Friday, August 21, 2015

Extend the Life of Your Craft Supplies

We spend lots of money on supplies and we want them to last for a long time. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that. Most of these tips are not new but it's good to have them all in one place!

If your punch is not punching as cleanly as it used to it probably needs a little sharpening. Get a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half, then in half again to create four layers. Stick that folded piece in your punch, and punch a couple of shapes from it. Do maybe half a dozen or so. Believe it or not, that will sharpen up your punch a bit.
If the punch sticks, and doesn't pop back quickly, It needs a little waxing to make it slide more easily. Tear off a small piece of waxed paper, and fold it into four layers. Punch through the folded waxed paper half a dozen times. You’re waxing up the edges a bit, which helps encourage the punch to spring back quickly.

Ink Pads
The cause of ink drying out in stamp pads so quickly is the same process that makes the ink dry on your project - the evaporation of the solvent or liquid in the ink. In order to extend the life of your ink pad always close the top of the stamp ink pad every time you use it. Put the ink pad into a plastic Ziploc style bag, making sure to force all the air out of the bag before sealing it. Store the ink pad upside down. Eventually you'll need to re-ink the pad with pigment and solvent. Almost all ink pads today have available refills.

Proper cleaning and storage of your rubber stamps is an easy way to extend the usable life of your rubber stamps. Some stamps can become stained after repeated use or after use with permanent inks. If your stamp is stained, but clean, it will not transfer old ink into your new project. Most non-staining inks can be washed off using mild soapy water. A clean toothbrush is great for washing off ink that has become embedded in nooks or crannies in your rubber stamp. There are a number of great stamp cleaners and stamps scrubbers on the market, but I personally think you don't need them.

Stencils are usually made of durable materials. But cleaning them regularly with soap and water will make sure no excess paint will interfere with the stencil's pattern. Store them in their original package so they will not get tangles in each other.

1. Clean your brush immediately after using it. When you are having an artistic moment, it may be tempting to leave a dirty brush to sit for a while while you grab another one to complete your masterpiece. Resist! Especially in the case of painting with acrylics, forgetting to clean a brush often means buying a new one.
2. Between painting sessions, clean your brushes with brush cleaner, soapy water or shampoo.
When you know you’ll be putting your brushes away for a while, a simple rinse in water (or mineral spirits for oils) isn’t good enough. Work brush soap or shampoo into the bristles of the brush all the way down to the ferrule, and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm to cool water until no trace of paint or suds are left. 

3. Do your best to clean the base of the bristles.
The area near the ferrule is often the hardest to clean, but it’s actually just as important for maintaining a brush’s shape as the tip. Any paint residue that coats the bristles at their base will prevent them from coming together at the top. Gradually, your brush tip will become more and more spread apart until it no longer holds its shape.
4. Never store your brushes vertically in water or solvent.
There are a few good reasons not to do this. The pressure on the brush can permanently misshape the bristles, bending them or spreading them out so they no longer come to a point. If they are left too long to rest on the bristles, most brushes will never regain their original shape. Store clean brushes vertically head-side-up or horizontally. Make sure that brushes aren’t resting against the tips of other brushes, or they can become deformed.

Acrylic paints all dry out at some point but in order to reach that point as late as possible there are a few things you can do. Try to buy paint with a small opening the less contact with air the longest the paint will stay liquid. If you have paints in large opening containers cover the opening with plastic sheet and then close the lid. While working always make sure the paint is closed. If I have paints I haven't used for awhile I shake them every once in awhile so the pigment and the liquid will mix together and not separate (which is a contributing factor for fast drying).

If you have more tips on extending the life of your craft supplies please share it in the comments.

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