I've been wanting to post a blog about products for all of you who are in the curious or beginner phases of DIY projects and crafting... People ask me all the time, what products I'd recommend for a variety of projects. (It can be utterly overwhelming when you begin with these babies!)... EVERYONE does them a different way, no one technique is "right or wrong" and there are THOUSANDS of products available, in such a wide variety of prices, that it can feel like you don't know where to start! If you know anything about how The Attic Vintage Rehabs (AVR) came to be, you already know that we are the definition of a "Mom and Pop shop"! (Which is how I like it!) But that also means that we're creating and building on a Mom and Pop shop budget! When this started I never imagined it would turn into what it has, I just wanted my dining room table to look a certain way and I couldn't find it in ANY store. - Like most things in my world, I got an idea, did two seconds of research and then went into "go mode"! - I'm a planner by nature but with DIY and Crafts, I like to just dive in and see what happens. Which has lead me to a lot of learning curves.... but I digress.
When I have a new idea, my process looks something like this:
Home Depot/ Hobby Lobby/ Micheal's
As you can see, its not super complicated...
I've also found that there is a YouTube video for almost ANY project you want to make.
DIY and Crafting has changed a lot over the past few years, the popular crafts from when I was a kid, are a FAR cry from the very detailed and chic items I see and even create myself, today. The problem is, without the right tools/products, you can find yourself frustrated and feeling defeated because you're vision and idea turns bad, quickly!
I personally feel that its overwhelming what you find on the shelves at the "go-to" DIY/Craft/Hardware stores! (Again, THOUSANDS of options). I've found myself frustrated in #HobbyLobby googling individuals products and looking through 100 reviews online to figure out which product to buy and why. - For someone who tries to be very budget conscience with new things, I am more concerned w/ the "Why" someone uses a product. My tendency is to go cheap with tools & supplies instead of the more expensive options, ESPECIALLY when I'm not really sure what I'm doing.
*Insert Unpopular Opinion*
The cheap items, have actually become some of my favorites! I find that some of the most unlikely, under rated products have provided the best results! Here are 3 examples of what I mean:
1. Acrylic Paint
Talk about a lot of options.... The stencil isle is CRAY. I literally try to avoid it at all cost! There are like 8 brands sold at Michael's alone. - I will admit sometimes I see a color I've not seen before and I fall in love (a little), but the prices for a 2oz bottle of some of those paints are ridiculous. If you walked into my office/supply closet today, you would find about 30 bottles of "Craftsmart" brand Acrylic. The cheapest available at Michaels, and often on-sale *WIN* has been my go-to. Signs (Even Large ones), Ornaments, Coasters... You name it. If its detailed painting, by hand, in this shop, its Craftsmart. - They have a lot of options available in terms of color and I've found that its very durable. They also usually have bundles of 10-12 bottles for under $12.00... - need I say more?
2. Paint Brushes
Its probably just me, but there is something so exhilarating about using a new paint brush! Especially when its a nice one! The downside, is that paint brushes can be expensive, and they don't last very long. You can be the best brush cleaner on the planet, but after a few pieces, brushes tend to fray a bit which can be a major pain if you're not careful. I have two go-to items ALWAYS on deck:
I make tons of home decor signage & these little brushes are the secret sauce! Since my design style tends to be more on the Farmhouse Chic end of things, I've found that these add a ton of texture to my sign background, with literally no extra effort. (Try and you'll see!) You can absolutely use them for full coverage too. Just depending on the look you want to achieve! They come in every size and shape you can imagine! For smaller pieces of furniture, I have even used these brushes for staining. They're VERY versatile and easy to clean! I have tons in my office and shop. The best part for me, the price! You can usually find these brushes for under $3.00 a pack. I purchase mine from the dollar store typically... Which means I don't feel bad tossing them once they've done the job.
Chalk Paint Brushes:
The AVR started out just furniture rehabs. While we've evolved into so much more, that's where it all began and are still some of my most favorite projects to undertake. I found out VERY quickly though, that a regular square paint brush is NOT the best tool when chalk painting furniture. If you google these brushes, you'll get lost. Every chalk paint brand has their own set of brushes and everyone says theirs is best quality and lasts the longest. - I personally picked up this one.
$18.99 and one of my best investments yet. I've been using the same brush for well over a year. This one brush has completed nearly 25 pieces of furniture and is my go-to for anything Chalk paint related! - I do not use this brush for wax application. - I know you can, I just prefer to use it for painting only. Its very durable, it cleans well, and its really held up! There is something to the round brush, and with this one, you get a lot of bang for your buck!
3. Vinyl Cutting: Product & Accessories
As I mentioned above, we (AVR) do a lot of home decor signage. - In order to do that, you need good vinyl, cutting tools, and weeders. I was graciously gifted my Cricut Explore Air 2 last year as a Christmas gift (thank you, parents!) - I had no clue what I was getting into. Of course I looked online and I saw that Cricut makes about 400 products to accompany their amazing cutting machine. - At the time being brand new to that whole world, I assumed that the vinyl and accessories sold for the Cricut, must be the best... - Nope.
Before I go on - I want to be clear, I LOVE my Cricut! I love their products and I use them regularly. Their mats, their drawings tools, their heat press (amaze!)- But I have found alternatives that are, IMO, better quality and cheaper.
Vinyl: I have used, EVERY single Vinyl option Cricut and others make. For small little crafts and decals, they work just fine, but when making a sign, or larger item. I will only use Oramask 813 Vinyl!
Its the best! It really cuts back on bleed through, its cheap to purchase in bulk, its cuts beautifully and it isn't as tacky as the other vinyls, which means my surface isn't damaged when I remove it after painting. - I HIGHLY recommend this product and the Masking Film that accompanies. - Stellar performance, and value! You can find this product online very easily. Amazon can usually get it to you within a day if you're a prime member, and I'm telling you... you can't go wrong!
My Dollar Store X-Acto Knife: (not pictured)
My very best friend, and the one tool I use 100 times a week!
When cutting Vinyl and Transfer Tape you need something that will give you a clean and precise cut, every time. - This little gem has proven to do just that! If you're looking for a tool like this at the big name stores, you'll pay $10-$15... I paid less than $5 and its been a great add to my accessory kit!
Weeding Tool: (not pictured) This one is a tribute to the MR. at AVR... -While he's not a stencil designer, or small sign maker himself, he has made a few, and his first reaction to the name brand weeder I have..."This is so uncomfortable!". - He was right. Its not the most comfortable grip or hand placement item I've ever used. Its also got a thicker body so it feels a little bulky. That discovery led him to our local Harbor Freight where he found a pack of tools with the same purpose for $4 that are thinner, sharper, and allow for more ease of use when it comes to angles. (Thank you, Hubby!)
I hope that the above has given you some insight and something to reference back to. There are so many great products out there, just don't be deceived that you have to invest hundreds of dollars into supplies to get started! I love to see people tap into their creative side! Its amazing the talent that exists in the world. I'm convinced everyone's got "it"... You just have to tap into "it".
The AVR is going to begin our classes and DIY Workshops in the Spring of 2020... for those who are interested, we'd love to come alongside and make your ideas a reality!
Check back in the coming months for more details!