New Markers & Practice Drawings

I finally saved up and got myself some nice drawing markers. I’ve always loved to draw, but I got into painting a while back, and recently I’ve been putting more of my creative efforts into the polymer clay items I sell on Etsy.

So it was difficult to justify just-for-fun drawing markers at $5-7 a piece, but I really wanted to get back into it and be able to do good shading and blending, and if I do get into selling my drawings, I can tell people that they’re done with quality ink that will last.

I’d always thought Prismacolors were the thing to have, but (after checking out a few other brands) I settled on Copics, not just because they’re supposed to be better (I don’t need the best thing out there when I’m used to Crayolas, LOL) but I wanted a brush tip & a broad tip, and they’re refillable. They even have a smaller size marker to start out with that’s just as good.

So I found a deal on a small set via Amazon and ordered, just in time to bring them on our trip to Asheville. I think I could use some more practice and some more colors, but here’s some of my sketches so far. Critiques are welcome!

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Pillow Box Punch Board by We R Memory Keepers

I may have mentioned how I like to buy new “toys,” or tools, when I have a little extra room in my craft budget. I also place a lot of orders for pillow boxes to ship my handmade jewelry items. At $1 each in store or as low as about $0.33 each plus shipping online, they’re probably the cheapest jewelry boxes you can get, but still something that adds to my shipping costs. Plus I hate running out all the time.

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So I was very excited to find a punch board for making pillow boxes. It could save me some money in the long run, and I could use pretty papers to make my boxes, especially for the holidays. And it seemed fun, which is mostly why I went to four different craft stores to find one in stock. I guess everyone is making gift boxes.

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You can always just print a template and make your own, which allows you to make any size (the punch board only has one width). I think the main advantage of the punch board, besides it being quicker, is the grooves for scoring your box, which are very helpful for getting the curves to fold correctly.

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I’d watched a couple videos on YouTube so it was pretty easy to use, and I was pleased to find that it punched through not only card stock but, with some difficulty, thin cardboard (I had some leftover from a shipment of labels). I’d been buying kraft paper boxes and wanted to make sure my homemade ones would be equally sturdy for mailing my items.

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So I was a little disappointed that my Christmas-themed card stock, while cute and festive, was a little flimsy. But I came up with a simple fix. I cut a piece of white card stock about 1″ shorter on each end and 1/2″ shorter on one side, compared to my cut paper for my box, and glued it to the inside before punching. This way I didn’t have to punch through both, but it made the main area of the box quite a bit sturdier. You can’t tell the difference on the outside, it still closes, and I think I could trust it with a handmade item destined for the mail.

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I had a little trouble getting the ends to fold in properly without the glue coming undone, especially with the cardboard, but I think they look pretty nice.

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Also I think it’s cool that you could use cereal boxes or something and turn them inside-out so you have a recycled box that looks perfectly decent on the outside.

So I’m not sure if this is something I want to do when I have a bunch of orders coming in – I think I’m at a point in running my business where saving time is just as important as saving money – but it’s a nice option for gifts at least, and maybe for orders too if I plan ahead.

Have you tried any of the We R Memory Keepers punch boards (or any other brands I’m not aware of)? What did you think?

Quick Review of Sculpey Cabochon & Bezel Molds

While shopping at the craft store the other day, I heard a woman say to her friend, “I think you need help. You need Beads Anonymous.”

I thought it was hilarious, mostly because it meant there were others like me. But then I wondered if I should be offended that people think crafters are addicts, because I over-analyze everything and I don’t want to be judged for my harmless hobby.

Of course, as much as I want to buy half the store every time I go in there, I’m usually pretty good at sticking to my budget, and I’m usually buying things for my business. And things that are on sale. And things for my for-fun projects. At least some of the things are for my business.

But when I’ve had a few extra sales or I don’t have a long list of supplies to restock, I like to get myself something new to try. Sculpey/Polyform has so many fabulous new products for clay and I want to try them all! For now, I collect them one or two at a time. I have a pretty nice accumulation of ball tools, etching tools, cutters (so many cutters!). Some of those are from Makins or other brands, and I also have rubber stamps, handmade molds, and other random stuff I use.

Anyway, my latest sort of “extra” purchase was a set of bezel & cabochon molds. I don’t use a lot of molds cause I like to sculpt things by hand, but the cabochon molds can give a nice uniform shape to a faux stone or some scrap clay covered with cane slices – something uniquely handmade that just needs to be finished. The bezel mold gives it a framed look, which I think can really add a professional touch to something like a simple pendant.

The Sculpey ones are about $10 each. You have to buy the cabochon mold and bezel mold separately, but each one has several different shapes and sizes.

The cabochon mold is really easy to use. The silicon is flexible and doesn’t stick much (you can add water or cornstarch if necessary). The bezel mold is a little trickier when it comes to getting the clay out. I’m sure if you bake it in the mold it’s not a problem, but I wanted to keep working with it first, so it took a little practice to keep it from sticking or distorting.

Another reviewer (on Amazon maybe; I ended up buying mine at A.C. Moore) mentioned that the bezels were a little thick and produced childish-looking jewelry. I had to agree, but I found if you put the two pieces together before baking, you can press in on the sides (with an acrylic block or whatever’s handy) and make it look a little more sleek. I also flattened my cabochons a little because they came out very rounded on the top. Here are a couple I made with some flower cane slices and some faux turquoise. I really like the black background.

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So I haven’t tried any other cabochon & bezel molds – I’m curious about the CaBezel molds that Cindy Lietz reviewed on YouTube – but these ones give you some decent options for the price, and it’s not too hard to manipulate the style to fit the look you’re going for.

Hope you found this helpful. It’s kinda my first review, but I’m working on a post about my favorite polymer clay tools and some budget-friendly alternatives. What are your favorite craft store buys? What other items would you like reviewed?

DIY Incredibles Couple Costume

Our friends’ epic Halloween party happened to fall on our last night together and we wanted to spend it alone. So instead of coming up with new costumes, this year we wore our old Shrek & Fiona ones for the trick-or-treaters and ate candy and watched a Shrek movie, with our cat making Puss in Boots eyes at us over the candy bowl.

So I don’t have a new costume idea to share, but I never wrote a post about our costumes from the year before last, when we went as Mr. & Mrs. Incredible. He bought his costume (which our friend altered to fit his height) and I felt like making mine. But the idea is pretty much the same for both, minus a few details.

Most of the costume was actually pretty simple. I was inspired by {this family’s idea}. They used sweats and cut the logos out of felt; I used leggings and a thrift store shirt and painted it on. Then I bought some cheapo black underwear (I see a lot of people on Pinterest wearing shorts instead, which would probably be less awkward), gloves, a mask, and a fashion wig from Amazon, and I happened to have some black boots (but I also wore tall black socks so I could take the boots off).

For the logo: I discovered that you can use acrylic paint in place of fabric paint. It’s similar, just not quite as flexible, and of course as an artist I already had some. I sketched out the design on some contact paper (you can actually print it from the link above) and cut out separate pieces so I could stencil one color at a time. Then I stuck it to the shirt and painted the black background, then the yellow, orange, and white, letting it dry in between.

I also painted the waistband of the underwear and, surprisingly, the paint stretched enough to put them on over the leggings!

So here’s us at our friends’ party, the first time we won the couples costume contest. Maybe I have an unfair advantage as a crafter with free time. Or we just really look like superheroes and fairy tale characters 😉

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Well I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween! If you liked this, check out our {DIY Shrek & Fiona Costumes} from last year!