We crafters do tend to accumulate quite impressive “stashes” of crafting materials and tools. So when a newer crafter watches someone making things on YouTube, or reads an experienced crafter’s blog they may well be overwhelmed with all the products being used. What do you really NEED to get started?
Here are my top 12 products for creating mixed media and collage projects – though all are useful for scrapbookers, card makers and many other forms of crafting too.
1 – Glass cutting mat
I honestly do not know how I managed to craft for so long before I got one of these.
Obviously it is useful for cutting things. Self-healing mats do get groves and scratches over time, the glass mat won’t. It also will not blunt your knife blades. Ideal for use with circle cutters and similar devices too.
But as well as a perfect cutting surface, I also use mine to ink, paint, stamp, fold, assemble, draw and glue on. It is so easy to wipe totally clean and is dead flat. And you can squeeze a blob of glue or paint directly on to it rather than a palette – ideal for use with a brayer.
2 – Sharpies
These popular pens are handy for so many uses. They will write on non-porous surfaces such as glass, varnish or plastic. They are fantastic for tinting acrylic or glass (try colouring then rubbing it off again for a lighter finish). Available in a range of cheerful colours they are an economical and versatile addition to your tool box.
3 – Distress ink pads
One of the most used modern crafting products. Distress ink pads are fantastic for adding that soft aging effect around the edges of paper and card elements. You can use them with your stamps too. Get a dark and light brown, then a blue, green, pink and yellow and you have all you need for most purposes. My personal favourites are Brushed Corduroy which is great for most uses, and Old Paper for when one wants a very subtle aging effect.
Ranger have just started selling the distress inks in handy pack of smaller 1″ pads as well as the usual 2″ size ones.
4 – Stencils
In particular the sort with interesting background patterns on. Use with your texture paste or acrylic paint, or perhaps with Distress Ink and a dauber. Basic patterns such as dots, stars, hexagons, tree bark, scratchy lines and text will get used time and time again. A few fancy flourishes and a floral design or two will also be versatile additions to your stash. Just remember to wipe them clean after use and they will last for many years.
You can make your own from acrylic sheets (waste packaging, perhaps?) and a die cutting machine. Tutorial coming soon.
5 – White gel pen
Use it for writing on dark backgrounds and for adding bright highlights to your artwork. A white gel pen is a tool you will reach for again and again.
My favourite is a Uniball Signo Gel pen.
I also love my Uni Posca white paint pen which also gives good, opaque coverage and is ideal for larger areas.
6 – Acrylic paint
It does not smell, mixes very easily, can be thinned with water, washes off of your clothes, comes in a huge range of colours and is economical to buy – what is not to like about acrylic paint?
You can use acrylics for painting pictures on to paper or card, for covering 3d items like boxes and home decor too.
I am very fond of Plaid craft acrylic paints which come in a wonderful range of colours and are lovely to use. I also particularly like the Martha Stewart range which are very good value for money.
You can use household emulsion instead of (or with) your acrylic paints too. Those handy little trial pots are great for crafters.
7 – Gesso
A super-versatile type of acrylic paint. Gesso comes in both white and black versions, the white being the most commonly used. It is used as an undercoat or primer for crafting projects. As well as providing a nice white base it also has a bit of a “tooth”, it helps grip paint making it easier to paint over.
Handy for sealing porous materials such as styrofoam before painting on them too.
8 – Fine black ink pen
An essential for adding fine details to your pieces. I swear by the Millennium Zig range or the Sakura micron pens. These fine pens are great for doing Zentangle style artwork too.
It is worth having a thicker pen too. I also use my Uni Posca black paint pen which gives very good coverage easily.
9 – Texture medium
Thick and sticky, texture medium (also known as Grunge Paste) is an easy way to add depth and interest to your work. Smear it over stencils for exciting effects. Or spread it on and scratch designs in to it.
You can mix a little acrylic paint or distress ink into a blob of texture medium to colour it before use. Experiment with adding glitter too.
10 – Scrapbook papers
Great to use as backgrounds, whether whole or torn into interesting shapes. Printed papers come in a huge variety of designs and are a versatile way of adding patterns and interest to your creations. Cut neatly with a paper trimmer or tear for an irregular edge. You can purchase pre-printed scrapbook pages, or digital versions you can print yourself.
Tin Teddy has many digital papers that are ideal for use in mixed media, and, being digital, you can print as many as you need.
11 – Matte medium gel
Use it as a glue, a primer or a sealant. Matte medium is a “dry glue” so you can use it on large pieces of paper an it won’t wrinkle and bubble like a wetter glue will. A thin layer will create a non-porous surface on your projects.
I prefer to apply it to large areas with a foam brush. Make sure your brush or applicator is dry before use for the best results.
12 – Tacky glue
For fixing on embellishments and “little extras”. A good tacky glue will give you a moment to adjust the item, but will grip it firmly enough that you do not have to hold it in place for ages. I particularly like Collall or Anita’s Tacky Glue.
Don’t leave the cap off too long or they will gunk up. If this happens you can usually clear the blockage with a pin.