- Lisa Jevens
Take your crafting to the next level with these handy tools that boost your creativity. From a high-tech cutting machine to a low tech bag, these crafty gadgets will make it easier to do what you love.
1. Yarn tote bag There are lots of yarn tote bags out there, but the BeCreative yarn bag is an Amazon best seller. This is the perfect bag to take your knitting or crocheting with you anywhere you go. It holds 10 skeins of yarn, and has five pockets on the outside and two on the inside to hold needles, hooks, scissors, glasses, phone, patterns, etc. The top of the bag has holes for the yarn to come out, so you can work while keeping your yarn clean. The bag has a detachable shoulder strap, and is sturdy enough to stand up by itself. Sold on amazon.com for $22.
2. Coloring markers Professional art markers in vibrant colors will make your coloring book designs pop. Prismacolor Premier Brush/Fine Art Markers have been the choice of artists for decades. These dual-headed markers have a brush tip at one end for flexible strokes and a fine tip at the other for precise lines. The markers come in 196 colors using alcohol-based, permanent ink. The most cost-effective way to buy them is in sets at art supply stores or craft stores. A set of 12 costs $21 at Blick, dickblick.com.
3. Glue gun There are many cheap hot glue guns on the market, but it is better to pay a little more and get some safety features on your glue gun. Surebonder specializes in making versatile glue guns for different purposes. The DT-3100F Ultra Series 100 watt full size glue gun is a good all-purpose home glue gun. It is dual-temperature, so you can regulate how hot you want the glue, which determines how fast it dries. It also has auto shut-off technology, so it will cool down by itself after 30 minutes of disuse. The insulated nozzle helps protect your fingers from burns. It even has a body design that allows you to lay the glue gun on its side without causing a mess. Surebonder glue guns are available at the company website, surebonder.com, but amazon.com is selling this model for less, at $21.
4. Cutting machine Ever wonder how crafters cut those intricate designs in all kinds of materials, from paper to leather? They use specialized cutting machines like the Cricut Explore Air 2. The machine is Bluetooth enabled, which allows you to send a design from your computer, phone or tablet to the cutter, which cuts it out quickly and precisely. Swap the blades for a pen, and the Cricut Explore Air 2 will draw any design that you send to it onto your chosen material. There is also a scoring function for making fold lines on paper. The Cricut Explore Air 2 costs about $199-$299 depending on the extras bundled with it, such as fonts, paper, pens, mats, etc. Check Amazon and craft store websites to find the best deal.
Originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section on March 16, 2018.