It’s been a while since I reflected on this post. I suggested that, often, those who wanted to take up making small (and large!) handmade items for their big day were… ill equipped.
I want to say this on the subject: Firstly, that we too often underestimate the importance of the quality of the tools that we use, willing to be contented with whatever we have to hand without even thinking of how effective they actually are. Secondly, that we do not take the trouble to invest in them in sufficient number. So today here is a list of five tools which are – in my opinion – indispensable for the effective organisation of your creative sessions:
We almost always need Stanley knives. There are “finger knives” (the end of the handle slides, like a ring, around your index finger) for which the hand control allows a lot of precision work. Now that I’ve discovered them, I never use any others. To my knowledge, only the brand Fishkars markets them in France.
Do not hesitate to regularly change the blades, which are quickly blunted by the cutting edge. If you have to go back over the cutting of a given project several times, multiply the number of cuts by the number of objects you wish to make… With this simple measure, you can gain much more time.
If your project necessitates rounded cuts, opt for knives with rotary heads, which are designed exactly for this use. You might need a while to get familiar with them, but once you’ve got the hang of them they’re just magical.
It’s a good idea to invest in several pairs of scissors. You will find them easily in the “school supplies” department of your supermarket for a very reasonable price, and these generally cut very well. What is most important is replacing them, without thinking too much about it, if they are not perfectly sharp. My favourites are from Muji; they cut extremely well and, as they are not too expensive, I don’t have any scruples about regularly buying a new pair.
On the other hand, if you plan to have sticky surfaces to cut (double sided sticky tape, masking tape…), feel free to invest in a pair of titanium scissors. They are admittedly more expensive, but are designed not to retain adhesive materials (which are capable of making even the sharpest traditional blades inoperable in just a few snips). If not, assign one pair of scissors, and only one, to cutting adhesive materials.
Do not underestimate the importance of this one simple instrument. First and foremost, make sure they are long enough: if you are working from A4 pieces of paper (the standard size of printer paper), at least 30cm will be necessary to cover the entire length of the page.
The material is also important: metal rulers give the best results because there is no risk of them being damaged by the blades used for cutting. Avoid rulers made of resin or plastic, which deteriorate quickly.
The work surface
You can get yourself work surfaces in all shops dealing with creative hobbies or art, and there are several sizes. It will allow you to work in more comfort: the plastic that is characteristic of these surfaces prevents the materials you use from slipping, so no false moves.
The surface is also designed to be resistant to the blades of cutters. If you are used to using old cardboard boxes as a makeshift work surface, this tool will change your life.
A large number of glues adapted to a thousand different uses (paper, wood, tissue paper…) are commercially available. These glues are very effective, but they do not meet one of your most pressing needs, in this case: the speed of implementation (you have to wait for the glue to dry). To skirt around this problem, feel free to use double-sided sticky tape every time you can.
The ones that can be found in creative hobbies shops have the benefit of coming in a number of formats, widths and interesting cuts. But to save money, you could instead turn to adhesives intended for the construction industry, such as those used for bathrooms, plastic flooring or carpets (available in DIY shops). Cheaper and very strong, they can be a very VERY big help.
Last but not least: large quantities
Before beginning your project, whatever it may be, don’t forget that you will soon need to make things in large numbers, and need the help of your friends. This is perhaps the most important thing that you should remember at the time of developing your project. You must therefore estimate every tool that you will need, in sufficient quantities: nothing wastes time more than having to wait for your neighbour to finish their cutting, so that you can take their pair of scissors.
So if you plan “craft” afternoons for several people, also plan a small kit of basic tools for each of your little hands. In this way you will gain valuable time. Obviously, you will have to spend a bit of money – no more than around a hundred euros – but I promise the reward is well worth the effort and, if you take into account your overall budget for decoration, this represents a tiny part of your spending – so really, do not hesitate.
If you also have tips for working quickly and well, feel free to let us know in the comments!
Photo credits: Heading photo, photos 3 and 4 – Martin Condomines, Photo 2 – Ela & the Poppies (photos taken at Andy festival)