Megalist of Arts and Crafts Tips and Tricks
Here is a list of helpful tips and tricks for all of you crafters out there and maybe some beginners who are just started out doing crafts. Most of them are what I've read in magazines or learned from the internet through the years, and others were found recently when I did some research. The tips do not cover every area of crafting, just mainly the crafts that I do and have knowledge about. If I start doing anything different, I'll be sure to add tips here about that as well. I'm happy to share these with everyone especially my fellow crafty hubbers. If you are like me you can never get enough crafting tips and ideas. If you have some tips of your own, please feel free to share in the comment section below. Enjoy!
- A good way to wash your brushes is to soak them in baby oil for 5-10 minutes and then wash with mild soap- the oil helps to get much of the paint off before washing
- Use Murphy Oil Soap to clean your brushes. Just dip it in, work into bristles and rinse with warm water.
- Have a brush with dried paint on it? Soak it in fabric softener for a while which will help soften and loosen the paint. After soaking, rinse with warm water.
- You can reshape the bristles on some brushes by soaking them in very hot water.
- You can also run the brush across a bar of soap (Ivory is best) and shape the bristles with your fingers and then store it to dry with the soap on it. The soap will help keep it's shape. Just remember to rinse all the soap out before you use it again.
- Don't throw out old, used paintbrushes. You can use the wooden end to make perfect dots with paint on your craft projects, poke holes in clays for ornaments and you can use the bristle end to scatter paint.
- Save plastic lids from coffee cans, margarine tubs etc and use as paint pallets.
- Plastic lids can also be made into stencils for painting
- Take your old T-Shirts and cut them up the back and you have a paint smock. This is a great one for kids!
- Want to paint on glass but don't have special paint? Add white glue to your acrylic paint. This helps the paint to adhere to the glass. Use on pieces for decoration only.
- When painting on glass be sure the piece is super clean and wiped down with alcohol. Then use a very soft bristled brush to insure best coverage.
- Need a perfect fold but don't have a bone folder? Use the blunt side of a butter knife and a ruler to score your paper first and then fold.
- Making your own envelopes? Make your own lick and stick glue for them. Go here for 4 different recipes!
- To help seal and protect your inkjet printed images and pastel or chalk artwork, spray a few light coats of acrylic spray paint on them.
- To give new paper that aged, vintage look, use old tea bags and dab them across the page and then crumple it up a bit. Keep dabbing the tea bags until you get the shade you want. If you need to iron it out flat again, for printing or whatever, place a folded pillowcase on top and then iron flat.
- If your paper punches seem to be getting dull, you can punch shapes out of aluminum foil about 10 to 20 times. This actually helps sharpen the blades.
- If you need chipboard for any craft project, use old cut up cereal boxes. It's basically the same thing or it works just as well, at least. Save money and recycle too.
- Save clear plastic packaging (like the clear tops that come with pie crusts or cupcake packaging)and cut out and use as windows in handmade cards or cut shapes out to use as stencils and you can make shrinky dinks with the #6 packaging. See below under Repurposing/Reusing
Rubber Stamping Tips
- An easy way to clean the ink completely off your rubber stamps is to use baby wipes after each use.
- Use salt and pepper shakers for your embossing powders. It gives you better control so so much won't pour out.
- Another thing you can do with your embossing powder is pour it into a plastic "sandwich" size storage box with a lid and lay a plastic spoon inside. When you are ready to apply the embossing powder just hold the piece over the container and take the spoon and apply the powder and then shake it off before applying the heat gun. Be sure to put the lid back on- No wasted powder!
- You can use the above suggestion with glitter too. Make sure to put a plastic spoon inside for applying your glitter.
- Some of the cheaper rubber stamps may not stamp very well. You can sand down the raised edges of the stamp slightly and this will help define the stamped image and help it to stamp a better image.
- You can make your own stamps out of rubber erasers. Draw or transfer an image on the eraser and carve out the image using an X-acto knife, Speedball cutter or another carving knife.
Working with Polymer Clay
- When using molds with your polymer clay, a very light dusting of cornstarch or talc powder inside the mold helps the clay shape to release better- just don't overdo the powder. Be sure to wipe off any excess powder before you bake your piece.
- If you are having trouble getting the clay out of the mold, because it's a bit sticky because of high humidity, sometimes putting it in the freezer for a few minutes will help firm it up so it will come out easier.
- When working with clay it is best to have a designated toaster oven for baking the clay, and a designated pasta maker for flattening and conditioning the clay. Both should should be designated for clay use only. Never eat out of anything or from anything you have used to work with polymer clay.
- Don't throw out old and dried out clay. If it's partially dry you can add a drop or two of mineral oil and send parts through the pasta maker (designated for clay use only) If it is super dray and crumbling it can sometimes be revived by crumbling it up in a food processor (designated only for clay use) and adding one drop at a time of mineral oil until it starts to soften and hold together a bit -use the oil sparingly. If it is helping it to be more pliable you can send it through a pasta maker (designated only for clay use) to condition it even more and prepare it for use.
- An inexpensive sealer that works very well on polymer clay is Water Based VarathaneDiamond Polyurethane Interior or MinWax PolyCrylic.You should be able to purchase a small can at the hardware store or even Walmart.
- You can also use "Future floor polish" to seal your clay pieces.
- Be cautious when using spray sealers to seal your polymer clay pieces. The propellants in the can do not mix well with the clay and will result in sticky clay that won't ever dry.
Working with Resin to make Jewelry Etc.
- Use small liquid measuring cups (like for liquid medicines) to measure and mix small amounts of resin.
- It's best to work with resin in lower humidity. The higher the humidity the longer it takes the resin to cure completely.
- Soon after you pour resin, tiny bubbles usually rise to the top, take a straw and gently blow across the top of the resin to pop the bubbles.
- Be sure to put a plastic shoebox or something similar over the top to keep dust from getting into the resin.
- If you have poured resin into a hard mold without mold release, sometimes putting it in the freezer for a while will help pop it out of the mold.
- Make sure if you are covering a paper image with resin that the image is sealed properly with Mod Podge or something similar.
- Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol close to clean up unwanted resin drips or spills.
Working with Glitter
- Rub the surface of your project with a dryer sheet before applying the glitter. This helps to repel loose glitter and stops it from landing where it doesn't belong.
- When applying glitter to an adhesive, let the adhesive dry completely before shaking off excess glitter.
- Once you have tapped all the excessive glitter off, canned air works great to blow off any remaining loose glitter from your finished piece.
- Need to apply perfect lines of glitter? Put double sided tape on your object and then roll around in glitter. For example, say you want to put some stripes around a candle holder. Put double sided tape around the candle holder and then roll in glitter. You end up with perfect lines of glitter all around the container.
- Use empty tic tack containers, empty spice containers or poke holes in film containers to make glitter shakers.
- Use glitter fingernail polish for embellishing small areas on your craft projects. It comes in tons of colors too.
Organization/Storage Tips and Ideas
- Store your glue sticks in the freezer. This helps them not to be so stringy after they have been heated up.
- Squeezing all the air out of a glue bottle when you are finished using it will keep it from drying out while in storage.
- A nice way to organize all of your ribbon is to get a small round tension rod (liked used for draperies) take one rubber end off and add all of your ribbon spools and anchor it in a cabinet, closet or shelving unit.
- Use tin cans and glass jars to hold supplies like pencils, scissors, paint brushes, markers, etc. Tuna cans are great for storing small items- Make sure to file down any sharp edges on the tin cans first.
- Use a large weekly/monthly pillbox to store small items like flat back crystals or gemstones, eyelets and other small pieces.
- For you paper crafters: Get a large 3 ring binder and some sheet protectors to store scrapbook paper scraps, scrapbook embellishments and full 8.5 x11 sheets or any decorative paper that will fit. The paper will be protected and it will be easy to find exactly what you are looking for.
- You can also purchase an inexpensive accordion style organizer to store all of your pretty papers in.
- Make your own Shrinky Dinks by using clean clear plastic #6 containers. Color your design with permanent markers, cut it out and put it on a thin cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch them closely. They will curl up and when they straighten back out, that's when you need to take them out. P.S. don't forget to use a hole punch if you are planning to make a key chain, necklace or something like that.
- Have some used up candle jars that you need to get the residual wax out of? Making sure the wick is out, put some water in the jar and heat it up in the microwave. The wax should melt along with the hot water and pour right out. Then wipe clean with a paper towel.
- Need to clean the gooey gunk off where the labels are glued to jars and cans? Get some Goo Gone or use a bit of lighter fluid on a paper towel.
- Save old CD's- You can put them in near boiling water to make them soft enough to cut into shapes for embellishing things, making ornaments or jewelry making.
- Remember to save old cereal boxes. This is pretty much the same as chipboard.
Other Craft Tips
- Need some colored string but you only have white? Run the string along a colored ink pad to change it to the color of choice.
- Color clear flat backed gems with a sharpie to make them whatever color you want. It works!
- Did you spill a bunch of pins? Have a magnet handy to help pick up all those scattered pins with ease.
- Want to curl some fabric ribbon/strips? Wrap the strip of fabric or ribbon around a dowel or stick and secure both ends with some tape. Generously spray with spray starch and then remove from stick when dry. Wallah! Now you have some fabric curls.
- Fingernail files work great for sanding small areas of your craft projects.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this hub and hopefully I have inspired you with a few of these tips! I'll be sure to add new ones here as time goes by. Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please feel free in the comment section below!
More by this Author
Learn how to make easy tin can crafts, use tin cans to organize and lots more with this tin can craft and decor round-up with 20 different tin can craft and decor tutorials.
Learn how to reuse something nearly every home has!
This vintage button guide contains valuable information about different types of vintage buttons including how to test them to see what they are made from. Also, learn how to safely clean and care for vintage and...