Hello, crafty friend!!! Today I’m sharing the first part of my Holiday Gift Guide for 2022. This list features my most used and highest rated craft products from this past year. I combed through my entire craft room to pick out only the very best recommendations. Let’s get started…
I swore off this tool because I couldn’t see why I needed it when I already had a pile of clear blocks. I received this as a gift last Christmas, and I’ve hardly touched acrylic blocks since!
The design provides consistent stamping for beginner, novice, and experienced card makers and is vital to my success when mass-producing projects. I also find it much easier to use when it comes to mobility or arthritic issues like mine. I have the mini cardmaking size, but it’s also available in two larger sizes that accommodate bigger projects like slimline cards and scrapbook pages.
I made the switch from a manual to an electronic die cutting machine a couple years ago now and don’t regret the investment one bit! I started out with the Gemini Jr, but recently upgraded to the Big Shot Switch Plus. Just as with other tools on my list, these are much easier on my hands and back. I no longer need to crank anything or lug out my big manual machine since these newer machines fit nicely on the desk next to me.
I took this photo below, so you can see the size comparison between the two machines and their cutting areas. The Standard Magic Mat (a self-healing cutting mat) I’ve been using in the Gemini Jr fits perfectly sideways in the new Sizzix machine, but now I have the option to use larger plates & dies paired with the Magic Mat in the Plus size.
3. Ink Pads
I had a difficult time narrowing down which ink to tell you was my favorite this year because I use different formulas for different applications.
The ink I love most for stamping are by Catherine Pooler. These inks come on a foam pad in 95 beautiful colors! They also come in a mini size which is my favorite because I can fit the entire collection into a smaller footprint, they’re cheaper, and I can do way more of my favorite techniques with them.
The inks I love most for blending are Distress Oxides by Ranger. These inks come on a felt pad and although you can blend with other inks these are just special. There is nothing else on the market that gives such a smooth & flawless look. I have nearly the entire collection, but I keep the ones I use more often in the drawer next to my desk.
When I first started ink blending, I was using make up sponges and finger daubers. Although those still work, I find it much easier to get a near flawless blend when I use a hand tool. For regular dye ink pads I like to use soft brushes, but for my favorite Distress Oxide inks I much prefer using a domed foam applicator. It really gets the ink down smoothly and in a jiffy!
The next item I fell in love with this past year was a silicone craft mat. The first one I received was the Waffle Flower Water Media Mat. It has wells for adding mediums and a lip around the edge to ensure everything stays on the mat. I use it every time I do any sort of painting. Waffle flower has since come out with other sizes and even inkpad holder versions too.
The next mat I received was the large Scrapbook.com non-stick craft mat. What I love most about this mat is how versatile it is. Since it doesn’t have a lip or ink wells, I was able to cut mine down into quarters. It’s the perfect size to hold an A2 card front securely while I ink blend, paint, or add any other mediums. I also use it as a coaster, non-slip stamping platform base, jar opener, and shim for embossing with dies.
6. Gel Pens
Okay, now let’s talk about gel pens. Not just any gel pens, but Sakura gel pens. I used to have these in middle & high school, but recently rediscovered them when I was testing out several white gel pens. I was getting sick of them drying out or not working over different mediums. I have had the same white Gelly Roll pen for over a year now, and it’s still working perfectly!
This past year I expanded my collection fell in love with their Stardust, Metallic, & Glaze pens. They’re not just fun for writing notes. I especially find them amazing for adding accents and coloring in detailed images. You can purchase these pens individually, in sets, or an entire collection.
Oh, boy do I love cardstock! I have tons of colors from several brands I adore, but I want to talk about an unexpected & underrated standout today. It’s something I use on every single project: pre-cut & scored cards. I thought purchasing pre-cut & scored cards was perhaps just lazy at first, but now I see it as a total life hack!
You can see in my desk drawer below how I keep them filed among some of my other frequently used papers. The ones I like in particular are a sturdy 80lbs cover stock that takes ink well, holds up to heavy embellishment, and hasn’t ever warped on me with various mixed media applications.
Rarely do I create a card that isn’t finished with a bit of splatter at the end. I knew I would be creating this post soon, so I spent a ton of time last week testing every single ink in my collection until I could narrow it down to just the essentials.
Spellbinders Silks are overall my favorite. There aren’t many colors, but the nail polish bottles are the easiest & least messy to use because the brush is built in. Their Onyx color was the best black I tested though the clear Sparkle Silk was my most used splattering ink this year.
I tested a few gold colors, but didn’t find a standout which performed well on both light and dark cardstocks. If you have any suggestions for me to test out and compare, please let me know.
The best white by far was Dylusions White Linen. In fact, every single one of the colors in the Dylusions line I tested was outstanding, especially the shimmer sprays. When I want a matte, non-shimmer white splatter then I reach for a white pigment reinker or acrylic paint.
For many years I was a classic Fiskar’s trimmer gal. I loved the guide wire and how flat & portable it was since I often went to crops and classes. I was also really into creating scrapbook pages, so having the capability to trim a full 12″x12″ paper was essential for me.
I grew tired of constantly replacing blades and wasn’t traveling anymore, so I invested in the Maxi Guillotine trimmer. I loved it so much, I later purchased the smaller Comfort Trimmer to keep on my craft desk, and I love it even more. It’s the trimmer I use most often. Tonic even has a new 6.25″ mini trimmer now too, but I think I’m well-covered with the options I have now.
Along with splatter, I usually can’t go without adding pearls, sequins, gems, or embellishment drops to my projects. Liquid embellishment drops by far are the most versatile. You can control the size & shape of your embellishments, mix them with water to use as paint, add them to cardstock to create enamel-like backgrounds & die cuts, and use them over stencils like a mixed media paste. I’m sure there are other uses, but those are the ones I’ve tried and love so far.
In my testing, I’ve found the best drops for techniques & mixed media are the Pops of Color from Scrapbook.com. You can find beautiful glitter options in the Stickles line and amazing iridescent rainbow finishes in the Nuvo Dream Drops collection.
This was definitely the year I went old school with my crafting. A year ago I had just a couple, but now I have an entire binder full. Stencils aren’t what they used to be though. Of course you can still find the traditional single layer designs, but now you can also find layering stencils and stencils that coordinate with stamp sets, so you can simple ink blend your designs instead of coloring. Why wasn’t this a thing sooner?
My favorite brand for finding stencils with coordinating stamp sets is Pinkfresh Studio. My favorite for classic & trending single & multi-layer backgrounds is Scrapbook.com, and my favorite for creating background scenes like grass, hills, and clouds is Lawn Fawn.
If your collection is also growing like mine, then I suggest trying out a binder and page protectors to keep them organized. Most of mine are 6″x6″ or 6″x8″, so this mini binder works great for me. I do have a few slimline stencils, but since I don’t create slimline cards often I keep all my slimline products together in another area.
12. Alcohol Markers
Okay, last but not least… alcohol markers. A couple years ago I tried Copic markers and wasn’t a fan. I found it really difficult to navigate and coordinate the hundreds of colors they came in. I needed some sort of marker to color with, so I built a collection of Stampin’ Up markers. They came in pairs of light and dark tones which made coloring extremely simple. It wasn’t long before I wanted more range, so I graduated to TriBlend markers which have three tones in each marker. They also came in a ton more colors. They’re absolutely brilliant, and I still love them especially when the occasion arises that I want to take some crafting on the road. I highly suggest these for beginners and colorists on the go.
As I became more and more comfortable with coloring and blending this past year I found myself craving more colors than the limited collection offered. I did a ton of research before settling on the next marker investment. In the end, nothing else came close to the winner. Copic markers deserved another try. What do you know? I love them! I suppose I just needed training wheels for a little while. Now I have the colors I was craving and even more to explore.
Whew! We did it! What do you think? Have you tried out any of these products? Are there any you want to try? Please let me know. I’ll be back again soon to share with you what’s on my crafty wish list. I’ll include products I’m dying to try and recommended to me by my fellow crafters.
In the meantime, please feel free to check out more details on my craft room as well as the latest updates on this year’s biggest craft sales, coupons, & freebies. I’ve collected all the best deals from my favorite shops, and I’ll keep updating the directory as new deals pop up.
Until next time… stay crafty!