Saturday, 9 November 2013

Making The Most Of Your Crafting Budget - Hints and Tips!

Hello Lovely!

It's THE WEEKEND! You know - I DO love the idea that everything stops for the weekend! Most of us are JUST as busy.... one way or another! I'm looking forward to my lovely Sunday morning though....*sigh*

First of all, you may notice that I've changed my blog banner again! You'll see this now when you visit me:

This is my kelpie - when you love horses AND mermaids, you just GOTTA love a kelpie! He's painted with my Derwent watercolour pencils, but I gave him a lovely shiny tail and mane using Glimmer Glazes  (Waterfall, Wicked and Mellow Yellow). One of the things I love about these glazes is the lovely bubble effect they can give. Combine that with a little gilding wax and it's a gorgeous textured effect -

Anyhoo - I hope you like him! On another note, I was browsing Pinterest (addictive, dammit!) and found this VERY TRUE little pin:

Oh you know that's SO true! All those pretty new releases have expanded my wish list so it's just plain scary! But the life of a starving artist isn't exactly compatible with spending on such things, and it got me thinking again about ways to enjoy arts and crafts on a shoe-string budget. If you've read my earlier posts you'll know that I'm all for finding affordable - or free - options, which I believe actually promote creativity! I thought it was about time that I did another 'hints and tips' post for anyone out there who might find it useful. So here goes!

Ok. First tip seems obvious, but when you have your eyes on the prize it's easy to forget:

SHOP AROUND! Don't dismiss your local shops - have a good root around. Local bargain stores, interior design dpeartments and even book stores often have craft departments selling all kinds of goodies which are EXCELLENT for mixed media art and any number of crafts. Often, they'll be in the office supplies or kids sections, but don't let that put you off. Remember that brands like Berol, Sharpie and Crayola are all experts in their fields and they make quality product ready for you to use. You can find excellent deals by searching the 'end of line' sections, sales and dump bins.

BE OPEN MINDED! It's always helpful to make a list of things you want, but that can blinker you and stop you finding great alternatives. Don't be afraid to pick up new brands to try out - and remember, you don't need to buy ALL of them.... pick up a couple to test. You can always come back for more. If you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, or getting out is difficult -

SHOP ONLINE - If there's no one near you with awesome, cool supplies, go rooting round the internet and see what you can find. It's best to take recommendations and place small orders at first so that you can test customer service, packing quality, product availability etc. Look for sites that have a blog attached - that way you can stalk them for a while and read customer comments before you spend your hard-earned cash. Check out whether they have Youtube videos, or demo days. Look out for post offers, for example "free shipping when you spend £20 or more". You can save a LOT that way. There's a list of links that you might like to browse through just to the left of this blog screen. I use all of these stores and can personally vouch for the superior standards of service, range of product, good prices and swift dispatch.

DON'T FORGET EBAY AND ETSY!  There are still bargains to be had on these sites and they're still WAY more reliable that Amazon. Have a regular search for branded products and don't pay over the odds - if you lose an auction or miss a sale you can pretty much guarantee that the things you want will show up again soon, so try not to be tempted into over-bidding at the last minute. I pick up some awesome stuff on ebay - check out this blog post for an example: "Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze Mermaid". Remember - losing an auction isn't the end of the world!

USE YOUR AWESOME IMAGINATION-  Why spend a LOT of money on designer papers with map prints, book text or vintage images when you can shop wise in your local charity or thrift store? Car-boot sales, jumble sales or yard sales are also a GREAT place to pick up ephemera, and you won't be using mass produced product - your work will be truly unique. Now THAT'S pretty cool! Look for old travel maps, vintage magazines - the tatty ones are always cheap as chips, and you're gonna chop 'em up anyway.... And children's books provide EXCEPTIONAL art pages for collage or scrapping, and often lovely hard covers that you can re-purpose for albums or journals:

I paid between 10p and 50p for each of these books and magazines - a complete bargain!

COLLECT FREE EPHEMERA -  Yep....FREE! All those tourist places, theatres, cinemas, libraries and museums that you have all around you - you all have them - they all have leaflets and booklets. Even your local town hall or visitor centre will have booklets with images that you can use, not to mention text for backgrounds. Check out your local superstores and supermarkets for free catalogues. Our Asda and Morrison's stores produce a monthly glossy booklet full of recipes and interior design ideas which are great for smash books, junk journals and collage. Tea-dye order forms for a vintage look that will rival anything the big companies can release!

You'll be building up a collection already! Not much of a spend, if you're careful, but a GREAT collection of paper and supplies that you won't have to hide or make excuses for!

But what about those pretty background papers? Oh they're lovely, right? OOOOO yeah! We ALL want ALL of them - in multiples, but as very few of us are a Rockerfeller, we have to budget. So why not ....

MAKE YOUR OWN BACKING PAPERS! I use up ANY paper I can find, cover it with excess paint and squiggles and doodles. You can paint them, zentangle them, stamp them, spray them - whatever you like that suits your style. Store them up and very soon you'll have quite a collection that you can use as a base for your designs, whether you're a journaler, artist, scrap-booker, crafter....anything! Here are a few of my scrappy odds and ends papers...

....and here's a blog post about what I do with some of them: "Arts & Crafts For Free"

When buying designer papers it's worth checking sales first. It's so much more beneficial for your bank balance if you ignore the PUSH that happens with each new release... MOST of them only stay on sale at full price for a single season, then they get marked down to a fraction of that cost. Crafting and artifying your life isn't about competition - if we resist the pushy marketing, use up some of our stash and wait for sales and offers then WE'RE the winners, not the big companies... When it comes to actually buying that designer paper - 

CHOOSE WISELY - With some careful selection, you can make a very little paper go a very long way. Designs from companies like Graphic 45, DCWV, 7 Gypsies and K&Co. - amongst others - are versatile and varied, which is really great for the thrifty crafter.  I think the phrase I hear most on Youtube is "a lot of bang for your buck!" Love it. They're worth their weight in gold - even at full price as they're jam-packed with possibilities.

Look out for designs that you can cut out in order to make the most of them. With a little patience and a good pair of scissors you can build up an ephemera collection second to none in a VERY short time - and with very little outlay, moneywise... Here's a selection of vintage-look ephemera that I cut from a few sheets of 12"x12" paper. It took me an afternoon and an evening to cut and ink them, but it was well worth it...

Yuh-huh. There are about 300 individual pieces there, all cut from printed papers. They're perfect for any number of projects, and as free time is often a barrier to craft time, it's handy to have these pieces all ready there when I need them. Here's the rest of what I cut out at the same time-

At least another 300 pieces. I LOVE the packs that K&Co, October Afternoon, Bo Bunny and other companies release, but the PRICE! When I think of how much it would cost to BUY 600+ pre-cut pieces of brand-name ephemera it makes me shudder! It's also worth noting that I STILL have LOADS of this paper left over to use for backgrounds or anything I like.

This is such an economical option for boosting your collection and works whether you're a scrapbooker or journaler, or if you work with collage, altered art - pretty much ANYthing. 

It's worth mentioning that I managed to pick up most of these papers at LEASt half-price - some of them even less. That makes me VERY happy indeed!

While I'm on the subject of using paper wisely... don't throw away offcuts! Save, save, save the bits and pieces - you'd be surprised what you can make out of nothing. The best way that I can demonstrate what I mean is to show you the crazy amount of bits and pieces I cut from some Steampunk Debutante G45 images - waste not, want not! Here's the original sheet design:

And here is the result once I attacked just ONE of the images with scissors -

 ...over 20 collagable pieces. Cutting borders, hearts, pennants, banners and such will leave you with a selection comparable to anything My Mind's Eye or Bo Bunny can provide. If you want dimensional embellishments, just break out the foam pads and get creative! I chose this paper as it was the best way to illustrate my point, but you can do the same with almost any design.

Even the smallest image can provide a number of possibilities. It's worth thinking beyond the design your given, so that you can add your own uniqueness to your work.

Lastly in this big long list of listy stuff -

UTILISE YOUR COMPUTER - There are PLENTY of sites now that offer free digital prints and downloads. They're GORGEOUS and, frankly, WAY prettier than many of the commercially sold designs. With wonderful sites such as The Graphics Fairy, you can download and print stunning images ideal for ANY project, and all it will cost you is a sheet of paper and some printer ink. Look around blogs for site advertisements - we all love to share these things so the information is there if you root about a bit.

Ok! That was a LOT of blog post! There are so many ways that you can increase your stash effectively for little outlay. I REALLY hope that some or all of the suggestions here have been helpful

Thank you squillions for visiting! As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions and I look forward to reading some more of your amazing art blogs - you're epic! Love and hugs - Shroo :) xxx

Ps - Have fun - you deserve it! 


  1. I love this blog . Always so interesting and these tips on money saving are fantastic. Always attractively presented too . I Love your New Kelpie design .

  2. I discovered your blog because of a lovely post you left on mine. Your kelpie is magnificent! I am intrigued by your fabulous work and entertained by your posts. It was a beautiful discovery for me this Saturday morning!