Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Frugal Crafter

Crafters never throw anything away -- we all know it, we're all 'guilty' of it, and most of us drive our families crazy with the resulting cries of "Don't throw that out, I can use it!"

* You know how you're not supposed to keep clear acrylic and polymer stamps in their original packaging? That original packaging is nice and clear, and usually a decent weight as well. Reuse them, don't toss em!
--- Instead of buying page protectors to make shaker pockets for cards and scrapbooking, use the clear leftovers from the polymer stamps.
-- Spread alcohol inks on them, wait for it to dry, then run it through a die-cut machine for translucent embellishments.
-- You can even stamp on them if you use permanent inks! Or use a permanent marker, and layer your journaling over a photo.

* Don't throw out the chipboard/cardboard inserts in sticker packs! Also, for a lot of places where you can buy collage supplies online, they add thin cardboard to make sure the pages they send stay flat. Reuse!
-- The cardboard in sticker packs make fabulous sturdy bookmarks. Either cover with gesso and paint or stamp, or you can cover them with paper and go from there.
-- Larger sheets make great postcard backgrounds.
-- The lighter weight cardboard works just great with most punches, particularly corner rounders, to take away the sharp (and potentially boring) points.
-- Use them as inexpensive cover and back pages for accordian books and cards.

* Empty medication bottles are endlessly useful.
-- Save them for circle templates, and just trace around the smooth bottoms.
-- Use them to store embellishments, like eyelets and brads, or beads.
-- They make great storage for mixed or custom-blended embossing powders.

* Even if you don't garden, you have access to plastic plant flats. Most home improvement stores and garden centers will just give them away, all you have to do is ask.
-- Great storage for wood-mounted rubber stamps. You can put up to two layers per flat. Just cut a sheet of long paper for the bottom (and make sure you wash the flats first!!) and stamp out the matrix for where your stamps will fit so you know where to put them when you're done. You can use cut wood, heavy dowels -- or even cut toilet paper tubes -- to support the layers of flats so that you can stack them.
-- They make good project trays. Line with paper, or leftover cardboard, add aluminum foil or waxed paper, depending on the project, and you have a decent-sized tray that you can carry with you to another room of the house, or safely stack out of the way and cover your project so children and pets don't get into it.

* Paper scraps. Don't throw them away, use them.
-- Thin scraps, and a border punch, and you have coordinating borders for cards and pages.
-- Cut scraps further apart, and use them to make paper quilts and mosaics for cards and embellishments.
-- Run them through a die-cut machine.
-- Use them in your paper punches to create a stock of shapes in patterns and colours that match your projects.
-- Thin scraps can also be used for paper weaving, to create some interesting page elements, or to mimic ribbon behind photos and journaling.
-- Use alphabet stamps on strips for instant titles and greetings.

* Wallpaper sample books. Discontinued wallpaper books can be picked up, usually free, at most places that sell wallpaper. Most of the time, you not only have entire pages in there, but borders and other coordinating papers -- great for cards and scrapbooking.
-- Use sections of one paper for mats, sections of coordinating colours for other layers.
-- Slide a cutting mat behind a page, and use a craft knife to cut out specfic elements. This is great for border papers that just aren't quite perfect to use on a page - too short, or too wide - but you can get embellishments and design elements out of just a few cuts.
-- Another item great for die-cut machines and punches.

* Just because a glass bead is broken, doesn't make it trash. Don't throw it out, just shift from using it on jewelry to using it for embellishments. (Always make sure to file down any sharp edges and points for safety)
-- Beads broken in half can be added to cards and pages as flower centers, eyes, and anywhere you want a sparkly POP.
-- Collect enough broken beads, and use them with strong two-sided tape in place of using the tiny microbeads, or with the microbeads as larger accents of sparkle.

* You don't need to spend a fortune on sandpaper. Odds are, you have plenty of what you need right around the house.
-- Old nail files are great for distressing paper.
-- Nail files will take sharp edges off wire, and smooth out areas where you've cut shanks off buttons and loops off charms.
-- The very fine and buff sides of nail files replace the harder-to-find extremely fine sandpaper, and can be dampened for use with polymer clay, or PMC.
-- An addition to useful nailcare items is saving old nail clippers. They may not cut your nails well anymore, but they'll still snap a shank off a button!

* Cereal boxes don't have to go in the trash, either.
-- Good source of cardboard for projects.
-- Cut off the top, and cut the sides on angles, then cover in paper for instant and coordinating magazine holders (or use them to hold your stencils!)
-- Reseal the top. Cut off the top 2-3 inches, and the bottom 2-3 inches for great horizontal holders for pens, markers, and other accessories.

* "Fun" foam, the cheap sheets usually in the kids section of the craft store, that also come in pre-cut packs. If you have kids, you probably have this stuff around the house.
-- Those pre-cut shapes can make some nice stamps, and some even already have sticky on the back that you can use for mounting!
-- A little bit of double-sided adhesive, and even tiny scraps of the foam can be used in place of buying puff dots for dimensional accents.
-- Why buy shadow stamps, when you can make your own? Increase your stamp collection the easy way. Use an outline stamp (much like the ones QK sells in the store) and permanent ink to stamp onto foam. Cut the foam out along the outline, and mount in whatever way you choose. You now have a shadow stamp that perfectly matches and fits your original image -- two stamps out of one!
-- Use two sheets, or the thicker foam, and you've got a great pad for dry-embossing, or a great pad to put behind the paper you're stamping on.
-- They can also be used as pads to set nail-heads or eyelets.

* Expanded polystyrene -- packing foam. Don't throw it out and create landfill issues, use it.
-- It holds toothpicks great. Use toothpicks, bamboo skewers, whatever, and elevate things that need to dry -- great for painting on polymer clay, or adding mod podge, or any other sealant to pieces.
-- Cut/dig holes the perfect size into the polystyrene to hold your paintbrushes and craft knives.

* Keep a box for "found objects." Train your eyes to look for parts discarded on the ground. Washers, small electronic bits, buttons -- you'll be amazed at what you can find, and then use. This is especially great on vacations, when you can collect shells, river stones, and any other goodies you may find.
-- Padded envelopes that you've received are great for storing these items. Just label each padded mailer ('Beach, 2007,' etc), and you'll always have a supply of unique items for embellishments.

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