to grab one from the BIC Warehouse on eBay. As for stamps, make sure you buy a variety of sentiments as well as designs you like. I would tick to clear polymer stamps if you are a beginner so you can see where you are stamping but make sure it is a thick etch, try to avoid cheap unknown brands when buying stamps because if you don’t get a good impression it could be down to the cheap quality of the polymer used to make the stamp and not your stamping skill! I am a big fan of the Stampin Up stamps and the ones from Creative Expressions. Another great product to use when stamping is the Pebeo drawing gum/masking fluid, which allows you to mask off different parts of an image so you can colour or stamp over to create depth. Sheena from Crafters Companion does some great techniques with this. Before you stamp anything make sure you rub the surface you’re going to stamp on with an anti static bag, Woodware sell these on the Crafter’s Companion website.
- Alcohol Markers – Now I’m quite new to the alcohol marker scene but I have found a great beginner set to be the Graphmasters. They come in all kinds of lovely colours and blend really well. I also have the Colorista range from Crafters Companion which are lovely bright colours but they don’t blend too well unless they are colouring the glittered colouring pads that came out with them when they launched. Copic are a brand with a great reputation and Spectrum Noir also have a good reputation in the craft industry but I have heard they can dry out quickly. I would recommend alcohol markers over your cheap markers, just purely because of the blending capabilities, you can’t see any colouring streaks and there’s some great techniques to be done with them. Crafters Companion recently did a video tutorial course on alcohol markers and Creative Expressions are also rolling one out so check out their websites for those.
- Embossing – So there’s two types of embossing in the crafting world, one kind is where you put card in a folder and imprint an image onto card and the other kind is when you stamp an image in clear embossing ink, put embossing powder over the top, tap off the excess and heat the powder to melt it to the pattern of the ink. With heat embossing of course you will need a heat gun, DoCrafts do a fantastic pink one and there’s a great folding one on the Crafters Companion website by Woodware. When shopping for embossing powder, try and get a ‘detail’ embossing powder because if you go for the cheaper brands you won’t get a nice detailed image, it might come out kinda blocky and if it’s a sentiment it may become unreadable. I really recommend Cosmic Shimmer embossing powder or Stampendous.
- Embossing Folders – As previously mentioned, embossing folders are a bit of a dark horse of the craft market but they can be great for backgrounds and lots of techniques can be done with the emboss/deboss detail on them especially when mixed with gilding wax or gilding polish. You will need a die cutting machine to use them though. Crafters Companion do some lovely designs and so do Sizzix and Sue Wilson for Creative Expressions. If you’re going for gilding wax I highly recommend Pebeo or if you want to try more of a mousse style polish, try the Cosmic Shimmer gilding polish.
Well there’s my top 10 crafty essentials, sorry for such a lengthy blog post! I hope it all makes sense and you guys get some top tips out of my recommendations. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments below.