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Five Crafting Tools that Changed My Life

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March 20, 2019

March is National Craft Month, everyone! It’s hard for people to imagine, but I haven’t always been a crafter. Growing up, I was more into academics than art. And when I began my career in advertising, I was a market researcher, and then a writer — but never a designer. It wasn’t until I bought a house and began decorating it that I got to flex the artsy part of my brain. 

I took a do-it-yourself approach to decorating, but I still didn’t dabble in crafts per se until I started my show “Style With a Smile,” which aired on YouTube as well as the Home+ network in Israel. For the show, I had to come up with easy arts and crafts projects that anybody could do. Now I consider myself more of a crafter than a decorator. 

Part of the fun of being a crafter is shopping for supplies. It’s tempting to buy everything you see at the crafts store, especially when you have 40 percent-off coupons, but I wanted to share with you the crafting game changers that have really made a difference for me. Some may already be part of your arsenal, while others may be unknown to you. 

Die Cutting Machine
If you are not familiar with die cutting, it is a process in which you can cut out the same shapes over and over again perfectly without using scissors or knives. Think of the dies as the crafting equivalent of a cookie cutter. The way it works is there are dies for practically any shape — simple ones like circles or squares, but also complex ones like three-dimensional boxes — and you run the die through the die cutting machine with paper, and the machine cuts out the shape. Say, for example, you are a teacher who needs to create multiple menorah shapes for a Hanukkah card-making class. You start with a menorah-shaped die (yes, they sell them), place it in the die cutting machine with paper, and crank the handle. Out comes a perfectly cut menorah. The die cutting machine I use is the Sizzix Big Shot, and Sizzix manufactures a huge assortment of dies in every conceivable shape.

Scoring Board
If you make homemade cards, the Martha Stewart Scoring Board helps you make perfect folds every time. I know you’re thinking, “Why do I need a tool to fold paper?” With a scoring board, your folded lines will be crisp and flawless. There’s also a ruler built into the board so you can get exact measurements. I find the scoring board to be particularly useful when doing accordion folds. 

Sewing Machine
I am horrible on a sewing machine. I freak out whenever I need to change the bobbin or thread the needle, and I can do only a straight stitch (no zippers or buttons, please). But my basic knowledge is good enough to help me with most simple home décor and fashion projects. To reduce the intimidation factor, I have this cute orange sewing machine made for beginners like me. It goes only one speed (super slow-mo), and I actually appreciate that limitation.

Joe’s Sticky Stuff
I found out about Joe’s Sticky Stuff when I hosted a web series for Disney, and the set decorators used it on many tasks, ranging from mounting signs on walls to attaching decorative patches to my clothing. It works like a super-sticky double-sided tape, except it has a thick, gummy consistency. What I love about it is that it provides a strong adhesive bond, but is also removable. For holding pieces in place temporarily, it’s perfect. But the hold is so strong that I often just leave the sticky stuff on my projects and it stays there for good.

Xyron Creative Station
When applying an adhesive coating to the back of paper, I used to use spray mount. Glue sticks aren’t very reliable, and liquid glue makes the paper lumpy, and I liked how spray mount gave me a nice, even coating of adhesive. But if you’ve ever used spray mount, you know it gets everywhere — including your lungs. I looked all around for an alternative solution and was delighted to find the Xyron Creative Station. It puts a sticky back on any piece of paper. The nine-inch Creative Station will accommodate a standard piece of letter-sized paper.  

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