If you’ve come this far in the Best of the Basics series, you are probably the proud owner of some fun stamps and dies, inks and blocks, and have been creating colourful cards happily.
In this article, I will outline some of the best tools and gadgets I’ve found that helped to ease the tricky parts of putting a card together. These are all well used in my own craft room, and I can fully recommend them.
Many of the items listed below are inexpensive, but others may require a certain amount of investment (might pay to bookmark this page for Santa’s list next Christmas or birthday!)
In no particular order, let’s dive in.
I know when I first started stamping, I found myself very frustrated when something didn’t stamp correctly – I would have to stamp at least 6 images to get a perfect outline. Stamping that final sentiment was nail biting!! And background stamps? Forget it.
I tried foam underneath my stamping, the Sizzix Secret Weapon (possibly still have that hiding somewhere!) to no avail. Some photopolymer stamps are quite firm, and I recall being rather disappointed at a certain set of beautiful scripty sentiments that no matter how hard I tried, I could NOT get a clear image.
I was first introduced to the MISTI at a stamping class – it had a very hefty price tag! But I decided then and there to save up.
Before I managed to achieve the savings goal however, Tim Holtz released his Stamping Platform to the world – at a fraction of the price of the MISTI. Unfortunately, this resulted in lawsuits, and now they have been taken off the market. I’ll update this when alternatives (e.g. We R Memory Keepers) are released.
The basic premise is this: Your stamp (clear or rubber) is attached to the lid, much like you would use an acrylic block. Your cardstock is placed on the base of the platform and the hinged lid lifts and places the stamp in the exact same spot however many times you need to achieve that crisp image.
This tool has definitely changed my stamping game – that stamp set I was originally disappointed by had a new lease of life and is still one of my firm favourites! I do have both of these platforms in my craft room, and could not pick one over the other. I also have both mini sized offerings – very handy when your craft space is limited, but if you are making your first purchase, ensure you get the original size to start with. There is a large sized MISTI available – that is aimed at scrapbookers. It is not necessary for cardmakers.
Regardless of which stamping platform you choose to have in your craft room, this is a very handy addition. A set of plastic ‘corners’ to help align your stamps, hold cardstock, plus there are a few fun techniques to get the most out of this purchase.
The Creative Corners set is not something you need to rush out and purchase, but certainly something that can become very useful.
A cheaper alternative is a simple plastic T-ruler – available from most art, craft and stationery stores. An inexpensive tool to help get those sentiments and images perfectly straight, find the centre of your cardstock pieces for perfect placement. Definitely worth the $6-$7 price tag.
There are also tools such as the Stamp-a-ma-Jig, and one from Art Impressions that were around before these two tools hit the market, but I am unsure of their current availability in New Zealand.
Getting a nice crisp folded edge really makes a big difference to your finished projects – a professional edge you might say!
I like the mini sized scoreboards (usually around $20) which measures up to 5.5″ across the top. I’ve found anything bigger is hard to manoeuvre on an already crowded craft table by the time I’m ready to score and fold that card base!
There are larger scoreboards too – great for scrapbookers.
If you have the Fiskars wire trimmer, you can use the blade line as a scoring line until you are ready to invest in a scoreboard.
The TEFLON Bone Folder is one of those things that you will absolutely wince at the price when you first look and wonder why on earth you need it when you probably don’t use your plastic bone folder all that much anyway.
I took the plunge – mainly because my favourite crafter on YouTube said I would not regret it. Jennifer McGuire was absolutely right with this. I went from hardly using a bone folder to using this tool every single time I make a card – the folds are smooth and crisp, no unsightly marks, squeaks or unintended burnishes on the cardstock in question, and suddenly those interactive cards and boxes with fancy folds and tiny flaps are not as daunting.
On the Craft Table
I work at my old dining table in my craft room, which has a little give despite being a wooden piece of furniture. My work desk whilst more solid, doesn’t have an entirely smooth finish, it has one of those faux finishes which looks pretty, but makes ink blending and colouring a bit tricky to achieve a smooth result. So when the Glass Mat by Tim Holtz was released, I was one of the first in line.
The Tim Holtz Glass Mat is worth every cent! I love that it is so easy to splash inks down, mix and add water, tape cardstock down, measure, centre my pieces, line up stamps and mix texture pastes etc. Clean up is generally a breeze. Even better, if I want to pick up my entire project and take it to a different room, it is a very simple thing to do!
I found that having a piece of stabilising rubber matting underneath helpful to keep the feet on the bottom of the mat from sticking terribly to the table. However, I have found replacement feet which are almost exactly the same in my local Bunnings.
Just recently, Tim has released the Left Hander’s version plus the mini sized glass mats in both Left and Right. All this means is that the white panel is on the left side. Funnily, I am a left handed person and prefer my inks and messy bits on the right hand side so I don’t inadvertently dip my elbow in it anyway! I’m unsure of the availability of the Left Hander’s mat – but please check back or let me know if you plan to order one.
Not actually found in craft stores, but instead found in cosmetic aisles. I have this handy carousel on my table and it holds A LOT of stuff – tools, pens, brushes, embossing buddies, spray bottles, glues, erasers, blending handles, you name it. I bought mine for around $18 on TradeMe.
It spins around, making access very easy for those tools and bits that are constantly used. I found having things in a messy drawer was not working for me as a crafter, and having them on the table in a tidy and controlled fashion has made my crafting sessions a lot less stressful.
There are also clear trays and shelving units designed for nail polishes and lipsticks which are perfect for storing things like Stickles, Nuvo drops and refills.
The Little Things
There are other tweezers on the market, but don’t be fooled. The EK Success Tweezers are worth the money, and have a very firm grip. This is important when you need those teeny pieces to stick together, holding the small strips to be heat embossed away from your fingers etc. You squeeze them to open them, so they hold fast without any effort from you.
Trying to get those super tiny pieces in place a lot easier with the Marvy Uchida Jewel Picker tool. This handy tool picks up gems, sequins, tiny pieces of cardstock (think tittles on your ‘i’s and ‘j’s or tiny dots for eyes). There are two different sized slightly sticky ends, although it really doesn’t matter which end you use. If the ends lose their ‘stick’ simply wipe them over with a baby wipe.
The Mono sand eraser is fantastic for getting rid of those fingerprints and awful smudges – nothing worse than putting together your final card to notice an unsightly spot on it! There are actually two different types of eraser – one is a sanding block at both ends, the other has the sanding block at one end and a smoothing block at the other. I tend to reach for the one with both the sanding and smoothing ends.
There are lots of cheap plastic spatulas and scrapers out there, and they are great to start out with. If you have those already, you are already set.
The Nuvo spatulas are more like your rubber kitchen spatula on a much smaller scale, and they can move the pastes over the stencil with minimum waste. The idea is to smooth out your texture pastes, glitter and shimmer pastes over stencils.
The rubber embossing mat is a must have. With it, you can extend your die stash so they not only cut, you can use the mat to emboss your dies instead – resulting in intricate lines and borders embossed into your cardstock. I will link here to a class I held where this was the main technique taught.
Sakura Glaze gelly pens give your stamped images a bit of a lift when used for eyes and tiny dots/stars. They do come in many colours, but black is definitely a pen to invest in first. White is great for adding stars to night skies, spots to critters, details to clothing/fabric images etc. Please contact the French Art Shop to purchase – they are around $3.50 each.
The Magic Bead tray has a textured bottom so if you jiggle it a little, the gems and sequins flip over, making it easier to pick up with the jewel picker. There are other ‘bead trays’ out there which do not have the textured bottom, and I have a couple of these which I use in my embossing powder containers. Because of the long straight edge, it makes them perfect to get the sprinkle of embossing powder over a sentiment easily.
I hope you have fun stocking your craft table with some of these handy tools. Every crafter is different, and you might find that you have some tools that I haven’t listed here that work well for you – I’d love to know about them!
Thank you for visiting – I hope you have found the above information helpful in your card making journey. As new products are released and trends change, you might like to bookmark this page to keep up to date. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.