Essential Craft Tools
Tissue paper is great for wrapping presents or as filler inside a gift bag. To punch confetti from tissue paper, stack three sheets with a sheet of plain paper, which acts as a stiffener, and punch through all four layers. It's also good for making paper flowers and pom-poms.
Tissue paper by Martha Stewart Crafts is available at Michaels stores.
Very translucent, this paper is often sold as envelopes and bags, then glued into scrapbooks to hold small mementos. Also used in card making or for unique favor packaging. Another idea: Use sheets as overlays in gift wrapping.
Make These Crafts Using Glassine:
Endlessly useful for scrapbooking and other projects -- and holding supplies. Made in a variety of materials, including cellophane, glassine, paper, and vellum. When embellished, they make great gift and favor bags.
Make These Crafts Using Paper Bags:
Sturdy and stretchy but lightweight, crepe paper can be sewn or ironed with a dry iron. Sold in solid-color sheets (called folds), it's great for making flowers, paper costumes, and party accessories. Double-sided (different colors on either side) is also available, but less common.
Crepe paper by Martha Stewart Crafts is available at Michaels stores.
Available in countless patterns, colors, and subtle textures, origami paper is square, thin, and easy to fold. It works well in collages, and comes in a variety of sizes.
Origami paper is available at marthastewartcrafts.com.
Designate one pair for paper and another for fabric and ribbon. Don't use your paper scissors, which will eventually become dull, to cut fabric; they can create pulls.
All-purpose scissors by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
Besides their primary function in sewing and needlecraft, these are excellent for cutting fine details. Keep them sharp, and they're perfect for making a clean cut in a tight space.
Pinking and Scalloping Shears
Prevent cut fabric from fraying by giving it a zigzag or scalloped edge. Also great for paper (they have a longer reach than decorative-edge scissors), but use separate pairs for fabric and paper.
Decorative Paper Punches
Popular among scrapbooking enthusiasts, this tool punches a variety of shapes (animals, leaves, letters) in a wide array of sizes. Corner punches shape corners and add decorative patterns, and sometimes embossing, to stationery and more; border punches do the same for the edges of paper.
Also known as a Japanese punch or a bookbinding punch, this tool can punch holes anywhere (regular hole punches only work near edges), and comes with several attachments for making holes in different sizes. Hold it perpendicular to paper and press down to punch over a cutting mat.
Make These Crafts Using the Screw Punch:
Screw punches are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
Cuts a long straight or decorative edge in fabric or paper. Align with a ruler to make a straight cut. A perforating blade will, as the name implies, perforate paper. Often one tool will be sold with multiple rotary blades.
Rotary cutters by Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels stores.
Also known as a utility knife, this is an essential tool that cuts clean, precise edges. Excellent for cutting heavier papers, cardboard, and foam core. Not recommended for tissue paper or flimsy fabric, which will tear. Always make sure you're using a sharp blade, and work very carefully.
Craft knives are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
The best way, besides a craft punch, to cut a clean circle; much easier than scissors or a craft knife. One tool will cut circles in many sizes -- the one shown here cuts circles from 1 inch to 5 7/8 inches in diameter.
Make These Crafts Using the Circle Cutter:
This bookbinding instrument -- which is sometimes made of actual bone -- is the best tool for scoring paper before you fold it. It's also good for smoothing edges.
Bone folders are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
An easy way to protect your work surface from cuts and scratches. One made from a "self-healing" material will resist wear and tear when you're scoring paper.
Cutting mats by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
Clear Quilting Rulers
These rulers were initially designed for cutting quilt squares. Paired with a cutting mat, it's the best way to cut paper, since the grid allows you to double check your paper's alignment. Look for one that's coated on the back to keep paper from slipping.
Clear quilting rulers by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
White Craft Glue
Compatible with most craft materials, including paper, cardboard, fabric, felt, burlap, and even glitter, when evenly spread. Diluted glue stops fabric edges from fraying. The drying time is about 10 minutes.
White craft glue is available at marthastewart.com/shop.
Best for thin materials, since it won't wrinkle, and large surfaces, both porous (paper, fabric) and nonporous (foil, acetate). Cleans up with acetone or Goo Gone, and dries in about one minute.
Highly thick consistency makes this craft glue good for heavier items, like buttons and beads. Can also be used as a cool, safe alternative to a hot glue gun in many projects.
Decoupage Glue and Sealant
This odorless glue sets in only 24 hours and remains flexible. Joined materials can be washed, but not dry-cleaned.
Hot Glue Gun
Joins porous and nonporous materials and dries in about one minute. Fresh glue and a hot applicator tip can burn, so be sure to keep a bowl of cool water on hand while working with one. Comes in high-, low-, and dual-temperature (the higher the temperature, the stronger the bond).
Applicator Bottle and Tip
Great for precise glue application, an applicator bottle and tip will give you a thin line of glue in a narrow space. Also useful for glittering: Make dots or write in script, then sprinkle glitter on top.
Positionable Mounting Adhesive (PMA)
A paper-backed dry adhesive, this is a great alternative to spray adhesive. Turn pieces of paper, photos, or fabric into "stickers": Unroll PMA, which is dry smooth, and position wrong side of item to be glued on top of it; attach the two by burnishing the layers with a roller or squeegee, then peel off the backing to expose the adhesive.
These pincers have round outer edges and flat inner edges. Use for forming right angles or tight bends. They're great for grasping small items and for jewelry making.
Rounded pincers, which taper toward their tips, make it easy to bend or refine curves, or start coils. Often used in jewelry making.
Spring loaded, these cutters are stronger than scissors. Look for a pair with rubber-coated handles.
Use spray paint to cover items with hard-to-reach nooks. It leaves a smooth, clear coat and comes in flat or glossy finish. Be sure to use in a well-ventilated area.
Thinner than spray paint, this is used for live and dried flowers and leaves, and is good for getting into hard-to-reach areas.
A soft white nylon-bristle brush is perfect for most crafts. Brushes with a round base and a pointed tip paint a finer line. To paint a broad line quickly or to color large areas, use a flat brush.
Paint Applicator Bottle and Tip
Use this to apply paint precisely when you're making dots or very thin lines.
Look for specialty paints for use on ceramic, fabric, and glass. (You may also encounter Japanese paint, a less common variety
Opaque ink works well on glossy paper and nonporous surfaces, such as shells and plastic. If you use a paint pen on paper, be sure to cover your work surface, as the ink bleeds through pages.
Paint pens by Martha Stewart Crafts are available from Michaels stores.
A classic crafts essential, markers are available in every imaginable color and in a variety of widths, as well as several types of ink, including washable.
Markers are available at marthastewartcrafts.com.