“There are crafters with bins and closets full of papers, bobbles, bits and glues. Ever wondered what all of that stuff really is?iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Maybe your idea of working with crafts involves pinning other people’s projects to virtual bulletin boards on Pinterest or ordering custom greeting cards from an Etsy shop, but in all likelihood, there are more than a few craft items in your home ready to use right now. Some individuals — overachievers or not — have bins and closets full of papers, bobbles, bits and glues, and rooms with tables and boards and paper for putting it all together, but what are they working with and is there something extreme or in between that may strike your crafting fancy?
We’ve assembled some crafting terms for those who dabble and for those who may be going head-to-head until the best crafts win, so uncap the glue gun and clear the clutter from the kitchen table. Your next project may just be frame-worthy, gift-able or even a money maker. At worst, it will be sticky, glittery and fun.
- Craft Glossary A-C
- Craft Glossary D-G
- Craft Glossary H-K
- Craft Glossary L-P
- Craft Glossary Q-S
- Craft Glossary T-Z
Craft Glossary A-C
One of the faster-drying paints, acrylics have an almost plastic appearance when used thinly or thickly and they dry and harden so it’s easy to build color on color or texture upon texture.
Airbrushing used to be a niche for professionals because of the tools required, but its popularity has led to wider availability of kits for achieving a fine mist of even color with subtle fades to just about any surface, from cloth to plastics. Even makeup artists "craft" painted faces with airbrushing kits.
Faux pearls, strings of garnet-like beads and pyramids of crystal are well-suited for gluing and wrapping flat and three-dimensional works and objects from books to frames to urns.
Greeting cards aren’t the dime store bargain they used to be, but one of the main reasons we like to make our own isn’t the cost, it’s the fun of doing it and making it our own. Many discount chain stores now stock what used to be found only at craft stores, and box sets in plain colors or embossed trims are ready for the special treatment before being sent to that special someone.
Not just for painting, canvas is stretched and dimensional, and it can be wrapped in fabrics, covered with photos and shellacked with pieces of colored paper or objects glued into place underneath. Even painting canvases in solid hues adds a touch of color to rooms, and crafty people without formal training in how to paint can create bold stripes or geometric designs on canvas to suit a space.
Useful not just as drop cloth to catch paint splatters, canvas cloth also is a sturdy option for large wall paintings, curtains and upholstery. It holds up well to wet techniques such as ink printing or spray painting, too.
A metal-tipped pen with specially sized and spilt tips that allow for curvy and elegant scripts in pen and ink. Often used for wedding invitations and dining place cards.
Scented and unscented candles can be costly and you can burn through them fast, but making them at home is one option for saving money and stocking your favorite colors and aromas. Most candle-making supplies are sold locally or can be ordered in bulk online.
The black, white and gray tones of charcoals are perfect for shading and for creating tone-on-tone works to break up color projects. Completed projects in charcoal should be covered to keep them from blurring and fading on contact and over time.
A fabric often used for draping, wrapping or adding a soft filter to a surface, chiffon is very adaptable for interior design projects from bed canopies to curtain scarves, as well as for adorning photo albums and scrapbooks.
A natural material that is plastic when wet, and used for making pottery, etc. Projects that call for relief work, or dimensional add-ons, are good starting points for learning clay techniques.
A crafty relative of knitting, crochet involves yarns and knots and know-how but creates a different finished product than knitting. Fortunately, it has become popular over and over again, having a fashion spring in the ’60s and ’70s and again in the 21st century, as hipsters and traditionalists find new ways to start chains and count loops with fine yarn.
Curios and Boxes
Plain wooden or ceramic containers can be painted, decaled and treated with varieties of beads, jewels and bits and bobbins, and even sturdy cardboard boxes can be painted and stacked for storage, gift-giving and décor. They’re even great for storing more craft items.
Knives and cutters in varying sizes are useful for making cutouts in fabric patterns and scrapbooking pages and for carving in details for paint layers or woodworking. Size, sharpness and shape of cutting tools varies depending on the job, and kits for specialized arts and crafts or for a variety of crafting needs include a range of types.
Craft Glossary D-G
Having an easel or two not only makes it easier to hold a work of art-in-progress in your home or studio, it also makes it possible to take your projects on the road so you can set up a canvas, sketch pad or watercolor paper anywhere the inspiration strikes. A photographer’s tripod is much the same.
Transform T-shirts, pillowcases and even upholstery covers in minutes with brush-on or pen style fabric paints that stand up to the washer and dryer. A simple medium for personalizing baby clothes for shower gifts, too.
Buying low-cost frames is part of the creative process for crafters because it adds one more design option for finishing works of art or framing memories for the home. A plain frame in any material can be adorned or even stripped and simplified to suit the piece and the place it will be displayed.
Flowers and Foliage
Real or artificial greenery and blooms help link the outdoors with the indoors and can provide scents — through treatment with scented oils or sprays, such as a cinnamon-twig broom for the kitchen — and they add elegance and a sense of place to rooms when framed simply in glass shadow boxes.
Most crafters have one and few let them gather dust, glue guns can be filled, heated and reused over and over again to join pieces of projects and artworks together with little mess and reliable accuracy. Models vary for working with different materials, but most are affordable and widely available.
Acid-free adhesives are necessary for preserving photos and papers for scrapbooking, and other media have specific glues, too. For instance, wood glues for building small boxes or joining details to dollhouses and signage or metal and plastic compounds for jewelry or frame-making.
Craft Glossary H-K
Needle-nosed pliers, plane metal wire in copper, silver or flat steel, and beads by the bucket load all go into making drop earrings, artsy rings and statement necklaces for sharing among friends or selling at local shops or online.
Whether you’re making your own or customizing blank books, journals make excellent gifts and can be decorated on the inside and/or outside with embossing, stamping and dying.
Once the early evening hobby of grandmothers and great aunts everywhere, knitting and pearling is a craft that has had a renaissance in recent decades. No longer just a blanket and sock-making hobby, knitting has become a trendy, fashionable and even social one. Knitting clubs meet in bars and restaurants where male and female knitters conceive elaborate and modern sweaters, scarves, skirts and even "not-your-grandma’s" knitted throws.
Craft Glossary L-P
Great for trimming furniture, adding texture to artworks and detailing objects, leather also is a naturalistic complement for presenting found objects in nature, for example shells, driftwood and dried flowers, as well as for adding a masculine touch to more feminine elements of design.
A great photograph or print can stand on its own, but often just the right boarder sets it off even more as a work of art or treasured portrait. Sets of heavy cardstock matting squares in assorted colors and widths help frame an image within its outer frame and complement the colors or textures they surround.
Silver, gold and bronze, as well as colored metal inks, aren’t just for creating holiday dazzle on homemade Christmas cards. They are great tools for adding borders to scrapbooks, personalizing wedding and baby shower invites, and even for adding fine details to woodworking or fabric projects.
Needle and Thread
Needlework and embroidery have been around for centuries and were traditionally considered part of a young woman’s skill set. Contemporary works in needle and thread include the old-school method of sewing through pre-printed needlework patterns, as well as adding complex and intricate detailing to clothing and household fabrics. Bargello, a form of Italian needlework popular in the 1970s, has seen a return to popularity as enthusiasts try to circulate designs and techniques from rare and hard-to-find pattern books.
From microscopic brush heads fit for painting on grains of rice to dense mane-like brushes the size of your hand, paintbrushes come in a multitude of sizes, shapes and materials to fit not just the scale of the project but also the medium. Brushes for watercolor painting aren’t the same as those for creating posters or detailing pottery.
This paper and glue technique dates back to ancient times and is still being used for shaping everything from animals to planets. Colors and sealants that preserve the formed and finished products keep the art form alive and innovative into the 21st century.
A favorite medium of serious artists for centuries, pastels are surprisingly user-friendly even to novice artists and make rich color statements unique from paint effects. Pastels do rub off but are ideal for framing in small- or large-scale formats.
Having a ready supply of photo albums on hand for decorating with personal touches such as stenciled names and dates or for filling with photos and children’s artwork on a rainy day provides both gift-giving options and personal storage and memorabilia projects.
Pinking Shears and Scissors
Straight, serrated or super-sharp, there are scissors for just about any crafting job, and often, having the right tool for the needed cut makes materials easier to work with and the finished product neater. Pinking shears for cutting jagged edges in cloth and fine, short bladed ones for sizing small papers for scrapbooking are just two specialized types.
Portable Sewing Machine
Hemming or adding trim to curtains, pillows and clothing is a snap with a handheld or portable stitcher that can follow curves and finish craft projects without having to maneuver a larger machine and cumbersome swaths of fabric.
Traditional printmaking involves carving or cutting out a pattern, inking or coating it with paint, and pressing it into surfaces to capture an image. While that process is still popular, technology also adds printmaking techniques that are less time-intensive but hold on to the crafty aspect of making an original design for reprinting on various papers or fabrics. Digital printing is a computer-generated method of printmaking for home artists and professionals.
Craft Glossary Q-S
Many people who start quilting start really small by joining a few interesting pieces of cloth, and most just keep going until they have a quilt! Squares are available in bulk or you can make your own from clothing, bedding or other fabrics that have sentimental value and add them in patterns of your own design until you have a completed quilt in the desired size.
A deceptively simple décor tool, ribbon adds the finishing touch to fabric works, scrapbook covers and journal pages, and wraps and gathers decorative twigs or other dried foliage. It also works well for attaching homemade books and adorning cards and gifts.
Add-on sconces are simple to hang and provide options for displaying objects such as crafted vases and frames, and, they can be painted and detailed to become décor items themselves, adding dimension to flat or bare walls.
Part memories, part art and plenty of originality, scrapbooking turns life events, words and photos into books and works of personal art. Using just paper, glue, stickers, and borders — not to mention endless shapes, sizes and colors, and add-ons and textured pieces — it is a bottomless craft: Designs can be entirely personal and unique over and over again.
Scrapbooking Paper and Cardstock
Millions of colors, textures, weights and shapes fill the bins and organizers of stores and home craft rooms, and whether composing by theme, life event or subject, there’s a paper for that.
Transferring images by filtering paint or ink through patterned and layered screens onto fabric, canvas or other surfaces.
A quick-change tool for furniture, outdoor pieces and large surfaces, spray paint also adds a saturated covering or urban dash of color reminiscent of the graffiti style to canvases or prints for decorating indoors.
Although kids enjoy them a lot, stickers aren’t just for activity books. They can be beautiful and personal additions to scrapbooks, journals and family projects such as activity calendars and bulletin boards.
Stamps and Ink Pads
Creating a repeating motif or running theme whether in books or on fabric and painting surfaces is easy with pre-cut stamps and ink. Varieties of designs, colors and finishes of ink are widely available at craft stores, or you can carve out your own stamps and mix custom colors.
A staple gun can be to crafting what duct tape is to home repairs — it holds things together in a pinch, literally! Whether it’s tacking upholstery or stretching canvas across a frame, a staple gun is a multi-purpose and pretty foolproof tool.
Craft Glossary T-Z
A cut-out shape that can be filled on the inside with paint, markers or other color media, a template lies flat on a surface so an image or shape doesn’t have to be drawn freehand, it can be traced or colored in.
You don’t need woodworking experience to work with unfinished wood. Pieces from small dollhouse furnishings to large hope chests and curio cabinets are available and ready for sanding, painting, detailing and displaying, and they’re often sturdy enough to survive and hand down from generation to generation.
Vases and Containers
Adding paint to a dollar-store planter or wrapping a vase in embroidered ropes and fabric can change the ordinary to the artsy and display-worthy easily and affordably.
Method of painting that allows for soft, diffused — or watered down — colors, or bold saturated colors depending on the balance of paint and water used. Most often painted onto specific watercolor papers or surfaces.
An assortment of wall décor stickers is easy to find in craft stores and online, and they’re far more changeable than the wallpaper variety of days past. Most can be configured in a multitude of patterns and are easy to remove and reuse.
Not just for jewelry-making and picture-hanging, wire is a multi-tasking craft item for twining, detailing and strengthening joinery in small-scale projects. It also makes artificial foliage more workable.
Lots More Information
- 10 Popular Craft Projects
- How to Organize a Craft Room
- Inexpensive Home Decor Crafts
- Scrapbooking 101
- Ultimate Guide to Recycled Glass Crafts
- A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts. "General Crafts Catalog." 2012. April 20, 2012. http://www.acmoore.com/c-7-crafts-catalog.aspx
- Disney Family Fun. "Crafts by Material." FamilyFun.go.com. 2012. April 21, 2012. http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/crafts-by-material/
- Martha Stewart Living. "Essential Craft Tools." MarthaStewart.com. 2012. (April 20, 2012) http://www.marthastewart.com/276982/craft-tools-and-projects?tab=index
- Martha Stewart Living. "The Crafts Dept." MarthaStewart.com. 2012. (April 20, 2012) http://thecraftsdept.marthastewart.com/
- Michaels Stores. "Departments." Michaels.com. 2012. (April 20, 2012) http://michaels.com/Art-Supplies/departments-artsupplies,default,sc.html#