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15 Studio Secrets


Ribbon and String Holder

#13 A piece of cardboard with a notch on the end is a great way to coral your bits of ribbon or string. (Also good for headphones and electrical chords!)

I thought I’d share some “secrets” I’ve discovered over the years that have streamlined my art-making and made creating just a wee bit easier.  If any of them resonate with you then I’ve done my job!

1.  Studio furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. Check Goodwill, Craigslist, Ebay, etc.  I recently purchased 3 tables for my studio off of Craigslist for $25 each!

2. Bed risers are a great way to add more height to a table- esp. if you want to increase your storage underneath!

3. Tired of glue bottles getting gunked up and not working properly? Pour a small amount of glue into a shallow container and use a cheap paintbrush to apply it. The glue goes on a lot more evenly without gloppy bubbles. When you’re done the glue can be poured back and the brush and container washed.

4. Tired of your $4 bottle of white-out drying up again in the junk drawer? White acrylic paint makes excellent white-out. Use thin layers and it will dry pretty quickly

5. To protect your ruler when you need to draw straight lines with markers, attach a piece of masking tape (or better yet, painters tape) along the edge of the ruler. The tape will protect the ruler from the ink and it can be thrown away afterwards.

6. To find the edge of the tape faster for the next time, bend ¼” of the tape inward after using it.

Plastic Bag for trash

#7 A handy way to corral all those scraps as you work

7. Tape a plastic bag to the edge of the table to use as a catch-all for scraps, paper towels, etc. when you begin a project. It will make clean up much easier and keep the clutter at bay.

8. Disposable hot dog containers (found at Sam’s Club or kitchen supply stores) make excellent storage containers for little pieces in a project and helps keep them together if you need to clean up before you’ve completed it. (Also good for Legos!)

9. Don’t throw away old toothbrushes. They are a great way to add pizazz to a painting. Load up the paintbrush with paint, hold 6-8” over painting, and flick your thumb over the bristles to speckle the area.

10.You can mask off certain areas of your painting as you are doing the above by laying scraps of paper over the areas of the painting you wish to remain unspeckled.

11. Another good way to create a good composition while you’re sketching or photographing from life is to cut a 1” square out of an index card. (This doesn’t need to be exact!) Fold the card in half and cut half of a square on the folded edge. When it’s unfolded you can hold it up at arm’s length and get an idea of what you would like to create without the distraction of what’s surrounding it.

Square in paper as Composition Finder

#11- A Square cut into an index card makes an excellent composition aid for photography or sketching.

12. Another good use for index cards or post-it notes is to jot down the colors, sizes, and general directions for yourself as you are working on a project if you need to take a break or stop for the day. This way you won’t waste as much time trying to figure out where you had left off and what you had been doing.

13. To coral loose bits of ribbon or yarn, cut a piece of cardboard (Cereal or snack food boxes work well for this) about the size of a bookmark. Cut a ½” notch in the center of the top edge. Then wind your yarn or ribbon around the cardboard starting at the bottom and working your way to the top and slip the end through the notch to hold it in place. (This works well for headphones or electronic chords, as well!)

14. Old CDs and Plastic Lids make great stencils for circles.

15. Here’s the “MacGyver Way” to make a circle to a specific circumference using a thumbtack, string, and sharp pencil.  Tie one end of the string to the tack and measure the length of string to the diameter of your circle.  Then tie the other end of the string near the tip of your pencil.  Push the tack into the middle of where your circle should be (You may want to put a piece of cardboard underneath the paper to give the tack something to hang onto) and stretch the string out.  Now swoop the pencil all the way around the tack, keeping the tack taut.  Voila, you’ve got a custom made circle!

Creating a Circle

#8- The “Mcgyver Way” to create a circle of set dimensions


And, by the way, these aren’t really “secrets” (if you haven’t guessed by now!)  Some of these were passed down to me by instructors and mentors.  Some of them I figured out on my own.  What are some of your own tricks and tips for your art and/or hobbies?  I’d love to hear them!

I wish you have a Wonderful Week full of Controlled Messes and Streamlined Creativity!


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